|Game 17:||Notre Dame (8-8, 6-6) at Pitt (5-10, 3-9)|
|Where:||Petersen Center | Pitt, PA|
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The North Dame women’s hoops team is hitting its stride mid-conference season and looks to make it four straight wins when the Fighting Irish (8-5, 6-3) invade Tar Heel country to challenge North Carolina (7-5, 2-5). Tip is set for Noon EST inside Carmichael Arena, airing live on ESPNU.
HISTORY WITH NORTH CAROLINA
Notre Dame leads the overall series, 9-2, with just a 2-1 record in Chapel Hill. The Irish will be looking to right another wrong but this time from a different Irish group. Back in the 2018-19 season, the Tar Heels upset the top-ranked Irish, 78-73.
AND THAT’S WHAT WE CALL A WINNING STREAK
The Irish finally captured that elusive third straight win on the season and seem to be hitting a stride heading into Sunday’s contest. During the three-game win streak, Notre Dame is averaging 75.7 ppg on 49.7 percent shooting, and also averaging 17.3 assists per game.
Not to mention, they are converting a blistering 42.1 percent from three. In fact, Walker, Mabrey and Westbeld are a combined 15-for-31 from deep.
Westbeld is leading the charge during this streak. The freshman is nearly averaging a double-double: 17.0 ppg & 9.3 rpg. She’s also 4-of-8 from three during that span.
Meanwhile, Walker and Mabrey follow suit with 15.0 and 14.7 ppg, respectively. Shooting wise, Mabrey (51.9 percent) and Vaughn (60.9) have been the most efficient.
Speaking of Mabrey, she’s produced 12 assists and four turnovers in said stretch.
NOT SO DRY JANUARY IN SCORING
Maddy, Destinee and Dara comprise three of the top-12 scoring averages in the month of January. Not on the list, but important to note — Vaughn’s 66.7 percent shooting in January marks the highest of any player in the ACC.
ACC ROOKIE OF THE YEAR NOMINEE
Maddy’s 15.8 ppg not only leads the team, but also ranks 9th overall in the ACC. Not to mention, her scoring average tops all ACC freshmen and ranks 7th among all freshmen in the country.
To truly show what kind of season Westbeld is having, she’s 1-of-2 freshmen in the country averaging at least 15 points, 7 rebounds & 1.5 steals.
Furthermore, the freshman currently ranks in the top-15 in the ACC in six different statistical categories: 9th in scoring (15.8), 9th in rebounding (7.5), 12th in FG% (.463), 7th in Steals (1.6), 9th in D-Reb (5.4) and 15th in FT% (.760).
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 38.7 percent from three, which not only ranks 1st in the ACC, but also 12th in the country. All three are shooting over 40 percent from deep.
Mabrey is knocking down 46.3 percent from three, which ranks 3rd in the ACC. In addition, she has been pretty lights out from deep since the start of ACC play, converting 16-of-29 from three, aka 55.2 percent.
Brunelle is shooting 42.1 from deep and has made a trey in all but two games this season. Then there’s Westbeld, who keeps you honest from three. She’s knocked down 42.9 percent with a 45.8 percent clip in conference play.
Lastly, Walker is slowly creeping up to becoming a fourth over 40, as she currently sits at 38.2 percent.
Walker put together the most dominant Irish period of the season, pouring in 13 points in the 2nd quarter at Virginia Tech (1/21). In fact, she recorded a stretch in which she scored 13 of the team’s next 15 points, which included three treys. More impressive is the fact that she didn’t miss a shot during that stretch.
In the Jan. 19 Bracketology report by ESPN’s Charlie Creme, the Irish have moved back into the projected NCAA Tournament field. They are currently listed as a No. 10 seed.
— ND —