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Game 22 Preview: Georgia Tech

Irish tip against the Yellow Jackets on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on ACC Network

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

Notre Dame Notes | Georgia Tech Notes

ATLANTA – Karen & Kevin Keyes Family Notre Dame women’s basketball head coach Muffet McGraw has told her squad compete for 40 minutes. The Fighting Irish (7-14, 2-7) will look to take up that mantra on Sunday, Feb. 2, inside McCamish Pavilion, when they clash with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (14-7, 5-5).

Tip is slated for 2 p.m. ET, airing live on the ACC Network. Pam Ward and Kelly Gramlich will be on the call. Fans can also catch the game on Pulse FM radio.

HISTORY WITH GEORGIA TECH

Notre Dame leads the all-time series against Georgia Tech, 12-0, with a 5-0 mark in Atlanta. The series began in 1996 but didn’t resume on a regular basis till 2014. Last year in McCamish, the Irish won 76-55.

ACC FRESHMEN OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES

Notre Dame can certainly make its point in having an ACC Rookie of the Year candidate. Anaya Peoples was arguably the early favorite. At the time of her injury she led all ACC freshmen in rebounds (8.1), shooting percentage (.457) and steals (1.9), and ranked second in points (12.6).

Now, look no further than Sam Brunelle. The Virginia native leads all ACC freshmen in scoring, averaging 14.2 ppg, which ranks 12th in the league overall. In fact, the Irish would have boasted the top three scoring spots for freshmen with Gilbert right behind with her 14.0 ppg. The next highest is Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley at 11.4 ppg. Important to note that Gilbert can qualify for all ACC Rookie awards as well  (athletic status = freshman).

Brunelle also leads all ACC freshmen in the Points+Assists+Rebounds/Game category at 21.7.
Nationally, among freshmen at power-five schools, Brunelle’s scoring average ranks 2nd, while Gilbert ranks 3rd.

In addition, Brunelle is 1-of-8 freshmen to average over 14.0 points and 6.0 rebounds.

Next, there are only two freshmen pairs in all of Division-I women’s hoops to both average 14.0 ppg or higher: Notre Dame’s Brunelle and Gilbert and Fresno State’s Haley & Hanna Cavinder.

All-in-all, Brianna Turner, who remains the program’s lone ACC Rookie of the Year, averaged 13.8 ppg when she won it back in 2015.

ND FRESHMEN STACKING UP HISTORICALLY

Brunelle and Gilbert (by eligibility) are on pace to etch their names in the Notre Dame freshmen record books, as both could end up in the top-10 scoring-average list. Brunelle and Gilbert average 14.2 & 14.0 ppg, respectively. Peoples finished with 12.6 ppg, which would currently place her just outside the top-10.

AS A FRESHMAN

Player / Average / Season

1. Beth Morgan / 17.9 / 1993-94

2. Shari Matvey / 17.6 / 1979-80

3. Alicia Ratay / 14.0 / 1999-00

4. Skylar Diggins / 13.8 / 2009-10

5. Brianna Turner / 13.78 / 2014-15

HEATING UP FROM THREE

After winning the three-point shooting contest at the McDonald’s All-America game, Sam Brunelle was expected to help the Irish from three-point range this season. The freshman struggled early on, going 13-of-68 (.191) from beyond the arc over the first 14 games. However, she’s flipped the script as of late. Brunelle has hit multiple treys in 7 straight games, converting 20-of-55 (.364) from three.

Since Jan. 5, Brunelle is averaging 2.9 made three’s/game, which ranks 2nd in the ACC in that timespan – the only player better being NC State’s Aislinn Konig at 3.5.

LIFE WITHOUT PEOPLES

Brunelle has certainly stepped up since the news that fellow freshman Anaya Peoples was lost for the season following the NC State game. Since, Brunelle is leading the Irish in scoring at 19.8 ppg in that span, earning double-digit points in each game. She is shooting 41.4 percent from the floor and 36.1 percent from three.

Brunelle tallied 16 points at Duke (1/16), then followed that with a game-high 25 points in the win over Miami. Brunelle went off in the second half vs. the Hurricanes, scoring 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field. Brunelle then notched her second straight 20+ effort with 21 in her homecoming game at Virginia.

MIGHTY MIK IN ACC PLAY

Vaughn suffered an ACL sprain in her right knee in the season opener and missed the next 11 games. The junior returned to the team for the start of ACC play, where she has provided a nice boost for the Irish.

No one in the league has been more efficient from the field than Vaughn, who is shooting 60.6 percent from the field in ACC play.

Since returning, Vaughn has recorded four double-digit scoring games, recording at least 16 points and eight rebounds each time. In those instances, Vaughn also recorded two double-doubles. For example, when Vaughn poured in a career high 18 points at Duke (1/16), recording her second double-double with a career-high tying 11 boards.

In ACC play only, Vaughn ranks: 15th in rebounds (6.8), 10th in blocks (1.4) and 2nd in offensive rebounds (3.3).

Lastly, Vaughn dished out a career best five assists vs No. 5 Louisville, marking her first 5+5+5 Stat Stuffer game, earning eight points and five boards as well.

BUILDING BLOCK FOR THE FUTURE

The future is certainly bright for the Irish with a young nucleus in place. With Gilbert’s redshirt last year, coupled with Prohaska’s redshirt this season, the duo will join Brunelle and Peoples as sophomores for the 2020-21 season. Add that to the fact that five freshmen, who were the No. 3 ranked recruiting class in the country, will be injected into the program. Thus, the Irish will have a very young core of nine players to build from for the next couple of years.

FRESHMEN DUO SENSATION

Notre Dame women’s basketball has never seen the offensive output from two freshmen like this before, let alone three – Brunelle and Gilbert are averaging 14.2 ppg & 14.0 ppg, respectively, while Peoples finished at 12.6 ppg. There have only been only two other freshmen pairs in program history to finish the season with double-digit scoring averages:

— Arike Ogunbowale (11.4) and Marina Mabrey (10.7) in the 2015-16 season.
— Mary Beth Schueth (13.0) and Carrie Bates (12.4) were the first in the 1981-82 season.

Currently, Notre Dame and Fresno State are the only two Division I programs with two true freshmen averaging over 14.0 points. Fresno State is represented by Hanna Cavinder and Haley Cavinder.

TRENDING: KATLYN GILBERT

We’ve already mentioned Brunelle’s recent surge, but over the last two games Gilbert has picked up production as well. Over the past week, Gilbert has averaged 17.0 ppg and has been a perfect 12-for-12 from the line. As a result, she now ranks 3rd in ACC play only in free throw percentage with her 88.0 percent.

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.

The defensive catalyst of the team, Sniezek has taken 23 charges this season, which breaks the record set by Kristina Nelson during the 2017-18 championship season. Unfortunately, her impressive streak of taking a charge in 13 consecutive contests came to an end against No. 5 Louisville on Jan. 30.

On a completely different defensive note – Sniezek is averaging 2.1 steals/game, which ranks 3rd in the ACC. The Virginia native captured a career high six steals at Syracuse on Jan. 5.

STEALS AND DIMES COMBINED

Sniezek is just 1-of-2 players in the country to average 5.5 assists/game or greater and 2.0 steals/game or greater. The other player being Texas Southern’s Ciani Cryor.

— ND —