Jan 29, 2013, 9:45 AM EDT
The Notre Dame women’s basketball team is a force to be reckoned with. The team has powered its way through nearly half of BIG EAST play, and maintains a stellar ranking, second only to Baylor, which handed the Irish their lone loss of the season so far.
The individual team members have grown so much over this past half season, and it truly shows each and every night that they step out onto the court. Skylar Diggins passed 2,000 career points in the win over Providence this past weekend, and also set a career high 33 points against Tennessee on Monday night. This dominance and growth of character really showed against the Lady Vols. Even when Tennessee put a lot of pressure on the team, especially the younger players, Skylar would be there to take the ball and slow the game down. She remained calm in the middle of some very chaotic plays and led the team to a very important road victory. In fact, she has been a part of Notre Dame’s only three wins against Tennessee in their last twenty-three meetings. Monday also meant a lot for the Irish as a whole, as they beat the Lady Vols for the first time ever on their home court in Tennessee.
Not only have senior players like Diggins and Natalie Achonwa, who leads the BIG EAST in rebounds, grown and become leaders on the team, but the younger players have truly begun to find their niche on the team as well. Freshman players Jewell Loyd and Michaela Mabrey have stepped up and held their own on the court. Much like when Skylar was a freshman, Jewell sees a lot of playing time and capitalizes on all of it. She scores regularly and makes a huge contribution to both the offense and the defense every night. To highlight one game in particular, she had a fantastic showing against St. Francis and ended the night with 18 points.
Michaela has also proven herself as a freshman; she has been given more playing time recently and for good reason. She played a huge role in Notre Dame’s win over Connecticut a few weeks ago when she was lighting it up from the three-point line. She was 3-for-4 from downtown, with her only miss coming from a shot that was rushed at the buzzer to end the half. Thanks to some very important perimeter shooting by Mabrey that night, the Irish were able to take down the Huskies once again.
The Notre Dame women’s basketball team has remained a dominant force in BIG EAST Basketball. The team has grown as a whole under the amazing coaching of Muffet McGraw, and it now leads the conference, as well as the country, in free throw shooting percentage. This type of shooting can be extremely critical during close games and has helped the Irish to several major wins, the most recent being their upset over Connecticut this season. In fact, the Irish have beaten UConn, considered one of the top teams in women’s college basketball, in five of their last six meetings. Notre Dame is also considered to be one of the best women’s college basketball teams, and I believe that this has truly been exemplified by the season so far. So what’s next for the Irish?
With the addition of some very strong freshman recruits and the maintenance of skill and leadership in the seasoned players, Notre Dame can look forward to a strong finish in the BIG EAST. The women still have many great games to play, and if you have never seen a game in Purcell Pavillion, it is not one to miss! All of the women’s players agree that their fans are the best, and they make the home court advantage special for the team. Both the students and the fans love to support the Irish women’s team, and we look forward to more exciting basketball from this group. Go Irish!
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