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Game 6 Preview: #21 Michigan

Irish look to earn first ranked win on the season

Game 12:Notre Dame (6-5, 4-3) vs Boston College (5-6, 1-6)
Where:Notre Dame, IN | Purcell Pavilion
Watch:ACC Network
Listen:99.9 WQLQ-FM
Live Scoring:Statbroadcast

Notre Dame Notes | Michigan Notes

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The (RV) Notre Dame women’s basketball squad look to earn its first ranked win on the season, when the Fighting Irish travel to Ann Arbor on Saturday, Nov. 23, to challenge No. 21 Michigan (4-0). Tip is slated for 1 p.m. ET inside the Crisler Center, with the contest being streamed on BTN+.


Notre Dame leads the overall series against Michigan, 12-7, but owns a losing mark in Ann Arbor at 4-5. The Irish most recently made the trip to Michigan two seasons ago, when they defeated the Wolverines, 83-63, as part of the ACC/B1G Challenge. Arike Ogunbowale paced the Irish with 32 points.

At the time, the Notre Dame win at Michigan marked just the second victory by a Wolverines opponent in the team’s last 32 games played at the Crisler Center, dating back to the 2015-16 season. Fast forward to this coming Saturday and a victory would mark the sixth win by an opposing squad in the Crisler Center in the past 61 games.


Never in the history of the Fighting Irish women’s basketball program has a true freshman started her Notre Dame career with five straight games in double figures … until now. Freshman Sam Brunelle did just that with her 19-point performance in the win over Toledo, picking up her first career double-double as well with 13 boards.

Brunelle currently co-leads the Irish in scoring with Gilbert with 16.0 ppg, which ranks 11th in the ACC.


Coach McGraw just signed her highest ranked recruiting class during her time at Notre Dame, reeling in the No. 3 ranked group in the 2020 class. The Irish received NLI’s from Amirah Abdur-Rahim, No. 25 Alli Campbell, No. 44 Alasia Hayes, No. 32 Natalija Marshall and No. 23 Maddy Westbeld. It not only marks the highest ranked recruiting class in her tenure, but also ties the most commits as well.

“This is one of the best classes we’ve ever had,” Coach McGraw stated. “Obviously down to six scholarship players right now so numbers was our first priority. We got four kids ranked in the top-50 and a top-3 recruiting class. All such a great fit for our program.”

In addition, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced those student-athletes on the 2020 Jersey Mike’s Naismith Girls High School Trophy Watch List. Campbell, Marshall and Westbeld were all recognized as top-50 player of the year candidates. 


Coach McGraw noted before the season that this year’s crop will have to pride itself on defense. Though the homestand didn’t all go Notre Dame’s way, the Irish can certainly be proud of the fact they forced 28 Lady Vol turnovers, including 10 in a six-minute span in the fourth quarter. It marked the most turnovers forced since Notre Dame caused 25 against Tennessee on Jan. 18, 2018. Next, the Irish forced 20 Michigan State turnovers, then forced 21 Toledo turnovers – thus totaling 69 turnovers over the last three games.

The defense really set the tone in the second half versus Toledo, limiting the Rockets to 28 points over the final two quarters. In the fourth quarter alone, the Irish caused four Toledo shot-clock violations.


For the past decade, the Irish have been absolutely dominant against the Big Ten conference. Since the 2009-10 season, the Irish went 22-0 against Big Ten opposition spanning the next 10 years, until Michigan State broke the streak on Nov. 14.


Last season, Gilbert played in six full games, including a breakout Vancouver Showcase, before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury against Iowa on Nov. 29, 2018. Nearly a year later, Gilbert has returned in full force, co-leading the team in scoring with her 16.0 ppg, which ranks 11th in the ACC. In fact, Gilbert is riding a career best stretch of five consecutive double-digit scoring performances.

Gilbert also leads the Irish in shooting percentage (.457), made field goals (32) and steals/game (2.2). Lastly, she is still the lone Irish player with a 20+ point performance, recording a career high of 24 points against Loyola.


Four Notre Dame starters all rank within the top-12 in the ACC in minutes played. Destinee Walker leads the entire ACC, averaging 36.6/game. Gilbert ranks fourth at 35.4, Sniezek fifth with 35.2, and Brunelle sixth with 34.4.


Walker debuted with the Irish with a 10-point, 10-rebound, double-double – just the second of her career. In game two, Walker came out hot, scoring 13 of her 19 points against Loyola MD in the first half. Walker then led the Irish in scoring against Tennessee with 18 points.

Walker hit the game-winning basket for the Irish in the 54-51 win over Toledo (11/20), tallying 12 points in the game.

Walker has also been the most consistent at the free-throw line. Her 19 made free-throws leads the team and ranks 58th in the country. Walker also leads the squad in free-throw percentage (at least 10 attempts) at .731 – which ranks 10th in the ACC.


Sniezek is averaging 5.4 assists per game, which ranks fourth in the ACC and 51st in the nation. Meanwhile, her 1.4 A/TO ratio ranks ninth in the league.

Outside of distributing the ball, Sniezek has been the team’s defensive catalyst. For example, with the Irish up three with two minutes remaining against Toledo (11/20), Sniezek recorded a clutch steal which Walker then converted into the game-winning basket for the 54-51 victory.