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Game 11 Preview: #4 UConn

Irish travel to #4 UConn Sunday for Jimmy V Classic Game on ESPN

Game 19:Notre Dame vs Miami
When:Sunday, Jan. 19 | 1:00 p.m. ET
Where:Purcell Pavilion (Notre Dame, Ind.)
Watch:ACC Network
Listen:PULSE FM 96.9 / 92.1 / 103.1
Live Scoring:StatBroadcast
Social:@NDWBB | Always Fighting, Always Irish
Tickets:Buy Online

Notre Dame Notes | UConn Notes

STORRS, Conn. – The challenging non-conference schedule for the Notre Dame women’s basketball rolls on this Sunday, when the new-look Irish get acquainted with an old-rival. The Fighting Irish (5-5) will make the trip to Gampel Pavilion in Storrs for a showdown with No. 4 UConn (7-0) at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN. The matchup will also serve as the women’s Jimmy V Classic Game.

THE RIVALRY

The past two seasons, UConn has gotten the upper-hand during the regular season, while the Irish got the last laugh at the Final Four, knocking off the Huskies in back-to-back National Semifinals.

Notre Dame is 5-3 all-time against UConn in the NCAA Tournament, with a 5-1 mark in National Semifinals. The five NCAA Tournament wins against UConn not only stand as the most of any program, but also doubles the next highest team.

Overall, over the last nine years, Notre Dame has defeated UConn nine times — all other Division I teams have combined for eight wins.

PEOPLES – ACC ROOKIE OF THE WEEK

When the Cancun Challenge wrapped, freshman Anaya Peoples had garnered two major accolades: the Cancun All-Tournament Team and ACC Rookie of the Week.

Peoples averaged 17.3 points and 8.7 rebounds over three games in Cancun. Peoples led the Irish in both scoring and rebounding against No. 21 USF with 18 points and nine boards, helping Notre Dame earn its second ranked victory on the season.

Peoples also tallied a career-high tying 19 points against FGCU and pulled down nine boards. Against South Dakota State, the Danville, Illinois native logged 15 points and eight boards. Thus, Peoples came just shy in the rebounding department in all three games of potential double-doubles (9/8/9 rebounds).

GILBERT-PEOPLES CONNECTION

The on-the-court chemistry between guards Katlyn Gilbert and Anaya Peoples has been immediate and there’s no wonder way. Gilbert, from the Indianapolis area, and Peoples from Danville, Illinois, have played together every summer since they were seven and six years old, respectively. The duo first played on FBC together and later finished playing with Midwest Elite in Chicago.

Fast forward to now. Over the last four games, the duo are leading the Irish in both scoring and rebounding. Peoples is averaging a double-double in that span with 15.3 points and 10.0 rebounds. Meanwhile, Gilbert is averaging 14.3 points and 6.8 boards. Both Gilbert and Peoples are shooting over 50 percent from the field in that span as well, knocking down 55.6 percent and 53.3 percent, respectively.

ABILITY TO FINISH OFF THE RALLY

The Irish have shown on multiple occasions their ability to execute and fight back after falling into a deep hole. What has hurt the Irish this non-conference season is the ability to finish off the rally.

Dec. 4 vs. Minnesota – Down 18 in the 2nd quarter – took a 57-56 lead in the 4th quarter before losing 75-67.

Nov. 29 vs. South Dakota State – Down 16 in the 3rd quarter – took a 48-45 lead at the start of the 4th quarter before losing 65-59.

Nov. 14 vs. Michigan State – Down 13 in the 1Q – had chance to tie at the buzzer before losing 72-69.

*Exception came Nov. 23 at Michigan – Down 11 in the 2nd quarter – outscored the Wolverines 19-11 in final period to win 76-72.

SLOW STARTS – LATE RALLIES CONTINUED

Adding on to the above note – the Irish have nearly scored 100 more points on the year in the second half compared to their first half output. Notre Dame has scored 287 points in the first half for an average of 28.7, compared to 372 points in the second for an average of 37.2.

CHALLENGING SCHEDULE

With the release of the AP Week 5 Top-25 poll, the Irish have either faced or will face 13 teams who are currently ranked or receiving votes:

#2 Louisville, #4 UConn, #8 Florida State, #13 NC State, #16 DePaul, #17 Tennessee, #19 Michigan State, #21 Miami, #24 Michigan.

RV – Syracuse, FGCU, Minnesota, North Carolina – 4

YOU ARE MY DESTINEE

When looking at ‘wins-only’ stats versus ‘losses-only’ stats, one starter’s stat-line is a little different. The lesson – when Destinee Walker goes, the Irish go.

In games the Irish have won, Walker leads the team in scoring with 17.0 ppg, knocking down 42.9 percent from the field. The Orlando native is also more active on the glass, averaging 5.6 rpg.

In losses only, Walker’s average dips to 10.0 ppg on 33.3 percent shooting to go along with her 2.2 rpg.

IF ONLY THEY KEPT THE STAT

If charges taken was an official NCAA kept stat, Marta Sniezek could very well be atop the list in the nation. Just in Cancun alone, Sniezek took one against FGCU, four against South Dakota State, then took four again the very next day versus No. 21 South Florida for a weekly total of nine.

Coach McGraw suspects the program record is around 20 set by Kristina Nelson in the 2017-18 season. Sniezek is officially up to 13 on the year.

BRUNELLE SETS FRESHMAN RECORD

Never in the history of the Fighting Irish women’s basketball program has a player started her ND career with five straight games in double figures … until now. Freshman Sam Brunelle did just that and then more, recording a stretch of seven in a row before her streak came to an end vs. South Dakota State on Nov. 29.

TURNOVER TURMOIL

One has to give props to the Irish defense where it is due. In five of the last eight games, Notre Dame has forced at least 20 turnovers:

Tennessee – 28
Michigan State – 20
Toledo – 21
Michigan – 24
South Dakota State – 22

Notre Dame ranks second in the ACC in turnovers forced, averaging 18.7 on the year. Furthermore, the Irish boast a +2.1 turnover margin, which ranks fourth in the league. The Irish also rank fifth in the ACC in steals per game with an 8.5 average.

Speaking of steals, there are four Irish who all rank within the top-15 in the ACC: Peoples fourth with 1.9, Gilbert 10th with 1.8 and both Sniezek/Walker 14th with 1.6.

WELCOME BACK GILBERT

Last season, Gilbert played in six full games, before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury against Iowa on Nov. 29, 2018. A year later, Gilbert has returned in full force, leading the team in scoring with her 14.9 ppg, which ranks 15th in the ACC. In fact, Gilbert is riding a career best stretch of 10 consecutive double-digit scoring performances – the only player on the team to be in double-figures in every game.

Gilbert ranks 13th in the nation in made field goals with 61 and ranks 13th in the ACC in field goal percentage, converting 48.4 percent. Gilbert also has one 20+ scoring effort under her belt, recording a career high of 24 points against Loyola.

BRUNELLE 4TH QUARTER SURGES

Trailing by seven points in the fourth quarter to Michigan State, Sam Brunelle tried spearheading the rally by scoring 11 of her 19 points in the final period alone. Brunelle connected on two treys in the quarter, including one with 10 seconds left to cut the deficit to one. Brunelle also got a final three-point attempt up at the buzzer to tie the game, but the shot came up just short.

Then at No. 21 Michigan on Nov. 23, Brunelle recorded a stretch in the fourth quarter in which she scored nine of the team’s next 11 points, ultimately finishing with 12 points for the game.

Against Minnesota on Dec. 4, Brunelle tallied seven of her 19 points in the fourth quarter. 

SNIEZEK’S OFFENSE PICKING UP

Irish fans know Sniezek can distribute well and play sound defense and take a charge, but it’s her offense that has begun to churn as of late. Over the first five games, Sniezek went 1-for-11 from the field, averaging just 2.0 ppg. Over the last five games, Sniezek is driving to the basket more and is 12-of-18 from the floor (.667), averaging 7.2 ppg in that span.

— ND —