Irish tough out 75-71 road win at Wake Forest
The Notre Dame women’s basketball squad (9-14, 4-7) secured back-to-back road wins on Thursday night after leaving Wake Forest (12-11, 5-7) with a hard-fought 75-71 victory inside LJVM Coliseum. The Fighting Irish battled through 13 lead changes in the final quarter and received a huge 22-point second half from Destinee Walker.
Walker ultimately finished with a game-high 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. She now boasts a team-best six games with 20+ points on the year.
Katlyn Gilbert (12 points), Mikki Vaughn (11 points) and Sam Brunelle also finished in double figures for the Irish, while Katie Cole supplied a career best six points. Furthermore, Marta Sniezek tacked on nine points, marking her highest offensive showing since Dec. 8.
How It Happened
When Wake Forest jumped out to a quick 12-6 lead, Coach McGraw called a timeout at the 6:40 mark in the first. Over the next four minutes, the Irish defense forced six Demon Deacon turnovers, ultimately totaling eight for the quarter. As a result, the Irish battled the game back to one-possession, down 17-15, heading into the second.
The Irish claimed their first lead of the contest at 8:26 in the second, but shortly after, Wake Forest fired off a 13-2 scoring run, as the Demon Deacons secured its largest lead of the game up 33-23. Brunelle and Walker got the Irish back on the board with a three-pointer and layup, respectively, cutting the deficit to 35-28 at the half.
Wake Forest shot 45 percent (13-of-29) in the first half compared to Notre Dame’s 34 percent (12-of-35), and led the battle on the boards 24-15. Gilbert led six different Irish scorers at the midway point with seven points.
Notre Dame started the second half by converting its first six shots, which included two and-ones from Walker. In fact, the grad transfer from Orlando powered the Irish offense by scoring 12 of the team’s 23 points in the quarter. Walker’s 10th point of the period gave the Irish a brief lead at 47-46, and a Sniezek layup with eight seconds left made it a one-point game, down 52-51.
The fourth was a true back-and-forth nail-biter as the final quarter featured 13 lead changes and nine ties. Walker continued to be on fire in the fourth, tacking on 10 more points to her total. The Irish also received scoring contributions from Sniezek, Cole, Cosgrove, Gilbert and Vaughn.
Up 71-69 with 38 seconds left, the Irish recorded a big defensive stand, forcing a held ball, resulting in possession Notre Dame. Now with 18 seconds left, Walker was fouled immediately and sent to the line, where she converted two clutch free-throws to make it a two-possession game. Wake’s Christina Morra scored a layup quickly and sent Walker back to the line with 13 seconds left, where she made 1-of-2.
Now 74-71, Wake’s Ivana Raca couldn’t convert her jumper out of the timeout. Vaughn then iced the game with a free-throw, as the Irish picked up a tough 75-71 road win.
Today marked the eighth meeting between Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. The Irish remain undefeated against the Demon Deacons at 8-0.
Gilbert tallied her team best 20th double-digit scoring effort with 12 points.
Sniezek took three charges tonight and now has 29 on the year.
Walker logged her 18th game in double figures with 24 points. It also marked her team best sixth with 20+ points.
Walker recorded 12 points in the third quarter alone, then tacked on 10 more in the fourth.
Vaughn earned her sixth game in double figures with 11 points against Wake.
Brunelle logged her 17th game in double figures with 10 points behind two treys.
Brunelle converted multiple treys for the eighth time over the last nine games, knocking down 2-of-5 tonight.
The Irish garnered back-to-back wins for the first time since Nov. 20-23 when they knocked off Toledo and No. 21 Michigan.
The Irish picked up their fifth road win on the year and third in ACC play. Only six of the league's 15 teams have more than one win away from their home gym in conference play.
Cole scored a career high six points.
The Irish return home to Purcell Pavilion for one game before returning to life on the road for two more contests. Notre Dame will look to complete a season sweep of Pitt on Sunday, Feb. 9, in a 4 p.m. tipoff on ACC Network.