South Bend, Indiana-- Whether it was on offense or defense, whether it was the bench in the game, or the starters, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish proved they are a force to be reckoned with from top to bottom.
No. 7 Notre Dame defeated the No. 12 Louisville Cardinals 85-66, and it was due in large part to a total team effort on both ends of the court.
The Fighting Irish gained the lead with 3:57 remaining in the first quarter and never looked back. When you look at the box score, it isn’t hard to see why.
On the offensive end of the floor, Notre Dame had five players in double figures. Arike Ogunbowale led the way with 22 while Lindsay Allen had 15 and Brianna Turner added 11 to round out the Notre Dame starters. Jackie Young knocked in 16 while Kathryn Westbeld contributed 14 both off of the bench. The Irish also shot 50 percent from the floor as a team.
Most remarkably, the Irish did a fantastic job taking care of the basketball. They only had three turnovers, which ties a school record for fewest turnovers in a game.
The Irish moved the ball really well throughout the contest and dominated inside. Ogunbowale and Turner had a field day inside the paint, especially during the first half. When the defense would collapse in on either post player, they did a phenomenal job of finding open teammates.
To get a data representation of how well they moved the ball, however, all you need to do is glance at their assist column. Notre Dame had 20 team assists, compared to Louisville’s 11. That 20 includes eight from Allen, the quintessential floor general who has more than proven her ability to navigate the Irish through rough water in times of crisis.
Notre Dame had an incredibly balanced offensive output that prevented the Cardinals from ever taking flight, but their defensive effort was just as impressive.
The Cardinals were kept on the perimeter for most of the night, and as a result, they struggled to get to the free throw line early. All night, Notre Dame did a great job of switching on ball screens which, led to contested three-pointers or jump shots with little penetration.
As a result, Louisville found themselves down by 22 at halftime. In the third, they would cut that lead back to 12, however, it was clear the Cardinals did not have enough offensive output to overcome the stifling Irish defense.
Louisville came into the night at an offensive disadvantage, as top offensive player Myisha Hines-Allen only played one minute due to knee problems. Their offensive problems were only exacerbated when Brihanna Jackson had to leave the game early because of her back. They relied heavily on a stellar offensive night from Asia Durr, who recorded a game-high 31 points.
However, it was evident her stellar game was not enough to combat the stellar team game the Irish had going on from tip-off.