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ND Women’s Basketball

Notre Dame unable to complete upset of No. 1 Louisville

| Monday, February 8, 2021

Notre Dame fell just short of upsetting top-ranked Louisville on Sunday afternoon, continuing a three-game losing streak on the road. Despite a balanced performance across the board — with four players reaching double digits — the Irish were unable to overcome a first-half deficit. 

In a game of momentum swings, the Cardinals (18-1, 11-1 ACC) got out to a quick start, leading 12-6 in the first quarter. The Irish (8-8, 6-6 ACC) mounted a response of their own, going on an 11-0 run bookended by 3-pointers from sophomore forward Sam Brunelle and junior guard Dara Mabrey. The Cardinals then closed out the quarter with nine unanswered points.

After an opening quarter marked by long-range shots, both teams exchanged looks in the paint, with neither team able to gain more than a four-point cushion throughout much of the second quarter. The Cardinals eventually found some relief from junior guard Elizabeth Balogun who converted an and-one. Sophomore guard Anaya Peoples kept things close for the Irish with back-to-back two-pointers, but Louisville senior guard Dana Evans closed out the half with a bucket beyond the arc to give the Cardinals an eight-point lead heading into the locker room.

Photo courtesy of Jared Anderson
Irish junior guard Dana Mabrey looks to pass during Notre Dame’s 71-65 loss against Louisville on Sunday at the KFC Yum! Center.

Returning from halftime, the Irish defensive struggles continued as the Cardinals immediately scored off a steal. With the deficit at a game-high 11 points, Brunelle and Peoples were once again the women of the hour, recording five points.

Sunday’s matchup did give Irish fans another look at what’s to come for the program, with early enrollee guard Olivia Miles making her second collegiate appearance since being approved to practice Jan. 25. After a four-point debut against Syracuse which ended early after she picked up four quick fouls, the New Jersey native registered 10 points and two rebounds in Sunday’s loss.

With just under five minutes remaining in the quarter and with the Cardinals leading 44-52, Miles put an on offensive performance, recording three straight 2-pointers to bring the Irish within two points for the first time in over 10 minutes of play. 

With nine minutes left in the game, the Cardinals tied their largest lead at 11 and looked set to break away from the Irish. But head coach Niele Ivey and her team wouldn’t go quietly. Senior center Mikayla Vaughn and graduate student guard Destinee Walker each knocked down a pair of free throws. Vaughn sunk another two pointer, followed by a jumper by Brunelle. With just under two minutes remaining in play, Mabrey drained a deep 3-pointer off the dribble to pull the Irish within one point.

Ultimately however, Evans proved too much for Notre Dame to handle, scoring six straight points to close out her 27-point performance. 

The Irish close out their five-game road trip next Monday against NC State in Raleigh, North Carolina. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m., and the game will be televised on ESPN2. Notre Dame has five games remaining on the season before postseason play begins with the ACC Championship at the beginning of March.

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