Blue and Gold Illustrated

Jan. 1, 2021

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

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56 JAN. 1, 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED WOMEN'S BASKETBALL BY LOU SOMOGYI T he reality of how far the su‑ perpower Notre Dame wom‑ en's basketball program from 2011‑19 had fallen during the 2019‑20 season (13‑18 finish) didn't truly hit home until the ACC opener versus Clemson at home, a 71‑55 loss during Christmas break. The Tigers had lost the two previ‑ ous years to Notre Dame by scores of 101‑63 and 90‑37. That fiasco last December to a team that would fin‑ ish 3‑15 in the league was a firm vali‑ dation that the Fighting Irish were in for a disheartening season. This year, Notre Dame's plum‑ met was reaffirmed during another loss to Clemson, 78‑55 on Dec. 20. The Tigers had been the preseason pick to finish 13th among 15 ACC teams by both league coaches and the Blue Ribbon Panel, whereas first‑ year head coach Niele Ivey's Irish were pegged to make an ascent with a preseason projection of fourth by the coaches and sixth by the panel. The defeat at Clemson dropped Notre Dame to 3‑4 overall and 1‑2 in the ACC, with a break until the Dec. 31 contest at Miami. Down by 20 at halftime (42‑22), the Irish trailed by as much as 27 in the second half. The starting lineup with fresh‑ man Maddy Westbeld, senior Mikki Vaughn, junior Katlyn Gilbert, soph‑ omore Anaya Peoples and junior Dara Mabrey combined to shoot 7 of 32 (21.9 percent) from the field and 6 of 15 (40.0 percent) from the foul line. The Irish committed 17 turnovers, and the team defense remained an ongoing problem. "This was a tough game and tough result for me, personally, from the way we started the game," Ivey com‑ mented. "… I was disappointed with the defensive mentality. Clemson played an incredible game. We didn't come out with that edge, and that re‑ ally set the tone for the entire game." SPORADIC PLAY Notre Dame opened conference play with home games against Geor‑ gia Tech and Virginia Tech that were sharp contrasts in emotion. Against the Yellow Jackets, Notre Dame built a 33‑27 advantage before Georgia Tech finished on an 8‑0 run to take a 35‑33 lead into the locker room. Next the visitors opened the second half with a 7‑0 run — 15‑0 overall — to extend the advantage to 42‑33 en route to coasting to an 82‑67 win. Georgia Tech converted 18 of 28 field goals (64.3 percent) in the sec‑ ond half and went the first 15:24 without committing a turnover (and had three the entire second half). Ex‑ acerbating Notre Dame's defensive problems were the Irish's 16 turn‑ overs that set up 21 Georgia Tech points. "Their 8‑0 run to end the half both‑ ered our confidence," admitted Ivey, who varied man‑to‑man and zone defenses. "Coming out in the second half, we wanted to change things up defensively to throw something at them, but didn't succeed with that — resulting in them setting the tone of the half. "I'm trying to figure out rotations Sophomore Anaya Peoples recorded 15 points, a team-high eight rebounds and three assists in Notre Dame's 84-78 comeback win over Virginia Tech Dec. 17. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS 2020-21 NOTRE DAME SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Nov. 27 at Ohio L, 86-85 Nov. 29 Miami (Ohio) W, 88-68 Dec. 3 Michigan L, 76-66 Dec. 6 IUPUI W, 65-58 Dec. 13 Georgia Tech L, 82-67 Dec. 17 Virginia Tech W, 84-78 Dec. 20 at Clemson L, 78-55 Dec. 31 at Miami (ACCN) 6 p.m. Jan. 3 Georgia Tech (ACCN) 4 p.m. Jan. 7 at Boston College (ACCN) 8 p.m. Jan. 10 at Syracuse (ESPNU) 2 p.m. Jan. 14 Pittsburgh (ACCNX) 6 p.m. Jan. 17 Boston College (ACCN) 12 p.m. Jan. 21 at Virginia Tech (RSN) 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at North Carolina (ESPNU) 12 p.m. Jan. 28 Wake Forest (ACCNX) 6 p.m. Jan. 31 Duke (ACCN) 4 p.m. Feb. 7 at Louisville (ESPN/2) 2 p.m. Feb. 11 Virginia (RSN) 7 p.m. Feb. 15 at NC State (ESPN2) TBA Feb. 18 Syracuse (ACCN) 8 p.m. Feb. 22 at Pittsburgh (ACCN) 8 p.m. Feb. 25 Florida State (ACCNX) 7 p.m. Feb. 28 Louisville (ESPN2/ACCN) 12 p.m. Mar. 3-7 ACC Tournament* TBA * at Greensboro, N.C.; ACCN — ACC Network; ACCNX — ACC Net Work Extra; RSN — Regional Sports Networks IDENTITY CRISIS Notre Dame drops to 3-4 after dismal 78-55 defeat at Clemson

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