Women's basketball: Notre Dame vs. Ohio

Anthony Anderson
Tribune Correspondent
Despite Dara Mabrey's fantastic debut in an Irish uniform last season with 34 points, Notre Dame lost its first season opener in 25 years to Ohio. Tuesday night's matchup may be just as tough as Ohio returns its core group.
Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

WHO: Ohio (0-0; 15-10 last season) vs. Notre Dame (0-0; 10-10).

WHEN: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Purcell Pavilion (9,149), Notre Dame.

TICKETS: Available.

WATCH: ACCNX (subscription required).

LISTEN: WQLQ (99.9 FM).

► Exhibition: Notre Dame women, Dodson dominant in exhibition win over Emporia State

NOTING: The Bobcats ended visiting Notre Dame’s 25-year streak of season-opening wins and spoiled Niele Ivey’s head coaching debut last November with an 86-85 victory. They return each of their top five scorers, several others and have been chosen Mid-American Conference favorites this season in voting by the league’s 12 coaches, edging Bowling Green and Buffalo. … Ohio is led by senior guard Cece Hooks, the reigning MAC Player of the Year and the league’s three-time reigning defensive player of the year. Beginning her fifth full season (the NCAA granted all players the option of an extra year due to the pandemic), Hooks was third in the country last season in both scoring (25.1 points per game) and steals (3.8) to go with 6.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists. At 412, she’s the nation’s active leader in career steals. … Also back are junior guard Erica Johnson (she joins Hooks on the MAC preseason five-player first team), after averaging 18.7 points and 3.8 assists last winter, senior forward Gabby Burris (13.6 ppg, 5.4 rebounds), and the duo of Madi Mace and Caitlyn Kroll, who combined for 14.6 points and 10.4 boards. … Hooks scored 32 points and grabbed eight rebounds in last season’s win over the Irish, with Johnson adding 24 points. It was OU’s second game. … ND was paced by Dara Mabrey, who set a record for a player making her Irish debut with 34 points and hit 7-of-14 on 3-pointers. Anaya Peoples added 16 points and 11 rebounds. … The Irish have five of their top six scorers back from last winter in ACC Rookie of the Year Maddy Westbeld (15.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg), Mabrey (11.3 ppg, 3.2 assists), Olivia Miles (9.3 ppg, 3.5 assists), Peoples (9.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.5 steals) and Sam Brunelle (8.7 ppg), and have added grad transfer Maya Dodson from Stanford and highly rated freshman Sonia Citron. Dodson led all players with 24 points and five blocks in ND’s 104-46 exhibition win over Emporia State last week, while Citron was next for the winners at 15 points. … Brunelle was among five Irish players, and one of two regulars along with since-graduated center Mikki Vaughn, to miss last season’s game at Ohio for undisclosed reasons. … The rematch with the Bobcats will mark the first time since 2001 against Valparaiso that ND faces the same opponent in back-to-back openers. The Irish are 35-9 all-time in season debuts, with last year’s loss at Ohio being their first defeat in such games since 65-60 in overtime at Seton Hall in 1994.

QUOTING: “I feel like I have some experience under my belt last year, but it felt like a scrimmage some games, so having that under my belt is going to be very beneficial, but it feels like ... a new experience for me.” — Niele Ivey, Notre Dame head coach, as she begins her second season.

— By Anthony Anderson