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5-peat? Notre Dame gets needed boost, on verge of ACC history

Notre Dame had zero points from its diminished bench, but that did not keep the Fighting Irish from making it back to the ACC Championship game for the fifth consecutive year.

NCAA Womens Basketball: ACC Tournament Notre Dame vs Florida State Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Greensboro, N.C. -- Notre Dame's diminished bench did not keep the Fighting Irish from knocking out the Florida State Seminoles, 90 - 80.

While the Irish finished with a 10 points advantage, Notre Dame certainly did not have a cakewalk to the victory.

Marina Mabrey was a force for the Fighting Irish in the first half. Mabrey could not miss. In the first period alone, the junior guard racked up 12 points. She had 17 points at the half.

Behind Mabrey, Notre Dame jumped out to an early 23-15 lead in the first frame. The Fighting Irish were able to hold off Shakayla Thomas, who scored eight consecutive points for the Seminoles. The Irish forced three Seminole turnovers and went on a 10 - 0 run, while holding Florida State scoreless for nearly three minutes.

But, Florida State was determined to fight back. The Seminoles outscored the Fighting Irish, 28-19, before the half. Nicki Ekhomu led Florida State with 12 points in the second quarter. At the half, Florida State had turned a nine point deficit into a one point lead, 43-42.

The Seminoles did not let off the gas in the third period. Florida State would go up as much as eight points behind Thomas, while keeping the Fighting Irish scoreless for nearly two and half minutes. Notre Dame was forced to burn a timeout.

While the Fighting Irish were down, they were not out. Notre Dame stormed back on a 14-4 run to close out the third frame. The Irish would go on to outscore the Seminoles 40-24 and take a 90-80 victory.

The key factor to Notre Dame's rally was Arike Ogunbowale. The guard, who picked up a technical foul in there second quarter for tripping Ekhomu, turned her frustration into momentum. Ogunbowale went 2-of-5 in the first half. In the second half, the guard kicked it up, going 7-of-13 from the field. Ogunbowale finished the game with 20 points.

Top Scorers:

Notre Dame had five players notch double-figures: Marina Mabrey led all scorers with 27 points, on 8-of-17 shooting. Despite only scoring four points in the first half, Arike Ogunbowale finished with 20 points, seven boards and five assists. Jessica Shepard went 11-of-11 from the charity stripe, 3-of-5 from the field, to collect 17 points, while Jackie Young added 14 points. Rounding out the top scorers for Notre Dame was Kathryn Westbeld who racked up 12 points.

For the Seminoles, three players grabbed double-digits: Shakayla Thomas led Florida State with 24 points and seven rebounds. Nicki Ekhomu added 18 points, six boards and five assists, while Imani Wright collected 13 points.

Next Up:

The Fighting Irish are set to face the top seeded Louisville Cardinals for the ACC Championship on Sunday at 2 PM (EST).