VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Health problems did not hamper Notre Dame's championship hopes at the Vancouver Showcase on Friday night.
Arike Ogunbowale scored 30 points and Jackie Young added 25 to help No. 1 Notre Dame beat Drake 82-64 in semifinal action at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
"That was a great effort by our kids," said Irish associate coach Beth Cunningham. "Jacki Young and Arike Ogunbowale, throughout the tournament, continue to lead the way for us — outstanding efforts from them."
The Irish were playing without Jessica Shepard, who twisted her ankle against Gonzaga on Thursday and is listed as day-to-day, said Cunningham, and still were missing Marina Mabrey, who has been sidelined with a quadriceps injury all season.
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw told reporters after the game that Shepard's status wasn't know until shortly before tip. The coaches had to "explore a lot of different lineups."
The defending champion Fighting Irish (5-0) struggled to score early. But after the first quarter was tied 17-17, Notre Dame eventually managed to dominate. The Irish outscored the Bulldogs 52-44 in the paint.
"I thought (Ogubowale) got us going — she and (Young) did," said Cunningham. "(Ogunbowale) was really efficient from the field, 11 for 19 and 30 points. "She's the most exciting player in women's college basketball."
Young went 11 of 15 from the field.
"I felt good," said Young of her showing. "I was just trying to do whatever I could to help my team win, and I got into a rhythm pretty early."
As a whole though, she suggested, Notre Dame struggled to find its tempo at the outset.
"We like to get out and run, so I think that's what we needed to do," said Young. "It took us a little while in the beginning, but we started playing our game."
Sara Rhine led the Bulldogs (5-1) with 18 points while Sammie Bachrodt netted 11 and Maddy Dean contributed 10.
"We played a very good Notre Dame team tonight. I'm really proud of the way we started the game and that was part of our focus was to start well and I'm really very proud of that," Drake coach Jennie Baranczyk said. "We played really well at times and we started so well, but our second quarter let us down. We've got to be able to start well and continue to go."
In the early going, the Bulldogs prevented the Irish from driving the baseline early. Notre Dame also struggled from beyond the arc, missing all four of its three-point attempts in the first 10 minutes.
But the Bulldogs were hurt by a number of offensive turnovers down low and, as a result, did not profit as much as they could have. Turner's basket off an alley-oop put the Irish ahead 22-21 early in the second quarter, and then Ogunbowale and Young combined to stretch their advantage.
The Irish increased their lead to 44-31 at half-time, outscored the Bulldogs 37-16 in the third quarter and coasted from there.
"There are things we will take away from this game," Baranczyk said. "We needed to do a better adjusting on defense especially giving up too many easy points in the paint, too many second chances and too many offensive rebounds. When you're playing a really good team you've got to do the little things. There are going to be things we take away from tonight that were really good and things that we need to work on and improve on."
Notre Dame: By qualifying for the final amongst a tough field, the Fighting Irish appear poised to retain their No. 1 ranking.
Drake: The surging Bulldogs suffered their first loss of the season.
Turner's basket off an alley-oop put the Irish ahead 22-21 early in the second quarter, and then Ogunbowale and Young combined to stretch their advantage.
Ogunbowale finished with 19 first-half points on 7-of-11 shooting, while Young provided 13 points - with 10 coming in the second quarter. By comparison, Rhine was the only Bulldog to reach double figures in the first half, netting 10 points.
In the early going, the Bulldogs prevented the Irish from driving the baseline. Notre Dame also struggled from beyond the arc, missing all four of its three-point attempts in the first 10 minutes.
But the Bulldogs were hurt by a number of offensive turnovers down low and, as a result, did not profit as much as they could have. Notre Dame scored 18 points off turnovers on the night, while the Bulldogs mustered seven.
The Bulldogs are aiming for a third-straight NCAA tournament appearance after making back-to-back appearances for the first time since 2001 and 2002.
Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish will battle for the championship Saturday against Oregon State.
Drake: The Bulldogs will tip off in Saturday's game to decide third place against South Carolina.