Notre Dame size too much for DePaul in 101-77 defeat


Senior forward Mart’e Grays rises up for a shot over Notre Dame guard Jackie Young. Jonathan Aguilar | The DePaulia

In a 101-77 defeat against the defending national champions and top-ranked team in the country in Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon in the South Loop, it was evident that DePaul’s lack of size and superior play in the paint cost them the opportunity to upset the Fighting Irish at home.

Notre Dame outrebounded DePaul 48-23 in a game that panned out to be a battle of the boards. In fact, 13 of Notre Dame’s rebounds came on the offensive glass. As a result of Notre Dame’s performance on the boards, they were able to edge DePaul 58-26 in points scored in the paint and totaled 12 second chance points in comparison to just seven second chance points for DePaul.

Jessica Shepard, a six-foot-four-inch senior center for Notre Dame, pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds. Shepard evenly split her rebounding numbers by grabbing eight offensive and defensive rebounds apiece to go with 15 points scored. Notre Dame’s six-foot junior guard Jackie Young was able to out-muscle DePaul’s guards en route to getting 12 rebounds. Young also scored a game-high 28 points.

Though the final rebounding numbers on the stat sheet doesn’t show high totals for Notre Dame forwards Brianna Turner and Danielle Patterson, who had six rebounds combined, both players made it difficult for DePaul to run its sets in the paint because of their length and quick instincts in the post defensively. Turner, at six-foot-three-inches, and Patterson, who stands at six-foot-two-inches tall, were on top of DePaul’s offensive switches down low. DePaul’s only two players who are listed about six-feet are senior forward Mart’e Grays at six-foot-two, and junior forward Chante Stonewall who is six-foot-one-inches tall.

“48 to 23. You know I think that’s something we should be able to do every game because we have a really really good team and we’ve got a lot of size,” said Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw. “We’ve got some athletic ability. I think that we need to be able to outrebound our opponents. We’re bigger. I thought we had a great effort on the offensive glass too.”

With this game in the books, DePaul has now been outscored in the paint 96-42 for a margin of 44 points in their first two games of the season dating back to their 73-64 home victory against Wisconsin-Green Bay. Not to mention, DePaul has gotten outrebounded 87-56 in that same time frame.

Following the final buzzer, DePaul head coach Doug Bruno had nothing but positive things to say in regards to Notre Dame’s post play and rebounding ability.

“Their big guys are going to play in the WNBA, and they’re big and they’re strong,” Bruno said. “Rebounding started to get away from us in the second quarter, though. I mean it’s just a huge part of the game of basketball.”

Though height might not be everything in the game of basketball, to some extent it factored in to Notre Dame’s presence being felt around the rim.

“I think that we definitely had a height advantage down there, so I think our guards were just able to get the ball down there and we were just able to finish it,” Patterson said.

On the other hand, DePaul’s fifth-year senior Ashton Millender, who stands at five-feet-eight-inches, did not quite buy into the idea that DePaul’s lack of size played an overwhelming factor in her team’s loss.  

“Not really,” Millender said when asked if she thought that Notre Dame’s size on the defensive end had anything to do with DePaul not being able to get into a consistent offensive rhythm throughout the game. “I mean of course they’re big, but I mean I feel like we were looking for the contact too much when we got to the basket instead of just going up strong.”

Bruno was pleased with the work done by Grays and Stonewall near the basket at times when DePaul kept Notre Dame’s leads within single digits. Stonewall grabbed a team-high eight rebounds, and Gray’s quick footwork on defense halted Notre Dame’s ball movement a bit in the first half.

“Mart’e (Grays) and Chante (Stonewall) I thought gave us some life in the third quarter and showed that we can have an inside game,” Bruno said. “We have to have an inside-outside balance and you know when we made a little run at them, Mart’e (Grays) and Chante (Stonewall) were getting something done inside and we’ve gotta get something done inside by those two players.”

Based on the work of Grays and Stonewall inside the paint, Bruno concluded that DePaul must find a way to diversify its offensive scheme by integrating 3-point shooting with interior play. By doing so, Bruno said that DePaul could see an increase in post and dribble penetration, paint touches and kick-outs behind the arc.

“We’ve gotta fix that. We’ve gotta find a balance,” Bruno said. “You just can’t shoot nothing but 3’s. You gotta get to the rim. (In the) first half, many of our 3’s were the result of getting to the rim.”

DePaul plans on finding a balance by taking things on a one-game and one-practice at a time basis moving forward. Bruno additionally mentioned that he will make it a point of emphasis for DePaul to improve its rebounding numbers by having his players work on ball containment.