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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame, Ogunbowale defeat Michigan to continue perfect road trip

The No. 3 Irish defeated No. 22 Michigan on Wednesday evening, 83-63. The game was part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and marked the sixth away win of the season for the Irish, currently the best such mark in the country.

Junior guard Arike Ogunbowale had a big game, tying her career-high of 32 points on 13-20 shooting. Ogunbowale had 20 first-half points, garnering praise from head coach Muffet McGraw.

Eddie Griesedieck | The Observer
Irish junior guard Arike Ogunbowale sets up the offense during Notre Dame's 121-65 win over Mount St. Mary's on Nov. 11 at Purcell Pavilion.

“[Arike Ogunbowale], amazing, just an amazing game. She shot the ball so well, efficiently, made some huge threes at the end of the shot clock,” McGraw said. “We were struggling offensively, and she just carried us, pretty much through the entire first half.”

McGraw said the team looked exhausted during the game, a result of being shorthanded and a lot of travel, especially with their seventh straight away game, against UConn, coming up.

“We were really really tired, we really looked tired at practice — we looked tired in the game — so, I thought to find the adrenaline to get us through that game I thought was a great effort,” McGraw said. “After losing [freshman center] Mikayla Vaughn — not having another player on the bench — depth is short so, really pleased. [The UConn game will] be our seventh game in a row on the road. It’s tough, it’s challenging — mentally challenging when you got a short bench — especially challenging, you really rely on your veterans.”

The Irish (7-0) were effective in containing Michigan’s senior guard Katelynn Flaherty, who ranks second in the nation in points per game with 25.8, but only managed to score 13 against Notre Dame. It was the first time all year Flaherty scored less than 20 points and McGraw said that the key to that defensive scheme was having a total team effort although, also noting that the Irish did a poor job in containing Michigan’s junior center Hallie Thome in the paint.

“I thought [team effort] was the key to the game,” McGraw said. “We had to shut down [Katelynn Flaherty], she’s a great player, great scorer. We needed a lot of help. We needed great team defense, great awareness. I thought we did a really good job on her. [Junior guard Marina Mabrey] got a couple of fouls, put Jackie Young on her. Everybody had a turn guarding her, at some point. I thought we did a pretty good job but, I was disappointed, [Hallie Thome], really hurt us. I thought our inside defense was weak today.”

With Flaherty unable to score consistently, the Wolverines turned to Thome for offense. The junior put up 24 points for Michigan on 8-of-16 shooting. Thome also went 8-of-10 from the free-throw stripe.

Michigan (4-2) kept it close at the half with the Irish up 43-34 after two periods. However, the Irish came out of the locker room and registered a fast start in the third quarter to pull away from the Wolverines. McGraw added that the second half was better, offensively, for the Irish, than the first.

“Yes, I thought we had a really nice stretch to start the third quarter,” McGraw said. “We got some breakaway layups, we got on a little bit of a run, I thought that was good, and then continued to do that. I thought the second half, we were a little better on offense.”

Notre Dame got most of its offensive production from its starting five, as the Irish bench put up only 10 points. However, graduate student guard Lili Thompson played 29 minutes for McGraw, chipping in five points. However, Notre Dame also held the Wolverine bench to just six points on the night.

Notre Dame also out-rebounded Michigan, racking up 42 rebounds to just 28 for the Wolverines. Young led the Irish with 14 boards, picking up a double-double with 18 points as well, and junior forward Jessica Shepherd, senior forward Kathryn Westbeld and Mabrey each chipped in six.

Notre Dame will end its lengthly road trip in a marquee matchup against rival and No. 1 UConn. UConn defeated Notre Dame last year at Purcell Pavilion 72-61. The Irish have not beat the Huskies since 2012, with the Huskies knocking off McGraw's squad in the 2013 Final Four and the 2014 national championship game. McGraw downplayed the significance of the game moving forward.

“It’s another game, early in the year, to see where we are,” she said.