The only thing missing was Lou Holtz in the stands … or maybe Digger Phelps.
Sunday started Notre Dame week for the University of Miami basketball programs. The Fighting Irish women, ranked seventh in the nation, defeated No. 14 Miami 67-55 at the Watsco Center.
On Thursday, Notre Dame’s men, ranked 23rd, will take their turn visiting Miami as the Canes will get a chance for a split.
As for Sunday’s game between the Atlantic Coast Conference rivals, Miami (13-3, 2-2) was right there after the first half, trailing 30-29. But Notre Dame (15-2, 3-1) pulled away in the second half.
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The Fighting Irish overcame 21 turnovers, including 14 in the first half, by shooting 50 percent from the floor. Miami, which shot just 37.5 percent, had 18 turnovers.
“[Notre Dame coach] Muffet [McGraw] and I met at midcourt [after the game] and thought [the game] was shockingly bad,” UM coach Katie Meier said of her Notre Dame counterpart. “We both felt that way.”
Notre Dame 6-3 junior forward Brianna Turner, one of the nation’s five preseason All-Americans, tied a season low with seven points, taking just four shots and making three.
Turner did have a game-high 10 rebounds, but she tied a game high with four turnovers.
“She was not active at all,” McGraw said. “She was passive. She didn’t look for the ball.”
Another Notre Dame All-American, point guard Lindsay Allen, was held to seven points, although she did have a game-high seven assists.
Perhaps that’s a sign of how good the Irish are that they beat a top-15 team by 12 points on the road on a day when their All-Americans were held down.
UM was led by its senior backcourt, as Jessica Thomas had 15 points and Adrienne Motley added 14.
But the Canes could have used a performance like they had exactly two years ago, when Motley scored a career-high 32 points and Miami knocked off fourth-ranked Notre Dame on this same court.
Meier said “gimmicks and side stories” weren’t going to beat the Irish.
Another one of those side stories revolved around the Mabrey sisters. Michaela was a Notre Dame senior guard last year but now serves as Miami’s coordinator of program and player development.
Her sister Marina, a 5-11 sophomore guard, led Notre Dame with 15 points, adding four assists and a game-high four steals.
“It was really fun to play against her and not with her,” said Marina, who added that she is not the trash-talking type. “I know she’s really happy [in Miami].”
A positive development for UM was the play of 6-3 sophomore center Emese Hof, a reserve who scored nine of her 11 points in the second half, adding a team-high six rebounds in 26 minutes.
Hof also played a role in Turner’s off game, battling her in the post.
“We tried to pick [Turner] up early,” Hof said. “We counted on our defense [to stop] the lob — we got that part out of it.”
But Notre Dame had other options such as Kathryn Westbeld (14 points) and Arike Ogunbowale (11 points).
Conversely, UM guard Laura Cornelius, who shot 6 for 6 on three-pointers last week against Pittsburgh, only managed two points on 1-for-7 shooting.