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ND Women’s Basketball

No. 1 Irish set to host Boston College before beginning three-game road tour

| Friday, January 18, 2019

With the ACC season nearing a halfway point, top-ranked Notre Dame will host Boston College on Sunday, looking to continue its undefeated streak in one of the nation’s best conferences.

The Eagles (13-5, 2-3 ACC) would have been entering Purcell Pavilion on a two-game win streak after dropping their first two games of the ACC regular season, but dropped their fifth ACC contest of the season to Florida State by a 20-point margin. They will be facing a red-hot Irish team (17-1, 5-0), that’s currently on a 10-game win streak, including a 14-point win over Louisville in a matchup that pitted No. 1 versus No. 2 in a primetime feature earlier in the month.

Annie Smierciak
Notre Dame senior guard Marina Mabrey dribbles past her defender during Notre Dame’s 71-89 loss to UConn on Dec. 2 at Purcell Pavilion.

This streak came on the heels of a home loss to perennial rival Connecticut back in early December that saw Notre Dame unravel in the final minutes. Since that lone loss of the season, however, the Irish have returned to the court a more mature, resilient team. For head coach Muffet McGraw, that shift in attitude comes down to a commitment to more efficiently sharing the ball and operating as one unit.

“I thought that we didn’t play well against Toledo [on Dec. 8], and since then we were averaging 25 or more assists in every game, and in this game we missed a lot of shots,” McGraw said following Notre Dame’s 29-point win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday. “So when you don’t shoot the ball well you’re not going to get a lot of assists. So I was disappointed in the assists, but I think generally that’s what we’ve been doing better. We’ve been sharing the ball.”

Meanwhile, the Eagles present their own matchup challenges for the Irish as a balanced program, with four players averaging double-digit points and three more contributing six or more. Their leading scorer and rebounder, 6-foot-3 junior forward Emma Guy, has posted an impressively efficient season, shooting 62.8 percent from the field and grabbing 7.5 rebounds per game.

However, since conference play has started, freshman guard Makayla Dickens has stepped up for Boston College, averaging 12 points and 7.6 rebounds, including a 16-point rebounding performance in the Eagles’ one-point win over Wake Forest.

While the Eagles bring a strong rotation to the court, McGraw has elected to keep a short bench, primarily relying on her veteran starting unit, featuring junior guard Jackie Young, senior guards Marina Mabrey and Arike Ogunbowale, fellow classmate forward Jessica Shepard and graduate student forward Brianna Turner. However, the Irish have recently seen significant contributions from sophomore forward Mikayla Vaughn, who has worked her way into the rotation, averaging 5.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per game since that 89-71 loss to the Huskies.

Notre Dame and Boston College met twice last season, with the Irish coming out on top both times. This will mark the first time the two teams have met this season, and the two teams will face off again in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, on Feb. 3.

Following Sunday’s game, the Irish will hit the road for a three-game away series, starting with No. 20 Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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