It had been almost three years to the day since Notre Dame and Robert Morris last met – the only other time in their histories – and it was under the same circumstances…as a matchup between the No. 1 seed and the No. 16 seed. And the outcomes were the same.
This time, Arike Ogunbowale (15 points and 10 rebounds) and Brianna Turner (13 points and 10 boards) led the way for the Irish (31-3), each posting double doubles. Marina Mabrey (15) and Lindsay Allen (14) also had double-digit scoring efforts. The Irish shot 52.5 percent for the game, and had 17 assists on 32 field goals.
A Niki Stamolamprou paced Robert Morris with 19 points, hitting five of 11 three-point attempts. Megan Smith chipped in 10 points and also led the Colonials with five rebounds.
It took approximately five seconds for Notre Dame to score its first bucket en route to a 10-0 start, and it appeared the Irish were going to run away with the game. But the Colonials weren’t going to go quietly, and peeled off an 8-0 run of its own to close the gap.
But Notre Dame handled the pressure and managed to increase its lead, 24-12, at the end of the first period. With 6:25 left before the half, Allen picked up her second personal foul and headed to the bench. But even with their leader sidelined, the Irish increased their cushion to 39-25 at intermission.
It was more of the same for Notre Dame in the second half, as the Irish took control of the game. It allowed Irish head coach Muffet McGraw the ability to give her starters some extended time on the bench, and get some of the other players, and particularly the freshmen, some extra post-season playing time.
“I was pleased with the way Lindsay got us off to a really good start, and I thought Marina had a really good game overall,” McGraw said. “I thought we looked a little rusty at times defensively but overall, first game, a lot of good things.”
The Irish will face in-state rival and No. 9-seeded Purdue, 74-62 winners over Green Bay, on Mar. 19.