Irish kickoff New Year with 60-52 win at Pitt

PITTSBURGH - The Notre Dame women’s basketball squad (6-8, 1-1) kicked off the new year with a win, defeating Pittsburgh (3-10, 0-2), 60-52, inside the Petersen Events Center. The Fighting Irish’s Destinee Walker scored five crucial points down the stretch to finish with 16 for the game.

Mikki Vaughn tied her career high of 17 points and nearly earned a double-double with nine boards. Next, Anaya Peoples earned her third double-double over the last four games with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

How It Happened

It was a low scoring affair in the first as the two sides were deadlocked at eight-apiece after the opening period. Mikki Vaughn scored six of the team’s points on 3-of-4 shooting. Both Vaughn and Marta Sniezek each took a charge to force nine Pitt turnovers in the quarter.

The Irish matched their first quarter offensive output in just over three minutes into the second. In fact, midway through the period, the Notre Dame offense found a little rhythm, recording a stretch in which they made 5-of-6 from the field to take a 24-18 lead.

Peoples later drained a short-range jumper at the buzzer, handing the Irish a 30-22 halftime lead. Vaughn had produced nearly half the team’s points with 13, four shy of her career high (had six rebounds). Peoples led the rebounding department at the midway point with eight boards to go with her five points.

Furthermore, the Irish forced 17 turnovers in the first half and ultimately finished with 21 for the game.

The Irish came flying out in the opening minute of the third with a 7-0 run, with five points coming from Destinee Walker. The Irish were outscoring the Panthers 11-4 at the under-five media timeout before the Panthers responded with an 8-0 run, cutting the lead to 41-32.

Enter Peoples, who ended the run with a 5-0 scoring spree of her own. By quarter’s end, the Irish boasted a 46-36 advantage after shooting 6-of-14 for the period.

Pitt outscored Notre Dame 12-5 over the first five minutes of the fourth, in which eight of the Panthers’ points came from the free-throw line. Up just 51-48 out of the 5:21 media timeout, Brunelle answered with a timely layup.

Walker then stepped up with a reverse layup at 2:05, then notched the assist to Vaughn at the 1:33 mark, pushing the Irish lead to 57-51. Later up five with 23 seconds left, Walker came up big again with a crucial steal which translated to two Irish free-throws from none other than Walker, as the grad transfer helped seal the victory.

Notes

Tonight marked the 31st meeting between Notre Dame and Pitt. The Irish lead 27-3.
Sniezek took two charges tonight, totaling 16 on the season now. She has taken a charge in seven straight contests.
Peoples logged her 11th double-digit scoring effort on the year and fourth straight with 10 points tonight. Peoples also secured a double-double with 10 rebounds, marking her third in the last four games.
Vaughn tied her career high of 17 points, with 13 coming in the first half. She nearly earned a double-double with nine rebounds.
Walker recorded 16 points in which 10 came in the second half, including five in the final 2:05 of the game.
The Irish forced 17 Pitt turnovers in the first half and 21 for the game. It marked the seventh game this season in which Notre Dame forced 20+ turnovers.

Up Next

The Irish complete the two-game road swing at Syracuse for a Sunday showdown on the ACC Network. Tip inside the Carrier Dome is slated for 4 p.m. ET.