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ND Women’s Basketball: Notre Dame hosts Mercer over Thanksgiving break

Vicky Jacobsen | Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving break begins this afternoon for many students, but the No. 5 Irish will remain on campus to host tonight’s game against the Mercer Bears.

Mercer (3-0) has a five-game winning streak going back to last season, which is the third longest streak in the country (only Oklahoma with eight and Minnesota with seven have won more consecutive games).

So far, Mercer has avoided both buzzer-beaters and blow-outs, beating Brevard, Troy, and Jacksonville St. by seven, six, and eight points, respectively. This is the Bears’ first 3-0 start since 1999.

Irish coach Muffet McGraw said she did not have a specific game plan based on Mercer’s style of play, and will instead trust her team’s style to take care of the opponent.

“I think at this point in the season we really want to concentrate on us and trying to feel like we’re executing, we’re running the stuff we want to run, defensively we’re in the right spots,” McGraw said after Notre Dame’a 94-50 win over UMass on Sunday.

Even after a dominating performance in their home opener, McGraw said she would like to see an improved defensive effort from the Irish (2-0) on Tuesday.

“We’ll see if we can do a little better job getting some charges and helping each other a little bit more, so I would say defensively we’ve still got some work to do for Tuesday, but offensively I think we’re headed in the right direction,” she said.

Although McGraw still has tweaks for her defense, she’s pleased with the harassing, frustrating style of defense that has tripped up opponents so far.

“We’ve really been working hard at double-teaming, running at the ball, and trying to make our defense get the offense to be really uncomfortable,” McGraw said.” That’s really our goal, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that. I was disappointed we didn’t take more charges, I think that’s something we’ve really got to work at overall, but I thought we had a really good awareness today, of where the shooters were.”

The Irish might be playing without sophomore guard Madison Cable, who is dealing with foot pain after missing most of last season with stress fractures in both feet.

“Her foot was bothering her. She had to quit practice [Saturday] about half way through, and it was kind of a game time decision,” McGraw said. “If it felt better today she was going to go, and after warming up she decided she couldn’t go, so she was really ready ’til the tip. She was planning on playing, but after the warm up it was hurting too bad. So she’s questionable for Tuesday.”

The Irish and Bears tip off at 7 p.m. today in Purcell Pavilion.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at [email protected]