Irish ground Rockets in final minute with 54-51 win

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The Notre Dame women’s basketball squad (3-2) gutted out a 54-51 victory over Toledo (1-2) on Wednesday night, rallying from nine in the comeback win. Freshman Sam Brunelle recorded her first career double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Brunelle also became
he first freshman to start her Irish career with five double-digit scoring games.

Destinee Walker supplied 12 points and six boards to the Irish cause, while Katlyn Gilbert flirted with a double-double with 11 points and eight rebounds. Meanwhile, the Irish defense caused four shot-clock violations in the fourth quarter alone to help spur the team to victory,
forcing 21 Toledo turnovers in-all.

“I thought Gilbert did so many great things and came up with some big steals, big rebounds and big plays. I was really pleased. And for Sam to get her first career double-double - one of many. She made some huge shots also, but it was her rebounding which was key. That’s how
we won at the end of the game,” Karen & Kevin Keyes Family Head Coach Muffet McGraw said. “Toledo’s effort was tremendous. They look like a veteran team and forced us into some bad mistakes. We got a lot of work to do, but heading in the right direction.”

How It Happened

Anaya Peoples, Walker and Brunelle all tallied early buckets to jump the Irish out to a 6-2 lead in the opening minutes, but the Rockets regrouped with a 9-0 run to take their first lead. Walker would connect on back-to-back jumpers to pull the Irish within one at 11-10,
yet Toledo converted two three-pointers in the final minute to take an 18-10 advantage into the second.

Fast forward to 1:43 remaining till half and Toledo’s Mali Morgan-Elliot hit a three to give the Rockets their largest lead of the game at 31-22. Next, Gilbert and Peoples connected on back-to-back scores, but Toledo ultimately took a 33-26 lead into the half.

The Irish started the third on a 6-0 run, but Toledo’s fifth trey of the game kept the Rockets ahead 36-32. Midway through the quarter, Brunelle became the first Irish to reach double-digits, thus setting the new program mark for a freshman.

In fact, Brunelle went on to tally eight points in the period on 4-of-5 shooting, keeping the Irish within one-possession heading into the fourth at 44-41. Brunelle had already achieved her first career double-double as well boasting 15 points and 10 boards at the time.

Trailing by four (46-42) with 6:45 left in the game, Notre Dame sent its fans to their feet, recording a 7-0 run (four points from Walker) in just over a two-minute stretch - a span which saw the Irish defense force back-to-back shot-clock violations.

With a pair of free-throws, Brunelle extended the run to 9-0 as the Toledo drought lasted four-and-a-half minutes. Later up three with two minutes remaining, Sniezek recorded a clutch steal, which Walker converted to points, extending the lead to 54-49.

Next, Toledo cut the lead to one possession at 54-51 with 38 seconds remaining, but the Irish defense held strong for the three-point victory.

Notes

With the win, Notre Dame extends its overall series lead against Toledo to 7-2, with a 4-0 mark at home.

Brunelle became the first freshman in program history to start her Irish career with five double-digit scoring games. Brunelle logged 19 points and 13 rebounds - her first career double-double.

The Irish forced 21 turnovers tonight and have now forced 69 total over the last three games, logging at least 20 in each.

Gilbert kept her career high double-digit streak rolling with 11 points against Toledo, making it five games in a row.

Walker logged her fourth double-digit scoring effort on the year with 12 points - the 44th of her career.