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Monday, Feb. 26, 2024
The Observer

Mabrey's sharp shooting leads Irish to second-round win

With 5:43 remaining in the first half, junior guard Michaela Mabrey sank a three-point shot to pull the Irish into a 24-24 tie with DePaul. Notre Dame had been trailing all game, but a minute later, Mabrey hit another three to give the Irish a lead they never surrendered.

Mabrey finished with a team-high 19 points, going 6-of-10 overall but most importantly 5-of-7 outside the three-point arc. She also had three rebounds and two steals in the 79-67 victory.

Irish junior guard Michaela Mabrey takes a 3-pointer during Notre Dame's 79-67 win over DePaul on Sunday.
Irish junior guard Michaela Mabrey takes a 3-pointer during Notre Dame's 79-67 win over DePaul on Sunday.
Irish junior guard Michaela Mabrey takes a 3-pointer during Notre Dame's 79-67 win over DePaul on Sunday.

“I thought Michaela Mabrey had an unbelievable stretch where she hit some threes and got a couple defensive rebounds, which surprised all of us,” Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “She did a really good job on both ends of the floor and had a great performance.”

Mabrey’s point total was just one point less than her career high. The game also was the 30th time in her college career that she managed to score in the double-digits.

At one point early on, the Irish were behind by eight. Top-seeded Notre Dame seemed flustered at the defensive pressure the ninth-seeded Blue Demons applied, and the Irish allowed DePaul to score 14 points in the paint in the first half.

It wasn’t until halfway through the first when the Irish began to begin their comeback.

“In the beginning we were a little frustrated with their pressure, and I thought we settled down a little bit [later on] and really started to get some back doors and started to get our offense rolling more,” Mabrey said.

The momentum from Mabrey’s deep buckets brought the fans in Purcell to life and signaled an end to Notre Dame’s rough start.

“Michaela is such a great shooter,” sophomore forward Taya Reimer said. “When she’s hitting shots, we all just get energy off of that and we play off of that. It gets us into it, and we’re all trying to look for her all the time. It brings the defense out when they have to guard her, so it’s always exciting when she’s having an on night.”

DePaul head coach Doug Bruno agreed that letting Mabrey get hot played a major role in his team’s defeat.

“We missed some serious assignments there at the beginning of the second half, and that cost us dearly,” Bruno said. “We let her get going, and we eventually got it settled down, but that was after she had already hit three or four.”

Mabrey attributed her success to the dominance of the post players, who had a considerable size advantage over DePaul’s players. Notre Dame out-rebounded the Blue Demons by 19 and finished with 38 points in the paint compared to DePaul’s 24.

“I think [DePaul] left me open a little bit,” Mabrey said. “We had such great post players and such great guards that they’re so focused on them. I’m just spotting up wherever they’re going and finding my place in open space. My teammates found me really well, so I owe it all to them, honestly.”

Notre Dame recorded 19 assists overall, and while Mabrey was the team’s highest scorer, five Irish players reached the double-digits in points. The distribution was a stark contrast from when DePaul and Notre Dame faced off in December. In that game, the Irish squeaked out a one-point win in overtime and junior guard Jewell Loyd scored 41 points.

“We really share the ball well…they’re just so unselfish,” McGraw said. “We got the inside going, and that gave us the outside, and I think they were happy to work the ball whatever way was working at the time.”