Womens basketball: Notre Dame 78, Western Kentucky 65 - D1SportsNet


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Womens basketball

Notre Dame 78, Western Kentucky 65

Jessica Shepard helped Notre Dame passed its first road test of the season.

She had 19 points and 12 rebounds and the sixth-ranked Irish beat Western Kentucky 78-65 on Tuesday night.

The Fighting Irish (2-0) powered past a Lady Toppers team that received votes in this week's AP poll. WKU (1-2) beat then-No. 16 Missouri, then took Iowa to overtime on the road last weekend.

"I think just coming into the game we knew it was going to be a tough game," Shepard said. "We knew we had to come out with a certain level of intensity."

Notre Dame flexed its frontcourt muscle, outscoring the Lady Toppers 50-32 in the paint. The Irish went to Shepard early and often, allowing her to work against WKU's front line.

Shepard transferred to Notre Dame this past summer from Nebraska and was granted an NCAA waiver Nov. 1 for immediate eligibility. The 6-foot-4 forward averaged 18.6 points and 9.8 rebounds last year as a sophomore at Nebraska.

"We started the game really trying to find her inside and we were pretty successful," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "We just need to find someone on our team that can get her the ball — huge difference with her."

Arike Ogunbowale and Mikayla Vaughn scored 21 and 17 points for the four-time defending Atlantic Coast Conference champs. Notre Dame led 37-28 at halftime and then held steady in the second half, stretching the lead to as wide a margin as 73-59 after WKU got as close as 57-51 early in the fourth quarter.

Tashia Brown scored 25 points for the Lady Toppers, but was just 6-for-25 from the field. Fellow WKU senior Ivy Brown, who came in averaging 18.5 points per game, scored just two points in 35 minutes of play Tuesday and eventually fouled out.

"This is what it was about when we made the schedule to see where we're at as a program and it showed us a lot today and showed us a lot in these past three games, we're getting close," Western Kentucky coach Michelle Clark-Heard said. "We've just got to continue to keep building and bringing players and that's our most important thing."