Notre Dame routs Duke for fourth consecutive ACC tournament title

Lindsay Allen and her Notre Dame teammates held up four fingers as the balloons and confetti fell around them. They had a lot to celebrate after winning a fourth consecutive ACC Tournament title.

The No. 3 Irish became the second team in ACC history to win four regular-season and tournament championships in the same year when they beat 13th-ranked Duke 84-61 in the championship game Sunday, earning the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

“It’s the kind of thing you don’t really appreciate in the moment, but dang four straight years, we’ve done pretty well,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said.

Arike Ogunbowale scored 21 points, and Brianna Turner added 18 points for the Irish (30-3). Allen had 11 points and a career-high 13 assists to earn MVP honors of the tournament.

“What Lindsay’s done in her four years, don’t know if anyone will replicate that,” McGraw said.

Notre Dame was up 12 at the half before Duke scored 10 straight points to start the third quarter and close the gap, 43-41. McGraw called a timeout and her team responded, scoring the next 14 points during a 20-2 run that blew the game open. Ogunbowale hit two 3-pointers during the spurt, her second one making it 60-43 with 2:28 left in the third.

“I thought we were a little more disciplined on offense and really just tightened up on defense,” McGraw said.

The Blue Devils (27-5) couldn’t recover.

Lexie Brown scored 16 points to lead Duke, which had played stellar defense in the first two games of the tournament, holding opponents to just 49 points and 29 percent shooting. The Blue Devils were done in by 17 turnovers, which Notre Dame converted to 26 points.

“You have to get your defense back and set,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “If you turn the ball over in fastbreak mode that’s a lot harder to do.”

Notre Dame raced out to a quick lead against Duke, scoring on eight of its first nine possessions to go up 18-8. Ogunbowale had seven points during that opening stretch. The lead ballooned to 14 points before Lexie Brown tried to rally Duke, scoring seven straight to get the Blue Devils to 32-25 midway through the second quarter. Allen’s layup just before the halftime buzzer gave the Irish a 43-31 advantage.

Duke rallied to start the third quarter with the first 10 points but could get no closer.

Allen matched the conference record with her 13 assists and had 33 in the tournament.

“What she’s been bringing the whole season, you don’t have to score all the points to be MVP,” Ogunbowale said. “Even without all the points, she gets assists and finds other people. I love playing with her.”