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Thursday, May 23, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame uses strong second quarter to top Boston College

Sophomore forward Brianna Turner surveys her options during Notre Dame’s 74-39 home win over Toledo on Nov. 18.
Kathryne Robinson | The Observer
Sophomore forward Brianna Turner surveys her options during Notre Dame’s 74-39 home win over Toledo on Nov. 18.

It was never too close but never a blowout either, as No. 3 Notre Dame was bogged down in a slow-paced game against Boston College on the road Thursday night but held on for the 63-50 win.

The Irish (16-1, 5-0 ACC) never trailed against the Eagles (12-4, 0-3), seizing the lead 49 seconds into the game on a layup from senior guard Michaela Mabrey, but they never quite pulled away either, with their largest lead of 18 points coming midway through the third quarter and shrinking from there on out.

Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said before the game she wanted to see her squad get off to a faster start than it has in previous games, but Notre Dame led just 13-12 after the first quarter and shot 35.3 percent from the field over the opening 10 minutes.

“They play a little bit slower pace than we do, so they like to use the shot clock, they ran a lot of offense, and I think we got a little frustrated with their pace,” McGraw said. “ … So that was a problem for us. We’ve got to be able to control the tempo, and we did not control the tempo.”

In the second quarter, however, the Irish made their biggest push of the night, outscoring the Eagles 19-8, with most of their offense coming in a 10-0 run in the final 3:30 of the half. Freshman guard Marina Mabrey accounted for seven of those 10 points to lead the charge, including a 3-point shot with 11 seconds left to give her team a 32-20 halftime lead.

Mabrey ended the night with 14 points to lead Notre Dame, her fifth time this season as the team’s leading scorer. She also chipped in three steals, two assists and a block in 18 minutes of work.

“Marina came in off the bench and gave us a big lift,” McGraw said. “ … Defensively, she got up and pressured the ball well. I thought she played pretty well.”

Four other Irish players posted eight or more points. Graduate student guard Madison Cable, finished second on the team in points (11) and rebounds (four), while junior guard Lindsay Allen came back from a scoreless first half to record 10 points. She also recorded four assists and a steal in the game’s final 20 minutes.

“They were going under the ball screens, and she made some really nice … jumpers and used the screens really well,” McGraw said of the adjustments Allen made to break out after halftime.

Boston College’s slower pace kept Notre Dame well off its season average in points per game (83.4), but the Irish did connect on their shots at or above their typical rate, shooting 49.1 percent from the field and 55.6 from 3-point range.

The Irish entered the matchup atop the ACC rankings in 3-point shooting alongside Boston College, which has built a reputation as a perimeter-shooting team, McGraw said. Defensively, however, Notre Dame held the Eagles to 30.8 percent on attempts from long-distance.

“I thought we did a much better job in the first half,” McGraw said of her team’s defense. “The second half, not nearly as good. They got loose a couple times and shot it better than they did in the first half.”

Instead, Boston College kept the game close by relying on freshman forward Mariella Fasoula, who scored 20 of the Eagles’ 50 points. Fasoula almost singlehandedly kept the Eagles competitive in the paint, where they were narrowly outscored, 36-34.

“Fasoula is a really big girl who takes up a lot of space, and she’s really hard to guard,” McGraw said. “So we tried a couple different things [to stop her].”

For the most part, sophomore forward Brianna Turner had the task of limiting the 6-foot-4 Fasoula. And while her Boston College counterpart did lead all scorers in the matchup, Turner had success as well, grabbing a season-high 13 rebounds to go with eight points. She also blocked four shots and stole the ball twice.

The Irish now return to Notre Dame, where they will host three straight games at Purcell Pavilion, their longest homestand left in the season. That stretch begins Monday, when they face No. 13 Tennessee in a regular-season matchup for the fifth consecutive year. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.