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SOUTH BEND, Indiana – the most complete performance to date.
That’s how Karen and Kevin Keys’ head coach Niel Ivey unequivocally described how her 95-60 team thrashed Ball State 2-2 Sunday at the Purcell Pavilion to go 4-0 this year. No. 9 Notre Dame left little room for doubt from the start, scoring 27 points in both the first and second quarters and holding Ball State to just nine points in the second 10 minutes. Notre Dame led by a whopping 39 and five Irish players finished with 10+ points for the second time this year.
A huge part of that first-half stream came from defenseman Dara Mabry’s five 3s before halftime, the first time since she hit seven 3s against Oklahoma in last year’s NCAA tournament. Mabry finished with 19 points, three rebounds and three assists.
“Dara is one of the best three-point shooters in the country,” Ivey said. “Seeing her light it up from the perimeter right from the start of the game [is awesome]”.
Notre Dame led the Cardinals in every category, including bench points (41–17), fast breaks (19–11), and second chance points (15–6). The Irish blocked eight shots, including a season-high three from center Lauren Ebo. On Sunday, she recorded her first double-double in a Notre Dame uniform with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The pair of rookies set career records in the points category against the Cardinals; Graduate student and Stanford transfer student Jenna Brown had 10, while freshman C.K. Bransford had 16.
“It was special for me and it was special for my teammates to see what I can bring to the team,” Bransford said after the game. “Tonight I felt very confident just knowing that [my teammates] cover my back.”
Bransford went 8-8 from the free throw line and also grabbed six rebounds. Now she is the only freshman on the team, but on Sunday she played like a veteran.
Depth and contributions across the board bodes well for Ivey, who is looking to make it to the Final Four for the 10th time in the program’s history.
“I think we’re just scratching the surface.”
Notre Dame is heading to the Bahamas this week to play the Goombay Splash at the Thanksgiving Tournament. First match against the American (0-3) on Thursday at 16:15. The competition can be streamed on FloHoops and more information about the tournament can be found here.L
Follow Jeffrey on Twitter: @gfclark89