SOUTH BEND, Ind. – No. 1 Notre Dame sprinted to an early lead in the Preseason WNIT championship game Sunday and cruised the rest of the way, getting 17 points from sophomore guard Arike Ogunbowale in a victory against 17th-ranked Washington.
The Fighting Irish (4-0), who also won the Preseason WNIT in 2004, had a 13-point lead after one quarter and protected their edge with excellent defense. Washington (3-1) had 17 turnovers and shot just 37 percent from the field as the Irish won their 34th straight home game, this time in front of a crowd of 8,106 fans.
Kathryn Westbeld added 14 points and eight rebounds for Notre Dame; Lindsay Allen added 13 points, and Brianna Turner contributed 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Kelsey Plum scored points for the Huskies, and Chantel Osahor added 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Washington made a push in the fourth quarter, with Plum’s free throw at 6:35 pulling the Huskies to within 61-51. Osahor’s jumper made it 63-53 with 5:53 left, but the visitors went almost five minutes without scoring again, and Notre Dame was never really threatened.
Notre Dame took a 12-0 lead in the first quarter on a layup from Marina Mabrey, with the Huskies held scoreless until a 3-pointer by Plum with 5:39 remaining. A basket by Ogunbowale with 7:08 left in the second quarter pushed the Irish to a 31-11 lead; after a 3-pointer from Chantel Osahor, the Huskies drew as close as 33-20, but Kathryn Westbeld hit a layup with 1 second to go before halftime to rebuild the lead to 39-22.
Ogunbowale was named most valuable player of the Preseason WNIT; also making the all-tournament team was Plum, Osahor, Allen, Jessica Lindstrom of Green Bay and Cierra Porter of Missouri.