On the outside Purcell Pavilion the weather finally felt like winter. Inside Purcell Pavilion the temperature was very warm. The atmosphere of yet another number one versus a number two. Last year, Notre Dame went to Louisvlle and they were not happy with the result. Thursday night was an opportunity to right the wrong of one year ago. Let’s see how the game played out.
When a number one and a number two get together, it’s a pretty special moment to be part of. This game was no different. Brianna Turner opened up the scoring for the Irish. The Irish would have to wait 1:56 while the Cardinals opened up with the next 5 points. The thing about these games, you know each team is going to have their run. It is a matter of keeping the run minimal. Both teams did just that. Both teams built a four point lead on each other.
The Irish were working the paint. Louisville was playing physical. Physical to the point that the Irish were 8-11 from the free-throw line. Defensively Jessica Shepard owned the glass. She swiped five of them in the quarter. The problem the Irish had in the quarter was turnovers. Six turnovers translated to 11 points for the Cardinals. Led by Young’s eight points, Shepard’s six rebounds, and Mabrey’s 2 assists. The Irish managed to win the first quarter 20-19.
In the grand scheme of things, both teams struggled to score points. Not only in the first quarter, but the second quarter as well. Neither team really pulled away. With short runs, the defenses did what they needed to do. Keep the game close until the offense can get firing. One of those that was struggling to get going was Marina Mabrey. Marina was clearly frustrated at various points of the first half. This was coupled with the turnovers that is very uncharacteristic of her.
While small ball was played by both teams, personal fouls continued to mount for the Cardinals. The Cardinals may have been struggling defensively, but the offense was trying to find a spark. Asia Durr was leading her team the best she could. Durr was struggling from distance as well. Going into the half she led her team with 19 points.
Shepard doubled her defensive rebounds in the second quarter. Both teams managed to get to the locker room with minimal damage. The damage you cannot overcome is personal fouls. Cardinal starters Carter 3 fouls, Fuehring, Jones & Durr had 2 a piece. This is no the set up you want going into the second half. Your aggressive play gets very limited. Louisville wins the second quarter 16-13 and the overall score was 35-33. But you know what happens when Coach McGraw gets her team to the locker room. Coach snaps the team out of the funk.
After a chance for the Irish to catch their breath and refocus, the Irish came out with a mission to accomplish. The quiet Mabrey brought Purcell Pavilion to it’s feet. Firing a three-pointer and sinking, there was a new pulse felt in the building. It was not just Mabrey that was coming to life, but Ogunbowale as well.
The Irish were taking advantage of the foul trouble of the Cardinals. The aggressive Irish play put all five starters in trouble as well as one of the bench players. Never in all my games did i see at an end of a quarter where one starter had four fouls, four others had three fouls along with one bench player. 15 minutes is very difficult with that many fouls stacked against you. Coach Walz thought at one point “he might have to get his five year old to play.”
At 8:04 Brianna redefined “protect this house.” Brianna swatted the ball away from Durr and Purcell Pavilion erupted again in cheers. The megaplay of the quarter was by Arike Ogunbowale. With the clock winding down in the third quarter, Arike drains a three-pointer to bring her point total to 11 and a score of 57-47 in the Irish favor. The Irish and their stifling defense outscored the Cardinals 24-12.
With all the fouls against the Cardinal starters, the Irish took the ball to the basket often and with authority. Arike exploded with offense as if she had just woken up. 19 points including 8-8 from the foul line down the stretch. The downfall for the Cardinals was how ugly the play of the defense performed. Arica Carter and Bianca Dunham “starters” fouled out. The end of the game into a very scrappy event.
To finish the game the Irish went on a 14-2 run that lasted 1:23. The Irish outscored the Cardinals 25-21 for a final score of 82-68. The Irish held serve at home and hand the Cardinals their first loss of the season.
🏀🏀🏀 Jackie Young 14 Points, 4-15, Free-Throws 6-6, 6 Rebounds and 5 Assists
🏀🏀Brianna Turner 16 Points, 7-11, Free-Throws 2-8
🏀Arike Ogunbowale 30 Points, 8-15. 2-4 Three Pointers, 12-12 Free Throws, 6 Assists
Wake Forest comes into Purcell Pavilion at 1 PM on Sunday 1/13. Cheers and Go Irish! ☘🏀⚡