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Thursday, June 20, 2024
The Observer

ND beats UCLA to take tourney title in Bahamas

In one week, two countries and three games, Marina Mabrey went from promising freshman to one of No. 3 Notre Dame’s main offensive weapons.

Last Monday, Mabrey made history by recording a triple-double on the road at Valparaiso during a 110-54 Irish win. Then, the Irish (6-0) travelled to the Bahamas for the Junkanoo Jam over Thanksgiving break, and Mabrey posted 37 points over the course of Notre Dame’s 94-52 win over Denver and 92-84 overtime victory against No. 24 UCLA en route to earning all-tournament honors.

Irish sophomore forward Kathryn Westbeld looks toward the basket during Notre Dame's 4-39 win over Toledo at Purcell Pavilion on Nov. 18.
Kathryne Robinson | The Observer
Irish sophomore forward Kathryn Westbeld looks toward the basket during Notre Dame's 74-39 win over Toledo at Purcell Pavilion on Nov. 18.

Mabrey’s outburst garnered her ACC Rookie of the Week recognition, but it only came as the result of injuries and foul trouble holding back several of her teammates, according to Irish head coach Muffet McGraw.

Against Valparaiso (0-4), junior forward Taya Reimer was limited to 11 minutes in her return from an Achilles injury, while graduate student guard Madison Cable and sophomore forward Kathryn Westbeld each collected three or more fouls in fewer than 20 minutes on the court.

In their place, Mabrey and fellow freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale both posted career highs in minutes, but it was Mabrey who stole the show. She collected 18 points, 10 assists and a team-record 12 steals for the program’s fifth-ever triple-double and first by a freshman.

“Marina came off the [Valparaiso] game with a triple-double and really hasn’t looked back since then,” McGraw said. “She can score; she can rebound; she can defend; she can do a little bit of everything. I’m really pleased with where she’s at right now.”

The Crusaders never led the Irish at any point and were outscored in the paint, 72-10 and off turnovers, 51-5.

In the Bahamas, Notre Dame’s injury woes continued, as sophomore forward Brianna Turner suffered a right shoulder injury in practice Tuesday that forced her to miss the team’s matchups with Denver and UCLA. Her absence, combined with Reimer’s slow start following three months on the sideline, meant Notre Dame suffered in the paint, McGraw said, which made the team’s wins all the more satisfying.

“UCLA is a great team; they’re a top-15 team,” McGraw said. “They need to be getting more votes, because they are just so athletic in the post, they’re just so talented. … That was a huge win for us, to be playing without [Turner] on such short notice, not really knowing what we’re going to get from the rest of the team. So I was really, really pleased to come out of there with the championship.”

The Bruins (3-2) topped the Irish in rebounds, 42-40, and points in the paint, 48-24, but still trailed for most of the game until sophomore guard Jordin Canada collected a layup with 4.3 seconds left to tie things up.

Reimer scored two points and grabbed three rebounds in 24 minutes of play, but McGraw said that her mere presence in the lineup was a boost for the Irish.

“Without having [Turner], we really needed a big body in there to guard UCLA because they have such great post players,” McGraw said. “And you’re going to be a little rusty when you’ve been out for three months and haven’t been able to really practice, so I think it was great having her back in the lineup, and that’s all I can say about that.”

Mostly, however, the Irish relied on Mabrey and Cable, who scored a career-high 22 points and pulled down nine rebounds to tie for the team lead, with 12 of her points coming in the second half. She also scored 13 points against Denver and was named tournament MVP.

“[Cable] came back really ready to take on a bigger role, and I think that she has done it so well,” McGraw said. “She’s been playing great basketball, and she changed her mindset from being a role player to being a star player. She’s the one who’s taking the big shots; she’s doing all the little things, and she’s doing anything she can to help the team win. She’s really shooting the ball; she’s rebounding the ball well; she’s really doing everything well.”

Mabrey scored 18 points, nine in overtime, and added four rebounds and six steals. She was the benefactor of Allen’s foul trouble, as the junior collected four personal fouls in 32 minutes. Allen has 14 fouls on the season, leading all starters and second overall on the team.

“We need to keep [Allen] on the floor and she needs to stay out of foul trouble,” McGraw said. “But it gave Marina Mabrey a chance to really run the team, which is something new for her. Michaela Mabrey is more the vocal leader, and Marina is going to handle the ball a little bit more. So between the two of them I think we’re going to do it a little bit by committee.”

The Irish return to Purcell Pavilion to face No. 10 Ohio State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday at 7 p.m.