There is no other day that is as emotional for fans and players than Senior day. This year there are four Seniors, Arike Ogunbowale, Marina Mabrey, Jessica Shepard and Maureen Butler. Brianna Turner is the lone Grad Student as she sat out last season with an ACL injury. With the Senior class having their moment, Jackie Young made sure that Virginia knew she will be back next season.
To open Senior day, the Fighting Irish showed their might early with a 16-2 run over a span of 3:15. During the the run a rare three-point shot was taken by Jackie Young. Brianna Turner was showing her height with two “alley-oop dunks” in the same time period. The Irish also showed part of their outside game as well. Ogunbowale had two three-pointers and Young contributed her second of the quarter as well.
While the offense was doing their part in the game. The defense for the Irish was contributing on the opposite end. A defensive swarm doesn’t give a team too many good looks. The Cavaliers witnessed this as they struggled to score. The defense grabbed a total of nine rebounds. The Irish put Virginia on notice that the Cavaliers were not going to win this game. Virginia didn’t know how to respond the Irish were delivering on both ends of the court. The Irish win the first quarter 29-16
Unlike the the first quarter, the Irish seemed to struggle a bit on the offensive end. Early in the second quarter there was some offense. Turner had another “alley-oop” dunk, Arike had two three-point shots within a minute of each other, Mabrey added on from there as well, and Shepard had another two points in the paint. The remainder of the points were from the free-throw line. Eleven of the 24 points came from the charity stripe and no time coming off the clock. It seemed as Virginia was resolved to foul in lieu of giving up a basket. That philosophy did not work either.
Defensively the Fighting Irish held the Cavaliers to 27.3% in the quarter. Mabrey grabbed three defensive boards, while Young brought down two off the defensive glass as well. Though the quarter was not as flashy as the first quarter, the Irish still won the quarter 24-17, and overall built a tallied score of 53-33 going into the locker room.
The third quarter the Irish came out on fire. A talking to from Coach McGraw usually turns into pressure being turned up on an opponent. The Irish went on a 10-0 run that lasted approximately 3:30. Eight of the points were in the paint. As a matter of fact, the Irish had 18 points in the paint in the quarter. The offense mustered up 13-16 shots attempted. Included in those numbers, Young once again launched another three.
The Defense once again used the momentum on offense to drive them on the other end of the floor. Virginia had two turnovers and allowed the Irish to clean the glass eight times. The Cavaliers once again were held to under 20 points in the quarter. The Cavaliers were held to 6-16 attempts made, and were 2-8 from the free throw line. The third quarter saw Young be on the cusp of her TRIPLE DOUBLE.
To start the quarter, Turner delivered another “alley-oop” dunk for good measure.
Prior to Coach McGraw pulling the Shepard, Ogunbowale, Turner , and Mabrey, they all made final shots of their regular season career at Notre Dame. Mabrey delivered “BIG MACs” to those in attendance as she drained another three-pointer. Turner made a lay-up, Shepard had a pull-up jumper, and Arike well she drained to consecutive three-pointers. That’s called going out in style.
Virginia playing with a short bench all day, had to keep the Seniors in. The established their first run of a day which was 9-0. The Irish still garnished five defensive rebounds. Those in attendance watched as Senior Maureen Butler launched two three-point attempts but Butler missed them both. The Irish take care of business and go onto route the Cavaliers 103-53. With the win the Irish also claim their sixth consecutive ACC Regular season title. The Fighting Irish finish the regular season with a record of 27-3 Overall and 14-2 in the ACC.
Post Game Press Conference
Coach McGraw Opening Comments
“Jackie wanted to steal the thunder today. She came up with the triple-double and had a great game off the bench because she so willingly gave up her spot to Butler so she could start and then came in and had the best game of her season.” “We have so many weapons on offense, we are just starting to peak now. We are in a great place, heading into the tournament, number one seed, exactly where we want to be.”
Shake Down The Thunder Sports asked a question to Jackie Young: “Coach has been working with you on becoming the leader of the team, today being Senior day, you still have some season left, your stepping into the leadership role, how do you feel?”
Jackie’s Response: “I am trying to take the role the best I can, it’s kinda hard for me, I am trying to talk a little more, trying to communicate with my teammates, just let them feel comfortable with me, let them know they can come talk to me, I am just trying build a great relationship with them.”
Stars Of The Game
Typically in this spot, the top three performers get selected. Today all five players are going to get some air time.
Jackie Young-22 points 3-4 from Three-Point Range, 9-13 overall 10 Rebounds and 11 Assists
Arike Ogunbowale-24 points, 6-8 from Three-Point Range, 8-14 overall 3 Rebounds and 3 Assists
Brianna Turner-21 points 8-9 overall, (4 alley-oop dunks), 6 Rebounds and 3 Assists and 3 Steals
Jessica Shepard-19 points, 7-11 overall, 0-1 from Three-Point Range, 8 Rebounds and 3 Assists
Marina Mabrey-12 points, 4-11 overall, 3-8 from Three-Point Range, 7 Rebounds and 8 Assists
The Irish will travel to Greensboro, NC, for the ACC Tournament. The Irish are seeded No. 1 and they will play on Friday, March 8, at 2 P.M. ET.
Shake Down The Thunder Sports would like to wish the Fighting Irish much success in the ACC Tournament. Cheers and Go Irish! 🍀🏀⚡