It’s only January, but Notre Dame is already in March’s Survive and Advance Madness mode after registering her third straight ACC victory on Thursday night with a 65-60 victory in Virginia. Tech.
Sixth-year senior Destinee Walker scored 13 of her team’s 16 points in the decisive second quarter. (ACC Communications)
Now 8-5 in aggregate and 6-3 in the conference, the Fighting Irish built a 46-25 advantage before avoiding another epic Boston College-like meltdown on January 7 when they squandered a 60-minute lead. -48 with 2:41 to play. in a 64-61 loss.
Trailing 61-58, Virginia Tech had a chance to link the game in the last minute but a three-run missed by Aisha Sheppard (29 points passing 5 of 20 over the arc) and a steal from senior center Mikki Vaughn set up two free throws by junior guard and Virginia Tech transfer Dara Mabrey with 8.1 seconds remaining.
Two more free throws from Mabrey froze the result 65-60.
Sixth-year senior guard Destinee Walker had 16 points, the team’s top, while Mabrey added 14. Freshman Maddy Westbeld recorded her first career double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds, and the second year Anaya Peoples also reached double with 11 points.
Head coach Niele Ivey’s team stuttered out of the gate and nearly ran out of gas at the finish line, but between the two was dominant. Notre Dame has played 52 basketball quarterbacks this season, but none were as imposing at both ends of the quarterback as the runner-up in Virginia Tech (7-6 in total, 2-6 in the ACC).
The Hokies held a 16-9 advantage late in the first quarter after the Irishman’s opening 10 minutes saw them shoot 4 of 19 (22.2%) from the field and commit six turnovers.
Notre Dame responded with a 9-0 run to start the second quarter to take an 18-16 lead, and never lagged afterwards. He also finished the quarter with a 10-1 run and topped the Hokies 27-9 in those 10 minutes while converting 11 of 19 field goals (57.9%).
Walker propelled the exceptional performances of this period. She tallied 10 straight points (with two threes) to break the game’s last two draws at 18-18 and 21-21, and 13 of Notre Dame’s next 15 points in total (along with another trey) that extended the advantage at 33-24. She then added a theft which resulted in a Mabrey Bucket which provided the Irish with a 36-25 cushion during intermission.
With a 10-0 push to open the second half, the 46-25 advantage only scored the second time this season, Notre Dame was up at least 20 points. Overall, it was a 22-4 run over an 8:10 period.
Refusing to fold, Virginia Tech responded with an 8-0 run before Westbeld ended the drought with a three. The Hokies gradually took the lead before Vaughn’s steal and Mabrey’s free throws sealed the result.
Three point game
1. Ebbs and Flows
the game in Blacksburg was a microcosm of this season for the Irish. The first and fourth quarters saw them hit dry spells where the offensive move was a rumor and turnovers creeped up. And then in the second and third, there were stretches where they often flowed beautifully and looked like a viable NCAA tournament team.
We felt that at the end of January it would start to freeze with rotations, assimilation and familiarity. For the most part it appears as expected, but standing while stretching on offense still remains a bugaboo.
2. Best of five
The Irish have moved up to fourth in the ACC 13-team race this year (Duke and Virginia canceled their seasons) – behind Louisville (12-0), No.2 North Carolina State (10-0) and …
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