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Winter Break recap: Notre Dame

| Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Between the conclusion of Finals Week on Dec. 16 and yesterday’s resumption of the school year, Notre Dame’s hockey team and two basketball teams combined to play 21 games. The three amassed a total record of 10-10-1, with women’s basketball making the most holiday magic at 6-1. Here’s a breakdown of how each team fared over the past month.

Men’s basketball

The men’s basketball team endured a difficult stretch, playing to a 2-6 overall record with five losses in ACC play. Notre Dame opened the break in Atlanta for the Holiday Hoopsgiving event, where Georgia pulled away late for a 77-62 win. The Irish went 11-for-23 from three-point range, but the Bulldogs made 14 more free throws.

Florida State then overcame freshman guard JJ Starling’s 20 points to take a tight 73-72 victory. Notre Dame had a chance to win on the final possession but turned the ball over at mid-court. Graduate student guard Marcus Hammond scored 15 to lead the Irish to their final non-conference win against Jacksonville, but another tough stretch followed. Then-No. 14 Miami (Florida) escaped a tight game to win 76-65 and extended Notre Dame’s recent struggles in close contests.

The New Year ushered in another tough pill to swallow, as the Irish coughed up a 44-34 lead in a 70-63 loss at Boston College. Freshman forward Ven-Allen Lubin suffered an injury in Chestnut Hill and would miss two games thereafter. Notre Dame’s reduced interior presence hurt it severely at North Carolina in an 81-64 loss last Saturday. On the shoulders of two outstanding individual efforts, the Irish returned to the win column against Georgia Tech. Graduate student guard Dane Goodwin exploded for a double-double, while Starling offered 16 bench points to yield a must-have overtime win.

However, despite a double-double from graduate student forward Nate Laszewski, Notre Dame couldn’t keep up with Syracuse in Saturday’s 78-73 loss. After losing to Florida State Tuesday, the Irish will welcome Boston College on Saturday before traveling to NC State next Tuesday.

Women’s basketball

Irish women’s hoops played seven games over the break and now sit at No. 7 in the AP Top 25. They began with a 63-52 victory over then-No. 6 Virginia Tech on Dec. 18. Sophomore guard Olivia Miles posted a remarkable 16 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and five steal stat line in the win. Junior forward Maddy Westbeld then tallied 23 points on an 85-57 dismantling of Western Michigan at home. After Christmas, the Irish squeaked out a 66-63 triumph at Miami (Florida). Both Westbeld and graduate student center Lauren Ebo notched double-doubles.

Freshman guard KK Bransford’s 17 points off the bench keyed an 85-48 clobbering of Boston College on New Year’s Day. Notre Dame then lost just its second game of the year at No. 22 North Carolina, as Ebo’s 19 rebounds were not enough in a 60-50 defeat. The Irish returned to form with an 86-47 demolition of Wake Forest, as Westbeld dropped 25 points. Most recently, Miles’ 23 points pushed the women’s team to a 72-56 road win at Syracuse. Carrying a 14-2 overall record and 5-1 conference mark, the Irish will visit Clemson on Thursday.

Hockey

Notre Dame hockey, now sitting just outside the USCHO’s Division I top 20, played three series after Christmas. They first split with Alaska-Fairbanks over New Year’s weekend, falling 3-2 in game one but opening 2023 with a 2-0 win. Senior goaltender Ryan Bischel picked up a 25-save shutout, his fourth shutout of the season. The Irish then traveled to Madison for two games with Big Ten foe Wisconsin. Notre Dame dropped game one 2-0 but started fast the next night for a 6-4 win. Senior forward Trevor Janicke and junior defenseman Drew Bavaro each scored twice in the win.

Finally, the Irish welcomed No. 2 Minnesota to South Bend this past weekend. Junior forward Ryder Rolston’s shootout goal helped Notre Dame to a tie and shootout win on Friday. But the Golden Gophers answered back on Saturday. Despite the Irish putting 38 shots on net, Minnesota held them down for a 3-0 win. Notre Dame is now 10-11-3 overall with a 5-7-2 record in conference play, good for 5th place in the Big Ten. The team will visit No. 6 Penn State this weekend.

Contact Tyler Reidy at [email protected]

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