Notre Dame returns home for one final pre-Christmas game for a matinee matchup against Western Michigan. The Fighting Irish are coming off a Sunday 63-52 road win over then No. 6 Virginia Tech.
Where: Notre Dame, Ind – Purcell Pavilion
When: Wednesday, Dec. 21 – Noon EST
Network: ACC Network Extra – Connor Clingen (Play by Play); Karen Keyes (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 (9-1, 1-0 ACC)
Head Coach: Niele Ivey (43-20 – 3rd season at Notre Dame)
Notre Dame earned its second win over a top 10 team on Sunday with a hard fought 63-62 win over then No. 6 Virginia Tech. It marks Niele Ivey’s first road win against a top 10 team in her head coaching career.
Olivia Miles led four Fighting Irish players in double figures with 16 points, 10 of them in a 4th quarter that saw the Irish outscore the Hokies 23-9. She pulled down 13 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season and dished out seven assists to earn ACC Player of the Week honors for the second time in three weeks.
Lauren Ebo, Maddy Westbeld and Dara Mabrey turned in sizeable performances for the Irish as well. Ebo was 7 for 10 from the field to score 15 points in 22 minutes off the bench. Westbeld scored 10 points with nine rebounds and two blocked shots. She was a dominant defensive presence in the pivotal fourth quarter. Mabrey scored eight points, but she had the best +/- of anyone in the game at 17 due in large part to her defense throughout the game, which marked her first game as a visitor in Cassell Coliseum where she played the first two years of her career before transferring to Notre Dame. Sonia Citron added 11 points as well.
Projected Irish Starting Lineup
G Olivia Miles– 5-10, Soph. – 16.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 7.2 APG
G Sonia Citron – 6-1, Soph – 15.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 2.1 APG
G Dara Mabrey – 5-7, 5th – 11.9 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.2 APG
F Maddy Westbeld – 6-3, Jr. – 9.0 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 19 Blk
F Kylee Watson – 6-4, Jr – 7.7 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.6 APG
Western Michigan Broncos (5-5 0-0 MAC)
Head Coach: Shane Clipfell (153-161 in 11th Season at school, 166-183 in 12th year overall)
Notre Dame will be the fourth and final Power 5 opponent Western Michigan has played this season. The Broncos are 0-3 in their first three games against such foes. They lost 97-49 to Michigan State and then fell 99-67 to Michigan three days later. The Broncos also lost 75-37 to Colorado on Nov. 30. They followed that with an 85-65 loss at Colorado State on Dec. 3. They have won their last three games since then, most recently a 101-73 win over Chicago State.
Projected Starting Lineup
G Lauren Ross – Stats – 22.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 2.0 APG
F Taylor Williams – Stats – 13.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 15 BLK
G Maddie Watters– Stats – 6.6 PPG, 1.7 RPG
G Gabi Saxman – Stats – 2.3 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 3.3 APG
G Hannah Spitzley – Stats – 5.2, 3.9 RPG, 1.4 APG
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WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Notre Dame has wrecked teams like Western Michigan so far this season. The average score of Notre Dame’s four wins over mid major teams this season is 95-54, with the high water mark coming in their 108-44 victory over Merrimack on Dec. 10. Seven Fighting Irish players scored in double figures and all 11 players who saw the floor for Notre Dame scored in that game.
The Fighting Irish will have a decided size advantage against the Broncos. 6-2 forward Taylor Williams and 6-2 reserve Lauren Audino are the only two Western Michigan players over 6-0 tall on the roster. Westbeld (6-3) and Kylee Watson (6-4) are both regulars in the Irish starting lineup along with 6-1 guard Citron, with 6-4 Ebo and 6-5 Nat Marshall coming off the bench.
Wednesday’s game is being played at Noon EST to give Notre Dame players and staff extra time for travel home for the Christmas break. They will have four days off before they reconvene on campus early next week to prepare for their Dec. 29 ACC game at Miami. This is likely to be Notre Dame’s final non-conference game of the season. Their game at Lafayette earlier this month was canceled because of health and safety protocols by the host school.
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