Ogunbowale powers No. 5 Notre Dame women past Virginia Tech
(AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
By JOHN FINERAN
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame's starting backcourt just overwhelmed Virginia Tech on Thursday night.
All three of them.
Arike Ogunbowale scored 26 points, Marina Mabrey had 21 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, and the fifth-ranked Irish beat the Hokies 89-59 for their 11th straight victory.
Ogunbowale, Mabrey and Jackie Young were a combined 22 of 34 from the field. Young had 12 points and 10 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season.
"You have to be impressed with what they are doing out there," McGraw said. "They're playing hard. They're spelling each other at the point. They've all had tremendous years and I think all three of them deserve all-conference."
Freshman Jessica Shepard had 11 points for Notre Dame (26-2, 14-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), which outscored Virginia Tech 63-35 over the final three quarters.
Virginia Tech (17-11, 6-9) lost for the third time in four games. Aisha Sheppard scored 21 points for the Hokies, and Alexis Jean had 17.
The Hokies played without leading scorer Taylor Emery, who is in concussion protocol after she was injured during last Sunday's 53-45 victory against Clemson.
"They gave us a tough time," McGraw said. "We didn't come out with a lot of energy and intensity. I thought we weren't aware where the shooters were. We did not have good communication. We didn't rebound. I thought they outhustled us."
But Ogunbowale, Mabrey and Young eventually took over. Mabrey was 7 for 9 from the field and 5 for 5 at the line. Ogunbowale made 11 of 20 shots.
"We feed off each other," Mabrey said. "When someone gets going, we all kind of follow along. I like playing with them. It's fun playing with people who are so fiery."
Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks was impressed.
"(Mabrey) did a great job stabilizing them tonight," Brooks said. "Ogunbowale, in my opinion, is the best player in the league. (Young) is very athletic and complements the other two. They may not have the quantity, but they have the quality."
Notre Dame grabbed control with a 15-0 run in the first half. The Irish increased their lead to 66-38 with 3:30 left in the third quarter on a left-handed layup by senior Kathryn Westbeld, who joined the team's 1,000-point club that also includes Ogunbowale and Mabrey.
"Happy for Kat to get that 1,000th point behind us," McGraw said. "She's one of the most mentally tough players we've ever had. She is the consummate team player. She glues us together."
Virginia Tech: Emery, a junior guard, averages 18 points a game. No. 3 scorer Chanette Hicks (12.1 ppg) also was held out for the fifth straight game for personal reasons. Virginia Tech appears headed to the WNIT for the third straight season. The Hokies lost a quarterfinal game last season to eventual WNIT champion Michigan.
Notre Dame: One of Notre Dame's strengths during its win streak has been getting to the free-throw line. The Irish went 20 for 23 at the line, compared to 10 for 14 for the Hokies.
Virginia Tech: Visits Miami on Sunday.
Notre Dame: Hosts No. 21 North Carolina State on Sunday.
Updated February 22, 2018