There is a lot of build up that goes into playing a big game. Win or go home, is a common cliche used in sports when games get down to single elimination play. In the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, the winner needs to win five consecutive games. There is no we will get them tomorrow, or we will start another winning streak. This is all about survive and move on. On Monday night, MSU and Notre Dame battled it it out at Purcell Pavilion.
Winning a jump ball is not abnormal for Brianna Turner. When you win the tip-ff and then get to the foul line is also a great way to start the game. Adding points when the clock isn’t running, is part of the ND play-making arsenal. Brianna did just that. Marina Mabrey saw an early two points in the first quarter, bu that’s all she would score all game. Coming off the knee injury, Mabrey is trying to find her way back. Both teams started out in a sluggish manner. Both teams seemed to be feeling each other out. The first media time out could not come fast enough for either team.
After the Media Time Out, once again the Irish came out ready to play their game. Going into the time out the score was 11-6 . The Irish defense had already made it’s presence known, but the offense started kicking into the next gear. The Irish more than doubled their points in the late part of the quarter. They scored an additional 14 points, while holding the Spartans to just 8. Jessica Shepard added some excitement with a buzzer beater layup. Turner had five defensive rebounds and one offensive board. The Irish win the quarter 25-14.
The second quarter saw the Irish defense just smother the Spartans. The Irish defense tightened up from the first quarter. The Irish defense put the Spartans in a scoring drought for 3:58. Allowed a 14-0 run at the other end of the court and allowed a total of six scoring plays across the ten minute frame. The Irish defense also contributed with four blocks, Young 4, Shepard and Turner had 1 apiece.
The Irish offense turned on the pressure with points coming from Arike Ogunbowale 10 points (including a buzzer beating layup), Shepard with 6, Young with 3, Turner with 4 and Mikayla Vaughn 2.
To start the third quarter, the Irish appeared a bit sluggish. The first four points came from the charity stripe made by Turner and Ogunbowale. The third quarter saw the defense of the Spartans come to life. They limited the Irish to eight scoring plays, but Arike would make sure that she got her shots from beyond the arc. As a matter of fact she drained two of them. The Irish win the third quarter 21-17.
With the Irish in a comfortable lead situation, you know it was just a matter of time before Coach McGraw would bring the starters to bench and bring in the reserves. Brianna Turner completed her night with 14 Points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 steals. More importantly Brianna Turner became the all-time rebound leader replacing Ruth Riley. Arike Ogunbowale scored 23 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds. Jackie Young continue to show her leadership on the court with 21 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 1 steal. Rounding the starting grid is Jessica Shepard, 19 points, 3 steals, and 9 rebounds.
The Irish will will renew their Sweet 16 match up of last year with Texas A&M at Wintrust Arena in Chicago at 4 PM EST on ESPN2.