Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2021

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

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32 FEBRUARY 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED WOMEN'S BASKETBALL BY LOU SOMOGYI O n occasion, first-year head coach Niele Ivey's 2020-21 Fighting Irish have looked like a rudderless outfit that was going to repeat last year's 13-18 rebuilding project. At other times, it has been an im- proving, encouraging nucleus that can return to the NCAA Tournament this year and in about two years vie for Final Fours and national titles the way it annually did from 2011-19. Following Notre Dame's 83-73 vic- tory at home versus Boston College Jan. 17 that improved its record to 7-5 (5-3 in the ACC), the Irish appeared to be somewhere in between — with "judgment month" coming up. That win over the Eagles was Notre Dame's fourth in its last five games, but Boston College's lone league vic- tory (1-7) also came against the Irish 10 days earlier in one of the all-time end-of-game collapses. Following the conquest of Bos- ton College, though, Notre Dame's next five games from Jan. 21 through Feb. 18 were all slated to be on the road, beginning with back-to-back contests at Virginia Tech (Jan. 21) and North Carolina (Jan. 24). Because COVID-19 resulted in post- poned or canceled home games versus Pittsburgh (Jan. 14), Duke (Jan. 31) and Virginia (Feb. 11), Ivey's crew had the unusual task of playing five consecu- tive league contests on the road. That is unless the ACC changes around the schedule or adds more in-conference contests with same previous oppo- nents to fill the gaps created by Duke and Virginia opting to cancel the re- mainder of their seasons. Either way, those road trips include No. 23 Syracuse (Jan. 31), No. 1 Louis- ville (Feb. 7) and No. 2 North Carolina State (Feb. 15). Coming out 3-2 from that quintet would be an outstand- ing feat that could propel a bid to the Big Dance, but even just getting to 2-3 might keep them in the conversa- tion. Suffice to say, this stretch will determine if the Irish are a bona fide NCAA Tournament team in 2021. "That's going to show the charac- ter of this group," Ivey summarized. Furthermore, Notre Dame also is slated to host Syracuse (Feb. 18) and Louisville (its regular-season finale Feb. 28). COLLAPSE … In the 44-year history of Notre Dame women's basketball, the 64-61 setback at Boston College on Jan. 7 might be the all-timer for a late-game collapse. The Irish held a 60-48 advantage (58-44 earlier) with 2:41 remaining when they turned the ball over the first of six times (two on shot-clock violations) in those remaining 161 seconds. In a span of merely 36 seconds, Boston College went on an 8-0 run with two threes and a layup to cut it to 60-56 with 2:05 remaining — and then made another three at the 1:47 mark. That's an 11-0 run in 54 seconds. Notre Dame was outscored 16-1 in the last 2:35 and failed to convert a field goal over the final 5:33. The Irish shot 5 of 20 (25.0 percent) from the floor in the second half after going 14 of 28 (50.0 percent) in the first, and the 23 turnovers — many occurring versus the full-court press — also con- tributed to the devastating defeat. "Super disappointed with how we ended that game," Ivey commented afterwards. "I thought we lost that game with lack of discipline and lack of leadership on the floor. Hats off to Boston College for fighting back. Just taking care of the ball is a concern for us." A soul-searing loss like that can af- fect a team over a long time, but the Irish were able to respond with home Head coach Niele Ivey said of junior guard Abby Prohaska: "She's our glue; she's the toughest player that I have." PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS Make-Or-Break Time The upcoming one-month road stretch will dictate the outcome of Notre Dame's 2020-21 season 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* W, 71-60 Jan. 3 Georgia Tech* W, 69-67 Jan. 7 at Boston College* L, 64-61 Jan. 14 Wake Forest* W, 79-72 Jan. 17 Boston College* W, 83-73 Jan. 21 at Virginia Tech* (RSN) 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at North Carolina* (ESPNU) 12 p.m. Jan. 31 at Syracuse* (ESPNU) TBA Feb. 7 at Louisville* (ESPN/2) 2 p.m. Feb. 15 at NC State* (ESPN2) 5 p.m. 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^ * ACC game; ^ at Greensboro, N.C.; ACCN — ACC Network; ACCNX — ACC Net Work Extra; RSN — Regional Sports Networks; Duke (Jan. 31) and Vir - ginia (Feb. 11) canceled their remaining games

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