Irish Falter Down Stretch, Drop 78-73 Battle to UNC
Mabrey nets 23 points and a career-high seven assists
Credit Source: University of Notre Dame Athletics
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Just when it was looking like it would be four wins in a row for the Notre Dame women’s basketball squad (8-6, 6-4), the North Carolina Tar Heels (8-5, 3-5) stormed back in the final minutes to escape with a 78-73 win. The Irish were up 70-63 with 4:36 remaining but did not record a field goal over the final 2:54 of the game.
Dara Mabrey poured in 23 points in today’s effort, including 14 in the second half. It marked her second 20+ point performance over the past three games. The junior connected on 5-of-10 from three-point range. Furthermore, Mabrey dished out a career-high seven assists.
“I’m very disappointed in the outcome of the game, but hats off to North Carolina,” Karen & Kevin Keyes Head Coach Niele Ivey stated. “We just have to get better, be smarter taking care of the basketball, and complete the game.”
For the fourth time this season, Westbeld came one rebound shy of a double-double, netting 10 points and nine rebounds today. Anaya Peoples was also one board shy with 12 points and nine rebounds. She also picked up four steals. Lastly, Sam Brunelle was the fourth and final Irish player in double figures with 10 points.
HOW IT HAPPENED
It was a back-and-forth track meet to start the game with eight lead changes, as the action didn’t stop for the first quarter media until the 2:03 mark. The stats were nearly identical down the board after one as Notre Dame trailed 17-16. Both sides shot 7-of-17, both made two treys, both had four turnovers and both had eight points in the paint.
The Tar Heels then caught fire in the second, recording a stretch in which they made 8-of-9, building its largest lead of the game up 14, 36-22, at the 3:34 mark. Yet, the Irish dug in and began to chip away. The Irish ended the half on a 13-3 scoring spree to cut the deficit to 39-35.
Mabrey tallied seven points in the second to lead the Irish at the half with nine. Westbeld and Brunelle followed with eight points each, as the latter notched all her points thus far in the first quarter.
Next, Mabrey was the spark the Irish needed in the third. Over a five-minute stretch, Notre Dame rallied to outscore North Carolina 16-5, in which Mabrey supplied eight of those points. As a result, the Irish reclaimed the lead and went up by as much as six.
Mabrey added her third three-pointer of the quarter in the final minute, giving the Irish a 58-54 advantage after three. Thus, Mabrey recorded 11 points in the quarter and was 3-of-5 from deep, to bring her game total to 20.
Several different Irish players made big shots in the fourth. Peoples had an and-one at 5:44 when it was just a one-possession game at the time. Mabrey hit her fourth three of the game at 5:09, then later dished a nice pass down low to Vaughn who finished it off for the 70-63 lead at 4:36.
Vaughn later hit another layup at 2:54, giving the Irish a 72-68 lead, but the clutch shooting stopped there. Notre Dame did not record another field goal, as North Carolina ultimately ended it on a 15-3 run for the 78-73 win.
Notre Dame still leads the overall series 9-3, with a 2-2 mark inside Carmichael Arena. The Irish have now lost twice in a row at Chapel Hill.
Today marked the seventh straight game in which the contest was decided by 10 points or less.
Mabrey dished out a career-high seven assists, while only committing one turnover. Over the last four games, Mabrey has recorded 19 assists versus five turnovers.
Mabrey earned her third game of 20+ points and second over the past three games. Mabrey poured in 23 points, including 14 in the second half. It also marked her eighth game in double figures.
Westbeld earned her 12th game in double figures with 10 points against the Tar Heels. In fact, she’s only finished in single digits twice this season.
Today marked the fourth time this season in which Maddy finished one rebound shy of a double-double, posting 10 points and nine rebounds.
Peoples recorded her eighth double-digit scoring game of the season with 12 today. She also was one rebound shy of a double-double.
Brunelle returned to double-figure scoring for the first time since Miami on Dec. 31.
In another unique twist to this year’s scheduling, the Irish competitive slate will look more like a football team’s. For the next three weeks, Notre Dame will only being playing once a week, either on a Sunday or Monday. Up first, Syracuse on Jan. 31. Tip is currently slated for 11 a.m. EST on ACC Network.