ND Women’s Basketball
Irish set to host Crusaders ahead of top-two showdown
Renee Griffin | Friday, December 2, 2016
No. 1 Notre Dame will return home from Iowa and strive to keep its record spotless against Valparaiso on Sunday at Purcell Pavilion, with a matchup against No. 2 Connecticut looming next Wednesday.
The Irish (7-0) are coming off a 73-58 win over the Hawkeyes on Wednesday night. Despite the successful result, head coach Muffet McGraw expressed disappointment in the team’s performance but said she expects they will learn from it and bounce back against the Crusaders (3-3) this weekend.
“We weren’t containing the ball, we weren’t guarding them, we weren’t boxing out, we weren’t making layups, we weren’t making good decisions … I think it’s a learning experience,” McGraw said after the game. “It’s a good teaching moment, especially for the freshmen.”
Notre Dame will have to apply those lessons Sunday and avoid a trap game before facing the powerhouse Huskies in a few days’ time.
Freshman guard Jackie Young was one player McGraw specifically named as someone who could learn from the Iowa game, though the coach said the veterans should be the ones ready to play their best every day.
Senior guard Lindsay Allen, junior forward Brianna Turner and sophomore guard Arike Ogunbowale all scored in the double digits against the Hawkeyes, with Turner recording her 1,000th career point early in the night.
On Wednesday, those three were all named to the Naismith Trophy Watch List, and Turner and Allen were placed on the Wade Trophy Watch List on Thursday as well. Both awards are given to the best collegiate player in the women’s game — the former by the Atlanta Tipoff Club and the latter by the WBCA.
The Crusaders will be dealing with a quick turnaround after hosting Eastern Illinois on Saturday. The undefeated Irish will be the first ranked opponent of Valparaiso’s season so far — its three wins came against Chicago State, IU-Kokomo and Liberty, with three losses to Stetson, Illinois State and Evansville.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, has faced only one ranked opponent in 2016 thus far, defeating then-No. 17 — and now-No. 13 — Washington in the Preseason WNIT finals Nov. 20. All but one Irish victory has been by a margin of more than 10 points — the only exception was a 71-67 win over Green Bay on Nov. 17.
That backdrop makes the game against Connecticut on Wednesday all the more crucial to Notre Dame’s hold on the top spot in the Associated Press rankings, but first, the Irish will take on Valparaiso at 1 p.m. Sunday at Purcell Pavilion.