The time has come! The season opener for the ND Women’s Basketball took place yesterday at The Purcell Pavilion. The arena had a little edge to it as everyone was anticipating the start of ND Football Saturday night vs Miami. Before that could happen, there was a women’s basketball game to play.
Prior to the start of Saturday’s match-up against Mount St Mary’s, ND Women’s Basketball inducted one of their own into the Ring of Honor. Kayla McBride played for the ND Women’s Basketball from 2010-2014. McBride thanked Coach Muffitt McGraw for everything she did for her as well as the rest of the coaching staff and her teammates for their support.
The Notre Dame’s Women’s Basketball team enters the season ranked 6th in the AP and 5th in the USA Today polls. Coming into Saturday afternoon, there was already a stat watch for the start of the season as Arike Ogunbowale had 986 points to start her junior season, nearing the 1,000 point milestone…but we will discuss that later.
I need to say that this did not look like a season opener for the women’s team. They had everything working as if they were in mid-season form. The back-door lay-up, smooth passing, transition from defense to offense, and presence around the glass. At the half the Irish had 26 rebounds (12 offensive and 14 defensive), 7 steals, 3 blocked shots (one of those blocked shots was by Danielle Paterson that was noticeably satisfying to the fans in attendance).
To start the 3rd quarter, Mount St Mary’s came out the locker room and played inspired. The Mountaineers had a couple mini-runs against the women’s defense, but, once again, the Irish would not let those mini-runs continue through the quarter.
Remember that stat watch discussed earlier? Well, that watch is over. With time expiring in the 3rd quarter, Ogunbowale dropped a two-pointer just before the buzzer for her 1,001th point at Notre Dame.
Marina Mabrey and Ogunbowale both dropped 3 pointers from downtown as well. The 4th quarter saw most of the starters taken in the view from the side. Being up 40 points allowed Coach McGraw to give her other players some playing time and getting game time experience. The Irish went on to win the home opener against the Mountaineers 121-65. Arike Ogunbowale led all scorers with 21 points 8-14 from the field, 7 rebounds and 3 steals. Marina Mabrey had 18 points, 7-12 from the field, 3-5 from beyond the arc. Jessica Shepard had double-double with 18 points 7-11 from the field and 11 rebounds.
Coach McGraw came into the press conference and stated that she was upset with the team’s defense and “there’s definitely work to be done.” She also complimented Jessica Shepard on coming into the program and getting the double-double.
Finally, McGraw acknowledged Arike Ogunbowale getting a 1,000 points to start her junior year: “Its an amazing accomplishment, and when you look at the players that have played here, not many have done that in their Jr year.”
Next up for the Notre Dame Women’s Basketball team is Western Kentucky in Bowling Green on Tuesday night.