Final Four MVP Arike Ogunbowale knows No. 1 Notre Dame needs to clean up its act if it hopes to defend its NCAA championship.
“We weren’t focused taking care of the ball today,” Ogunbowale said after scoring 24 points to lead all five starters in double figures as the Fighting Irish routed Boston College 92-63 Sunday.
Ogunbowale will get no argument from coach Muffet McGraw.
After its 11th straight win, Notre Dame (18-1, 6-0 ACC) takes a break away from the league to visit No. 20 Tennessee on Thursday night in a nationally televised game.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“I was really disappointed with the unforced errors and mental mistakes,” McGraw said.
The Fighting Irish had 18 turnovers, including four by Ogunbowale. She contributed five steals and hit 9 of 18 shots, including 3 of 7 3-pointers.
Jackie Young overcame six miscues to have 18 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and three steals. Jessica Shepard added 11 points, 10 rebounds and a team-high six assists. Brianna Turner finished with 16 points and Marina Mabrey had 14.
Freshman Taylor Soule scored 18 points to lead the Eagles (13-6, 2-4). Freshman Makayla Dickens who had 12 points in the first half but went scoreless in the second.
“Notre Dame is the No. 1 team in the country for a reason,” Boston College first-year coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said. “When they are open, they knock down their shots. When they had to take over the boards in the fourth quarter to show their domination, they did.”
The Irish outrebounded the Eagles 14-6 in the final quarter on way to a 40-31 advantage.
Both teams came out shooting well — the Irish were 6 of 8 and the Eagles 5 of 7 — and Boston College led 14-13 on Dickens’ 3-pointer with 5:09 left in the first quarter. But it was Boston College’s last advantage as Notre Dame used an 11-2 run, highlighted by a pair of Ogunbowale 3-pointers, to lead 32-19 after the first quarter.
The Irish used a 9-0 run that included a pair of 3-pointers by Mabrey in building a 20-point lead with 3:04 left before leading 49-34 at halftime.
Ogunbowale’s rush to score just before the third-quarter buzzer made it 67-50 despite the Irish hitting just 7 of 18 shots and going without a field goal for more than three minutes.
Boston College: The Eagles’ 13-player roster includes eight freshmen, two of them starters in guard Dickens and Marnella Garraud. Dickens had 12 points at halftime with the help of 3-for-3 shooting on 3-pointers. But the Irish shut her out in the second half as she missed all five shots, including two from long distance. With Soule leading the team in scoring, the seven freshmen who played scored 34 points.
“I was happy we came in and didn’t back down,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “Everyone who played in the game will be back. I thought my team, for being young, played pretty well.”
Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish entered game averaging 19.6 assists on 33.4 field goals per game. Three players were averaging more than 4 assists per game: Young (4.5), Mabrey (4.2) and Ogunbowale (4.0). Young’s assist-turnover ratio was 2.53, with Mabrey next at 2.29. The Irish finished with 21 assists on 35 buckets.
“Offensively, taking care of the ball is going to be the key,” McGraw said. “You have to be ready for some pressure defense now. That was 18 turnovers without pressure.”
The Eagles learned they would be staying another night in South Bend as a winter storm closed airports throughout New England.
“That’s not fun,” Bernabei-McNamee said.
Boston College: At Miami on Sunday.
Notre Dame: At No. 20 Tennessee on Thursday.