In the first game back, following their win at the Gulf Coast Showcase, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team took down Michigan 83-63. The win gave the Irish their fourth win over a ranked opponent already this season, and third straight.
Notre Dame’s starting lineup looked different for the first time this season as Kathryn Westbeld got the nod over Lili Thompson. The move gave the Irish a bit more height to start and they made the Wolverines pay. With Thompson out to start, Marina Mabrey got the start at the point for the Irish. While Mabrey’s ball handling skills are not as good as Thompson’s, she adds that scoring threat which made the Irish dangerous at all five spots.
The star of the game for the Irish was Arike Ogunbowale. The junior out of Milwaukee scored over 20 points for the fourth time this season. She matched a career-high with 32 points on 13 of 20 shooting. Ogunbowale returned to form from beyond the arc for 12 of her 32 points.
Both Jackie Young and Mabrey were in double figures for the Irish. Young added to her already impressive sophomore resume as she recorded a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds. All but one of the nine Irish to hit the floor on Wednesday night recorded a basket. Sophomore guard Kaitlin Cole, a walk-on, recorded a bucket late in the game for the Irish that got the bench out of their seats with excitement.
Michigan struggled with their zone defense, often leaving holes for Irish players to fill. The back door of the zone was a weak spot that Notre Dame took advantage of all evening long. With the strong finesse game that the Irish play, Ogunbowale and Young were found open as the moved across the baseline. Because of this, Notre Dame was taking higher percentage shots, making 51.7 percent from the field on the evening.
The lane, specifically towards the basket, was another shortcoming of the Wolverines zone. As the Irish began to hit shots further out, the Michigan defenders were beginning to roam out towards the three-point line. This, in turn, left players like Jessica Shepard, Young, and Westbeld wide open for rebounds. Notre Dame out-rebounded Michigan 42-28.
Next up for the Irish is the number 1 ranked University of Connecticut. The Huskies have taken down four top-25 teams already this year with two being top-10. No team has gotten within 15 points of UConn yet this season. Notre Dame will look to keep their perfect record as they travel to Hartford for an early season matchup of one of the best rivalries in women’s college basketball. Tip-off for the matchup is scheduled for 4 p.m. EST and will air on ESPN as part of the Jimmy V Women’s Classic.