Notre Dame topples Robert Morris for 15th straight win

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Robert Morris survived Notre Dame's first onslaught. The Colonials had no answer for the wave of Fighting Irish runs that followed.

Marina Mabrey and Arike Ogunbowale scored 15 points each and Lindsay Allen added 14 as the Irish beat the Colonials 79-49 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night. The Colonials answered Notre Dame's initial 10-0 run with one of their own to tie it, but the Irish took control with a 12-0 run and continued to pull away for much of the game.

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw thought the Irish looked rusty following a 12-day layoff after winning the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, especially during that early run by the Colonials.

"I was surprised how poorly we played defensively in that stretch. We were switching the ball-screen and that was probably a bad idea on my part," she said.

The Irish (31-3), who have won 15 straight, improved to 28-5 in seven tournament appearances as a No. 1 seed, but the 30-point margin of victory was the smallest during those games. The Irish previously had won by at least 31.

McGraw said the only thing important to her was the win.

"This time of year, there's no looking back. We're not going to watch that film. We're just going to move on," she said.

It also was the smallest margin of defeat for the Colonials (22-11) in five tournament games. They lost 101-49 to Connecticut last season and 93-42 to Notre Dame in 2014.

Robert Morris coach Charlie Buscaglia said he was proud of the fight the Colonials showed.

"I think that's how a team can get down 10-0 against a team of this caliber and battle back to tie the game like it was nothing. A lot of teams that would get down 10-0 in a 1-16 game, that would be it. You'd say, `they're done now," he said. "But this team just never would quit."

The Irish dominated inside, outscoring the Colonials 44-14 in the paint and had a 52-23 rebounding advantage, with Ogunbowale adding 10 rebounds. The Irish also outshot the Colonials 53 percent to 27 percent.

Allen repeatedly cut through the Robert Morris defense and finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Brianna Turner had 13 points and 10 rebounds. She said the Irish guards had room because the Colonials were focusing on Turner.

"I think for us, the guards, it was a just kind of reading the defense a little bit, then hesitating, then going, because they were backing up," she said. "So just waiting a second, being patient, and then just attacking the gap."

The 30-point loss was the most lopsided of the season for the Colonials, whose previous largest loss was 81-60 to Iowa in December.

Anna Nikki Stamolamprou, the Northeast Conference player of the year, led the Colonials with 19 points and Megan Smith had 10 points and five rebounds. Stamolamprou said the duo of Allen and Turner was overwhelming.

"They can connect from anywhere on the floor. She was trying to lob the ball down to Turner and she got some easy baskets and got some easy transition buckets that we should have stopped, but that's Notre Dame, one of the best teams in the country," she said.


Robert Morris: The Colonials fell to 0-5 in the NCAA Tournament, but were more competitive than they were in a 101-49 loss to Connecticut last season and in a 93-42 loss to Notre Dame in 2014. Their narrowest NCAA Tournament defeat was 84-52 (32 points) to fourth-seed North Carolina State in 2007.

Notre Dame: The Irish didn't work up much of a sweat in improving to 7-0 in opening-round games as a No. 1 seed.


Janee Brown, who went to the same elementary school as Allen, didn't play because of a high ankle sprain sustained against Farleigh Dickinson on Feb. 27.


Notre Dame: Plays Purdue to try to reach the Sweet 16 for the eighth straight season.