A regular season ACC game in South Bend featured the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country. The Louisville Cardinals (14-0) looked to remain perfect and claim the top spot in the poll, while the top-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (14-1) looked to avenge a loss in last year’s ACC Championship Game.
The Notre Dame women’s basketball team welcomed the defending ACC champions Louisville to South Bend on Thursday night. Both teams entered the game undefeated in conference play — tied with three other teams at the top of the ACC.
These teams have some history that added fuel to the fire of this rivalry. Last season, Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale finished second to Louisville’s Asia Durr in ACC Player of the Year voting.
Irish head coach Muffet McGraw voiced her displeasure with the voting results. She stated that Ogunbowale had better statistics than “the other player” (referring to Durr). Louisville head coach Jeff Walz took exception to those comments. He confronted McGraw in the post-game handshake line after Louisville defeated Notre Dame in the ACC Championship Game.
Suffice it to say, there is no love lost between these two teams. Here’s how the latest chapter of this ACC rivalry went.
The Cardinals took a 35-33 lead into halftime thanks to the strong play of junior guard Asia Durr. We knew this was going to be a tightly contested game, and the first half was on par with those expectations.
The Irish did a good job attacking the basket, scoring in the paint, and getting to the free throw line. They outrebounded Louisville and used offensive rebounds to start fast breaks as often as they could.
Some low points for Notre Dame in the first half were turnovers and three-point shooting. The Irish committed 11 turnovers and did not hit a single three-pointer.
The third quarter of this contest was controlled by Notre Dame as they outscored the Cardinals 24-12.
Arike Ogunbowale finally got going in the third quarter. She assisted on three baskets and scored seven points, including a three-pointer right before the buzzer.
Notre Dame extended their lead to 12 points with a hair over nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. Do not let the final score fool you, though. The Irish did not cruise to victory.
The Cardinals fought their way back in this one. A 14-4 run made the score 66-64 with just under three minutes to play.
With the pressure turned up to the max, Arike took over. She scored 14 of Notre Dame’s final 16 points, including a three-point dagger to put the Irish up seven with 42 seconds left in the game.
Ogunbowale finished the game with 30 points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals. Notre Dame won by a final score of 82-68.
Next up for the Irish is another ACC opponent. They welcome Wake Forest to Purcell Pavilion this Sunday. After a loss to UConn in December, Notre Dame is hoping to finish the rest of the regular season perfect to claim the top seed in the ACC Tournament. The Irish still have four games on their schedule against teams currently ranked in the top 25.