No. 3 Irish use balanced effort to rout Denver 94-52
FREEPORT, Bahamas (AP) Notre Dame used a balanced effort to win its opener in the Junkanoo Jam.
Freshman Marina Mabrey scored a career-high 19 points to lead the No. 3 Irish to a 94-52 victory over Denver on Friday.
''Another great game from her,'' Irish coach Muffet McGraw said about her young star.
Her sister, Michaela, was one of three Irish players with 13 points. She hit three of Notre Dame's nine 3-pointers as the Irish shot 60 percent (9 for 15) from behind the arc.
''The 3 was really working for us against the zone, a big improvement from what we've been doing,'' McGraw added.
Denver held a brief 6-5 lead early on before the Irish scored 15 of the final 18 points in the first quarter to take control. Marina Mabrey took over in the second quarter scoring 15 of her points as the Irish (5-0) built a 50-15 halftime lead.
The lead got up to as high as 47 in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame's bench outscored Denver 48-10.
''People on the bench were ready when they came in,'' McGraw said.
Samantha Romanowski scored a season-high 14 points, hitting four 3-pointers, to lead Denver (1-3).
Notre Dame was without star guard Brianna Turner, who injured her right shoulder in practice on Tuesday.
She'll be re-evaluated on Monday when the Irish return home. The Irish were also missing center Taya Raymer, who has been sidelined with a sore Achilles.
Both will miss the Irish's next game against UCLA in the championship of the tournament.
''UCLA is incredibly athletic and that's a huge problem for us,'' McGraw said. ''Losing Bri and not having Taya, it will be a difficult matchup for us. We'll have to win it with our guards.''
Notre Dame: In her previous game, Marina Mabrey became the second fastest player in NCAA history to have a triple-double. It was the fifth in school history. ... Notre Dame is making its second appearance in the Junkanoo Jam, having also played in the tournament's Freeport Division in 2012. That year, the Fighting Irish defeated USC in their opening game, 80-58, then rallied from a school record-tying 18-point second-half deficit to edge Duke at the buzzer.
Denver: This was the first meeting ever between the teams. The Pioneers had been allowing just over 56 points a game before Friday's loss.
Denver vs. Louisiana Tech on Saturday in the Junkanoo Jam consolation game.
Notre Dame vs. UCLA on Saturday in the Junkanoo Jam championship game.