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Game 26 Preview: #9 Louisville

Irish strive for top-10 win on the road on Sunday, Feb. 16, at 3 p.m. ET on ACCN

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 | Louisville Notes

LOUISVILLE – The Notre Dame women’s basketball team completes a five-game swing this weekend in which four of its contests were on the road. What’s awaiting the Fighting Irish (10-15, 5-8) is a rematch with No. 9 Louisville (22-3, 11-2) on Sunday, Feb. 16, inside the KFC Yum! Center. The game will air live on ACC Network at 3 p.m. ET.

HISTORY WITH LOUISVILLE

For the third straight game, the Irish will be competing against an ACC foe in which they’ve already played this season. Last time out against the Cardinals, it did not go Notre Dame’s way, dropping an 86-54 decision to the then No. 5 team in the country.

The Irish are 16-7 all-time against Louisville, with a 5-2 mark at their place. The last time these two met, Sam Brunelle and Katlyn Gilbert posted solid games, combining for 35 of the team’s 54 points.

Irish are 66-90 all-time against top-10 ranked foes.

ACC FRESHMEN OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES

Notre Dame can certainly make its point in having ACC Rookie of the Year candidates. Gilbert leads all ACC freshmen in scoring, averaging 13.8 ppg, while Brunelle sits right behind at 13.4 ppg. In fact, the Irish would have boasted the top three scoring spots for freshmen when you add in Peoples’ 12.6 ppg. The next highest is Clemson’s Amari Robinson at 11.4 ppg.

Among freshmen at power-five schools, Brunelle’s scoring average ranks eighth while Gilbert ranks sixth. In addition, Brunelle leads all ACC freshmen in the Points + Assists + Rebounds/Game category at 20.9.

Next, there only three freshmen pairs in all of Division-I to both average 13.0 ppg or higher – ND’s Brunelle and Gilbert, Fresno State’s Haley & Hanna Cavinder, UTSA’s Mikayla Woods & Adryana Quezada.

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.

DESTINEE – 20 POINT GAMES

For the first time of her career, Walker has recorded three straight games with 20+ points. Walker has totaled 69 points in said span, averaging 23.0 ppg on 48.9 percent shooting. She is also an impressive 8-of-17 from three (.471) and 15-of-17 (.882) from the free-throw line.

All-in-all, Walker leads the Irish in 20+ scoring performances with eight, which also sets a new career best – previous was four set her sophomore year at UNC (2016-17). In addition, her eight games are tied for fourth in the ACC.

FULFILLING HER DESTINEE

As alluded above, what a stretch it’s been for Walker. In fact, only Virginia’s Jocelyn Willoughby (22.3 ppg) is having a better February than Walker (21.0 ppg) amongst ACC players.

First, the Orlando native tallied 24 points in just 26 minutes of play vs. Pitt (2/9), nearly missing the entire third quarter due to foul trouble. She converted 4-of-7 from three-point range and dished out a season best 4 assists.

Then, after sitting with two points at the half at Wake Forest (2/6), Walker willed the Irish to victory by scoring 12 points in the third and 10 points in the fourth, to finish with 24.

Next, Walker almost won the game for the Irish in Boston College (2/13), pouring in 21 points, including a go-ahead basket with 1.2 seconds on the clock.

BAER’S DEN

A new face has appeared at the end of the Notre Dame bench, sporting a No. 1 jersey. She is none other than Irish volleyball product Kristin Baer. The graduate student still boasted a year of eligibility after her final volleyball season and joined the women’s basketball squad before the Georgia Tech game. Baer played middle blocker and led the Irish with a career high 119 blocks last fall.

Baer got into the Pitt game on Feb. 9 with 1:35 remaining and scored her first career basket.

HEATING UP FROM THREE

Sam Brunelle 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 converted multiple treys nine times over the last 11 games. In fact, since Jan. 5, she has converted 25-of-70 (.357) from three. Also since Jan. 5, Brunelle is averaging 2.3 made three’s/game, which ranks 8th in the ACC in that timespan.

VAUGHN TOUGH ON THE ROAD

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 —