ESTERO, Fla. — There were many things that Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw didn’t like Friday night. Her team was terrible from long range and turned the ball over way too often. Very little went according to plan.
The Irish won by 31 anyway.
Jessica Shepard scored 15 points to lead four players in double figures, and No. 6 Notre Dame moved into the semifinals of the Gulf Coast Showcase with a 77-46 win over East Tennessee State — though got anything but a pass from their Hall of Fame coach afterward.
“I thought we were bad,” McGraw said. “I don’t think there’s any way of looking around it. Passing was just abysmal, shot poorly from the 3-point line. Pretty much everything, I thought, was bad.”
It wasn’t coach speak, either. The Irish were 1 for 15 from 3-point range and won despite turning the ball over 24 times — 15 of those coming in the middle two quarters alone.
On film when the Irish break it down, all that will matter. On the scoreboard against an overmatched, smaller opponent, those things were overlooked.
Marina Mabrey scored 14 for Notre Dame (4-0), which got 13 from Jackie Young and 12 from Arike Ogunbowale. The Irish rode their size advantage to a 60-36 rebounding edge over the Bucs.
“In the past few games, we weren’t rebounding well,” Ogunbowale said. “So I thought we really rebounded and boxed, got a body on people.”
Notre Dame never trailed, and held ETSU to 18 points in the second half. The Irish shot 4 for 17 in the third quarter against an aggressive ETSU zone, but still managed to extend their lead.
Erica Haynes-Overton scored 13 points and Shy Copney scored 12 for the Bucs (4-2).
Raven Dean made three free throws midway through the third quarter to get ETSU within 46-35, but a 10-0 flurry by the Irish — one that didn’t even take two minutes — put Notre Dame in full control.
A three-point play by Mabrey started the run for Notre Dame, she closed it with a layup, and the lead was 30 by the midpoint of the fourth.
ETSU: The Bucs had never played Notre Dame previously, and have never before faced Washington State — Saturday’s opponent. … Both of ETSU’s losses this season have been against ranked opponents; the Bucs fell 87-49 to Tennessee in the season’s opening weekend.
Notre Dame: The Irish played three games in the season’s first two weeks, and now are playing three in a span of 48 hours at this tournament. … This is part of what’s essentially a seven-game road swing for Notre Dame, which played its opener at home on Nov. 11 and won’t play at home again until Dec. 6, when it faces Michigan State. The Irish have been at Western Kentucky and Oregon State, and visit Michigan and UConn after this tourney.
This tournament has three members of the Basketball Hall of Fame on the sidelines — McGraw, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley and Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer. Staley went in as a player, and her team beat Rutgers in an earlier quarterfinal Friday.
The teams combined to shoot 3 for 36 from 3-point range. ETSU was 2 for 21 — and actually was the better team from deep on the night. They also combined for 49 turnovers, ETSU committing 25 of those.
Notre Dame has now won its last 36 games played in November. The last time the Irish lost a November game was in 2011, when then-No. 2 Notre Dame was topped by then-No. 1 Baylor 94-81 in the Preseason WNIT.
ETSU: Faces Washington State in Saturday’s consolation round.
Notre Dame: Faces No. 17 South Florida in Saturday’s semifinals.