NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For Notre Dame Karen & Kevin Keyes Family women’s basketball head coach Niele Ivey, it was ACC win No. 1, but for the program, it was conference win No. 100. After 116 games (110-16 ACC record), the Fighting Irish became the fastest school to 100 wins in the league after defeating (RV/25) Virginia Tech on Thursday night, via the score, 84-78.
Trailing 70-64 with 8:20 remaining in the game, the Irish outscored the Hokies 20-8 down the stretch. The Notre Dame defense came up big in the final minute, forcing two Virginia Tech turnovers that both resulted in points.
Birthday girl Anaya Peoples scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half. She also almost secured a double-double with a team-high eight rebounds.
Sam Brunelle was huge from three, where she converted 5-of-9, ultimately finishing with 17 points. Then there was super freshman Maddy Westbeld who recorded her third straight 20+ scoring game with 23 points on 7-of-16 shooting, plus a 7-of-9 day from the free-throw line.
“I’m just so proud of this group. We had a really tough loss on Sunday, and our focus this week was to change our defensive mentality,” Karen & Kevin Keyes Head Coach Niele Ivey stated. “Just a pride effort we talked about. To see it translate to a game, I’m so proud of this group.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
The first quarter was back-and-forth with seven ties and two lead changes until the final two minutes. Ultimately, eight turnovers plagued the Irish in the opening quarter, resulting in a Virginia Tech 11-2 run to go up 26-17.
The Hokies led by as much as 11 (30-19) a few minutes into the second, but the momentum shifted to the home squad as the Irish picked up the defensive intensity. From 6:28 to 1:59, the Irish forced eight Virginia Tech turnovers which coincided with a 19-3 scoring run (15-0 as well). The Hokies ended the drought at 1:30, but Brunelle got the last bucket of the half, from three-point range, giving the Irish a 43-38 halftime lead.
Both Brunelle and Westbeld had eight points each in the quarter, each connecting on two treys as well. Westbeld led at the half with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting. Hayes also had a huge quarter for the Irish, contributing six points. The freshman boasted the best plus/minus at the half at +11.
The third quarter was a see-saw of mini-scoring runs and momentum shifts. A Brunelle three-pointer at 7:57 boosted the Irish lead to 50-44, but the Hokies immediately countered with a quick 90-second 8-0 run. Peoples, Westbeld, and Hayes combined for a 6-0 scoring spree to put the home squad back up on top at 56-52. Next, Virginia Tech recorded a 6-0 run from 3:28-1:24. Then, in the classic bout, Peoples answered with a huge three at the buzzer, regaining the lead at 63-62.
Virginia Tech’s Georgia Amoore continued her career day and hot shooting into the fourth, converting back-to-back three-pointers to kickstart an 8-1 scoring spree and 70-64 Hokies lead at 8:16. However, two more Brunelle three’s ignited an Irish 9-0 run.
Down 75-73 with 2:27 remaining, the Irish received offensive contributions from Westbeld, Peoples, Mabrey and Gilbert. Defensively, Westbeld and Abby Prohaska each produced game-clinching steals.
- Notre Dame now leads the overall series 12-2, with a 7-1 mark inside Purcell Pavilion.
- Tonight marked just the second time in program history in which a transfer (Dara Mabrey) faced off against her former school. The first occurrence was Destinee Walker against North Carolina.
- Notre Dame becomes the fastest school to reach 100 wins in ACC play. The Irish did so in 116 games besting the previous record of 132 held by NC State.
- With Virginia Tech ranked No. 25 in the Coaches Poll, Coach Ivey earned her first ranked win of her career.
- Westbeld secured her sixth consecutive game in double figures with 23 points. She is now just one game away from tying Sam Brunelle’s freshman record of beginning your Irish career with seven straight.
- Westbeld also recorded her third straight game with 20+ points and is two away from tying the freshman record set by Beth (Morgan) Cunningham back in 1993-94.
- The Irish recorded a 15-0 run in the second (also 19-3). It stemmed from forcing eight Virginia Tech turnovers from 6:28-1:59.
- The Irish defense limited the Hokies to just two points in the paint in the second quarter.
- Notre Dame out-rebounded Virginia Tech 30-28.
- Alasia Hayes provided great minutes off the bench, finishing with eight points. Her plus/minus finished at +7.
- Abby Prohaska finished with the best plus/minus on the team at +11.
The theme for the weekend is simply #BeatClemson. After the Notre Dame football squad battles the Tigers for an ACC Championship on Saturday, the women’s hoops squad will have their chance at the Tigers on Sunday, Dec. 20, at 3 p.m. EST, in enemy territory.
— ND —