Notre Dame routs Bethune-Cookman, faces Spartans in second round

Published 1:44 pm Saturday, March 23, 2019

NOTRE DAME — Bigger, faster, stronger.

That is what visiting Bethune-Cookman found out about No. 1 seed Notre Dame in its opening round game of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Saturday afternoon.

The Fighting Irish used their height advantage against the Wildcats in a 92-50 victory.

Jessica Shepard and Brianna Turner combined for 41 points and 22 rebounds as Notre Dame advanced to Monday night’s second round against the winner of the Central Michigan and Michigan State game.

Shepard had a double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds, while Turner finished one rebound short of a double-double with 19 points and nine boards.

In all, Notre Dame had four players in doubles figures.

Arike Ogunbowale had a team-high 23 points, while Jackie Young finished with 11 points.

“I thought we played well,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. “I thought our posts did a good job. We were able to get the ball inside when we wanted to. Mikayla Vaughn did a great job off the bench.”

Vaughn finished with nine points and 11 rebounds in 22-plus minutes of play.

The Fighting Irish got off to a bit of a slow start as it struggled to find Bethune-Cookman’s standout Angel Golden, who finished with a game-high 25 points.

Notre Dame led just 11-7 at the first media time out with 4:49 to play in the opening quarter.

The Fighting Irish would outscore the Wildcats 18-5 over the final four minutes to open up a 29-12 lead heading into the second quarter.

“We were having trouble finding the shooters, especially Golden, who played very well,” McGraw said. “We were really trying to emphasize that we had to find her all time. I just though we just got a little bit careless and had a couple of turnovers that were careless. I think we got a little more focused after that time out.”

The Fighting Irish started to pound the ball inside and got some timely outside shooting from Ogunbowale and Young.

The Fighting Irish (31-3) led by as many as 44 points in the second half before McGraw emptied her bench.

Bethune-Cookman finished the season 21-11. Besides Golden, the Wildcats also got six points from Amaya Scott.

The Fighting Irish will face Michigan State University at 7 p.m. today after the Spartans held off scrappy Central Michigan University 88-87 in the second game on Saturday.

The Spartans jumped out to an early 12-point lead, but Central Michigan battled back to make it 25-20 after one quarter.

Michigan State (21-11) led 43-40 at halftime, which it extended to 66-61 entering the final quarter.

Central Michigan (25-8) outscored the Spartans in the final 10 minutes, but could not make up the deficit.

Sidney Cooks led five Michigan State players in double figures with 21 points. The Spartans also got 16 points from Nia Clouden, 13 points from Shay Colley, 12 points from Taryn McCutheon and 10 points from Jenna Allen.

Central Michigan’s Reyna Frost led all scorers with 34 points.

Mcaela Kelly and Prestley Hudson finished with 24 and 20 points respectively.