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Notre Dame Basketball

WBB | Notre Dame Faces Final Regular Season Road Challenge

February 25, 2019

Notre Dame travels to Syracuse to play the #18 Orange on Monday evening.  The game time has been moved up to 6pm eastern to accommodate the Monday night schedule on ESPN2.

ND’s comfortable win over Duke Thursday night combined with Virginia Tech’s upset of Miami put ND back in position to capture the top seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament.  However, the Irish must first play a challenging Syracuse team followed by a home matchup with Virginia to close regular season play the following Sunday.

Syracuse sits at #18 in both polls this week and sports an overall record of 20-6 and 9-4 in the ACC.  Three of the Orange ACC losses are to teams ranked above them in the conference — home losses to Miami by 13 and NC State by 4 and a road loss to Louisville by 25.  Their other conference set back was at Clemson by 10.  The Tigers sit one spot below Syracuse in the ACC standings at 8-5.  Syracuse suffered two non-conference losses on the road — by just 2 at Oregon early in the season and by 4 to Minnesota.  Notable non-conference wins include a 10 point victory against Texas A&M and a two-point overtime win over DePaul.

Syracuse is in the top 25 in the NCAA in scoring at 78.0 points per game. They average 75.4 points in the ACC, which is second behind ND’s 86.8 points per conference game.  Their numbers at home are even more impressive — Syracuse has averaged 81.3 points in seven conference games at home vs. 68.5 in their six road games.

The Orange have taken 390 three-point shots in ACC play, the most in the conference, and while they rank seventh in three-point percentage at 33.1%, their 129 makes — an average of 9.9 per game — are the most as well.  In contrast, Notre Dame has attempted 176 three-pointers and made 67 (38.1% and 4.8 per game) in the ACC.

Tiana Mangakahia, the 5’6” junior point guard from Australia, leads the ACC in assists at 9.2 per game and is second in A/TO ratio at 2.6.  She also leads the NCAA in assists. For the season, Mangakahia leads her team in scoring with 15.2 points per game.  She makes 44.3% of her field goals, hits 36.5% from beyond the arc, and is her team’s top free throw shooter at 86.9%. She also adds 4.9 rebounds per game, which is second-best on the team.  She is the only Orange player who averages more than 30 minutes per game.

Four other Orange players average over 20 minutes per game and another four between 10 and 20, as coach Quentin Hillsman continually rotates fresh players into the game.

Miranda Drummond, a 6’1” redshirt senior, is second on the team in scoring at 11.5 points per game.  She has taken (184) and made (71) three-pointers — the most on the team.  She is also the best distance shooter on the team at 38.6%. Over 82% of her field goal attempts are three-pointers.  She also adds 4.7 rebounds per game.

Digna Strautmane, a 6’2” sophomore from Latvia, delivers 9.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. She’s made 40 three-point baskets (33.6%). 

Amaya Finklea-Guity, a 6’4” sophomore post player, only averages 14.8 minutes per game, but she makes 52.6% of her field goal attempts, and averages 6.6 points and 3.5 rebounds.  She is one of only two players who are not likely to shot from distance.

The final starter is Gabrielle Cooper, a 5’10” junior guard, who averages 6.6 points and 5.1 rebounds.  Like Drummond, she rarely moves inside the arc to shoot — 79% of her shot attempts are from a three-point distance, and 45 of her 59 made field goals are threes. 

The Orange get additional production off the bench from four players — led by Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi.  The 6’2” redshirt freshman from France is third on the team in scoring at 9.9 points and leads the team in rebounding with an average of 5.2.  She only averages 18 minutes per game for the season and just 16.4 in ACC play.  She shoots 55.8% from the field and 66.7% from the line.  Kiera Lewis, a 5’8” redshirt sophomore, adds 8.3 points per game in just over 20 minutes of floor time.  Emily Engstler, a 6’1” freshman, leads the team in blocks with 34.  She averages 5.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in just 14.8 minutes of action per game.  The final player averaging over 10 minutes a game is Kaditou Sissoko, a 6’2” freshman from France.  Her playing time is down to 8.4 minutes in ACC games, but she’s averaged 4 points and 2.2 rebounds for the season.

Unlike the men, the Syracuse women don’t generally attract large home crowds — but they’re hoping for a big turnout for Monday evening’s game against the Irish.

Irish Notes: During the post-game press conference Thursday night, Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said she thinks ND is playing differently and better after the loss to Miami earlier this month. She based her comments on reviewing game film and said that Irish have gone back to basics and are utilizing their strengths more -- that ND is more patient in the offense and getting everyone more involved. She said that when ND plays like they did against Duke -- they're a cut above everybody else.

Muffet McGraw has often said that she wants her team to peak heading into March. Hopefully, what McCallie is seeing on film is proof that it is all coming together at the right time.

For the season, ND is averaging 87.6 points per game with an average margin of victory of 24.8. For the first ten games in the ACC (from Pitt through Miami), the Irish averaged 83.7 points with a margin of victory of 24.5. In the last four games after the upset at Miami -- which included ranked teams NC State and Florida State -- the Irish are averaging 94.5 points and a victory margin of 32.

While Mangakahia leads Syracuse, the ACC and the NCAA in assists, the Irish rely on a team effort.  Arike Ogunbowale, Marina Mabrey and Jackie Young combine for 13.5 assists per game in the ACC and all three are in the top ten in the ACC.  Ogunbowale is averaging 4.9 assists per ACC game (second behind Mangakahia), a big jump from 3.4 in the non-conference, and her assist to turnover ratio has also improved from 1.3 in the non-conference to 2.2 in ACC play, which is fourth best in the conference.

For the season, Young leads the Irish with 128 assists — an average of 4.7 per game and an A/TO of 2.4.  Her numbers are down a bit in the ACC to 4.0 per game and an A/TO of 2.0.

Mabrey’s assist average has gone up from 4.2 in the non-conference to 4.6 in the ACC.  Her A/TO ratio over the 14 conference games is 1.9.

Jess Shepard adds 3.6 assists in conference play and Brianna Turner another 1.6.  

The Irish have improved their passing throughout the season.  In the non-conference, ND averaged 19.4 assists.  They’re averaging 21.1 in the ACC, a number that’s gone up to 24 per game over the past four contests.  Notre Dame’s season assists per game —at 20.3 — leads the ACC and ranks fifth in the NCAA.  Syracuse is ninth in the NCAA.

Mabrey has registered 10 assists in two games — Binghamton and Duke.  Young has 10 vs. Tennessee, and Ogunbowale passed out 12 on the road at Georgia Tech.

For the season, Notre Dame is fourth in the ACC in steals per game at 9.3 — just behind Syracuse at 9.5.  The leader is Clemson at 11.8.  In conference play only, Clemson has dipped a bit to 11.2 steals per game, while the Irish have moved into second behind the Tigers with 10.6 per game.  Ogunbowale leads the Irish with 51 steals on the season, Young and Shepard have each added 40, Mabrey 33 and Turner 32.  Ogunbowale has increased her steals per game average from 1.6 in the non-conference to 2.0 per game in the ACC.  

Notre Dame has a heavy reliance on the five exceptional players in the starting line up.  As a unit, they have taken 82.6% of the team’s shots, passed out 83.2% of all assists and scored 85.8% of the team’s points.  Surprisingly, they have only played 70.8% of total minutes, and the Irish have just one player among the top 25 in minutes played in conference games.  Ogunbowale, who leads the conference in scoring over all games (21.2) and in the ACC (19.0), is 23rd in minutes per conference game at 31.9.

Young (30.4) and Mabrey (31.4) also top 30 minutes a game in conference.  Shepard averages 28.0 and Turner 26.5 minutes per ACC contest.

Three players, Aislinn Konig - NC State, Regan Magarity - Virginia Tech, and Haley Gorecki - Duke — each average above 37 minutes per game in conference.  UNC, with 5, has the most players in the top 25 in minutes played. NC State and Virginia have three each, while Florida State, Virginia Tech, Duke, Boston College, and Wake Forest have two each in the top 25 in minutes per game.  Notre Dame is one of four teams with just one on the list — the others are Louisville, Georgia Tech and Miami.  Three teams — Syracuse, Pitt and Clemson — have no one in the top 25 for minutes per game.

Freshman Abby Prohaska has seen her minutes per game go up over the past few games as fellow first-year guard, Jordan Nixon, has been sidelined with a hamstring injury.   For the season, she’s averaged 15.1 minutes per game across the season.  For the first ten conference games, her minutes dropped to 11.6.  She’s been on the floor for 20 minutes a game over the last four.  

The coaches’ trust in Prohaska’s ability to give the starters rest seems to be growing, and she’s responding.  When she’s in the game, it’s important that she takes a few shots to keep the defense honest.  She’s made 6 of 11 shots over the past four games (54.5%) for 3.5 points per game.  She only made 26.3% of her shots in the non-conference (5 of 19) and 1.8 points per game.  Her rebound average is up to 3.0 over the last four games vs. 1.9 for the full season.  

Perhaps her most impressive stat is steals — Prohaska has a total of 26 for the season with 17 in the 14 ACC games.  Ogunbowale leads ND with 28 steals in the ACC, Young and Shepard have 23 each, Turner has 22, and Mabrey 19.

Monday’s game at Syracuse will be televised on ESPN2 starting at 6pm eastern.  In-game updates will be posted below.

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