Sunday basketball, is coming to an end. The Purcell Pavilion will soon be hosting graduation ceremonies and basketball clinics. The Irish faithful made the pilgrimage one more time on Sunday for a women’s basketball game. This was not an ordinary game as the game came second behind the “Pink Zone” celebration. The tradition of honoring those who are “survivors” of breast cancer. It’s truly goes along with our mantra, #BeyondPlayingSports
The first quarter looked like the old ND women’s basketball team. To start the game off, Freshman leader Sam Brunelle brings Purcell Pavilion to it’s feet as she drilled a three-pointer to open the scoring. Brunelle woud drain her second three-pointer a few moments later. The Irish were getting their points in the paint as well. The Irish hit their stride of old as they were dominating the first quarter on offense and defense. Along with their points in the paint, they were also converting on the fast break. For a moment you could have sworn this team was a top ranked team.
During the first quarter the Irish lead swelled to eighteen points, while holding Syracuse to a scoring drought for approximately 5:48. The Irish had tenacity that you typically see from a Coach McGraw squad. Destinee Walker led all Irish scorers with nine points in the quarter, followed by Brunelle and Mikayala Vaughn with six points each to give the Irish a 27-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter saw Syracuse battle back a bit. But, the Irish bent but did not break. The Irish actually played some really great defense once again. They allowed only three baskets in the paint, while forcing the Orange to shoot from the outside. The Orange made four three-pointers to keep themselves in the game in the second quarter.
On the other side of the court, Syracuse was keeping Brunelle contained but allowing a late in the quarter three-pointer and points in the paint, Vaughn stepped up. Vaughn scored five straight Irish points via the free throw line and a basket in the paint. Though the Orange won the the quarter 22-17, the Irish still took a 44-33 lead into the half.
Unlike the previous two quarters played by the Orange, the Orange actually had a couple of runs in them in the third quarter. But the runs were not large runs. They had a two four point runs, and one seven point run. The points in the paint increased a little bit, but nothing the Irish couldn’t handle.
On the Irish end, it was about points in the paint. The Irish scored twelve of their twenty points in the paint. High quality shots will win you basketball games. Destinee Walker scored six consecutive points, four in the paint and two free throws. The whole team was contributing in some way, shape or form. Once again the Orange chipped away at the lead as the Irish took a 62-52 lead into the final quarter.
Remember that sixteeen point lead from the first quarter? The Irish were going to rely on that cushion to win the basketball game. Though the Irish were keeping the Orange out of the paint. The Orange were scoring from distance. Two, three pointers, two jumpers, one layup and four free throws, helped keep Syracuse in the game. With 1:20 left in the game, the Irish did not allow the Orange to score again. The Irish would not even allow the Orange to have a chance at an in bound at the end of the game.
Instead the Irish played tenaciously and figured out a way to score the last points of the game. The Irish only had six points on three field goals in the final quarter. Vaughn started the quarter with two free throws, and she ended it with two free throws while accounting for six points of the ten points. Katlyn Gilbert accounted for the other four points. The Irish win a barn burner at Purcell Pavilion 72-70.
Players Of The Game
🏀🏀🏀 Sam Brunelle 15 points, 3-11 from distance, 9 Rebounds (2 offensive, 7 defensive), 3 Assists and 2 Steals
🏀🏀 Destinee Walker 16 Points, 1-3 from distance, 6 Rebounds (3 offensive, 3 defensive), 6 Assists and 3 Steals
🏀 Mikayla Vaughn 21 Points, 7-10 Free Throws, 5 Rebounds (1 offensive, 4 defensive), 3 Blocked Shots
Next up for the Irish are the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. The Irish conclude their home schedule season at 7 PM EST at Purcell Pavilion.
Cheers and Go Irish! 🍀🏀⚡