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Sports

No rest for the Irish as No. 24 Florida State comes to town

On the heels of graduate guard Dara Mabrey’s college career-ending knee injury, No. 7 Notre Dame women’s basketball awaits another challenge as No. 24 Florida State will visit Purcell Pavilion Thursday night in a pivotal ACC matchup. FSU (18-4, 7-2) sits just half a game out of first place in the conference. Brooke Wyckoff’s team doubled up Pittsburgh at home Sunday for a 74-37 win. The Irish (16-2, 7-1) are one of the two teams occupying the ACC’s top position, sharing it with No. 16 Duke. Notre Dame has won four consecutive games overall and six straight on the home hardwood. Niele Ivey’s group most recently added a 76-54 defeat of Virginia on Sunday

Irish lose a true leader

Mabrey announced Monday evening that she had suffered an ACL injury during Sunday’s game.

“The last three years at Notre Dame have been filled with so many ups and downs, but I wouldn’t trade the memories for anything,” she wrote in a social media post. “I am so grateful for my time in a Notre Dame uniform, and I can honestly say I poured my heart and soul into this program.”

Mabrey concludes her collegiate career, which began at Virginia Tech, with a host of accolades to her name. Incredibly, she started all 135 games she played in, scoring 1,472 points across five seasons. Mabrey sunk 301 career three-pointers, more than her sister Marina who is the Irish program leader with 274. Above all else, Mabrey has been and will continue to be an admirable leader for the Irish. Even as she endured a severe distance shooting slump to open 2023, Mabrey contributed heavily in other areas. On a per-game basis, she closes 2022-23 averaging 9.3 points, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals.

Who’s next?

Ivey has never needed to replace Mabrey in the starting five, but she has the firepower to sufficiently do so. She may opt for a more interior-heavy lineup with graduate student Lauren Ebo, who has played all 18 games. The graduate center stepped up in Sunday’s game, contributing 15 points, six rebounds, and four steals off the bench. Ebo has averaged 9.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game and has plenty of starting experience dating back to her senior season at Texas.

Freshman guard KK Bransford could also see more playing time as well. The former McDonald’s All-American has also seen action in all 18 games, scoring 7.9 points per game. Replacing Mabrey’s three-point prowess will be especially difficult, as Ebo and Bransford have combined to attempt just eight triples this season. Current starter Sonia Citron has the capability to help that cause though. The sophomore guard buried a career-best six threes on Sunday, bringing her season percentage to 48.

Seminoles poised to strike again

Though on the edge of the AP Top 25, Florida State is as dangerous as any ACC team. The ‘Noles played within eight points of No. 5 UConn in mid-December and have made waves in conference play. They have beaten No. 15 North Carolina on the road and walloped then-No. 11 NC State two Thursdays ago. With an OT conference loss at Boston College and a handful of tight non-conference games, FSU can sometimes play down to competition. Even so, the Irish can expect to have their hands full Thursday night.

Florida State boasts the fifth-best scoring offense in the country (85.8 points per game). Notre Dame is 17th in that category. Their attack is led by Ta’Niya Latson, the top scorer in the ACC. The dynamic freshman has posted 23.6 points per game and paces the team in steals, assists and free throw percentage. Latson has the ability to take over games, evidenced by her six 30-plus point outings this season.

Latson is not the only star on the Seminoles roster, as Makayla Timpson is also present on several national leaderboards. To go with 13.1 points and nine rebounds per game, her 61.9 field goal percentage and 2.45 blocks per game place her in the top 15 nationally. The former ACC All-Freshman selection has recorded three double-doubles in her last five games and nine this season.

Thursday night’s ranked showdown will tip-off at 8 p.m. in Purcell Pavilion. The game will be available on local RSN affiliates and the Notre Dame Radio Network. Florida State is 2-1 against AP Top 25 opposition this season, while Notre Dame is 2-2. The Seminoles and Irish will not meet again in regular season play this year.

Contact Tyler Reidy at treidy3@nd.edu.

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News

Clemson game ends in victory and injury, again

By Bella Laufenberg and Peter Breen

First-year Macy Gunnell entered Notre Dame Stadium this weekend feeding off the crowd’s energy and looking forward to a fantastic game. She left the field in an ambulance. 

The three-loss University of Notre Dame football team upset the No. 4 Clemson Tigers Saturday night, with a final score of 35-14. This primetime matchup was reminiscent of the 2020 Clemson-Notre Dame game when only socially-distanced students were allowed to watch in person. 

Before Saturday’s competition even began, the campus was electric, Gunnell said. Everyone was expecting to rush the field if Notre Dame could pull off the win, hoping to experience this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon and not worrying about the consequences. 

Broken tibia ‘worth it’ for the win

“I’m definitely feeling the adrenaline of the game the entire day,” she said. “The whole game, I mean, it was perfect.”

Gunnell, a Saint Mary’s College nursing major, said the feeling in the stadium began to shift when the game was about three minutes away from finishing. This was when she and her friends began to move down section 35, the first-year student section behind the tuba marching band row, in preparation for what was to come. 

Before she reached the field, Gunnell said the crowd was overwhelmingly aggressive, pushing and shoving her into the ground. 

“People immediately started springing out from the stands, jumping onto the field, and as that happened, people just progressively started pushing more and more forward,” Gunnell explained. “Then next thing you know, there’s bodies on top of bodies, and I was unfortunately at the bottom of that pile.”

While she was trapped under the pile, Gunnell described the experience as “absolutely terrifying.”

“It was just a complete 180 switch from being excited to rush the field and the next thing you know, I’ve got 20 people on top of me,” she said. “It was scary, I was genuinely scared that I was going to get seriously hurt.”

Gunnell said, although she was grateful for making it out without more serious injuries, she did break her tibia during the commotion.  

“As soon as I was able to get out from under the pile, the realization of the pain of what just happened hit me. That’s when I knew that I needed to get someone’s attention and get myself out of there,” Gunnell recalled. 

She also expressed how thankful she was for the band members and friends that pulled her out and stayed with her for the 30-plus minutes it took for the medics to reach her. 

After being shuttled out of the stadium by EMTs and going to a nearby hospital in an ambulance, Gunnell said she was huddled in the emergency room waiting room for seven hours with around 10-12 other game day survivors, including some other students and older alumni. 

“Funny thing was, whenever I got to the ER, there were actually several students there in the waiting room with me from injuries from the game,” she said.

Gunnell said she spent the whole night in the waiting room, before leaving around 7 a.m. and deciding to try another hospital in the morning. Now, Gunnell said she has a cast, crutches and some good spirits. 

 “I don’t really think it’s any single person’s fault,” she said. “I think this is a good story. I’d say it’s worth it with the dub that we got.”

Trampled band stays in the stands

Junior trumpet player Megan Ebner watched the mayhem unfold from the stands.

“When you’re in the band, you represent the University,” Ebner said.

Band members had complied to band directors’ instructions not to rush the field during the 2020 Clemson upset and understood going into this year’s matchup against the Tigers, they would have to stay put in the event of a field rush.

“We all kind of knew it’s just a general rule that we can’t rush the field,” Ebner said. “[We] stayed in the stands, and it was crazy.”

As the fourth quarter wrapped up, Ebner and the rest of trumpets standing in the final row of the band’s stadium seating struggled to redirect rows of students streaming down the bleachers around the immobile pack of musicians.

“We told the people, ‘You have to go to the left on the right,’ and the ushers were trying their best, but the students really just wanted to get onto the field,” Ebner said. “We were telling them, ‘You can’t come through here. There’s no space. If you tumble down and hit a bass drum, we’re all going down [and] it’s going to hurt a lot, so you need to go around.’”

While students started pushing and piling up, the band could do nothing but attempt to maintain their footing.

“It’s not like the band was funneling onto the field. We just weren’t moving,” Ebner said. “It was definitely a bit scary with all the people and no one really being in control.”

Quarantined students rush to redemption

Roommates Andrew Koo and Eddie Walsh were excited to rush the field this time around, after receiving a phone call from the University’s COVID-19 response unit Monday morning of the week leading up to the Clemson game in 2020.

“I knew that I’d be shafted for the game. I was going to be screwed,” now-senior Koo said.

Koo’s roommate in Dillon Hall, Walsh, had been hauled off to The Foundry the day before following a positive COVID test.

“I had tested positive, and so obviously, that put me and Andrew in quarantine,” Walsh said. “Me for the next 10 days [and] Andrew for the next week — both out for the game.”

Koo was in denial, anticipating the game to be one of the biggest nights of his four years of college.

“I tried everything I could on the phone with the quarantine people,” Koo said. “I considered not even showing up to the Joyce Center to go.”

As Koo tried to rationalize the situation, he said he couldn’t help but feel hurt seeing the social media posts, knowing that he’d have to carry this missed opportunity in the back of his mind for the rest of his college career.

Walsh meanwhile, maintains that that night was the best day of a “pent-up” fall 2020 semester. 

“I’m standing on a balcony on Eddy Street screaming. Everyone in town is going wild,” he said.

Koo and Walsh were watching the game together in the student section this Saturday. With each Irish score, they grew more and more excited about a chance for field-rushing redemption.

“We were just looking at each other at each touchdown and then next, thinking, ‘Oh my God, we’re actually gonna be able to do this,’” Koo said.

Though the journey from high up in the stands was daunting, there was something freeing about throwing caution to the wind on the way to the field.

“At one point, my foot got caught under a bleacher and I was like, ‘Oh, this is it. I’m breaking an ankle,” Walsh said. “But luckily nothing bad happened. It seemed like everyone had a good time.”

Koo and Walsh never thought that after their sophomore year, they’d ever get a chance to rush the field again.

“Last night felt a lot sweeter, knowing the situation,” Koo said. “Especially since it was our senior year, and we were able to finally do that. It was a great feeling.”

Contact Bella Laufenberg at ilaufenb@nd.edu.

Contact Peter Breen at pbreen2@nd.edu.

Categories
Sports

Breaking: Buchner out for the season with shoulder sprain

At Monday’s press conference, Dick Corbett Head Football Coach Marcus Freeman announced that starting quarterback Tyler Buchner would be out for the remainder of the season. The sophomore suffered a high-grade shoulder sprain, an injury, Freeman says, Buchner will have surgery for and the recovery will take about four months.

The sophomore led the Irish offense for the first three-quarters of Saturday’s home opener against Marshall before he took a major hit in the fourth quarter on his 13th carry of the day. Buchner took off on a draw to the left and was crushed under two Marshall defenders along the Notre Dame sideline.

The signal caller had been 18 for 32 on completions with 2 interceptions. He led the Irish in rushing yards and added two rushing touchdowns to his tally before unceremoniously exiting the game, with Drew Pyne taking over.

According to Freeman, the Irish will turn to junior Drew Pyne as the starter going forward with freshman Steve Angeli as the backup.

“We are still very optimistic and very positive about our future,” Freeman said, adding he trusted both Buchner and Pyne to take the Irish through the season.

Freeman says Pyne will go with the ones and Angeli will go with the twos, splitting reps around 60/40. Under Pyne, 0-2 Notre Dame will take on 2-0 California at home on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 2:30 p.m.