(5) Notre Dame (20-2, 8-1 ACC) defeated (8) Florida State (18-3, 6-2 ACC) 100-69 this afternoon in front of a record setting crowd of 9,498 in Tallahassee.
This is Notre Dame’s fifth season in the ACC. The word “dominating” doesn’t really adequately describe how well they have done over their four years in the league. The Irish have gone 96-3 and have won four straight ACC regular season and tournament titles.
Notre Dame has been hit hard by injury this season. They have lost Brianna Turner, Mychal Johnson, Mikayla Vaughn, and Lili Thompson for the year - all to ACL tears. They have only seven scholarship players remaining. However, all seven were top 40 players coming out of high school. There is still plenty of talent left in South Bend.
The Irish are led by the inside-outside duo of Arike Ogunbowale and Jessica Shepard. Ogunbowale is a 5’8 junior who leads the team in scoring at 20 points a game. She can beat you off the bounce and also pull up for the mid-range jumper. She also loves to post up smaller guards when ND inverts their offense. Oh yeah, she is also the Irish’s best three point shooter (.341). The former McDonald’s All-America is simply one of the very best guards in the nation. Shepard is a transfer from Nebraska who was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA. She is ND’s second leading scorer (15.7pts) and top rebounder (8.0rebs). The 6’4 junior is excellent at getting position on the block and she combines exceptional footwork with an impressive array of moves down low to produce points in the paint. She is also a beast on the boards.
Thompson’s injury means that ND doesn’t really have a true point guard left on the roster. Marina Mabrey has stepped up and is running point for the Irish this year. The 5’11 junior has never played the position but it is not evident from her play. She leads the team in assists (4.1ast) and scores 12.7 a game. She does most of her damage from the perimeter (.319, 3FG) and is one of the best free throw shooters in the ACC (.854). Jackie Young is the glue player for this team. The 6’0 sophomore is the third leading scorer (14.0pts) and second leading rebounder (6.9reb) on the team. She does all of the little things to help a team win.
ND is a very good offensive team at 15th in OPPP (FSU is 8th) but have been a bit disappointing defensively at 114th in DPPP (FSU is 54th). They are a good shooting team at 19th in TS% (FSU is 21st). Because of the injuries the Irish are very thin and play their top players a ton of minutes.
Notre Dame carved up the Seminole defense all afternoon. It began early. The Irish jumped out to a 13-6 lead. FSU was kept in it by a pair of Imani Wright triples. For the rest of the period ND would score 16 points - 12 of them were from layups. ND took a 29-14 lead into the second quarter.
The trend continued in the second quarter. ND scored the first six points of the quarter. All on layups. At this point the score was 35-14 and FSU was reeling. FSU was getting good looks but they were jumpers and the Noles were missing. On the other end FSU was allowing layups. The Irish were running their offense with precision. In the first half FSU had two made layups. ND had 14. This helped them take a 48-29 lead into halftime.
The second half was more of the same. FSU could never get their teeth into this game primarily because they couldn’t get stops and when they did too often ND would get the offensive board. FSU leads the ACC in rebounding margin but today they lost the battle of the boards 47-42. FSU normally wins the rebounding battle but when they don’t it usually shows up on the scoreboard and that’s what happened today.
Whenever a team loses by 30+ points at home it is rarely due only to one thing and today was no different. Besides getting beat on the boards the Noles allowed ND to shoot 56.8% from the field (too many layups). The Seminoles were also cold shooters (33.3% FG, 28.6% 3FG).
One of FSU’s weaknesses is that they don’t have much post scoring in their normal offense. This isn’t usually a fatal problem because the Noles normally control the glass and can get easy points on putbacks. This didn’t happen today so FSU was forced into many more tough shots than their opponents. FSU also wasn’t able to get out in transition (8 fast break points) so they often had to get points against ND’s set defense. It also seemed like FSU was too hyped up for the game as they weren’t patient on offense and settled for too many quick jumpers.
The Noles switched to a half court trap late in the game. It would have been better to try that earlier or to go to full court pressure to try to rattle Mabrey who is a neophyte at point guard. There are good reasons not to press too early - FSU is thin so foul trouble is an issue - but the Noles really needed to shake up this game and try to get some momentum and it didn’t happen.
Imani Wright led FSU with 23 points and Chatrice White had 14 points and nine boards. Shakayla Thomas had a tough game (3-18 FG) but did have 10 rebounds.
Florida State will regroup and head to Raleigh to take on North Carolina State (17-5, 6-3 ACC) on Thursday, Feb 1st at 7pm. The game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra. The Wolfpack handled Clemson today 62-41. Sagarin has FSU as seven point favorites.