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ND Women’s Basketball

Irish look to bounce back against Blue Devils

| Thursday, January 16, 2020

After falling 90-56 against North Carolina State on Sunday, Notre Dame will desperately look to right an apparently sinking ship against the Duke Blue Devils on Thursday. The defeat against the Wolfpack marked the second three game losing streak for the Irish this season.

While the lack of experience on this year’s team was certainly a concern heading into the season, Notre Dame has also struggled mightily on the defensive side of the ball, giving up 70 points per game through mid-January. The Irish have had particular trouble guarding the 3-point line, giving up eight three-pointers a game while averaging just three a game themselves.

However, a number of young players on the team have shown immense potential and are carrying the load for the Irish at the moment. Do it all freshman guard Anaya Peoples has been outstanding for Notre Dame, establishing herself as one of the best freshmen in her conference. The Danville, Illinois native is averaging 8.1 rebounds, which leads all ACC freshman. She’s also contributing 12.6 per game, which ranks second among ACC freshman.

Peoples has been complemented by fellow freshman Sam Brunelle, who is averaging 12.9 points per game. Brunelle has displayed a polished game for a freshman, showing the ability to score both in the paint and from beyond the arc. If they keep their current scoring pace, the Peoples-Brunelle duo could become only the third pairing in program history and the first since former Irish stars Arike Ogunbowale and Marina Mabrey to finish a season averaging double-digit points.

Graduate transfer Destinee Walker has had the hot hand since the start of the new year, averaging 18.3 points per game in 2020. Walker has put together a streak of six straight games scoring in double figures, including three games scoring 20 or more points.

The Irish have been without junior center Mikayla Vaughn for the majority of the season so far. After suffering an MCL sprain in the season opener, Vaughn missed 11 straight games before returning against Clemson on Dec. 29.

Vaughn has settled in since her return, recording her first career double against Syracuse on Jan. 5. The Irish will need Vaughn to continue contributing on both sides of the ball while also providing valuable leadership in what has been an extremely difficult season for head coach Muffet McGraw’s squad.

The Irish head into this matchup against Duke reeling from one of their worst losses in recent memory. However, the Irish have had great success against the Blue Devils in the past. Notre Dame is 17-1 all time against Duke and is 4-1 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

The Irish and Blue Devils will tip off at 8 p.m. on Thursday.

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