- Associated Press - Sunday, January 7, 2018

ATLANTA (AP) - Arike Ogunbowale went through a long scoreless stretch in her last game, so Notre Dame’s star guard wanted to make an early statement.

“I was just trying to attack and set the tone,” she said. “We wanted to come out in this game and quickly establish our mindset. Fortunately it worked out for us today.”

Ogunbowale scored 25 points, Jackie Young added 14 and No. 2 Notre Dame had no trouble winning its eighth straight game with a 77-54 victory Sunday over Georgia Tech.

Despite injuries reducing their roster to seven scholarship players and three walk-ons, the Fighting Irish (15-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) used a dominant inside game to put Georgia Tech away early with a 30-point halftime lead.

Kaylan Pugh had 17 points and Francesca Pan scored 12, but they were the only Yellow Jackets to finish in double figures. Georgia Tech (12-5, 1-3) gave itself no chance, missing 22 of their first 27 shots from the field and looking nothing like the team that played No. 3 Louisville tough in a narrow home loss Dec. 28.

Notre Dame was so good in the first two quarters that coach Muffet McGraw couldn’t find one fault.

“The first half was about as well as we’ve played,” she said. “I thought we did a really good job, came out strong. Of course we shot the ball really well.”

Jessica Shepard added 12 points and Kristina Nelson 10 for the Irish. Marina Mabrey, coming off two straight 20-point games, finished with just four points, but McGraw was pleased with her performance.

“She has so much on her back right now running the point, so much to do, and she’s got to think for everybody,” McGraw said. “She’s having to defend, and I think she’s doing a really good job on both ends of the floor. They were guarding her. She didn’t force anything. I was really happy with her game.”

Notre Dame showed why it continues to be one of the nation’s most dominant programs as it tries to set the ACC record of sweeping the league regular season and tournament titles in five straight years.

Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph was hoping the pedigree of a national powerhouse would’ve helped the Jackets raise their game. It didn’t happen.

“I’m disappointed with our effort,” she said. “When we don’t play hard, I have to take responsibility for that.”

Ogunbowale did as she pleased in the paint and on the perimeter, finishing with her 12th game of at least 20 points, most in the ACC. It was a seamless afternoon compared to a 28-minute scoring drought she had in the Irish’s win over Miami on Thursday.

“I think as a team we came out pretty slow in our last game,” Ogunbowale said. “With our defense playing so well in the first half, that freed up a lot of things for me on the offensive end.”


Maybe it’s no surprise that Georgia Tech dropped to 0-9 in the series against Notre Dame. The Jackets’ ragged start was likely caused in part to getting snowed in for two nights after losing at Syracuse and not getting back home until Saturday. Georgia Tech hasn’t beaten a top 10 opponent since 2011.


Notre Dame: The Irish have moved on despite since last March losing All-American forward Brianna Turner, guard Mychal Johnson, forward Mikayla Thompson and point guard Lili Thompson to season-ending knee injuries. McGraw has navigated other injuries, too, with Shepard (ankle) and Young (broken nose) hurt during the season and Kathryn Westbeld start to the season slowed by recovery from ankle surgery.

Georgia Tech: The Jackets began the game ranking first in ACC turnover margin at 5.8, but they didn’t give themselves much of a chance with sloppy ball handling. They committed 22 miscues, leading to 31 points for the Irish, but Joseph was even more disappointed to watch her team get outscored 56-22 in the paint.

“That’s about toughness,” Joseph said. “If anybody gets 56 points in the paint, that’s about toughness. I don’t think that’s happened in my career.”


Notre Dame: Visits No. 3 Louisville on Thursday.

Georgia Tech: Visits North Carolina State on Wednesday.

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