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Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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www.BLUEANDGOLD.com OCT. 7, 2019 47 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL BY LOU SOMOGYI W ith Atlantic Coast Conference men's basketball expanding from 18 to 20 league games in 2019‑20, women's basketball is moving from a 16‑game slate to 18. Notre Dame will be in a home‑and‑home pod with Louisville, Pittsburgh, Boston College and Syracuse, and the other 10 teams in the 15‑team conference will be di‑ vided into five home and five away. Last season, the ACC was once again the No. 1‑ranked conference in Rating Percentage Index (RPI). In addition, a record‑tying eight league teams were selected for the 2019 NCAA Tournament field, the most of any conference. This year's conference slate begins Dec. 29, when head coach Muffet Mc‑ Graw's Fighting Irish host Clemson at 4 p.m. ET. Since debuting in the ACC during the 2013‑14 campaign, Notre Dame has posted an extraordinary 91‑5 re‑ cord (.948 winning percentage) in regular‑season league play. It won the regular‑season conference title out‑ right in five of those six seasons and shared it with Louisville in 2018 — the year Notre Dame won the national title. That also was the lone year the Cardinals won the ACC Tournament since Notre Dame's arrival. The way the 15‑team ACC might be looking at it now, 2019‑20 is pay‑ back opportunity against McGraw's squad that lost all five starters from last season to the WNBA (three of whom made the WNBA All‑Rookie team) and two other top reserves to transfer. In ESPN's Way‑Too‑Early Top 25 for 2019‑20, three ACC teams are ranked ahead of No. 20 Notre Dame: No. 8 Louisville — Despite gradu‑ ating All‑American guard Asia Durr, the Cardinals return a bevy of experi‑ ence and added Georgia Tech trans‑ fers Elizabeth Balogun and Elizabeth Dixon, both of whom were granted waivers by the NCAA to play right away. Balogun was the ACC Rookie of the Year with a 14.6 scoring aver‑ age, while the 6‑5 Dixon averaged 11.0 points per game. No. 11 Florida State — The Semi‑ noles return double‑figure scorers in Kiah Gillespie (16.2), Nicki Ekhomu (15.2) and Nausia Woolfolk (13.5), and add two McDonald's All‑Amer‑ icans in 6‑5 River Baldwin and Sam‑ mie Puisis. No. 15 North Carolina State — Head coach Wes Moore did superb work last year despite getting deci‑ mated by injuries in the backcourt. The Wolfpack feature a powerful backcourt with Kaila Ealey (side‑ lined all of last season), Grace Hunter (sidelined in January with an injury after averaging 14.6 points per game) and Aislinn Konig to complement 6‑5 sophomore Elissa Cunane (13.6 points per game) in the post. No. 22 Miami — Although not ranked ahead of Irish in this poll, the Hurricanes upset them last season and return one of the nation's best post players in 6‑4 Beatrice Mompre‑ mier (16.7 points and 12.2 rebounds per game), who produced double‑ doubles in 20 of her last 24 contests. The three other ACC schools to ad‑ vance to the NCAA Tournament last year were Clemson, North Carolina and Syracuse. Notre Dame plans to open practice the first week of October. Junior center Mikayla Vaughn returns as the lead‑ ing scorer with a 3.3 average, while sophomore guard Abby Prohaska had the most minutes last season among the returning players with 549. Stanford graduate transfer/point guard Marta Sniezek will provide the most overall experience, but was shelved last season with injury setbacks. ✦ ACC Releases 2019-20 Schedule Date Opponent (TV) Time (ET) Nov. 5 at Fordham 7 p.m. Nov. 8 Loyola Maryland TBA Nov. 11 Tennessee (ESPN) TBA Nov. 14 Michigan State TBA Nov. 20 Toledo TBA Nov. 23 at Michigan TBA Nov. 28 vs. Florida Gulf Coast^ 1:30 p.m. Nov. 29 vs. South Dakota State^ 11 a.m. Nov. 30 vs. South Florida^ 11 a.m. Dec. 4 Minnesota TBA Dec. 8 at Connecticut TBA Dec. 11 DePaul TBA Dec. 21 Guelph& 1 p.m. Dec. 29 Clemson* (RSN) 4 p.m. Jan. 2 at Pittsburgh* (ACCNE) 7 p.m. Jan. 5 at Syracuse* (ACCN) 4 p.m. Date Opponent (TV) Time (ET) Jan. 9 Boston College* (ACCNE) 7 p.m. Jan. 12 NC State* (ACCN) 4 p.m. Jan. 16 at Duke* (ACCN) 8 p.m. Jan. 19 Miami* (ESPN2/ACCN) 1 p.m. Jan. 26 at Virginia* (ACCNE) 12:30 p.m. Jan. 30 Louisville* (ESPN/2) 7 p.m. Feb. 2 at Georgia Tech* (ACCN) 2 p.m. Feb. 6 at Wake Forest* (ACCNE) 7 p.m. Feb. 9 Pittsburgh* (ACCN) 4 p.m. Feb. 13 at Boston College* (ACCNE) 7 p.m. Feb. 16 at Louisville* (ACCN) 3 p.m. Feb. 20 Virginia Tech* (RSN) 8 p.m. Feb. 23 Syracuse* (ACCN) 12 p.m. Feb. 27 North Carolina* (ACCNE) 7 p.m. Mar. 1 at Florida State* (ESPN2/ACCN) 2 p.m. Mar. 4-8 ACC Tournament$ (ACCN) TBA Sophomore guard Abby Prohaska, who played in 38 of 39 games last year and averaged 14.4 min- utes per contest, is the most experienced of the returning players for Notre Dame. PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH MEDIA 2019-20 NOTRE DAME SCHEDULE Some of the tip-off times will be released at a later date. All 135 regular-season ACC games will be avail- able through the ESPN family of networks, including the new ACC Network (ACCN), the conference's Regional Sports Networks (RSN) or ACC Network Extra (ACCNE). ^ Cancun Challenge at Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya in Cancun, Mexico; & Exhibition; % ACC/Big Ten Challenge; * ACC game; $ at Greensboro, N.C

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