South Bend, Indiana -- As 8,325 fans dressed as superheroes for Super Hero Day, gathered last tonight to watch No. 7 Notre Dame against No. 12 Louisville at the Purcell Pavilion, a couple of “superheroes” were not only in the audience, but on the court as well.
One “superhero” that stood out in tonight’s battle, was Arike Ogunbowale. Her special powers were quick feet, it was as if you saw a flash of light on the court, but in reality, it was Ogunbowale driving through the paint. Her basketball IQ has always proved to be dangerous as numerous times during the game she out-smarted her enemies to break free for an opener jumper or slice and dice her way to the rim.
"It just feels good knowing that I can contribute to my team in the way that I have," a humbled Ogunbowale's stated after her performance last night, which led the Fighting Irish to an 85-66 victory.
Louisville controlled the first two minutes of the game, while Notre Dame tried to find their rhythm. The Cardinals started on a 6-2 run, before Ogunbowale took the reins back, and scored all the Fighting Irish’s points and made it a tied game with six apiece.
Ogunbowale continued to play fearlessly, as she attacked the basket despite being of smaller stature against Louisville’s inside height. To start another 4-0 Irish run, Ogunbowale drove inside the paint to draw traffic; then she found Kathryn Westbeld under the basket for an easy layup to take a 15-12 lead over the Cardinals.
Throughout the entire first half, Notre Dame continued to see the mismatch in the paint and outscored the Cardinals 30-12 in the key. Not only did the Fighting Irish score down-low, but Notre Dame also outrebounded Louisville 19-13 in the first 20 minutes of play -- 10 of which came from the second period alone.
“We shot the ball; we had some phenomenal tip-ins, we rebounded,” Fighting Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “We did everything we needed to do.”
Coming off a double-double performance, Ogunbowale shot 50% from the field yesterday tallying 22 points, a steal, 3 rebounds and 3 assists.
Notre Dame’s honorary superhero tonight, Ogunbowale worked hard for her 20 points. With less than three minutes to go in the game, Ogunbowale missed a possible three-point play as she missed the easy basket. Still upset that she missed, she aggressively guarded the Cardinals’ Laemmle. Ogunbowale’s quick hands got her a fast break layup extending her team’s lead to 79-61.
“She is really good, there is no doubt about it,” McGraw stated on her sophomore’s solid performance.
Ogunbowale led her team with 22 points, but teammates Jackie Young and Lindsay Allen were right behind her with 16 and 15 points, respectively.
Notre Dame took home the win, 85-66 with their superhero flexing her powers in a mighty way.
Ogunbowale and the Fighting Irish will return to the Pavilion on the Sunday for a matchup against Georgia Tech; tipoff is at 1 pm ET.