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Irish get back on winning track

Notre Dame ended a six-game road swing with a 55-38 victory at Georgia Tech after dropping its first conference opener in a decade five days earlier.

Despite a sluggish offensive performance at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta on Monday night, the No. 7-ranked Irish (13-2, 1-1) turned up the intensity on the other end and limited the Yellow Jackets (11-3, 0-1) to their worst scoring night in more than a decade.

Georgia Tech's 38 points matched its lowest total since a 61-38 loss to Virginia on Jan. 10, 2005.

Notre Dame shot 40.4 percent from the floor and had 15 assists on 23 buckets, while Georgia Tech shot a paltry 14-of-58 (24.1 percent), including 1-of-8 from beyond the arc.

"This was a grind-it-out type of game," noted Irish associate coach Beth Cunningham. "We didn't shoot the ball well, but we went on the road and won with defense and rebounding. We didn't start great, but we finished well."

Notre Dame sophomore Arike Ogunbowale led all scorers with 18 points, and also was the only player to reach double digits for either team. Brianna Turner was Notre Dame's second-leading scorer with nine points, but she also had 11 rebounds and matched her career high of six blocks.

Zaire O'Neil paced Georgia Tech with nine points and 13 rebounds.

The Irish led 17-9 after the first period before Ogunbowale hit her stride. Behind her burst in the second, Notre Dame managed to double up Georgia Tech by the half, 34-17. The Yellow Jackets connected on just 7-of-32 first-half shots, while Ogunbowale went 6-for-12 to account for 14 of Notre Dame's points. 

Ogunbowale and the Irish were slowed somewhat in the second half, but Georgia Tech couldn't overcome the hole which it dug for itself. Notre Dame led 47-28 after the third period and then didn't score until the 5:06 mark of the final quarter. But the Irish were more efficient on offense throughout the game and employed a seldom-used zone defense to come out on top of the Yellow Jackets in the end.

"We were able to play a lot of zone, and we really did a great job of preparing for that," Cunningham said. "So we have something else we can go to (besides man-to-man) which is great. Overall, our kids really bounced back (from the N.C. State loss)."

Notre Dame will be back home for the first time since Dec. 7 when it hosts Wake Forest on Jan. 5.

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