No. 2 Notre Dame overwhelms Georgia Tech, makes No. 1 case


    Georgia Tech guard Kierra Fletcher (41) loses control of the ball as Notre Dame guard Marina Mabrey, left, and forward Danielle Patterson defend during an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

    ATLANTA (AP) — Jessica Shepard scored 19 points, most on layups, and No. 2 Notre Dame strengthened its case for the top spot in the Top 25 by overpowering Georgia Tech 76-55 on Sunday.

    With No. 1 UConn's loss to Baylor on Thursday night, Notre Dame (14-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) could claim the top spot in Monday's new poll. UConn gave the Fighting Irish their only loss on Dec. 2.

    Notre Dame has won seven straight entering an ACC showdown with No. 3 Louisville this Thursday night.

    Led by Shepard, Arike Ogunbowale, who had 13 points, and Brianna Turner, who had 11 points, the Fighting Irish outscored the Yellow Jackets 60-20 in the paint.

    Elizabeth Balogun led Georgia Tech (11-4, 1-1) with 14 points. Elizabeth Dixon had 12.

    Note Dame improved to 11-0 against Georgia Tech and 79-3 in the ACC since entering the league for the 2013-14 season.

    Coach Muffet McGraw called a 100-44 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday night the "best game" of the season for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame led 60-14 at halftime in that game but wasn't as dominant early against the Yellow Jackets.

    After leading only 18-15 after the first quarter, Notre Dame outscored Georgia Tech 21-7 in the second period. The Fighting Irish established dominance inside, opening the quarter with an 8-0 run that started with back-to-back layups by Brianna Turner.

    Dixon had the Yellow Jackets' only three field goals of the second quarter.

    Notre Dame stretched its lead to 30 points at 72-42 in the final period. Marina Mabrey had 11 points for the Fighting Irish.

    A highlight for the Georgia Tech students in the crowd came when Arike Ogunbowale and Marina Mabrey combined to miss four straight free throws on successive possessions. Fans chanted "Free T-shirts" after each first miss at the free-throw line and cheered when the second misses led to the free prizes being tossed into the crowd.

    BIG PICTURE

    Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish took advantage of the 6-foot-4 Shepard and 6-foot-3 Turner by consistently forcing passes inside. Despite making only 1 of 10 3-point attempts, Notre Dame was good on 54.8 percent (34 of 62) of its shots from the field.

    Georgia Tech: After winning six of its last seven, Georgia Tech was worn down by Notre Dame's oppressive man-to-man defense and inside attack on offense. Led by Balogun, the Yellow Jackets scored 8 of the game's first 10 points, showing they'd be more than another pushover for the Fighting Irish.

    UP NEXT

    Notre Dame: Hosts No. 3 Louisville on Thursday night.

    Georgia Tech: Hosts Duke on Thursday night.

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