SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The nation’s top-ranked team in the AP Preseason poll, Notre Dame, sprinted off to a 15-0 lead against Central Michigan on Friday in the opening round of the Preseason WNIT and cruised to the victory with four players reaching double figures in scoring.
Notre Dame will face Fordham in Round 2; tipoff is set for Monday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. ET.
The Fighting Irish (1-0), who won the Preseason WNIT in 2004, held the Chippewas (0-1) scoreless for almost four minutes before Cassie Breen hit a 3-pointer. After the first quarter, Notre Dame had already poured in 35 points, and it finished the first half with a 36-point lead after shooting 71 percent (22-of-31) from the field. Notre Dame set Preseason WNIT records for most assists in a game (29) and most field goals (40).
The Irish were paced by sophomore Arike Ogunbowale, who closed with 30 points on 12-of-13 shooting; she averaged 11.4 points per game last season. Marina Mabrey tallied 17 points; Notre Dame started the third quarter with a 14-0 run as well to take a 50-point lead.
Leading scorer for Central Michigan was Aleah Swary, who came off the bench to hit five 3-pointers and closed with 15 points. The Chippewas didn’t have much luck controlling the pace, thanks to 20 turnovers, and they were only 7-for-33 from 3-point range.
FORDHAM 60, FURMAN 47
BRONX, NY – Fordham scored 23 points in the third quarter Friday to build a double-digit lead against Furman, then protected that edge through the final minutes to post a victory in the opening round of the Preseason WNIT.
The Rams (1-0) will travel to Notre Dame for a Round 2 game, with tipoff set for Monday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. ET.
Fordham got 12 points each from Danielle Burns and Lauren Holden; Kate Kreslina added 10 points and eight rebounds.
Furman cut the lead to 55-47 with 2:22 to go, but Fordham’s defense rose to the occasion and held the visitors scoreless the rest of the way.
The Paladins (0-1) got off to a cold start, but bench reserves Le’Jzae Davidson and Tierra Hodges (both freshmen) each chipped in four points as Furman slowly recovered from scoring just five points in the opening quarter. DeAnneisha Jackson scored 16 points to go with six rebounds, and Whitney Bunn added 12 points.
LITTLE ROCK 55, NORTH TEXAS 44
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Returning starters Sharde’ Collins and Kaitlyn Pratt played 39 productive minutes apiece Friday for Little Rock, which worked its way past North Texas for a Round 1 victory in the Preseason WNIT.
The Trojans (1-0) scored 22 points in the fourth quarter to secure the win and will play at Green Bay in Round 2, with tipoff set for Sunday, Nov. 13 at 1 p.m. CT.
Collins closed with 17 points, and Pratt fought her way to 14 points and 14 rebounds on a night when both teams struggled to score. Little Rock was 36 percent from the field and just 2-of-9 from 3-point range, while North Texas (0-1) shot 31 percent and had 20 turnovers.
The Mean Green didn’t have anyone score in double figures; Candice Adams scored nine points, and Terra Ellison added nine rebounds.
GREEN BAY 71, ELON 56
GREEN BAY, Wisc. – After taking a 34-9 lead at halftime, Green Bay held off Elon and its much more productive second-half, moving past the visitors in Round 1 of the Preseason WNIT.
Green Bay (1-0) forced 27 turnovers from Elon (0-1) and enjoyed a 15-4 edge in made free throws. Mehryn Kraker came through with 22 points, four rebounds and five assists for Green Bay, who will host Little Rock in Round 2 with tipoff set for Sunday, Nov. 13 at 1 p.m. CT.
Jessica Lindstrom and Allie LeClaire each scored 12 points for Green Bay, and Lindstrom added 12 rebounds. The home team was just 4-of-21 from 3-point range, but they did enjoy a 39-30 edge in rebounds.
Lauren Brown had 17 points and four assists for Elon; Jada Graves added 21 points, and Jenifer Rhodes had 13 rebounds in 20 minutes of action.
MISSOURI 52, ABILENE CHRISTIAN 46
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri trailed after three quarters against Abilene Christian, but the Tigers muzzled the Wildcats over the final 10 minutes and posted a Round 1 victory in the Preseason WNIT.
Missouri (1-0) will play either Nebraska or UTRGV in Round 2.
The Tigers were only up three points as the clock dipped below 3 minutes remaining, but layups from Sophie Cunningham at 2:20 and Sierra Michaelis at 2:11 pushed the home team up, 50-43. With 23 seconds to go, Cierra Porter racked up her fourth blocked shot of the night, knocking away a layup attempt, and Missouri hit two free throws for the final margin of victory.
Cunningham had 13 points; Lianna Doty added 12 points for the Tigers, and Michaelis added 11 points. Suzzy Dimba led the Wildcats with 11 points, and freshman Dominique Golightly added nine points. Missouri was just 3-of-23 from 3-point range but did hit five more free throws than the visitors.
COLORADO STATE 69, OMAHA 42
FORT COLLINS, CO – Host Colorado State opened up a 31-12 lead at halftime against Omaha and was never outscored in a quarter during their Round 1 game in the Preseason WNIT.
CSU (1-0) will face either Washington or Eastern Washington in Round 2.
Last season’s Mountain West Conference player of the year, Colorado State senior Ellen Nystrom, had 22 points (a career high), five rebounds and six assists, as fellow Swede Elin Gustavsson added 13 points and eight rebounds. The Rams had only nine turnovers and enjoyed an 18-5 advantage in assists.
Mikaela Shaw scored 14 points for the Mavericks; she added eight rebounds and three assists.
WASHINGTON 100, EASTERN WASHINGTON 52
SEATTLE, Wash. – Washington, which made a surprise run to the Final Four last season, started the current campaign hot and motored past Eastern Washington in Round 1 of the Preseason WNIT.
The Huskies (1-0) will host Colorado State in Round 2, with tipoff set for Monday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. PT.
Kelsey Plum rang up 32 points on the night, pouring in 25 points in the first half alone. Chantel Osahor added 13 points and seven rebounds; the Huskies also welcomed Nebraska transfer Natalie Romeo, whose eligibility had been up in the air for most of the offseason. Mai-Loni Henson, a freshman, closed with 12 points.
Eastern Washington scored just seven points in the second quarter but did a nice job clamping down defensively in the final quarter. Leading the way in scoring for the Eagles was Delaney Hodgins, who had 13 points. Tisha Phillips added 12 points.