Notre Dame women’s basketball probably isn’t in the Final Four if Jessica Shepard doesn’t leave her home state.
Just one year ago, Jessica Shepard was on a Nebraska team that finished the season with a 7-22 record. Fast-forward to now and she’s a key piece to the Notre Dame women’s basketball Final Four run.
Some people believe everything happens for a reason. If you follow Notre Dame women’s hoops, Shepard’s departure from the college she grew up one hour away from would qualify as “everything.” Her subsequent arrival in South Bend, outstanding performance all season and role in Notre Dame’s journey to the Final Four would be “the reason.”
After leaving the Nebraska program for apparently a number of reasons, you could argue that she more than anyone on the Irish roster saved the season.
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She wasn’t supposed to be here. She was never part of the plan. Yet now, here she is, serving as Notre Dame’s only true threat as a scorer and rebounder down low thanks to ACL injuries to both Brianna Turner and Mikayla Vaughn.
Jessica Shepard has embraced the somewhat unexpected role and given the Irish a physical presence that has helped make up for some of the talent lost to injury. She has averaged 28.7 minutes per game and put up an average of 15.6 points in each outing. She’s also the team’s leading rebounder by a considerable margin, hauling down 291 total boards on the year.
ESPN recently cited her as one the biggest keys to the Irish pulling off a possible upset over UConn this Friday night.
Whether or not you believe that everything happens for a reason, there’s no denying that Jessica Shepard’s presence has been nothing short of a blessing for Notre Dame this season. SO while Coach McGraw and Arike Ogunbowale are cleaning up hardware as a result of what ended up being a pretty magical season in South Bend, don’t forget — those individual honors and the overall success the team had this season may not have been possible without Jessica Shepard on the roster.