No. 1 Notre Dame emerged victorious over No. 2 Louisville in Thursday’s meeting of the top-ranked teams in all of women’s college basketball.
The loss marked the first of the season for the Cardinals. Arike Ogunbowale led the way for the Fighting Irish with 30 points; Asia Durr poured in 29 for Louisville. Here are six things that stood out in the clash between two members of last season’s Final Four field.
Durr gets going early
The sharpshooting senior scored 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting in the first half, a number helped by racking up some relatively easy looks. She was fouled twice on two-point jumpers, got to the line after following her own missed 3-pointer, immediately scored in the lane after a Notre Dame made free throw and added three more buckets in transition.
Louisville saw both man-to-man and zone defenses throughout the night. Durr added two pull up jumpers—one in each direction—when Notre Dame was matched up.
Team-wide foul trouble kept coach Jeff Walz from maximizing the minutes of some of his best supporting players, and the Irish limited those early opportunities in the second half.
Cold spell from deep
Durr has now connected on just seven of 47 3-point attempts over the past six games. This stretch is a rarity for a player that has shot 40-plus percent on more than seven 3-point attempts per game in each of the last two seasons.
Two of Thursday’s eight attempts included a desperation attempt toward the end of the game and one she had to force with the shot clock winding down. Five of the other six were contested quite well.
She didn’t get any clean looks out of set actions against Notre Dame’s defense or spotting up in transition. In all likelihood, that was one of the first lines on the scouting report. All future Louisville opponents ought to mirror that priority.
Louisville attacking the zone
The top of Notre Dame’s zone really locked in on Durr and even Arica Carter to a degree. When they extended themselves out beyond the arc, that left plenty of room for somebody to sneak to the foul line. From there, the Cardinals essentially got to play three on three.
That Irish back line was not always anticipating that pass to the foul line. When it caught them by surprise, they got beat a couple of times when the wings got sealed or backdoored. The middle defender stepped up on the pass, meaning there would no longer be anyone between two Louisville players and the rim.
Cardinals late push
Durr’s lone 3-pointer of the night got the Cardinals within seven to start the final period. Ogunbowale ripped off a 5-0 run, putting them back in a position to pull away for good. Amid all the foul trouble, freshman Mykasa Robinson rose up to make big plays on both ends. She managed to score twice in the middle of the 2-3 zone:
She also made two key defensive plays on Ogunbowale, sprinting back to run with her stride for stride and draw a charge, then ripping her clean to bring them back within two inside the 3:00 mark.
Arike ices it
Ogunbowale delivered in crunch time again, scoring 26 of her 30 in the second half on 7-of-9 shooting (10-of-10 at the line). At the end of the third and in the final minute, she drilled off the bounce 3-pointers right over Dana Evans and Robinson:
Durr managed 10 points on 2-of-7 shooting in the final 20 minutes. Louisville’s star got off to a better start. Ogunbowale (four points on 1-of-6 shooting in the first half) was money once again when it mattered most.
Turner locks up on the perimeter
The mixing of man-to-man and zone ended up being fueled primarily by Turner. She didn’t miss a beat regularly switching onto some of Louisville’s ball handlers on the perimeter. The 6’3″ forward may have been their best matchup for Durr last night. Evans, got nowhere on an attempted drive from the top of the key.
Turner was attentive to stay locked on Durr away from the ball, and made a great play on the ball once Durr had committed to a pull up going to her left:
At least one WNBA team or two may have an easy time talking themselves into their ability to further develop her jumper and face up game if she continues piling up plays like this defending one-on-one away from the rim.