Foul trouble wouldn’t let Notre Dame (15-2, 3-1) pull away from Miami during the first half Sunday. The Hurricanes’ defense didn’t help either, as Miami (13-3, 2-2) looked to repeat its shock upset of Notre Dame from two years ago.
Then the Irish found their groove late in the third quarter and held on for a 67-55 win.
Marina Mabrey, who sat out for several minutes after taking a tough hit on a screen, returned to lead all Notre Dame players with 15 points. Kathryn Westbeld chipped in 14 to go with Arike Ogunbowale’s 11, while Brianna Turner hauled in 10 rebounds. Miami’s Jessica Thomas, Adrienne Motley and Emese Hof also had 15, 14 and 11 points, respectively.
Away from the friendly confines of the Purcell Pavilion again, the No. 7-ranked Irish jumped to a 7-0 lead to start the game. But the luck of the Irish took a tough turn shortly thereafter when senior point guard Lindsay Allen picked up her second personal foul with a little more than a minute left in the first period.
Allen sat for the remainder of the first half which gave sophomore Ali Patberg the first extended play of her Notre Dame career, after suffering an ACL injury last season and battling a lingering virus at the beginning of this season.
Despite some sloppy play, Patberg managed to keep the Notre Dame ship out of rough waters with one assist and just two turnovers in 11 minutes of play against an attacking Miami defense. With the help of Mabrey and freshman Jackie Young, the Irish clung to a 30-29 lead at halftime.
With 8:59 left in the third period, Miami took its first – and only – lead of the game, 33-32, on a pair of free throws by Motley. But an Ogunbowale jumper almost a minute later put Notre Dame out front for good. The Irish increased their cushion to seven points at the end of the third period and led by as many as 16 in the fourth.
“I was elated with Ali Patberg, and Marina Mabrey made some big shots,” said Irish head coach Muffet McGraw. “I was really pleased with our zone defense too. We were active and we communicated well.”
Next up, Notre Dame will host Pittsburgh on Jan. 12.