Notre Dame records fourth straight ACC championship

acc-irishdevilsThe fourth time turned out to be a charm for Notre Dame, and the first time proved to be a big success for the Grand Strand in hosting the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament.

Arike Ogunbowale scored 21 points and Brianna Turner added 18 to help No. 3 Notre Dame beat 13th-ranked Duke 84-61 on Sunday in the ACC Tournament championship game, clinching the NCAA bid and cutting down the nets at the HTC Center in Conway.

The Fighting Irish (30-3) became the second team in ACC history to win the conference regular-season and tournament titles in four straight seasons. The Blue Devils did it from 2001-04.

Notre Dame was up 12 at the half before Duke scored 10 straight points to start the third quarter and close the gap, 43-41. Irish Coach Muffet McGraw called a timeout and her team responded, scoring the next 14 points during a 20-2 run that blew the game open. Ogunbowale hit two 3-pointers during the spurt, her second one making it 60-43 with 2:28 left in the third. The Blue Devils (27-5) couldn’t recover.

Lexie Brown scored 16 points to lead Duke, which had played stellar defense in the first two games of the tournament, holding opponents to just 49 points and 29 percent shooting.

Notre Dame raced out to a quick lead against Duke, scoring on eight of its first nine possessions to go up 18-8. Ogunbowale had seven points during that opening stretch. The lead ballooned to 14 points before Lexie Brown tried to rally Duke, scoring seven straight to get the Blue Devils to 32-25 midway through the second quarter. Lindsay Allen’s layup just before the halftime buzzer gave the Irish a 43-31 advantage.

Duke rallied to start the third quarter with the first 10 points but could get no closer.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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