ND Women’s Basketball
Irish defeat Wake Forest in back-and-forth affair
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, February 7, 2020
The women’s basketball team landed a much-needed win Thursday night in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, besting Wake Forest 75-71. Notre Dame (9-14, 4-7 ACC) edged out Wake Forest (12-11, 5-7 ACC) in a game that featured 12 ties and 19 lead changes.
The Demon Deacons got off to a hot start in the contest. After the hosts got on the board first with a two-point jumper, Irish graduate student guard Marta Sniezek converted on a layup to even the score. After two free throws for Wake Forest, Notre Dame junior center Mikayla Vaughn would even the score once more at 4-4 with another layup.
From there, however, the Demon Deacons managed to gain some ground by knocking down back-to-back three pointers to take a 12-6 lead that resulted in Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw calling timeout to regroup. From there, the Irish would respond well, closing the gap to two points behind buckets by freshman forward Sam Brunelle and sophomore guard Katlyn Gilbert.
Notre Dame would maintain a close margin, going into the end of the first quarter trailing 15-17. In the second, Notre Dame would claim their first lead of the contest thanks to two free throws by Vaughn to make it 19-18.
However, the Demon Deacons would go on another run thanks to second-chance points and three-point shooting to take a 28-21 lead. Gilbert would get her own second-chance bucket, but Wake Forest would continue to stretch the lead to 33-23 with a couple of layups. A three-pointer by Brunelle and a jumper by graduate student guard Destinee Walker would stop the bleeding somewhat, but the hosts would still go into halftime up 35-28.
In the second half, both teams struggled to find an offensive footing until Walker broke the ice with an and-1 layup to make it 35-31 in favor of Wake Forest. A layup by Gilbert and another three from Brunelle would narrow the margin to three points at 39-36, but the Demon Deacons would respond with another three.
Even so, the Irish wouldn’t let the contest get away from them. The teams continued to trade buckets as Notre Dame ever so gradually chipped away at the lead, maintaining a perpetual two-to-four-point window.
With the Irish trailing 46-43, Walker would convert on a second-chance opportunity, then steal the ball and make a layup to give Notre Dame their first lead of the half. Wake Forest would reclaim it by continuing to find offensive rebounds and getting second-chance opportunities, but Walker and Sniezek would not let the lead become substantial.
After trailing 52-51 entering the final period, Sniezek would convert another layup to give Notre Dame the lead back. After two free throws gave Wake Forest the lead at 56-55, Walker nailed a three to put Notre Dame up 58-56. The Demon Deacons would again gain a two-point lead with two free throws, but a three by sophomore forward Danielle Cosgrove gave the Irish back the lead at 61-60.
The lead continued to change hands as each team made several more trips to the free-throw line. However, with 2:55 left in the game, the Demon Deacons would gain their final lead of the game at 69-67 before Vaughn’s putback layup and Gilbert’s jumper gave the Irish a 71-69 lead they would not relinquish.
Both teams would go scoreless for the ensuing 1:50 of play before Wake Forest was forced to foul to stop the clock. Walker sank three of four free throws and Vaughn made one of two to give the Irish in an insurmountable four-point lead with five seconds remaining.
Despite being outscored 17-6 in second chance points and going 13-18 from the charity stripe to Wake’s 22-27, Notre Dame won the battle in the paint 42-30 and points off turnovers 18-4 as the Demon Deacons coughed the ball up 17 times. Walker led all scorers with 24 points while three other Irish players scored in double figures.
Next up, Notre Dame will take on Pittsburgh, Sunday at 4 p.m. in Purcell Pavilion.