Matt Cashore /

Irish Clinch Regular-Season ACC Title

Offense and defense came together as No. 4 Notre Dame routed No. 8 Florida State 79-61 to capture a fourth consecutive league crown.

Behind a hot shooting start, the Irish (27-3, 15-1) jumped out to a quick lead using a balanced inside-outside attack. As expected, the Seminoles (25-5, 13-3) made several runs with thoughts of an upset in mind and a share of the ACC regular-season title. But the Irish weathered the storm en route to the victory.

Leading the way for the Irish was Brianna Turner who had 24 points and six rebounds. Arike Ogunbowale (19 points) and Kathryn Westbeld (14 points) also posted double-digit efforts for Notre Dame. Lindsay Allen posted nine assists to tie the program’s career mark. The Irish shot 54.4 percent and hit 10-of-18 three-point attempts.

Florida State was led by Brittany Brown who paced the squad in both points (16) and rebounds (6), Leticia Romero added 14 points and Shakayla Thomas chipped in 10. The Seminoles were 25-of-60 from the floor (41.7 percent), but hit just 4-of-14 beyond the arc.

Notre Dame controlled the tip and built a 10-point advantage during the first period.

By halftime the Irish led 43-30, not that the rest of the game went without some drama.

Allen picked up her fourth foul with 6:04 left in the final period, forcing head coach Muffet McGraw into a lineup decision with a 64-55 lead. Instead of going back to Ali Patberg, McGraw rolled with Turner, Ogunbowale, Kathryn Westbeld, Marina Mabrey and Jackie Young.
That group not only kept the Seminoles at bay, they increased the lead.

“That was probably the best game we played all year,” McGraw said. “It was great to have the competition to get us ready for the tournament. We were anointed early on and didn't handle it very well. Then we were able to earn our way back. I think that says a lot for this team and what they've overcome to get there. We worried about our toughness when we were taking our lumps early, and I think they really showed us a lot the way they came out together today and played so hard.

"I love where we're at right now. I think we're exactly where we should be."

With the win, Notre Dame earned the top seed in the ACC tournament and a double bye. They will play on Mar. 3 in the quarterfinals against the winner of Virginia-Wake Forest in Conway, S.C. Top Stories