It was a good thing Notre Dame guard Jackie Young was sitting behind a microphone that amplified her every word Saturday because she spoke as softly as if in a library reading room.
But when the Fighting Irish have played in games for trophies this season, her game has been among the loudest in the arena.
“Jackie is kind of like that quiet assassin," point guard Marina Mabrey said. “She lets people have their time and then she knows when it’s her time."
Young’s time arrived when she had 32 points and 11 rebounds Friday in a 91-89 overtime victory over Connecticut in a national semifinal at Nationwide Arena. The team needed a boost with Mabrey having a rare subpar shooting game and guard Arike Ogunbowale starting slowly.
Huskies coach Geno Auriemma threw a zone defense against Notre Dame that centered on crowding Mabrey and Ogunbowale, so Young made 10 of 15 shots from the field, including 2 of 4 from three-point range.
“They weren’t guarding me at the beginning of the game — most of the game — and I hit my first shot and was on from that moment," Young said. “I think everyone gets hyped up for big games, but I think it was just treating that game like every game other game and coming out being ready to play. I knew they were leaving me open and that I had to hit some shots."
As for the quiet assassin tag, she said, “That’s how I always am. I usually don’t show much emotion."
When it comes to must-win games, Young consistently delivers. Against 14 ranked opponents before the UConn game, she averaged 16.2 points and 6.9 rebounds. Her averages are 15.1 and 6.7.
She had 23 points against Louisville, 22 against South Carolina and 21 against Oregon State in the regular season and 24 against Villanova in the NCAA Tournament.
Coach Muffet McGraw has said Young could become the best player in the history of the program.
Young was highly sought coming out of Princeton Community High School in Indiana after setting the state record for girls and boys with 3,268 points and leading her team to 97 victories in four seasons. Prospects Nation listed her as the No. 5 senior in the nation.
Mabrey said teammates knew Young was ready to expand her game this season.
“She started off scoring 20, 20 and 20 in the Florida tournament, so I don’t think we even needed to tell her what to do," Mabrey said of the Gulf Coast Showcase. “We said, ‘Jackie, this is your year. You are going to be in the top three or four (on the team) in scoring.’ When she gets moving downhill — we say it’s transition — you might as well get out of her way."