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Monday, May 27, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame comes from behind to top Oregon State

Through 80 minutes of basketball this season, No. 6 Notre Dame hadn’t trailed at all.

That changed just 26 seconds into the Irish’s first ranked matchup of the season at No. 18 Oregon State. And for the remainder of the first half and part of the second, it only got worse.

But the Irish (3-0) showed they could bounce back from unfamiliar territory and deliver a gritty win, coming from behind to defeat the Beavers (2-1) 72-67 thanks to 17 second-half points from sophomore guard Jackie Young.

Eddie Griesedieck | The Observer
Irish sophomore guard Jackie Young goes up for a layup during Notre Dame’s 121-65 victory over Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 11.

“I’m really proud of this team right now,” Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “After as poorly as we played in the first half, having shot the ball as badly as we did and against such a great defensive team, to come back in the second half and really work on the defensive end was great. The difference was the offensive rebounding. I thought we did a much better job of rebounding in the second half, took care of the ball and got the shots we wanted.”

After junior guard Arike Ogunbowale missed a 3-pointer just four seconds into Notre Dame’s first possession, the Beavers took their opportunity to take a lead, as sophomore forward Madison Washington scored the first ever 3-pointer of her career. Less than two minutes later, the Irish found themselves behind 8-0, their largest deficit since a comeback victory over Syracuse on Feb. 19.

The Beavers’ lead reached double figures by the halfway mark in the first quarter, thanks to a three-point play from sophomore guard Mikayla Pivec, although the Irish cut the lead back to 20-15 by the end of the period.

In the second quarter, the Beavers showed why they’ve gained a reputation as one of the top defensive teams in the nation. The Irish tried to fight back into the game, and cut the score to 30-27 with just over four minutes remaining in the half, but Oregon State held Notre Dame scoreless for the following three minutes on their way to a strong 37-29 halftime lead. McGraw said it was important for her inexperienced team to face adversity for the first time this season.

“It’s a learning experience,” McGraw said. “That’s where we are. [Senior forward] Kathryn Westbeld is just coming back, she hasn’t played with [graduate student guard] Lili [Thompson] or [junior forward] Jess [Shepard] so she’s learning too, learning how they play, Lili’s new, Jess is new, we’re a whole new team than last year. Last year we’d always try to throw the ball up to [senior forward] Bri [Turner] when we needed to score, this year we have to figure out a way to get the guards to score, so we have some issues we have to work out, but we have talent and they can score.”

When the Beavers looked to have come out for the second half on top, the Irish comeback seemed extremely unlikely. But trailing by 11 points, the Irish went on an 11-2 run featuring seven points by Young to cut the lead back to just two points. After junior forward Marina Mabrey tied the score with less than three minutes left in the quarter, Ogunbowale gave the Irish their first lead with a 3-pointer, one of only two 3’s the Irish made all game on just four attempts, a stark contrast to the Beavers’ 24 attempts from beyond the arc.

However, the Irish were far from done. The Beavers took the lead back before the end of the period, and it changed hands five times in the fourth quarter. A 3-point shot for sophomore guard Kat Tudor put the Irish behind by a score of 64-62 with barely over three minutes remaining, but Ogunbowale again gave the Irish a lead before Young extended it to five points with two layups. With 22 seconds left and the Irish leading by three points, Ogunbowale missed a jumper, but collected the rebound herself, forcing the Beavers to foul and made both free throws to seal the game at 72-67.

Young led the Irish with 21 points, bouncing back from a 1-of-4 first half, while Ogunbowale scored 15 points.

“I thought Jackie Young finally stepped up and did what she’s capable of doing, and then Arike at the end just took over,” McGraw said.

McGraw added that halftime adjustments allowed Young to take advantage of the Beavers defense.

“We ran a different set for her after halftime to get the ball and make that decision, whether she was going to drive it or pass it,” McGraw said. “She did a great job, she realized they couldn’t guard it and just took it to the basket every single time.”

The Irish totalled only eight assists, six in the second half, with Thompson dishing out four of the team’s total. The Irish outrebounded the Beavers 23-12 in the second half. Although Notre Dame’s offensive numbers were not up to the team’s usual standard, they were well above average for teams playing the staunch Oregon State defense, who gave up the most points in a game since Nov. 22 of last season against Marquette.