The No. 19 Marquette women’s basketball team faced a bit of a reality check Saturday afternoon, losing 87-63 to No. 2 Notre Dame in the Fighting Irish’s first trip to the Al McGuire Center since 2013.
The loss snapped Marquette’s nine-game home winning streak and was the second overall loss in the last 35 days.
Marquette remained within five points of Notre Dame for most of the first half, but the Golden Eagles had no answers for the Fighting Irish’s paint attack. Notre Dame outscored Marquette 62-30 in the paint.
“The pace was a lot slower tonight, so the bigs were able to dominate more than they did (at) Mississippi State,” Marquette head coach Carolyn Kieger said. “They were able to pack the paint on us.”
Notre Dame amassed a 13-point halftime lead despite not hitting a 3-pointer until the second half. The Fighting Irish had a 36-12 scoring advantage in the paint in the first half.
After an Erika Davenport three from the left side cut Marquette’s deficit to 31-27, Notre Dame went on an 11-0 run to take a 15-point lead. Marquette never cut the lead to fewer than 13 after that.
“We knew that they were going to make runs,” senior guard Natisha Hiedeman said. “It’s how we responded to it. We didn’t respond well to it.”
Notre Dame guard Arike Ogunbowale and forward Brianna Turner combined to score 52 points on 22-for-33 shooting.
Ogunbowale had 25 points in the first half, and then she scored Notre Dame’s first 11 points in the second half.
“I couldn’t ask for more than that,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “She shot the ball extremely well, played well (and) did everything she had to do.”
“She’s so explosive and shifty,” Kieger said. “She can shoot the three, and she can get by you. … She hit some high-level pull-ups, she attacked the ball off the bounce and she played a great overall game.”
Turner came two rebounds short of a double-double while taking advantage of a size mismatch against Marquette senior guard Allazia Blockton.
“We wanted to eliminate her deep catches and make sure she wasn’t catching the ball in the restricted area,” Kieger said. “They were lobbing it up to her.”
Marquette normally would rely on its tempo in games against bigger opponents, but Notre Dame controlled the fastbreak as well, outscoring Marquette 25-15.
The Fighting Irish limited Blockton, who received recognition for becoming the Marquette program’s all-time leading scorer before the game, to four points.
“She was just passive to start the game,” Kieger said. “She missed a couple easy buckets, and then I think it got into her head a little bit.”
Marquette struggled to find quality shot attempts against Notre Dame’s two-three zone and man-to-man defenses, shooting 34 percent from the field and 23 percent from three.
“We stood a lot. We ball-watched. We watched one player dribble in the same spot quite a bit,” Kieger said. “We have to fix our offense and our movement.”
McGraw said she wasn’t as certain about the success of the two-three zone at the beginning of the game, but it was necessary against a Marquette team very quick off the dribble.
The win had special meaning for Ogunbowale, who played with Blockton and fellow Marquette senior Amani Wilborn in summer travel basketball.
“It was cool to be able to play against them at the college level,” Ogunbowale said.
The Golden Eagles will have a week to regroup before hosting Providence for the start of BIG EAST play.
“I would’ve hoped to be able to give them our best shot. We obviously did not do that tonight,” Kieger said. “We’ll regroup, we’ll get better over this break and hopefully go into conference play ready to be the Marquette team that we are.”