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Game 23 Preview: Wake Forest

Irish tip off at Wake on Thursday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. ET on ACCNX.

Game 14:Notre Dame (8-5, 6-3) at North Carolina (7-5, 2-5)
Where:Chapel Hill, N.C. | Carmichael Arena
Listen:99.9 WQLQ-FM
Live Scoring:Statbroadcast

Notre Dame Notes | Wake Forest Notes

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The University of Notre Dame will look to garner two wins in a row when the Fighting Irish travel to Wake Forest on Thursday, Feb. 6. Tip inside the LJVM Coliseum is set for 7 p.m. ET on ACCNX.

The Irish are in the midst of a five-game swing in which four of the games are on the road. They kicked off the five-game set by defeating Georgia Tech in Atlanta by the score of 59-51.


For the second straight opponent, Notre Dame will look to keep an undefeated streak going in the all-time series. The Irish lead Wake Forest, 7-0 with a 3-0 mark in Winston-Salem. The series began in 2010.


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 13.9 ppg, which ranks 15th in the league overall. In fact, the Irish would have boasted the top three scoring spots for freshmen with Gilbert tied with Brunelle at 13.9. The next highest is Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley at 11.2 ppg. Important to note that Gilbert can qualify for all ACC Rookie awards as well – qualifying as a redshirt freshman.

Brunelle also leads all ACC freshmen in the Points + Assists + Rebounds/Game category at 21.5.
Nationally, among freshmen at power-five schools, Brunelle’s and Gilbert’s scoring average are tied for 4th.

In addition, Brunelle is 1-of-11 freshmen nationally to average over 13.5 points and 6.0 rebounds.

Next, there are only two freshmen pairs in all of Division-I women’s hoops to both average 13.5 ppg or higher –> ND’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.


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 just ended a stretch in which she hit multiple treys in 7 straight games.

Since Jan. 5, she has converted 20-of-57 (.351) from three. Also since Jan. 5, Brunelle is averaging 2.5 made three’s/game, which ranks 5th in the ACC in that timespan.


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 17.2 ppg in that span, earning double-digit points in 4-of-5 games. She is shooting 40.3 percent from the floor and 34.2 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, and almost garnered a double-double against No. 5 Louisville with 17 points and 9 boards.


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 61.6 percent from the field in ACC play.

Since returning, Vaughn has recorded five double-digit scoring games, recording at least 16 points each time –> those games also included two double-doubles.

IE when Vaughn tallied18 points at Duke (1/16), recording her second double-double with a career-high tying 11 boards. Also when Vaughn poured in a career high 20 points on 10-of-15 shooting at Georgia Tech (2/2).

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.


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.


This young Irish squad has hit bumps in the road in closing out multiple games this season as evidenced below:
– Dec. 4 vs. Minnesota – Down 18 in the second quarter – took a 57-56 lead in the 4th quarter before losing 75-67.
– Nov. 29 vs. South Dakota State – Down 16 in the third 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 first quarter – had chance to tie at the buzzer before losing 72-69.
– Jan. 16 at Duke — Irish were up nine points in the fourth quarter but turned the ball over three times in the final 40 seconds to lose 50-47.
– Jan. 5 at Syracuse — Up 10 within the first minute of the fourth quarter, and later up four with 1:31 left, yet the Orange won 74-63 in overtime.

However, twice over the last few weeks, the Irish flipped the late-game script.

Jan. 19 vs. Miami – Tied 32-all with 7:58 left in the third, the Irish close out the period on a 20-2 run and defeat the Hurricanes, 76-53.

Feb. 2 at Georgia Tech – With 5:09 left in the third quarter, the game was tied at 33-all. The Irish then produced a 17-4 scoring run and went on to win, 59-51, against the nation’s then second best defense.


When the Irish left Georgia Tech on Feb. 2 with the 59-51 victory, they did so by not converting a three-pointer in the entire game, going 0-for-7. It marked the first time the Irish didn’t make a three in a game since Dec. 21, 2014, against Saint Joseph’s. In fact, there almost wasn’t a three in the entire game, with Georgia Tech making the only two in the final two minutes of the contest.


Mikki Vaughn has recorded four separate occasions in which she has reached double-digit points by halftime. What’s interesting to note is the fact that all four instances have been 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


— ND —