Notre Dame has had some extra time off in between games. The Fighting Irish have not played since Dec. 10, with the extended break between games due to final exams and the end of the fall semester this past week. No. 5 Notre Dame now plays its second top-10 matchup of the season against No. 6 Virginia Tech.
Where: Blacksburg, VA – Cassell Coliseum
When: Sunday, Dec. 18 – 4:00 PM EST
Network: ACC Network – Jenn Hildreth (Play by Play); Jasmine Thomas (Analyst)
Radio: ND Radio Network, 99.9 FM WQLQ in South Bend – Sean Stires PBP
Let’s take a look at today’s matchup:
NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (8-1, 0-0 ACC)
Head Coach: Niele Ivey (42-20 – 3rd season at Notre Dame)
Notre Dame dominated Merrimack from start to finish in their 108-44 win eight days ago. Olivia Miles became the first Notre Dame women’s basketball player to record three career triple-doubles when the sophomore scored 13 points with 13 rebounds and 14 assists. She was an efficient 3 of 4 from the field and 7 for 8 at the free throw line to help the Irish connect on 34 of 38 shots from the charity stripe. Notre Dame is the only team in the ACC to make at least 30 free throws in a game this season.
Miles was one of seven Irish players to score in double figures in the team’s most lopsided win of the season. Lauren Ebo led all scorers with 17 points. The reserve forward led a 58-point scoring effort in the paint and 47 points off the bench.
Projected Irish Starting Lineup
G Olivia Miles– 5-10, Soph. – 16.0 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 7.2 APG
G Dara Mabrey – 5-7, 5th – 12.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.1 APG
G Sonia Citron – 6-1, Soph – 15.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.1 APG
F Maddy Westbeld – 6-3, Jr. – 8.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 17 Blk
F Kylee Watson – 6-4, Jr – 8.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.7 APG
Virginia Tech Hokies (10-0, 1-0 ACC)
Head Coach: Kenny Brooks (134-69 in 7th Season at school, 465-186 in 23rd year overall)
Kenny Brooks has won at least 20 games in five of his first six seasons at Virginia Tech with trips to the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons. The No. 6 national ranking the Hokies bring into Sunday’s game is the highest in program history. The Hokie men’s team is in the top-25 this week as well, which makes it just the second time both the men’s and women’s programs have been ranked at the same time.
Elizabeth Kitley is Virginia Tech’s top player. The 6-5 center is the reigning ACC Player of the Week after registering double-doubles win wins over Boston College and UNC Asheville. She averaged 20.0 points on 55% shooting and 11 rebounds in the two games. Kitley was the ACC Player of the Year last season, averaging 18.1 points and 9.8 rebounds. She led the league with 15 double-doubles.
Projected Starting Lineup
G Georgia Amoore – 5-6, Jr. – 12.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 6.7 APG
G Kayana Traylor – 5-9, Sr. – 12.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.1 APG
G Cayla King – 6-0, Sr. – 11.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.2 APG
F Taylor Soule– Stats – 11.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.9 APG
C Elizabeth Kitley – 6-6, Sr. – 18.8 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 2.1 BPG
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
This will be the second top-10 matchup for Notre Dame in the past two weeks. The Fighting Irish beat then No. 3 UConn two weeks ago. This is also the first-ever top-10 showdown at Cassell Coliseum in Virginia Tech program history.
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Notre Dame beat the Hokies 68-55 at home last February in the only meeting between the teams last season. The Irish did it by neutralizing Kitley’s presence in the paint. The eventual ACC Player of the Year scored just eight points on 3 for 10 shooting. Maya Dodson was the primary defender on the 6-6 center that day. With Dodson gone, it will mostly be up to 6-4 forwards Kylee Watson and Ebo to try to again neutralize one of the best post players in the nation.
The game will also pit two of the best point guards in the ACC. Miles and Georgia Amoore each have triple doubles this season. Amoore’s 24 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists against Nebraska on Dec. 1 made her the first Hokie women’s player to ever record a triple-double. Miles is the Irish record holder with three in her career.
The Hokies added a key player to their roster in the offseason when Taylor Soule transferred to Blacksburg after four seasons at Boston College. Soule earned second-team All-ACC honors last season when she averaged 16 points and 5.5 rebounds for the Eagles.
Fighting Irish guard Dara Mabrey began her career at Virginia Tech. The graduate student averaged 11.5 points and hit 155 3-pointers in her freshman and sophomore seasons in Blacksburg. She transferred to Notre Dame in Niele Ivey’s first season in 2020-2021.
Notre Dame is 14-2 all-time against Virginia Tech. The Hokies beat the Irish 68-62 in Jan, 2020 to end a seven-game Irish winning streak in the series. The only Virginia Tech home win against Notre Dame came on Feb. 9, 2003 when the Hokies prevailed 53-50.
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