Ogunbowale, No. 4 Irish beat UNC 95-77 in ACC quarterfinals
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — No. 4 Notre Dame got back to winning in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament — and also got some revenge on North Carolina.
Arike Ogunbowale scored 28 points, and the Fighting Irish beat the Tar Heels 95-77 on Friday in a quarterfinal.
Brianna Turner had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Jackie Young finished with 19 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to help the top-seeded Fighting Irish (28-3) win their seventh straight and avenge one of their two league losses. They didn’t have Young for that 78-73 upset loss two months ago in Chapel Hill.
“I think we were happy to see them on our side of the bracket,” coach Muffet McGraw said, “and it was great to have Jackie Young go for almost a triple-double.”
Notre Dame will play No. 18 Syracuse (24-7) on Saturday in its fifth straight trip to the semifinals. The Irish won four straight ACC tournaments from 2014-17 and were 14-0 in this event before they lost to Louisville in last year’s title game.
Ogunbowale finished four points shy of her career high while hitting five 3-pointers. They shot 58 percent — 65 percent in the fourth quarter to pull away.
Paris Kea scored 27 and Janelle Bailey finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds in her return from a one-game suspension for the eighth-seeded Tar Heels (18-14).
They never got closer than eight in the second half, but threatened to make things interesting late, pulling to 77-65 on Bennett’s layup with just under eight minutes remaining.
That’s when Ogunbowale took over with a brilliant 15-second span. She hit a 3-pointer, stole the ball from Kea and fed Young for a layup that put the Irish up 82-65 with 7½ minutes left.
“I thought we ran out of gas a little bit,” coach Sylvia Hatchell said.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels didn’t have a second victory over Notre Dame in them, though Kea did everything she could to will them to another one. Kea, who had 30 points and 10 assists in the upset of the Irish, had another big game against them — but it wasn’t enough to put them into their first semifinal since 2014.
Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish had plenty to play for in this one, and it helped tremendously to have Young — who missed the loss to UNC with a sprained ankle. Notre Dame had never lost multiple ACC regular-season games until this season.
The move of the day belonged to — who else? — Ogunbowale. As she drove across the lane, she uncorked a behind-the-head pass around Kea to Jessica Shepard on the block. Her layup made it 91-70 with just under five minutes left.
Notre Dame still looks every bit the part of a No. 1 seed. A second victory over the Fighting Irish would have given the Tar Heels a seed boost, but they probably did enough to stay in the field by beating Georgia Tech in the second round. “I think we’re peaking at the right time,” Hatchell said. “I would not want to play us in the NCAA Tournament because we’re capable of beating anybody.”
SHE SAID IT
“I was happy we held her to 27 this time, instead of 30.” — McGraw, on defending Kea.
North Carolina: awaits the NCAA Tournament bracket announcement.
Notre Dame: faces No. 18 Syracuse on Saturday in a semifinal.