Notre Dame set to host Georgia Tech in annual Pink Zone game
Elizabeth Greason | Friday, February 10, 2017
The Irish are looking to continue their hot streak against Georgia Tech on Sunday after coming off one of their most convincing wins of the season over No. 12 Louisville on Monday.
Irish head coach Muffet McGraw felt Monday was a strong game for No. 7 Notre Dame (22-3, 10-1 ACC) from tip-off to the final buzzer, a good indicator for Sunday’s game.
“I thought we were really sharp [against Louisville],” McGraw said. “I thought the energy was good; the focus was good. We really took care of the ball — we shot it really well. It flowed right from the beginning of the game.”
Despite having six days off between matchups, the week was not a quiet one for the Irish, as senior guard Lindsay Allen was named a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award. She and junior forward Brianna Turner were also named as candidates for both the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy. Sophomore guard Arike Ogunbowale was also listed in the Naismith Top 30. When asked about being in the running for the honor, Ogunbowale noted that basketball is a team sport and she would not have made the list without the help of her teammates.
“It’s just really exciting,” Ogunbowale said. “I mean, thanks to my teammates for helping me get open, helping me score and making plays when I pass it to them, but it’s just a team effort, really.”
The Irish will face off against Georgia Tech (14-9, 3-7) for the second time this season. The two teams met in January, a matchup that ended in a 55-38 victory for Notre Dame. McGraw said she expects her squad to be stronger offensively this time around.
“It was a really low scoring game [in January],” McGraw said. “I thought they were very physical with us. They played well defensively. We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well. We weren’t really in our rhythm at that point, just coming off the loss to North Carolina State, so I think we were not as confident. I think we’re playing a lot better right now.”
McGraw noted that the Yellow Jackets might play aggressive defense, but the Irish are prepared for whatever comes their way Sunday.
“I think they’re gonna probably play a little bit slower than we want to,” McGraw said. “They have been pressing a lot of other people so they might come out and press us, but we’ve gotta be ready for whatever happens. This is a turning point in the season and every game is really key for us right now.
“ … I don’t [mind seeing a press], as long as Lindsay’s in the game,” McGraw added, jokingly.
Despite being ready to tackle the Yellow Jackets on the offensive side of the ball, McGraw feels the Irish still have work to do in order to combat Georgia Tech’s strong inside presence.
“They’re a really good team, especially inside,” McGraw said. “[Georgia Tech junior foraward] Zaire O’Neil, she had 13 rebounds last game. She’s a force inside. We really have to work on how we’re gonna guard her. They’ve got enough people around her that they can kind of stretch us a little bit, so we’ve got to do a couple of different things and things we didn’t do in the last game.”
Sunday’s game is also Notre Dame’s annual Pink Zone game, so the Irish will be wearing special warmup clothing to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. Ogunbowale said the cause, on top of playing at home, will help the Irish be productive offensively against the Yellow Jackets.
“I think we should just play for the cancer cause and just try to get 88 for all the people that are coming to support, so I think it’ll be a good game,” Ogunbowale said. “I mean, we’re in front of our home fans, so we always double the points, really.”
Notre Dame and Georgia Tech will play Sunday at Purcell Pavilion. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.