The Niele Ivey era certainly didn’t start off the way she wanted, as a depleted Notre Dame team dropped its season opener to a quality Ohio team, losing 86-85.
Notre Dame went into the matchup without five players, including three starters, Sam Brunelle, Katlyn Gilbert and Mikayla Vaughn were out. The Irish were also without freshman forwards Natalija Marshall and Amirah Abdur-Rahim.
It started off well for the Irish, who jumped out to a 17-12 lead thanks to a pair of newcomers, forward Maddy Westbeld and guard Dara Mabrey, who combined for 11 points in the opening quarter.
Westbeld got into foul trouble and turnovers began to plague the Irish offense. Ohio ended the first quarter on an 11-0 run, and a triple from Bobcat guard Kaylee Bambule kicked off the second quarter and gave Ohio a 26-17 lead.
Notre Dame struggled from the floor and the turnover issues continued in the second quarter, and the Irish never got within six points as the Bobcats took a 41-30 lead into the intermission. The Irish turned it over nine times in the opening half and Ohio scored 11 points off those turnovers, which made the difference in the first two quarters.
Mabrey caught fire in the third quarter as the Irish came roaring back. The Virginia Tech transfer scored 18 points in the third quarter and the Irish scored 35 points to take a 65-62 lead into the fourth quarter. Sophomore standout Anaya Peoples had a big impact in the third quarter as well, scoring seven points and grabbing four rebounds.
Notre Dame extended its lead to 77-70 early in the fourth quarter but the offense stagnated at that point, and Ohio went on an 8-0 run to retake the lead.
Notre Dame scored back-to-back baskets out of an Ivey timeout to go back on top, but Ohio tied it up again at 81-81 in the final two minutes.
The Bobcats took an 83-81 lead on a pair of free throws by Cierra Hooks, but Mabrey answered with a driving runner off the glass to tie it with less than a minute remaining in the game. Hooks answered with a runner of her own and Mabrey missed an off-balance jumper and Ohio iced the game at the line.
Mabrey led all scorers with 37 points on 12-20 shooting, including 7-14 from deep. Veteran guard Destinee Walker scored 16 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out six assists. Peoples had a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 11 boards. Westbeld had 11 points and five rebounds.
Both Westbeld and Peoples fouled out with Notre Dame leading.
Ohio veterans Cierra Hooks and Erica Johnson led the Bobcats with 32 and 24 points, respectively.
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