ND Women’s Basketball
Irish welcome GT for showdown
Greg Hadley | Sunday, February 16, 2014
No. 2 Notre Dame is off to its best start in program history and returns to Purcell Pavilion on Monday, looking to extend both its conference and home winning streaks against Georgia Tech.
The Irish (24-0, 11-0 ACC) are coming off an 82-61 win over Boston College on Thursday, which pushed them past the 2000-01 national-championship squad’s 23-0 start. They also have won 31 consecutive regular-season conference games, a streak that stretches back to the 2011-12 season, when Notre Dame was still in the Big East. At Purcell Pavilion, the Irish have not lost since December 2012, a stretch that includes 23 wins.
Still, Irish coach Muffet McGraw said she saw room for improvement against the Eagles.
“I think rebounding was the problem [against Boston College],” McGraw said. “We need to rebound better.”
The Irish outrebounded Boston College, 28-26, far below their average rebound margin of 10.3 per game. The Yellow Jackets (17-8, 7-5) average 7.8 more rebounds per game than their opponents, including 18.1 offensive rebounds per game, nearly six more than the Irish surrender to their opponents. McGraw said Notre Dame needs to be tough on the glass, especially on the defensive end.
“It’s going to be up to our defense [whether we get the win],” McGraw said.
This matchup will be only the second game between the Yellow Jackets and the Irish. In 1996, Notre Dame defeated Georgia Tech, 76-69, in Atlanta. McGraw said with the long gap between games, she is not quite as familiar with the Yellow Jackets as she otherwise would be.
“They’re going to be a big challenge for us,” McGraw said. “We’ve never played them before, so we’re watching film trying to learn as much as we can about them.”
Georgia Tech enters the matchup on a four-game winning streak that has pulled it from the bottom of the ACC to sixth place in the conference.
Senior guard Tyaunna Marshall has led the way for the Yellow Jackets and earned a spot on the midseason watch list for the Naismith Trophy, given to the top player in college basketball. Marshall became Georgia Tech’s all-time leading scorer Feb. 6 and was named espnW’s National Player of the Week on Feb. 10.
Marshall and freshman guard Kaela Davis are the only Yellow Jackets to average at least 10 points per game. They also lead the team in minutes per game and steals.
“[Georgia Tech has] some really good players,” McGraw said. “Tyaunna Marshall is one of best in the conference, and Kaela Davis is an outstanding freshman.”
Three Irish players joined Marshall on the Naismith watch list. Notre Dame’s three players trailed only No. 1 Connecticut, which had four players named. Senior guard Kayla McBride, senior forward Natalie Achonwa and sophomore guard Jewell Loyd lead an offense that ranks first in the NCAA in 3-point shooting, shooting percentage, second in scoring margin and assists, and third in points per game. Against Boston College, all three players scored in double figures to help the Irish hold on in a close second half.
Georgia Tech upset No. 11 North Carolina on Feb. 6 but has not defeated a top-five opponent since 2009. The Yellow Jackets are 4-4 on the road this season.
The Irish take the court against the Yellow Jackets tonight in an ACC matchup at Purcell Pavilion. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.