CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – It was not the homecoming Notre Dame freshman forward Sam Brunelle had in mind on Sunday as the Fighting Irish women’s basketball team (7-13, 2-6) dropped a 90-60 contest to the University of Virginia (8-12, 3-6).
The Irish shot 32.1 percent from the field compared to Virginia’s 47.2 percent, as the Cavaliers attempted 16 more shots.
“I thought Virginia played really well. They made a ton of shots and credit our defense to that. We gave them a lot of easy looks and they took advantage of it,” Karen & Kevin Keyes Family Head Coach Muffet McGraw stated. “We looked like a young team today.”
Brunelle led the way with 21 points on a career-high tying four made three-pointers. Brunelle also recorded five rebounds, two steals, two assists and three blocks. It marked the freshman’s third 20+ point performance.
How It Happened
It was a one-possession game (down 11-9) with 3:46 left in the first, when the Cavaliers fired off a 6-0 run, which was ended by a Brunelle three-pointer. As a result, the Irish trailed 19-12 after the opening period. Notre Dame turned the ball over seven times and went just 3-for-8 from the free-throw line.
Notre Dame found itself in another hole in the second quarter, as the Cavaliers got hot and outscored the Irish 34-17 in the period, shooting 13-of-18 from the field. Brunelle was the lone Irish player in double-digits at the half with 11 points behind two three’s.
The Irish could only muster one field goal in the third as they suffered from an 0-for-17 field goal drought in the quarter. Gilbert joined Brunelle in double figures, reaching 12 points by quarter’s end.
Notre Dame outscored Virginia 23-17 in the fourth, with seven points coming from Walker and eight from Brunelle. Gilbert finished with 16 points on 6-of-18 shooting, while Walker notched 11 points, with six coming from the free-throw line.
Today marked the 11th ever meeting between Notre Dame and Virginia. With the loss, the Irish move to an 8-3 series lead.
It was a homecoming for Brunelle, who grew up 15 minutes down the road in Ruckersville, Virginia.
Ironically, Notre Dame boasted more Virginia natives on its roster than the Cavaliers with both Brunelle and Sniezek.
Brunelle continued her hot trend from beyond the arc, knocking multiple three-pointers for the sixth straight game. In fact, Brunelle hit a season-high tying four three’s.
Brunelle recorded her third straight double-digit scoring effort, and 15th on the year, with 21 points today. Brunelle has totaled 62 points in said three-game span.
Gilbert tallied her team best 17th double-digit scoring effort with 16 points.
Walker notched her 16th double-digit scoring effort with 11 points.
Sniezek took her 23rd charge of the season in the fourth quarter. It marked the 13th straight game in which she’s taken a charge.
The Irish return to Purcell Pavilion on Thursday, Jan. 30, for a showdown with No. 5 Louisville. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.