BRONX, N.Y. – The No. 16/14 Notre Dame women’s basketball team fended off Fordham on Tuesday night inside a sold-out Rose Hill Gym (3,200 capacity). Irish freshmen Sam Brunelle (14 points) and Anaya Peoples (11 points) combined for 25 points, while Katlyn Gilbert matched her career high of 14 points. Tonight’s victory marked the 1,000th win in program history.
“For a season opener, I thought that was awesome and that the freshmen stepped up,” Karen and Kevin Keyes Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “The rebound from Peoples won the game for us. We learned a lot about ourselves. We didn’t quit. We didn’t put our heads down. We worked hard and we worked together.”
How It Happened
The first quarter featured five ties and five lead changes as the Notre Dame offense found its footing. Brunelle led five Irish scorers in the period with seven points, as the Notre Dame defense forced seven turnovers. A Danielle Cosgrove layup and a pair of Brunelle free throws gave the Irish a 4-0 run to end the quarter up 16-14.
The Irish defense highlighted the second quarter, holding Fordham off the scoreboard for six minutes and 25 seconds. In the meantime, Notre Dame produced a 13-0 run, which featured 11 combined points from Gilbert and Mikayla Vaughn. Tack on a Brunelle three and buckets from Destinee Walker and Gilbert, and the Irish took a 36-24 lead into the half.
Fordham threatened midway through the third, tallying a 7-1 run to cut the deficit to 39-33 at the 4:47 mark. Enter Anaya Peoples, who countered with a solo 5-0 run to push the lead back to double digits, 44-33. Peoples later responded with a buzzer beater to end the third, giving the Irish a 47-35 advantage.
Despite the momentum, the Rams started the fourth by firing off an 8-0 run, forcing an Irish timeout at 8:29. Up 47-43, Brunelle delivered in the paint, then moments later, Gilbert notched a solo 4-0 swing after an and-one, pushing the Irish lead back to double-digits at 53-43.
Notre Dame later inbounded the ball after a timeout at 0:32, up 55-49, and was immediately fouled. Walker then converted 1-of-2 from the line. Fordham responded out of its timeout with a layup to make it 56-53. Walker was fouled again out of the timeout and converted 1-of-2 again to give the Irish the 57-53 lead.
Fordham then cut the lead to two and immediately fouled Peoples. The freshman made the first, missed the second, but grabbed a critical offensive board before being fouled again. Same result then happened with Peoples, converting the first but missing the second; yet, it was Gilbert this time with a big offensive rebound. Gilbert then iced the game from the line, 60-55.
- Notre Dame now leads the all-time series, 3-0, against Fordham. The Irish picked up their first win inside Rose Hill Gymnasium.
- With the starts of Brunelle and Peoples, Notre Dame started two freshmen for a season opener for the first time since the 2001-02 opener (Teresa Borton & Jacqueline Batteast). In that instance in 2001, it had marked the first time in 20 years.
- All five starters tonight (Brunelle, Peoples, Vaughn, Sniezek and Walker) made their first career starts in an Irish uniform.
- Tonight’s win marked the program’s 1,000th. The Irish women’s basketball program started back in 1977.
- Also with the win, the Irish have won their 25th straight season opener. Today marked the first road season opener for Notre Dame since 2008, when the Irish opened in Baton Rouge against LSU.
- The Irish played in front of a sold-out crowd inside Rose Hill Gym (3,200).
- Both Irish freshmen scored in double digits as Brunelle poured in 14 points, followed by 11 points from Peoples.
- Gilbert matched her career high of 14 points.
- Walker was the fourth Irish player in double figures with 10 points.
- Notre Dame limited Fordham to just 1-of-2 from the free-throw line.
The Irish return to Purcell Pavilion for their home opener against Loyola Maryland on Friday, Nov. 8. Tip is set for 6:30 p.m. ET, streaming live on ACCNX. Also, a reminder to fans that Friday’s contest also marks Natalie Achonwa’s Ring of Honor ceremony, taking place pregame, shortly after 6 p.m.