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Irish take on first ranked battle of season against No. 20 Maryland

With an undefeated start to their season, the No. 7 Notre Dame women’s basketball team advances to face No. 20 Maryland on Thursday in the ACC/B1G Challenge.

The Terrapins are coming off of a two-game win streak against Towson (81-70) and Pitt (87-63) and have a solid 6-2 record on the season so far. And while Maryland did lose to DePaul, their only other loss came to No. 1 South Carolina. 

This will be Notre Dame’s first ranked opponent and it will serve as a litmus test for the remainder of the season. 

The Irish are also coming off a series of impressive wins, their most recent being a dominating 85-65 win against Arizona State. The leader in points was graduate transfer center Lauren Ebo with 20 points, followed by sophomore guard Sonia Citron with 15 and freshman guard KK Bransford with 14. Junior forward Maddy Westbeld and sophomore guard Olivia Miles tied with 6 assists on the night. This is all with Westbeld not playing as much time as usual for the forward.

On the season, Notre Dame’s closest game was against Cal, with a 11-point difference. Every other victory has been by 20+ points. The Irish have been winning their game by an average of 25 points per game. And while the Terrapins are their first ranked opponent, the Irish talent is certainly deep enough to persevere. Nine players average at least nine minutes per game over the first six games. And, as they look to play their first ranked opponent, they must use all that depth to secure another win.

However, Maryland is a worthy contender. Diamond Miller is their leading scorer with an average of 17.6 points a game. Comparatively, Miles leads the Irish with 16 points, and both teams’ second scorer – Citron for ND and Abby Meyers for Maryland – has an average of 15.3 points per game. 

Both teams are coming off wins at neutral-site games. The Terrapins and the Irish both have a daunting schedule ahead and, with talent on both sides of the court, both teams expect to make it far in the season. Maryland is currently on a run, making it to the Elite Eight in 2021 and Sweet Sixteen again last year. However, the Irish are still rebuilding their roster with head coach Niele Ivey. Even so, after missing the NCAA Tournament in 2021, the Irish made it to the Sweet Sixteen last year. 

With a win, Notre Dame establishes themselves as a dominant figure in the NCAA and keeps their hot streak going, ahead of a top-10 battle with UConn on Sunday.

After Maryland, Ivey’s squad will face No. 3 Connecticut at home. The Huskies also have a daunting 5-0 record on the season, and are expected to make it far through the year. 

Both teams are both off to a solid start to their season. Although this game will not determine either team’s NCAA tournament rankings, both teams are looking to establish themselves for future games. 

The Notre Dame women’s basketball team will face off against the Maryland Terrapins on Thursday, Dec. 1, at Purcell Pavillion. 

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