SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Everything was working for the No. 4 Notre Dame women on Monday night.
When the Fighting Irish (26-3, 13-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) weren’t destroying No. 17 Syracuse (20-7, 9-5 ACC) with 60 points in the paint, they went outside and hit 7 of 16 from beyond the arc in an overpowering 98-68 win.
Arike Ogunbowale had 24 points as all five starters scored in double figures. Brianna Turner had 22 points, Jessica Shepard had 17 points and 13 rebounds, Marina Mabrey had 17 points, and Jackie Young finished with 10 points and 12 assists for the Irish. The win was their eighth over a ranked opponent this season.
“I thought we played a really good game tonight,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. “We were trying to go a little more on the high-low game today and shoot perimeter jumpers, and I thought we could get them. We did a pretty good job of that.
“We’re good at it (high-low offense), and that’s where our strength lies. I think our guards are terrific, and we like to get the inside game going so we can get the zone to suck in a little bit and then shoot some jumpers.”
Tiana Mangakahia led the Orange with 17 points — all in the second half. Miranda Drummond had 14, and Digna Strautmane and Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi each had 10. The Orange are now 3-6 this season against nationally ranked teams, half the losses coming at home.
Notre Dame dominated at both ends of the court. The Irish outscored Syracuse 60-40 in the paint, scored 16 fast-break baskets, forced 16 turnovers and out-rebounded Syracuse 46-34. The Irish also shared the basketball with 29 assists on 38 made field goals.
Notre Dame shot 58 percent from the field and held the Orange to 38 percent shooting, including 6 of 20 from 3.
“I think we were on. It was a good day for us,” said Ogunbowale. “It was a credit to our post (game). It was a good inside-out game.”
Things fell apart for the Orange women in the second quarter. Syracuse hit just 3 of 13 shots as Notre Dame outscored the Orange 22-8 in the period. After Syracuse drew to within three on a layup by Emily Engstler with 8:23 to go, Notre Dame went on a 16-0 run over the next six minutes and outscored the Orange 38-11 overall to take its largest lead, 64-34, with 4:32 left in the third. The Orange went on a 10-0 run, but that was the closest Syracuse would get.
“I guess we just lost our heads,” Drummond said. “We weren’t focused. I feel like maybe some of us let our heads down a little bit. We had a lot of turnovers and people weren’t hustling back.”
“Notre Dame is one of the top two transition teams in the country,” Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman said. “You can’t play with them a whole quarter with them playing downhill.
“Obviously, I’m very disappointed,” he added. “This is a game you have a great opportunity to come to the home floor and beat a very good team, and we didn’t take advantage of the opportunity. Very disappointing. I’ve got to find a way to get our players to play at their high level in games like this.”
All the Syracuse women could do was admire Notre Dame’s effort.
“Man, that’s a lot of assists,” said Mangakahia, who leads the ACC in assists. “It’s sharing the basketball, what really wins you the game. Sharing it, everyone scoring, everyone contributing, no matter if it’s points, assists or steals, just contributing.
“That’s a great thing to have, and it’s hard to guard when they’re moving the ball fast. They do good things all around. They’re really great at every position.”
Syracuse, which averaged 2,110 fans per game at home, drew 7,568 on a bitter winter’s night in central New York. The Orange had hoped to break its all-time attendance mark of 11,021 but high winds and the cold kept many away. The game came two days after the Orange men attracted a crowd of 35,642 in the game against Duke, a national record for a college game played on a campus.
Notre Dame leads the series with Syracuse 33-2 and is 15-1 at Syracuse. Hillsman has never beaten the Irish. He’s 0-14 against them.
Notre Dame has eight wins over ranked teams and its strength of schedule should put the defending national champions in the mix for a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Syracuse is still vying to be included in the NCAA’s top 16 so it can be a host for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
Notre Dame hosts Virginia Sunday.
Syracuse hits the road Thursday for a matchup with Florida State.
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