ND Women’s Basketball
McGraw, Hatchell prepare for Hall of Fame matchup
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, February 1, 2018
For the first time in its history, Purcell Pavilion will host a clash of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame head coaches, as 2017 inductee Muffet McGraw’s No. 5 Irish will host North Carolina, led by 2013 inductee Sylvia Hatchell, on Thursday.
The pair, who have each been coaching at their current schools for more than 30 years, have combined for 1,510 wins at their current schools, 19 conference titles, 10 Final Four appearances, 1,877 career wins, three Naismith National Coach of the Year honors and two Division I national championships.
The Irish (20-2, 8-1 ACC) will go into the game with some major momentum, having defeated Florida State 100-69 over this past weekend.
Notre Dame’s scoring total was the highest in program history against a top-10 opponent and the sixth-highest for a true road game. Also in recent memory for the Irish are an 87-53 victory over Pitt and a 90-37 win over Clemson, as well as a program-record comeback from 23 points behind to defeat then-No. 6 Tennessee, 84-70.
During the victory over the Seminoles, senior forward Kathryn Westbeld had perhaps the most impressive statistical performance of her career at Notre Dame, with a career-high 21 points on 8-11 shooting and a season-high 12 rebounds. Westbeld’s efficiency has been a strength for the Irish this year, with the senior posting a career-high field-goal percentage of .611.
The Tar Heels (14-4, 4-4) may have hoped to build similar momentum after a 92-86 overtime upset of rival No. 15 Duke earned the program its fourth win in five games and a winning record in ACC play, but Virginia defeated Hatchell’s squad 82-70 on Jan. 25.
North Carolina boasts two of the top offensive guards in the ACC. Redshirt junior Paris Kea and senior Jamie Cherry have been threats to defenses this season as both scorers and facilitators, with Kea ranking fourth in the conference in points and third in assists, while Cherry ranks 10th and eighth, respectively. However, while Kea’s .484 field goal percentage and 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio have also stood out, Cherry has struggled to match that efficiency, with a field goal percentage of just .388 and averaging the second-most turnovers in the conference at 3.7 per game. Defensively, the pair has also proven adept at forcing turnovers, recording 2.5 and 2.4 steals per game, respectively.
Providing the inside presence to compliment the two upperclassmen guards, freshman center Janelle Bailey is the third Tar Heel averaging more than 15 points per game, and she is doing so while shooting .523 from the field. Bailey also leads the team in rebounds per game with 8.8 and blocks per game with 1.4. The Tar Heels’ high pace of play has helped them to the nation’s 35th-ranked scoring offense, but they also boast the 295th-ranked scoring defense.
The Irish and the Tar Heels will each hope to add another victory to their coaches’ impressive resumes Thursday at Purcell Pavilion. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.