PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/21/2015 – The #3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish used a 26 – 7 third quarter explosion to break open a close game down the Saint Joseph’s Hawks at the Hagan Arena by a 91 – 55 score in front of a crowd of 3,411.
“We played twenty minutes of good basketball, but were not able to put a complete game together against a team that is so talented,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Cindy Griffin. “They capitalized on every mistake that we made in the second half. Making shots and taking care of the ball against a team like this is so important.”
Muffet McGraw, the Notre Dame coach, is a Saint Joe’s graduate and was honored before the game. It did add to the pregame excitement.
“It is such a blessing to be where I am, and this is where I got my start,” McGraw said. “I played here, I coached here, and I have tremendous memories from here. A lot of people said ‘welcome home’ and it’s a great feeling to know that I have a lot of people here rooting for us.”
Once the ball went up it was a battle for the first two quarters. The Irish had a 39 – 34 lead at halftime. Saint Joe’s guard Ciara Andrews hit a buzzer-beater before halftime trying to give her team some momentum.
“The whole first half we played well as a team and to make a late shot to end the quarter, we’d have the momentum,” said Andrews. “We didn’t come out strong in the second half.”
The Hawks stayed in proximity by getting close in shots making quick cuts to the basket. Those lanes were shut down by Notre Dame in the second half. The Irish got stops as the Hawks made 2 of 15 from the floor in the third quarter.
“They really packed it in the second half, they were heavy on the baseline,” Griffin said about the difficulty getting the ball inside after halftime. “We were not getting those looks in the second half.”
Notre Dame guard Lindsay Allen electrified the crowd getting to the basket and dishing out assists. Allen finished with 16 points on 7 of 9 shooting, and had a career-high in rebounds with 7 and assists at 9. It was a complete game effort that propelled the Irish.
“She was definitely the catalyst tonight,” said McGraw about the contribution of Allen. “She was a great spark for us, and I didn’t feel like I could take her out of the game until late.”
The lead grew to as many as 38 points, and the explosion was that quick, and that lethal.
Andrews led the Hawks in scoring with 13 points. Amanda Fioravanti scored 12 points and added a game-high 8 rebounds.
ND had four other players in double figures. Marina Mabrey scored a team-high 18 points and Kathryn Westbeld contributed 16 points. Arike Ogunbowale and Michaela Mabrey also broke the ten point level.
Saint Joe’s falls to 4 – 6 on the season and will have a week off before hosting UMBC in the Hawk Classic. They will take some lessons from this game.
“We showed we could play with one of the better teams as long as we stay together,” said Andrews. “We showed we are a pretty good team. If we can play hard for the entire forty minutes, we can play with anybody.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian