ND Women’s Basketball
Irish carry streak into Wake Forest
Samantha Zuba | Wednesday, February 19, 2014
The undefeated No. 2 Irish head to Winston-Salem, N.C., for the first time to take on Wake Forest on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.Notre Dame (25-0, 12-0 ACC) and the Demon Deacons (14-11, 5-7) have played once before, but Thursday’s game marks the first matchup at Wake Forest. Notre Dame defeated Wake Forest 92-69 on Nov. 27, 2010 at Purcell Pavilion.
The Demon Deacons have had an up-and-down season but have strung together two consecutive close wins in their last two games. Wake Forest narrowly defeated Pittsburgh 74-70 on Feb. 9 and squeaked by Virginia Tech 65-64 on Feb. 13. Two free throws from junior guard Millesa Calicott secured the victory over Virginia Tech (11-14, 1-11) with 5.9 seconds left in the game.
The Irish last played Monday, when they defeated Georgia Tech 87-72 at home. Sophomore guard Jewell Loyd sparked Notre Dame’s offense with 27 points. Loyd has led the team in scoring 10 times this season, including in two of the last three games.
Although Notre Dame secured the win against Georgia Tech (17-9, 7-6), Irish coach Muffet McGraw said her team needs to start rebounding better. The Yellow Jackets outrebounded Notre Dame 48-46 and also bested the Irish in the offensive rebound category, 26-12.
“They were quick, and they were physical, and we didn’t match it,” McGraw said. “We didn’t really attempt to box out. I think our rotations were poor. But we’ve got a lot of work to do rebounding wise, especially in the post.”
Wake Forest has gained an advantage in rebounding over its opponents this season, with 1,024 rebounds compared to a 947 mark for its opponents. Demon Deacons junior forward Dearica Hamby leads the way with 11.0 rebounds per game, an average that also leads the ACC.
Lately, Notre Dame has turned in subpar rebounding performances, according to McGraw. The Irish cannot continue to rebound as poorly as they did against Georgia Tech if they hope to continue winning games, she said.
“I was really disappointed in our rebounding effort [against Georgia Tech],” McGraw said. “We actually didn’t have enough. The rebounding was poor. I mean [allowing] 26 offensive rebounds is not gonna win us a lot of games.”
Hamby and senior guard Chelsea Douglas dominate the stats for Wake Forest. Hamby averages 21.5 points per game, and Douglas puts up 18.8 points per game. Hamby’s average makes her the ACC’s top individual scorer, and Douglas has the fourth-highest scoring average in the conference.
After Hamby and Douglas, Wake Forest’s offensive statistics drop off with redshirt freshman guard Kelila Atkinson as the team’s third-highest scorer at 6.1 points per game. For the team’s top-scoring forward after Hamby, one has to look to sophomore Kandice Ball, who averages 3.0 points per game.
The Demon Deacons own a slight edge over their opponents in total offense with an average of 69.2 points per game, compared to 68.6 per game for opponents. Although the Demon Deacons have struggled on the road, posting a 5-6 record, they have found more success at home, where they have posted an 8-4 mark.
The Irish arrive at Wake Forest’s home arena leading the ACC in scoring and with an average margin of victory of 26.3 points per game. Connecticut has maintained its number-one national ranking over Notre Dame throughout the season with a 26-0 record.
The Irish square off Thursday against the Demon Deacons at 7 p.m. in Winston-Salem, N.C., at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Contact Samantha Zuba at [email protected]