Jan. 26, 2017
By Leigh Torbin
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - In No. 8/9 Notre Dame women's basketball's 62-58 win over No. 14/15 Duke Thursday night at Purcell Pavilion, Brianna Turner had 25 points and 12 rebounds while Lindsay Allen chipped in 12 assists. The trio of double digit figures leap off the box score of Notre Dame's 37th consecutive home win in conference play. The number which left Notre Dame's Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Women's Basketball Coach Muffet McGraw gushing postgame was the seven rebounds for Kathryn Westbeld.
Westbeld had not even so much as practiced since injuring her right ankle in practice on Jan. 18. She was considered a game-time decision tonight but started and played 26 minutes on that bad wheel, scoring six points, adding an assist and two steals while producing the fourth quarter spurt which sealed the victory before a fervent 8,309 fans.
The Irish were up by seven points, 58-51, at the 4:50 mark when Notre Dame got the ball off of a Duke turnover, one of 11 in the second half for the Blue Devils. The Irish took the shot clock down to zero before Marina Mabrey launched an off-mark 3-pointer but Westbeld grabbed the offensive rebound. Again, Notre Dame took the full 30 seconds off of the clock with Mabrey trying a three from the corner but this one would clank off of the rim with Westbeld again retrieving the carom. Finally, at the 3:29 mark, Westbeld, with a lay-up, finished a 1:21 clock-draining possession she had prolonged twice offensive rebounds and left the Irish with a nine-point cushion.
"It was an awesome boost for us," Turner said of the Westbeld rebounds. "We were able to extend the shot clock, have long possessions and just keep the ball away from Duke which was the goal. It was crucial for us. (They were) the game-winning plays."
"A Herculean effort," McGraw said about Westbeld's night. "She played through a lot of pain. I'm sure we won't practice for the next of days. Hopefully she'll be able to play Sunday (against Virginia). "Those (rebounds) are momentum killers for the other team. Every time you get an offensive rebound, they get deflated. And then you get another one and they get a little more (deflated). And then you score on it. I think that was such a big turn-around. I think that was clearly the difference in the game."
Notre Dame moved to 19-3 on the year and 7-1 in ACC play, keeping pace with No. 6 Florida State as the league's last one-loss teams. The Blue Devils fell to 17-4 and 5-3 in league play as they suffered their 12th consecutive loss to the Irish.
Lindsay Allen crossed the 4,000-career minute plateau tonight during her sixth full 40-minute game of the season. How she hit the milestone was befitting of someone with 725 career assists. The 34th minute (her 4,000th) became official with 6:29 left to play. At precisely that moment, Allen ripped an entry pass into Kathryn Westbeld whose 12-foot jumper at 6:28 put Notre Dame up 56-50. Allen recorded a second assist during her milestone minute at the 5:49 mark when she rifled a high-low pass to Brianna Turner for a layup.
Allen's 12 assists tied her career high set on Nov. 26 against TCU and matched during her triple-double at Chattanooga on Dec. 27. With 725 in her career, Allen is now just two assists shy of matching her position coach, Niele Ivey, for third place in school history at 727. Allen is also on the cusp of surpassing two ACC legends in North Carolina's Nikki Teasley (728) and Virginia's Dawn Staley (729) for fourth and third place, respectively, on the ACC career assist chart.
Now with 4,006 career minutes played, Allen is the fourth Notre Dame player to amass 4,000 minutes of action for the Irish, joining Skylar Diggins (4,639), Alicia Ratay (4,231) and Megan Duffy (4,188).
Turn-ing Up the Heat Quickly
Brianna Turner started the game proverbially on fire, helping offset a slow start by her teammates. Turned scored each of Notre Dame's first eight points of the game, hitting on two of three from the field and all four of her free throws, while grabbing five rebounds and blocking a shot in the opening frame. The rest of the team scored a total of nine points on 4-for-12 shooting with just four rebounds. A total of five costly turnovers (one by Turner) led to 11 first quarter Duke points.
"We were really depending on her," McGraw said. " I was hoping somebody else would make a shot so that they could get some confidence too. We were trying to go to her too because she obviously had the hot hand."
Notre Dame trailed Duke, 24-17, after the first quarter tonight, just the third time in 22 games where the Irish have been behind its foe after 10 minutes, joining losses to UConn (Dec. 7) and NC State (Dec. 29).
Turner's Big Nights Come in Pairs
Brianna Turner finished the game with her sixth double-double of the season. Oddly, the double-doubles have come in three pairs of back-to-back games. Turner picked up double-doubles on Nov. 20 and 22 against Washington and UL-Lafayette, on Dec. 7 and 10 against UConn and DePaul and, now, on Jan. 22 and 26 against North Carolina and Duke.
Also of note, four of Turner's six double-doubles have come against ranked teams in No. 17 Washington (since moved up to 7), No. 1 UConn, No. 16 DePaul and No. 14 Duke. Turner also grabbed 10 rebounds in the win at No. 14 Miami but only scored seven points against the Hurricanes.
Turner was credited with two blocked shots tonight, giving her 227 in her career. That sum ties Devereaux Peters for second in school history. Both are vastly behind the school record of 370 set by Ruth Riley.
Mabrey Shines as End of Third Proves Crucial
Notre Dame did not lead at any point tonight until Erin Boley sank a mid-range jumper with 4:49 left in the third quarter that put the Irish on top, 40-39. The final 5:00 of the third quarter would see five lead changes and two ties, but the Irish truly began to pull away with a 6-0 mini run over the final 52 seconds keyed by Marina Mabrey.
Down 46-44, Mabrey missed a jumper but got her own rebound and fed Brianna Turner for the bucket which tied the game. After Lindsay Allen came up with a steal, the Irish rushed the ball down the court and Mabrey hit a jumper to put the Irish up for good, 48-46, with 29 seconds left in the penultimate quarter. The run was not over though as Mabrey got a steal on defense, Ali Patberg pushed it up court and the sequence ended with Turner scoring on a put-back for a 50-46 Irish lead just three seconds before the quarter break.
Lineup Comings and Goings
Kathryn Westbeld rejoined the active roster tonight, starting the contest after missing each of the last two games with an ankle injury. However, Mychal Johnson missed the first of what should be a few games with a shoulder injury suffered earlier this week. Notre Dame has only had all 11 players available for a game twice this season (Dec. 20 at Michigan State and Dec. 27 at Chattanooga).
Notre Dame will celebrate one of its all-time greats as Beth Morgan (Cunningham) joins the school's Ring of Honor on Sunday. The Irish will face Virginia in a noon game with the ceremonies to follow the game. ESPNU will have a national broadcast live from Purcell Pavilion.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications associate director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for Notre Dame's women's basketball and men's golf teams. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.