TOLEDO – Michaela Mabrey rose for an open midrange jumper from the top of the key with 5:33 to play in Notre Dame’s 93-42 rout of Robert Morris in the first round of the NCAA women’s tournament Saturday.
Coming out of her hands too strong, the ball still banked in off the backboard. It was her day, and Mabrey smiled as she jogged back on defense.
I have no idea what happened there, said Mabrey, shaking her head. I sort of left my feet. I just turned around and walked away. There’s some luck in the game.
Teammate Natalie Achonwa had a theory.
She shot all her first shots from the 3-point line, Achonwa said with a grin. She’s not used to shooting inside the line.
Mabrey, a sophomore reserve, scored 16 points – three shy of her career high – and made 4 of 5 3s in her first significant tournament action. She played just 13 minutes in Notre Dame’s Final Four run last season.
Mabrey received a round of applause from Irish fans when she checked out for good with 5:03 left.
While Mabrey’s shooting display included some deep 3s, she enjoyed two dazzling assists – one to Achonwa, one to Jewell Loyd – just as much.
She loves to pass the ball and takes a lot of pride in that, Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said.
Cleaning the glass
Notre Dame missed 17 shots in the first half, and turned those 17 opportunities into 11 offensive rebounds. For the game, the Irish held a 20-6 edge in second-chance points.
Rebounding is effort, forward Ariel Braker said. Everyone just had that mindset today.
With six rebounds, Achonwa tied Devereaux Peters for fifth place on Notre Dame’s career rebounding list.
With a 33-game winning streak, the women’s basketball team ties the 2001 softball team for Notre Dame’s longest string of victories dating to 1950.