Feb. 8, 2017
By Leigh Torbin
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The No. 7 Notre Dame women's basketball team comprises a full 10% of the remaining candidates for both the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy. The two national player of the year awards reduced their candidate rolls to 20 and 30, respectively, on Wednesday as Lindsay Allen and Brianna Turner appeared on both lists while Arike Ogunbowale was included with the Naismith Top 30.
On pace to break both the Notre Dame and ACC career assist records over the next couple of weeks, Allen is leading the ACC this season in assists (193), assists per game (7.7) and assist to turnover ratio (3.51). Allen ranks among the top three nationally in each of those categories as well. Allen leads all active players nationally with her 752 career assists. In addition to helping facilitate the offense for the nation's 17th-ranked scoring offense at 78.3 points per game, Allen has helped Notre Dame's defense as she ranks 37th nationally with her 59 steals.
Named a Nancy Lieberman Award finalist on Monday for the third year in a row, Allen has three 12-assist games to her credit this season, one of them coming on Dec. 27 at Chattanooga when she recorded the sixth triple-double in school history. Allen joined Notre Dame's 1,000-point club this season and also became just the fourth Notre Dame player to log over 4,000 career minutes played. She has yet to miss a start in her 137-game career during which Notre Dame has compiled a 128-9 record.
Turner has continued to be one of the country's top performers at both ends of the floor this winter. She is one of just two players nationally to rank in the top 20 for both field goal percentage (58.6%) and blocked shots (57). Turner leads the ACC in both categories along with blocked shots per game (2.28). Just a junior, Turner's 234 career blocked shot already rank second in Notre Dame history behind only the legendary Ruth Riley's 370. The sum also stands 12th in ACC history.
Turner has tallied double figures in 21 out of 25 games this season. She eclipsed the 1,000-career point plateau on Nov. 30 in a win at Iowa and has since moved up to 23rd place in Notre Dame history with 1,286. Her career field goal percentage of 61.4% is second only to Riley in Irish lore and fourth-best all-time in the elite ACC. While Turner's double-double count is down this season, she has been at her best in big games as four of her six have come against ranked teams (No. 17 Washington, No. 1 UConn, No. 16 DePaul and No. 14 Duke).
Ogunbowale leads the Irish this year at 15.0 points per game, in part due to her vastly improved 3-point shooting. Ogunbowale has connected on 44.2% this year from downtown (38-of-86), standing second in the conference. Meanwhile, her defensive work has not suffered as her 33 steals ties for second on the Irish behind only Allen.
Ogunbowale started her year off in style, earning ACC and espnW national Player of the Week honors for her role in helping the Irish to the Preseason WNIT title, culminating in a win over No. 17 Washington and including a 30-point performance against Central Michigan. She has continued that offensive leadership role in particular up to the present. On Feb. 2 at Virginia Tech she recorded her first career double-double, scoring a team-high 16 points while setting career highs with her 10 rebounds and six assists to push the Irish past the Hokies. Ogunbowale has thrice gone over 20 points in ACC play to lead the Irish in scoring during league play, including her 22-point effort in Monday night's convincing win over No. 12 Louisville.
The Irish (22-3, 10-1 ACC) will be back in action at 1 p.m. on Sunday when they play host to Georgia Tech in the program's annual Pink Zone game, raising awareness for breast cancer. The game will be broadcast regionally via the ACC Network so check your local listings. For fans outside of those selected markets (including South Bend), the game will be available online through the WatchESPN app or at ESPN3.com.
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.