Sunday afternoon the Purcell Pavilion a sea of pink offset the lime-green shirts usually seen at home. Sunday afternoon was the annual #PinkZone game. The game celebrates the survivors of breast cancer and other cancers as well. This game is important for the players because they are playing for a particular person on a shirt. With the loss to Miami on Thursday night, the Irish really needed some extra inspiration to come out and do well. One thing is for sure they were not going to lose at home, and they were not going to lose to games in a row.
The first quarter started the way it needed to, quick. from the tip-off the Irish controlled the ball. Jessica Shepard got the team off on the right foot. Scoring the games first basket in the paint. Marina Mabrey got those in attendance on their feet after she drilled a three-pointer. The Irish transition game was pouring it in. FSU seemed to struggle, but they kept it close. Nicki Ekhomu accounted for two of the Seminoles four three-pointers and eight of their 22 points.
The Irish defense kept FSU outside for most of the quarter as the Seminoles only had six points in the paint. Jackie Young and Shepard played aggressive and afforded each of them a steal against the Seminoles offense. Shepard definitely had the hot hand as she poured in 5-8 of her attempts. Including a buzzer beater to end the first quarter. The paint is Shepard’s spot. There is no denying Shepard when she is down low.
The second quarter much like the first quarter, the difference was the defense became more stifling. Alllowing only two of the Seminoles to put points on the board. Brianna Turner had two monster blocks that just intimidated the Seminoles. The Irish added five more steals into the stats. The defense forced the Seminoles into a 2:09 scoring drought.
When you have a stifling defense, it typically turns into points at the other end of the court. The Irish had eight points off of turnovers. At 4:46 Ogunbowale drilled a deep three and not to let anyone in Purcell Pavilion sit, she did it again 32 seconds later. At 2:57 Mikayla Vaughn went down hard and would not return. Later on in the press conference Coach McGraw indicated that Vaughn was in the concussion protocol. The Irish go into the locker room with a 52-38 lead. Arike led all scorers with 19 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals. Shepard was next with 16 points, 3 rebounds.
The theme here for the Irish is DEFENSE. FSU comes out of the locker room and scores the first points of the quarter at 9:15. The next 6:00 the Irish go on a 15-0 run. Young had four, Shepard had four, Turner contributed two, and Ogunbowale had five including her fourth three-pointer of the night.
The entire team was contributing offensively and defensively. The Irish allowed only 12 points the entire third quarter. The young Seminoles had no answer for the Irish on either end or the court. As that starts to develop. The Seminoles started to play a little chippy. The Irish maintained their composure through the aggressive play. At 2:12, Arike drilled her fifth three-pointer of the night. Purcell Pavilion was loving it. The Irish finish the quarter up 24 points, 74-50. The only question left to ask is, who is going to deliver the Big Macs.
The fourth quarter saw the aggressive play of FSU continue. This was shown with the amount of free throws attempted. Of the 23 points scored in the quarter, seven of them came while the clock was stopped. Nausia Woolfolk and Valencia Myers both fouled out in the fourth quarter. Nicki Ekhomu led the Seminoles with 28 points and an amazing stat of 11-11 from the free throw line.
Turner and Shepard led the Irish with six points apiece. The important points to the fans and the Notre Dame band members is the 88 point mark. Just as the band starting chanting “we want Big Macs” Shepard made a special delivery of the 88th point of the game. The Irish go onto win the game 97-70 over the Seminoles.
Post Game Press Conference
Focusing on the reason for the day, Arike talked about her mom and her grandma’s. “My mom was a breast cancer survivor and I lost both my grandmas to cancer.” “It was definitely an important game and we definitely wanted to honor everyone that has been affected by cancer and their families.”
Players Of The Game
🏀🏀🏀 Brianna Turner-13 Points, 6 Rebounds, 4 Assists, and 5 Blocks
🏀🏀 Jessica Shepard-26 Points, 8 Rebounds, 5 Assists, 1 Steal, and 1 Block
🏀 Arike Ogunbowale-27 Points (5-7 from three-point range), 9 Rebounds, 5 Assists, and 2 Steals
The Irish travel to the East Coast and take on Boston College with a 7 PM Tip-off. The game can be seen on TV: ACCNE RADIO: PULSE FM 96.9/92.1/103.1
Cheers and Go Irish! ☘🏀