Late surge not enough as Irish fall 68-62 to Virginia Tech

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The Notre Dame women’s basketball squad (10-17, 5-10) made a strong late push against Virginia Tech (20-6, 10-5) on Thursday night, outscoring the Hokies 23-9 over the final six minutes. The Irish cut what was once 20-point deficit to just five points with 11.8 seconds remaining, but it was a too little, too late scenario, falling 68-62.

Freshman forward Sam Brunelle continued to make a case for her ACC Rookie of the Year candidacy, netting 20 points behind a career high six made threes. Destinee Walker also had a huge night, supplying 19 points of her own.

“Turnovers and rebounding again. Just can’t get a rebound. We’ve been working on boxing out, but it’s just not translating for us,” Karen & Kevin Keyes Family head coach Muffet McGraw said. “Offensively, we got a lot of good looks in the first half but couldn’t make a shot. We got a lot of layups early on but just couldn’t connect. If you don’t rebound and miss one shot, that’s all the opportunities you’re going to get.”

How It Happened

Virginia Tech took advantage of Notre Dame starting 3-of-14 from the field, jumping out to a 15-7 lead. Brunelle connected on two three-pointers to give the offense some life, but the Hokies utilized a 16-6 rebounding advantage to extend their lead to 20-10.

Both sides traded basket-for-basket in the second, with Virginia Tech ultimately claiming a 36-24 halftime advantage. The Irish received scoring contributions from five different players with Walker leading the way with five points in the quarter.

Brunelle kicked off the second half with a trey and later hit her fourth at the 5:15 mark, starting the game a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. Brunelle scored eight of the team’s first 10 points, maintaining a 12-point deficit at 46-34. Unfortunately, the Irish didn’t record a basket over the final 4:24 of the quarter, as the Hokies pushed ahead to a 53-34 lead.

Down 59-39 with 6:16 remaining, Brunelle’s fifth trey of the game ignited an Irish 10-0 run in which Walker supplied the other seven points. The offense continued to churn down the stretch with Brunelle’s sixth trey, as Danielle Cosgrove got in on the three-point action with 57 seconds left, cutting it to 65-58.

Katlyn Gilbert and Marta Sniezek each converted baskets within seven seconds from each other, making it 67-62 with 13 seconds left, but that would mark the final bucket of the night for the Irish as time ran out.

Notes

Today marked the 13th meeting between Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. With the loss, the Irish drop to an 11-2 overall lead in the series and 6-1 at home.

Walker logged her sixth straight game in double figures and 22nd of the season after recording 19 points. Also reeled in 7 boards.

Brunelle recorded her 19th game in double figures and fourth 20-point performance of the year. Brunelle went 6-of-10 from deep, which marked a career high.

Brunelle’s six threes were the second most by a freshman in a single game at Notre Dame. Alicia Ratay made seven at Rutgers as a freshman on Feb. 19, 2000.

Cole reeled in a career high six rebounds.

Up Next

The Irish continue the three-game home stand with its annual Pink Zone game on Sunday, Feb. 23, vs. Syracuse. Tip is slated for Noon ET, airing live on the ACC Network. Notre Dame is once again proud to honor all cancer survivors on-court for a special halftime presentation.