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ND Women’s Basketball

Irish travel to face Pitt

| Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tonight the No. 2 Irish take to the road to continue their quest for perfection, as Notre Dame takes on Pittsburgh in its fourth ACC game of the season. Alongside No 1. Connecticut, Notre Dame is one of only two teams in the nation still undefeated.

Irish freshman forward Kristina Nelson plays defense during Notre Dame’s 99-50 victory over UNC Wilmington on Nov. 9 in the Purcell Pavilion.Emmet Farnan

Irish freshman forward Kristina Nelson plays defense during Notre Dame’s 99-50 victory over UNC Wilmington on Nov. 9 in the Purcell Pavilion.

Though both teams are in their inaugural season in the ACC, Pittsburgh (9-8, 1-2 ACC) and Notre Dame (15-0, 3-0 ACC) had competed in the Big East together since the 1995-96 season. Currently, the Irish sit atop the ACC while the Panthers are 12th out of the 15 member teams.

Shooting 51.1 percent from the field and averaging 22.2 assists per game, the Irish enter the game leading the nation in both categories. The Irish also rank sixth in scoring, fourth in scoring margin, third in three-point percentage and sixth in rebound margin.

On the other side of the court, junior guard Brianna Kiesel leads the Panthers. Kiesel earned recognition from the United States Basketball Writers Association as the Ann Meyers Drysdale Women’s National Player of the Week earlier this month by averaging 23 points and seven assists against ACC opponents No. 17 Florida State and Virginia.

This season, Kiesel leads the Panthers with 18.1 points per game, while she also averages 5.6 rebounds per game and 4.4 assists per game.

Additionally, Pittsburgh senior forward/guard Asia Logan is averaging 12 points per game and leads the team with 6.9 rebounds per game.

The Irish boast a talented roster as well, with three players averaging over 13 points per game. Building upon an impressive freshman campaign, in which she was named the USBWA National Freshman of the Year, sophomore guard Jewell Loyd leads the team with 17.1 points per game. Loyd also averages 6.5 rebounds per game.

Senior guard Kayla McBride is next in scoring for the Irish, averaging 16.1 points per game and 5.6 rebounds. Strong on the glass, senior forward Natalie Achonwa is averaging 13.4 points per game and 8.8 rebounds.

Against Pittsburgh, it may be on the glass that the Irish possess their greatest advantage. Notre Dame’s average rebound margin of 13.5 rebound far outpaces Pittsburgh’s average rebound margin of -3.1, as the Panthers give up 41.9 rebounds per game. The Irish pull down 44.9 rebounds per outing and allow only 31.4 to their opponents.

If the Irish win tonight, the team will take sole ownership of the second-best start in school history. Currently, this season is tied with the 2009-10 season, when the Irish won the first 15 games of the season. In 2000-01, Notre Dame won its first 23 games of the season on its run to the program’s first national championship.

Tonight, at 7 p.m. in the Peterson Events Center in Pittsburgh, Notre Dame will look to continue its perfect start against Pittsburgh.

Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at asantmil@nd.edu

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