ND Women’s Basketball
Irish can’t close out Duke on the road, drop fourth straight
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, January 17, 2020
The Notre Dame women’s basketball team (6-12, 1-5 ACC) travelled to Durham, North Carolina to take on Duke (9-8, 3-3 ACC) Thursday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Despite leading for almost the entirety of the game, the Irish couldn’t overcome a poor shooting performance and fell to Duke 50-47. The game was sloppy throughout, as each team committed at least 25 turnovers, and Notre Dame shot just 28% from the field.
The Irish were led by junior forward Mikayla Vaughn who scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and freshman forward Sam Brunelle who scored 16 points but turned the ball over eight times. Graduate student guard Destinee Walker came in third in scoring for the Irish with only six points on 2-13 shooting from the field and 0-7 from three. Aside from those three, the four other Irish players that saw action against the Blue Devils combined to score seven points on 3-20 shooting.
For the Blue Devils, their offensive effort was more balanced. Graduate student guard Haley Gorecki and senior forward Leaonna Odom led the home team in scoring with 13 points apiece, while redshirt freshman guard Mikayla Boykin contributed 10 points in the effort. The Blue Devils outshot the Irish, posting a 36% shooting mark on the night while shooting almost exactly the same percentage from three.
Notre Dame entered the matchup on a three-game losing streak and had dropped seven of their last eight contests, including a 34 point defeat at home against No. 9-ranked North Carolina State on Sunday.
A three-pointer from Brunelle opened the scoring for the Irish, as they jumped out to an early 9-2 lead with the help of six early points from Vaughn. Another Brunelle three extended the lead to 14-4, forcing Duke to take an early timeout with five and a half minutes left in the first quarter. After the hot start, the Irish cooled off and neither team scored for the rest of the first quarter thanks to turnovers and sloppy play.
The teams traded baskets to start the second quarter, but sophomore forward Danielle Cosgrove made a three pointer and gave the Irish a 21-8 lead. Duke battled back, and closed the deficit thanks to a quick 5-0 run, but Brunelle and Vaughn continued to score and the Irish led 29-20 at haltime.
Brunelle drilled another three pointer on Notre Dame’s first possession of the third. The teams went back and forth for most of the period, and two free throws from Walker gave Notre Dame a 12-point edge, but a 9-0 Duke run cut the deficit to just three points. Layups by Vaughn and Walker and a jumper from Brunelle closed out the quarter for the Irish as they led 40-33 going into the final stanza.
A Walker reverse layup started the fourth, but Duke answered with back-to back threes and a fast break layup to cut the Irish lead to just one point, forcing a visibly upset head coach Muffet McGraw to take a timeout. Brunelle responded with her fourth triple of the game, but Duke drained a pull up jumper for the only basket in a nearly five-minute stretch. Vaughn split a pair of free throws with just under two minutes remaining to put the Irish up three.
Following a Duke timeout, Sniezak came up with a steal, but the Irish lost the ball on the other end and the Blue Devils made a fast break layup. On the next possession, Brunelle was stripped and Duke layed it in to take the lead with just over thirty seconds to play. Sophomore guard Katlyn Gilbert then turned the ball over yet again, forcing Notre Dame to foul. Despite their very poor performance from the line — as they finished just 6-17 from the charity stripe — Duke made free throws when they counted most. They split the first pair of free throws, and the Irish had a chance to tie the game, but they lost the ball yet again and Duke made both free throws to close out the game.
The Irish will return home to take on the Miami Hurricanes on Sunday. The game will tip off at 1 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.