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Pink Zone Preview: Syracuse

Irish host Syracuse in annual Pink Zone game Sunday, Feb. 23, at Noon ET

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 | Syracuse Notes

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame women’s basketball squad will hold its annual Pink Zone game on Sunday, Feb. 23, when the Irish (10-17, 5-10) host the Syracuse Orange (15-11, 9-6). Tip inside Purcell Pavilion is scheduled for Noon ET, airing live on the ACC Network. Bob Nagle and Karen Keyes will have the radio broadcast once again on Pulse FM. We encourage all fans to wear their best pink for Sunday’s contest!


Notre Dame’s Pink Zone initiative has made a tremendous impact on our local community over the last ten years by providing funds for education, screenings, support and research for breast cancer.

Like years prior, fans bid on player warmup shirts and the coaches polos, with the winners placing their loved one’s name on the back. Both the shooting shirts and polos will be worn for Sunday’s game.

With five minutes left in the second quarter, those with 0-10 years of survivorship will line up in the gate 10 vom, while those with 10+ years will line up in the gate 8 vom. This year ,we will have a speed painter presentation at halftime.


Notre Dame leads the overall series 34-3 against Syracuse, with an unblemished 16-0 mark at home.

Back on Jan. 5, Syracuse broke a 21-game Irish win streak in the series with a 74-63 overtime win. Notre Dame boasted a 10-point lead over Syracuse in the fourth quarter, but the Orange stormed back to tie the game with a three with six seconds remaining.

Walker, Vaughn and Brunelle combined for 53 points, with Walker leading the way with 25 points. Vaughn earned her first double-double with 16 points and 11 boards. Brunelle tallied 12 points and seven rebounds.


Brunelle and Gilbert lead all ACC freshmen in scoring, each averaging 13.3 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 Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley at 11.9.

Brunelle leads all ACC freshmen in the Points + Assists + Rebounds/Game category at 20.5. 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. In addition, her .392 shooting percentage leads all ACC freshmen as well.

When looking at double-digit scoring games, Gilbert leads the way there with 22. Clemson’s Amari Robinson follows next with 16, while Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley sits with 15.

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 nine players total among Power-5 schools.

Next, there only two 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.

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.


What a month it’s been for Walker. Only Virginia’s Jocelyn Willoughby (20.8 ppg) and Duke’s Haley Gorecki (19.2 ppg) are having a better February than Walker (19.2 ppg) amongst ACC players.

Big part of it has been Walker’s fourth quarter surges in February. She 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.


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 Notre Dame freshman, with Alicia Ratay  holding the top mark when she downed seven at Rutgers on Feb. 19, 2000.

Lastly, Brunelle is now up to 44 made three-pointers on the year, which ranks third for a season amongst Notre Dame freshmen. Beth (Morgan) Cunningham ranks second with 46, while Alicia Ratay holds the freshman record with 73.


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. Since Jan. 5, she has converted 25-of-73 (.342) from three. Also since Jan. 5, Brunelle is averaging 2.1 made three’s/game.


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 on 48.9 percent shooting. She was also 8-of-17 from three (.471) and 15-of-17 (.882) from the line.

Walker is still on the best stretch of her season,  posting six straight with double-digit points.  

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.


The Irish lead ACC schools in league play in three-point field goal percentage defense, limiting opposition to .258 shooting percentage from beyond the arc.


Over the last five games, Gilbert’s rebounding production has gone up. She’s averaging 5.8 rebounds in that span, up from her season average of 4.6.


Best friends, national champions, now WNBA teammates. On Feb. 21, the Dallas Wings acquired Marina Mabrey from the LA Sparks, reuniting her with Arike Ogunbowale. Marina left as the program’s all-time made threes leader, while Arike left as the all-time scoring leader.

— ND —