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Irish rally past Orange

Despite a flurry of three-pointers by No. 21 Syracuse, the No. 7 Notre Dame show grit in 85-80 win over the Orange in its final regular-season road outing on Sunday.

After barely escaping with a victory at Clemson three days earlier, it appeared as though Notre Dame (25-3, 13-1) wasn’t going to be so lucky against Syracuse (18-9, 9-5). But a career night by junior Brianna Turner, a 15-0 run in the fourth period and a 44-20 rebound advantage allowed the Irish to secure the win.

Turner quietly scored a career-high 31 points to go with nine rebounds and moved into 20th on the Irish all-time scoring list. Marina Mabrey was the only other double-digit scorer for Notre Dame with 22 points, her third straight game with more than 20 points. Kathryn Westbeld, returning to the starting lineup after battling an ankle injury, added eight points and six assists, while rookie Jackie Young had a team-high 12 rebounds to go with eight points.

Four Orangewomen posted double-digit efforts, led by Alexis Peterson who had 19 points and 14 assists for her seventh double-double of the season. Brittney Sykes also had 19 points, while Briana Day and Gabby Cooper each added 18.

The Orangewomen jumped out to a quick 11-2 lead behind their three-point shooting, and led by as many as 13 in the first period. But Mabrey, coming off a season-high game against Clemson, never let Syracuse get too far ahead. The Orange, who average nine treys a game, connected on six in the first 10 minutes, while Mabrey tallied 13 of her own points to cut Syracuse’s cushion to 30-24 at the end of one.

The Irish managed to get as close as two points in the second period, but the Orange answered every time. The good news for Notre Dame was that with Allen and Turner on the bench for short stints with foul trouble, Mychal Johnson and Ali Patberg received some minutes after dealing with a separated shoulder and the flu, respectively, over the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, Johnson was lost for the game just seconds before the half with an ankle injury and Syracuse leading 43-35.

Syracuse let the Irish creep back in after the break, tying the score at 63 with 8:07 left in the quarter. But the Orange still maintained a four-point lead heading into the final period. Then the Irish went to work and used a 15-0 run to pull ahead for the first time with 7:51 remaining. Turner scored 18 of her 31 in the second half and, despite some late misses at the free-throw line, Notre Dame held on for the victory before a record-breaking crowd at the Carrier Dome. 

“We just need to get a stop and guard the three-point line better,” stated Turner when asked about Syracuse’s hot shooting in the beginning. They were hitting them deep too so we needed to go out on them even farther. But (then in the second half) we were making smart cuts and I felt like the ‘ACC’ area (on the floor) was open so Kat and Erin (Boley) did a really good job of getting to the slot and our guards got it to them which just equaled me cutting down there for a layup.”

Notre Dame returns home to host Boston College on Feb. 23.

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