|Game 13:||Notre Dame (7-5, 5-3) at Virginia Tech (7-5, 2-5)|
|Where:||Blacksburg, Va. | Cassell Coliseum|
|Watch:||RSN | For South Bend area, check Marquee Network|
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – “This is just the beginning so let’s continue to build,” said Karen & Kevin Keyes Notre Dame head women’s basketball coach Niele Ivey after the team’s 69-67 win over Georgia Tech last Sunday. The Fighting Irish (5-4, 3-2) will look to do just that on Thursday when they travel to the Conte Forum to challenge the Boston College Eagles (4-4, 0-4). If successful, it’ll be Notre Dame’s third straight win.
Tip on Jan. 7 is set for 8 p.m. EST, airing live on the ACC Network. Jenn Hildreth & Debbie Antonelli have the call.
HISTORY WITH THE EAGLES
Notre Dame leads the overall series 24-7 against Boston College, with a 10-5 record at the Conte Forum.
Last season, Boston College not only broke a 14-game Irish win streak in the series, but also swept the Irish for the very first time in a home-and-home.
In terms of individual success against the Eagles last year, look no further than Destinee Walker. The graduate student scored exactly 21 points in both games.
What a week Dara Mabrey had, lifting the Irish to back-to-back wins over Miami and Georgia Tech. She totaled 33 points on 12-of-20 shooting, including a 6-of-9 mark from three. She also grabbed six total boards and dished out nine total assists.
Diving deeper, Mabrey scored 10 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter against Georgia Tech on Jan. 3. Mabrey also hit two big triples in the fourth.
Three days prior in Miami (12/31), Mabrey was clutch in the second half again, where she scored 12 of her 17 points. She also tied her career high of six assists.
WESTBELD MAKING IMMEDIATE IMPACT
First and foremost, she’s the only player in the ACC to win two weekly league honors thus far. Westbeld was named ACC Rookie of the Week on Dec. 7, then again on Jan. 3.
Maddy’s 16.2 ppg not only leads the team, but also ranks 7th overall in the ACC. Not to mention, her scoring average tops all ACC freshmen and ranks 10th among all freshmen in the country. However, Maddy does has some work ahead of her if she wants to topple the ND freshman scoring record held by Beth (Morgan) Cunningham – 17.9 ppg in 1993-94.
To truly show what kind of season Westbeld is having, she’s 1-of-3 freshmen in the country averaging at least 16 points, 7 rebounds & 1.5 steals. In addition, she ranks 9th in the country among freshmen in the Points+Rebounds+Assists/Game category with 26.1 – which also tops all ACC freshmen.
Furthermore, the freshman currently ranks in the top-15 in the ACC in five different statistical categories: 7th in scoring (16.2), 14th in rebounding (7.2), 11th in FG% (.474), 14th in Steals (1.6) and 10th in D-Reb (4.9).
TURN THE THREE AROUND
A season ago, the Irish ranked dead last in the ACC in three-point shooting percentage (.271). Fast forward to now and the Irish have recorded quite the renaissance from beyond the arc primarily thanks to the trio of Mabrey, Brunelle and Westbeld. In fact, the Irish are converting 39.1 percent from three, which ranks 2nd in the ACC and 20th in the country. All three are shooting over 40 percent from deep.
Mabrey leads all shooters with her .488 three-point shooting percentage, which not only ranks 2nd in the ACC, but also 33rd in the country. Meanwhile, her 2.2 three’s/game ranks 12th in the league.
Mabrey has been lights out from deep since the start of ACC play, converting 11-of-16 aka 68.8 percent.
Brunelle follows right behind, as her 46.7 percent ranks 4th in the ACC and 47th nationally. For comparison’s sake, she shot 31.5 percent as a freshman. The sophomore is now averaging 2.0 made three’s/game, which ranks 2nd on the team and 13th in the ACC.
Brunelle has made a three-pointer in all seven games she’s played and if she wants to crack the program’s all-time top-five list, she’ll have to make that number reach 18.
Like Mabrey, Brunelle’s deep shooting is even better in ACC play, where she’s at 50.0 percent (11-of-22).
Then there’s Westbeld, who keeps you honest from three. She’s knocked down 42.3 percent with a 46.7 percent clip in conference play.
4TH QUARTER WILL
Westbeld, Brunelle and Mabrey have all recorded at least one instance in which they went off in the fourth quarter and tallied double-digit points in the final period alone.
Against both IUPUI and Georgia Tech, Westbeld found another gear in the fourth. She scored 12 of her 22 in the fourth vs. IUPUI (12/6), then tallied 12 of her 21 points in the fourth vs. Georgia Tech (12/13).
Brunelle then displayed some fourth-quarter fire at Miami (12/31), where she tallied 11 of her 13 points in the final period. Brunelle went beast mode from three, going a perfect 3-for-3 from deep.
Then it was Mabrey’s turn in the win over Georgia Tech on Jan. 3. Mabrey scored 10 of her 16 points, with a perfect 2-for-2 mark from three.
Not too often you have both a 2020 ACC Honorable Mention player and a Preseason All-ACC selection coming off your bench.
Destinee Walker has been dynamic off the bench over the last three games, scoring in double figures in each, and even leading the Irish in scoring in two of them.
During this three-game span, Walker has averaged 15.3 ppg on a combined 16-of-36 (.444) shooting.
Walker called game against Georgia Tech (1/3), hitting the game-winner from the baseline with 20 seconds left to lift the Irish to a 69-67 victory. Walker scored 7 of her 15 points in the fourth quarter. In addition, she nearly achieved a double-double at Miami (12/31), earning 17 points & 8 boards.
Then there’s Sam Brunelle who is averaging 9.1 ppg, all while still finding her footing this season. She played a huge factor in the wins over Virginia Tech and Miami, scoring 17 and 13 points, respectively.
THE WILY VET
Mikki Vaughn made some noise and was critical down the stretch in the 69-67 win over Georgia Tech on Jan. 3. The senior recorded her first double-digit scoring performance with 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting, to go with her 5 rebounds and career-high tying 4 steals. Vaughn recorded 5 points and 2 steals in the final five minutes of the 69-67 win.
“I’m so proud of this group. I thought we came out with a lot of toughness,” Karen & Kevin Keyes Head Coach Niele Ivey stated. “A lot of that toughness was generated by Mikki Vaughn. Her presence made a difference for us and set the tone defensively. It was down to the wire and we had so much composure.”
— ND —