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ACC Tournament Preview

No. 10 seeded Irish look to run a five-day gauntlet in Greensboro

ACC Tournament:#10 seed Notre Dame
Where:Greensboro, N.C.
Tournament Central:Click Here
First Round:vs. #15 Pitt | 3:30 p.m. | Wednesday, March 4
Watch:RSN Clearance Sheet | Fox Sports Go | Watch ESPN
Second Round:vs. #7 Georgia Tech | 6 p.m. | Thursday, March 5
Watch:RSN Clearance Sheet | Fox Sports Go | Watch ESPN
Quarterfinals:vs. #2 NC State | 6 p.m. | Friday, March 6
Watch:RSN Clearance Sheet | Fox Sports Go | Watch ESPN
Semifinals:TBD | 2:30 p.m. | Saturday, March 7
Watch:ESPNU
Finals:TBD | Noon | Sunday, March 8
Watch:ESPN2
Live Scoring:StatBroadcast
Listen:PULSE FM 96.9 / 92.1 / 103.1
Social:@NDWBB | Always Fighting, Always Irish

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Notre Dame Notes

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Notre Dame women’s basketball team enters the 2020 ACC Tournament in unchartered territory. The Fighting Irish are the No. 10 seed and in order to claim their sixth ACC tournament crown, they’ll have to run the gauntlet and win five games in five days. The Irish will begin their quest on Wednesday, March 4, with No. 15 seed Pittsburgh at 3:30 p.m. ET.

ACC TOURNAMENT – NEW PERSPECTIVE

For the first time in the seven years in which Notre Dame has been in the league, the Irish will not receive a double-bye and will also have to play on the first day of the tournament.

The Irish are 17-1 all-time in the ACC Tournament and have claimed the conference tourney crown an impressive five times (lone year they did not was the 2018 national championship season).

Notre Dame’s first three opponents are set in Pitt, Georgia Tech and N.C. State. The Irish swept the regular season series against the Panthers and earned a 59-51 victory at Georgia Tech back on Feb. 2. The Irish are hoping to get to the point for a rematch with N.C. State, who defeated them 90-56 at home back on Jan. 12.

“WE ARE ON A ROLL”

Coach McGraw shouted those words to an excited locker room after the Irish upset No. 19 Florida State to end the regular season. ESPN writer Mechelle Voepel tweeted, “So @ndwbb wins three in a row to end regular season … Irish potentially have become a scary team for some of the favorites to face in @accwbb tournament.”

The Irish seem to be clicking at the right time, heading into the ACC Tournament the winners of three straight with a 6-3 mark over their last nine games.

Over the last three contests, Notre Dame is averaging 75.0 ppg on 48.9 percent shooting (up from its 40.3 season average). Notre Dame’s three-point shooting has particularly gotten hot, averaging 6.7 made threes/game on 41.7 percent shooting from deep (up from its season average of 27.2).

During the streak, Brunelle is averaging  a team best 21.0 ppg on 45.1 percent shooting (23-51), with a 12-for-27 mark from three (.444). Her rebounding average is also up at 7.3.

Speaking of stepping up during the streak, enter Marta Sniezek, who is averaging 6.9 points on 21-of-37 (.568) shooting. Sniezek was clutch in the win over No. 19 Florida State, scoring eight of her 10 points in the fourth quarter, including the eventual game-winner with 41 seconds left.

3 ROOKIES, 3 ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM NODS

Three Notre Dame women’s basketball rookies, three ACC All-Freshman Team selections in Anaya Peoples, Sam Brunelle and Katlyn Gilbert. The awards marked the second time in program history in which Notre Dame nabbed three all-freshman team selections – prior was 2007 in the Big East with Erica Williamson, Melissa Lechlitner and Ashley Barlow.

Brunelle and Gilbert lead all ACC freshmen in scoring, averaging 14.1 and 13.4 ppg, respectively.  Among freshmen at power-five schools, Brunelle’s and Gilbert’s scoring average ranks 6th & 7th, respectively.

Brunelle leads all ACC freshmen in the Points + Assists + Rebounds/Game category at 21.6. Furthermore, there are only seven players total in the ACC, counting Sam, who average at least 13 points, 6 rebounds & 1.5 assists. Lastly, Brunelle’s six 20+ scoring games leads all freshmen in the ACC.

When looking at double-digit scoring games, Gilbert leads ACC freshmen with 24. She also leads all ACC freshmen in assists/game, where she averages 2.6.

DESTINEE IS COMING BACK!

Just days before the ACC Tournament, the NCAA office approved Destinee Walker’s waiver for a sixth year of eligibility. Walker, who leads the Irish in scoring this season at 14.5 ppg, and was just named an All-ACC Honorable Mention, will look to lead a strong young nucleus of Irish next season.

GILBERT IN ELITE COMPANY

Only two players in all of the ACC average at least 13 points, 2.5 assists, 1.9 steals and four rebounds: Gilbert and Duke’s Haley Gorecki. Only 6 players total among Power-5 schools. In fact, in all of Division I freshmen – just Gilbert and Buffalo’s Dyaisha Fair. 

CAREER DAY FOR BRUNELLE FROM THREE

Brunelle has certainly found her long-range touch and it showed in the win at No. 19 Florida State. Brunelle connected on a career best 7-of-11 from beyond the arc, tying the single-game freshman record. It also tied for the second most overall for a single game in ND history.

The last Irish player to knock down seven treys – Marina Mabrey vs. Texas A&M on March 24, 2018, in Spokane, Washington.

Brunelle finished the game with 25 points. Add that to her 23-point effort vs. UNC, and espnW came calling with its National Player of the Week award.

FULFILLING HER DESTINEE

What a February for Walker – eight games, eight double-digit scoring performances. Walker posted the fifth best scoring average in February with her 18.1 ppg.  When further looking at February-only stats – she shot 41.7 percent from the field and 31-of-38 from the free-throw line (.816). She recorded three straight games with 20+ points from Feb. 6-13, totaling 69 points.

THREES BY A FRESHMAN

Brunelle enters the ACC Tournament with 56 made three-pointers on the year – that number surpassed her position coach Beth Cunningham (46) for second most in a freshman season. She trails only Irish great Alicia Ratay at 73.

ACC MOST IMPROVED NOMINEE – VAUGHN

As the lone Irish player with significant on-court experience from last season, Vaughn took on a major leadership role with the team, and is also our most improved: Vaughn went from averaging 3.3 points and 2.4 rebounds to 10.7 points and 6.8 rebounds. She shot 52.5 percent last year and jumped that to 59.2 percent aka the best shooting percentage in the ACC.

SNIEZEK WRITES NAME IN RECORD BOOK – ASSIST

Marta Sniezek dished out a career high 14 assists (with just 2 turnovers) against UNC on Feb. 27. It tied for the third most all-time in a single game at Notre Dame, with Mary Gavin still holding the top mark with 17 set back in 1987.

Her 14 assists not only marked the highest in the ACC this season, but tied for the fourth most in all of Division I. Three different players have each dished out 15 assists this year.

Sniezek is averaging 5.6 assists/game which ranks 16th in the nation and 2nd in the ACC –  only behind Virginia Tech’s Taja Cole. In addition, her 1.4 A/TO ratio ranks 12th in the league.

Sniezek now boasts three double-digit assist performances on the year, which ties Cole for the most in the league.

VAUGHN DOUBLE-DIGIT EFFORTS

Vaughn has tallied nine double-digit scoring games since her return – seven of which have been on the road. Vaughn has recorded at least 16 points in 7-of-9 as well, which included two double-doubles. In fact, she netted two 20-point performances in the month of February.

Interesting to note, Vaughn has recorded five separate occasions in which she has reached double-digit points by halftime – four of which occurred on the road:
– 13 at Pitt on Jan. 2
– 10 at Syracuse on Jan. 5
– 14 at Duke on Jan. 23
– 10 at Georgia Tech on Feb. 2

IF ONLY THEY KEPT THE STAT

If charges taken were an official NCAA kept stat, Marta Sniezek could very well be atop the list in the nation.

The defensive catalyst of the team, Sniezek has taken 33 charges this season, which shatters the record set by Kristina Nelson during the 2017-18 championship season (20). In addition, Sniezek had recorded a charge taken in 13 straight games, which ended against Louisville on Jan. 30.

3PT FG% DEFENSE

The Irish led ACC schools in league play in three-point field goal percentage defense, limiting opposition to .258 shooting percentage from beyond the arc.

BATTLE TESTED

Though the Irish are 13-17 on the year, they boast a winning record in games decided by five points or less, with a 6-3 mark. Extending it further, Notre Dame is .500 at 8-8 in games decided by 10 points or less.

— ND —