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Game 29 Preview: North Carolina

Irish host Tar Heels for Senior Day on Thursday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. ET.

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 | UNC Notes

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – With two regular season games left, including the home finale on Thursday, the Notre Dame women’s basketball squad will host Senior Day on Feb. 27 inside Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish (11-7, 6-10) host the North Carolina Tar Heels (16-11, 7-9) at 7 p.m. ET, with Senior Day festivities taking place before the game at 6:40 p.m.

Senior Katie Cole and graduate student Marta Sniezek will be honored.

ACC ROOKIE OF THE YEAR CANDIDACY

Brunelle and Gilbert lead all ACC freshmen in scoring, averaging 13.4 and 13.2 ppg, respectively. 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 Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley at 12.0.

Brunelle leads all ACC freshmen in the Points + Assists + Rebounds/Game category at 20.8. Furthermore, only three ACC freshmen average at least 10 points, 5 rebounds and 1.5 assists: Brunelle, Peoples & Clemson’s Amari Robinson.

Brunelle’s four 20+ scoring games leads all freshmen in the ACC. Gilberts leads all ACC freshmen in assists/game, where she averages 2.7.

When looking at double-digit scoring games, Gilbert leads the way there with 23, with Brunelle next at 20. Clemson’s Amari Robinson & Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley follows next with 16.

Among freshmen at power-five schools, Brunelle’s and Gilbert’s scoring average ranks seventh & eighth, respectively.

Next, there only two freshmen pairs in all of Division-I to both average 13.0 ppg or higher –> Brunelle and Gilbert, Fresno State’s Haley & Hanna Cavinder and 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.

GILBERT + GORECKI IN CLASS OF THEIR OWN

Only two players in all of the ACC average at least 10 points, 2.5 assists, 2 steals and 4 rebounds: Gilbert and Duke’s Haley Gorecki. Widening the range – only eight players total among Power-5 schools.

FULFILLING HER DESTINEE

What a month it’s been for Walker – seven games, seven double-digit scoring performances. Only Virginia’s Jocelyn Willoughby (22.2 ppg) and Duke’s Haley Gorecki (19.4 ppg) are having a better February than Walker (19.2 ppg) amongst ACC players.

When further looking at February-only stats: Walker is shooting 42.5 percent from the field and 30-of-35 from the free-throw line (.857). She recorded three straight games with 20+ points from Feb. 6-13.

4TH QUARTER SURGES

Big part of  Walker’s success this month is due to her fourth quarter surges.

  • Walker went 5-of-10 in the fourth vs. Virginia Tech, scoring 12 of her 19 points. She helped cut what was a 22-point deficit to five points with 11 seconds left.
  • She tallied eight of her 24 points in the fourth vs. Pitt.
  • After sitting with two points at the half at Wake Forest, Walker willed the Irish to victory by scoring 12 points in the third and 10 points in the fourth.

Notable mention: Walker almost single-handedly won the game in Boston College (2/13), pouring in 21 points, including a go-ahead basket with 1.2 seconds on the clock.

THREES BY A FRESHMAN

Brunelle enters Thursday’s matchup vs. UNC with 47 three-pointers on the season. That number surpassed Beth Cunningham for second most in a freshman season, trailing only Irish great Alicia Ratay at 73.

Brunelle was on fire from three against Virginia Tech on Feb. 20. The freshman started 4-for-4 from deep before finishing the game 6-of-10. The six threes marked a career high and the most from an Irish player since Arike Ogunbowale (6) vs. Virginia on March 3, 2019.

Her six treys were the second most in an individual game by a ND freshman, with Alicia Ratay still holding the top mark when she downed seven at Rutgers on Feb. 19, 2000.

HEATING UP FROM THREE

Sam Brunelle struggled early on, going 13-of-68 (.191) from beyond the arc over the first 14 games. However, the next 14 games, she’s converted 34-of-96 (.354) from three.

Brunelle has made 14 treys in the month of February, which ranks 5th in the ACC in that span.

In league play, Brunelle averages 2.1 made threes/game on 34.0 percent shooting from deep – both rank in the top-10.

DESTINEE – 20 POINT GAMES

For the first time of her career, Walker achieved three straight games with 20+ points from Feb. 6-13. Walker totaled 69 points in said span, averaging 23.0 ppg.

All-in-all, she 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). Her eight games are tied for 6th in the ACC.

ACC MOST IMPROVED NOMINEE – VAUGHN

As the lone Irish player with significant on-court experience from last season, Vaughn took on a major leadership role with the team, and is also the program’s best nominee for most improved: Vaughn went from averaging 3.3 points and 2.4 rebounds to 10.9 points and 6.9 rebounds. She shot 52.5 percent last year and jumped that to 58.2 percent aka the second best shooting percentage in the ACC.

VAUGHN DOUBLE-DIGIT EFFORTS

Mikki Vaughn has recorded five separate occasions in which she has reached double-digit points by halftime – four of which occurred 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

All-in-all, Vaughn has notched eight double-digit scoring performances in league play – seven of which have been 16+ points. She has also recorded two 20-point efforts in just the month of February.
Vaughn is coming off a career high 21-point showing vs. Syracuse on Feb. 23.

FEBRUARY-ONLY STATS

When looking at just the month of February, the Irish rank first in three-point field goal defense (.205), second in field goal defense (.372) and second in assists/game (14.7).

BATTLE TESTED

Though the Irish are 11-17 on the year, they boast a winning record in games decided by five points or less, with a 5-3 mark. Extending it further, Notre Dame is closer to .500 at 7-8 in games decided by 10 points or less.

— ND —