Coming into Sunday’s game against the Louisville Cardinals, the Irish were 2-0 in their last two games this past week. Louisville was their third game in six days. Beating the Cardinals would have paved a way to a four seed in the ACC Tournament in Greensboro next week. But Louisville was not going to lose consecutive games in one week either after losing to FSU. Go out and play is all you can do.
Neither team came out on fire. Notre Dame opened with their first five possessions with turnovers. Louisville only scored four points in the same timeframe. The earlt enrollee Olivia Miles put the first Irish points on the board at 7:16 in the quarter. Dara Mabrey cut the lead to three when she buried a three-pointer at :36. That’s the closest the Irish would get in the quarter. The Cardinals defense was just smarming the Irish.
The Cardinals used their inside game to their advantage. Twelve of their twenty eight points came from the paint. Dana Evans had half of the team points in the quarter with twelve including two of the team’s four three pointers. Eleven of the Cardinals points came on turnovers in which the forced nine on the Irish offense. The Irish were not out of it in the first quarter as they trailed 28-18 after one quarter of play.
Maddy Westbeld opens the second quarter with a lay up that that cuts the Cardinals lead to eight. Louisville goes on 6-0 run over a three minute span. Six points only allowed by the Irish, missed shots and turnovers plagued the Irish during that timeframe but Louisville missed their opportunities as well to grow the lead. Mikayla Vaughn stops the run with a layup at 6:18 in the quarter. Again the Cardinals go on a 10-0 run over another two and a half minutes to open their lead to 44-22. The Irish go into the half down 44-28 as they shutdown the Cardinals for the last 1:40 of the quarter.
Once again Louisville wasn’t doing much to open the quarter. Both teams were scoreless for the first minute and a half of the quarter. They both exchanged baskets as Sam Brunelle and Westbeld gave the Irish a 4-2 advantage over thirty three seconds. Both teams also exchanged turnovers and missed shots over a minute and a half. Again both teams exchange scores between 6:49 and 4:46. The Cardinals on outshot the Irish 7-6 in that timeframe. Both teams went cold again for approximately two minutes. The final 2:33 of the quarter the Irish outscored the Cardinal 7-6 led by Brunelle’s three-pointer, layup and jumper. The Irish had closed the lead to ten at the 00:46 mark in the quarter. The Irish trail 59-45 to close out the quarter.
The Cardinals open the final quarter on a 4-0 run over the first two minutes of the last quarter. Destinee Walker ends the drought with a three-pointer to bring the Irish within fifteen at 7:55. Both teams score quickly between 7:13 and 7:00 left in the game. Again both teams miss shots and turn the ball over the next two minutes. Over the remaining five minutes both teams scored eleven points each to finish the game. Mabrey had five of those points including a three-pointer, Westbeld had a basket and a free throw, Walker made two free throws, and Miles had a free throw. Louisville’s tenacity was just too much for the Irish to overcome. They were not going to let the Irish get as close as they did in their last meeting in Louisville, The Irish fall 78-61 at home.
The Wrap Up
Sam Brunelle led the team with thirteen points (6-10, 1-3 3FG), three rebounds, and two assists. Olivia Miles had eleven points, 1-3 free throws, four rebounds. Maddy Westbeld had nine points, six rebounds, three assists, one block and a steal.
The 2020/2021 season was a definite challenge for the Irish. Between COVID protocols, COVID amongst the team and injuries, it was not the run Coach Ivey expected. The team has been coming together and that stands well for the immediate future. A good showing in Greensboro over the next week will help[ this team and then hopefully make it to the NCAA Women’s Tournament. The Irish will start their ACC Championship bid on Wednesday night versus Clemson at 8:30 PM EST.