Women's basketball: Notre Dame at Duke preview

Anthony Anderson
Tribune Correspondent

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

WHO: No. 17 Notre Dame (11-2, 2-0 ACC) vs. No. 15 Duke (9-2, 0-1).

WHEN: Sunday, 2 p.m.

WHERE: Cameron Indoor Stadium (9,314), Durham, N.C.

WATCH: ACC Network

LISTEN: WQLQ (99.9 FM).

►One game at a time: A journey through Notre Dame's 2021-22 women’s basketball season

ABOUT NOTRE DAME: ND is the only team in the nation that has moved up in every AP Top 25 poll this season. The Irish checked in at No. 34 in the preseason based on voting points. Their progression since has been No. 31, 28, 24, 22, 21, 20 and 17. A one-way path has occurred in the coaches’ poll as well at 48, 29, 25, 23, 18, 17 and 15. … ND is paced by Maddy Westbeld (14.5 points per game, 6.6 rebounds), national assist leader Olivia Miles (12.6 ppg, 7.8 assists, 6.9 rebounds, 1.8 steals), Sonia Citron (11.5 ppg, 1.7 spg, 32-of-25 at the line), reigning ACC Player of the Week Maya Dodson (11.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.7 blocks) and Dara Mabrey (10.2 ppg, 3.2 apg, 29-of-78 on 3s for 37.2%). … The Irish, seeking their fifth straight win, are 1-2 vs. ranked clubs, their most recent such matchup a 73-54 loss at then-No. 2 Connecticut. … ND is facing Duke for the first time since a 50-47 road loss in January 2020 that dropped the team’s all-time advantage in the series to 17-2. The sides did not meet last winter with the Blue Devils canceling their season in December due to COVID-related concerns following a 3-1 start.

5/19/2020: Tribune File Photo
Beth Morgan-Cunningham, a Notre Dame Ring of Honor entree, will coach against her alma mater Sunday on the sidelines as a Duke assistant.
 Photo/ MIKE HARTMAN

ABOUT DUKE: Beth (Morgan) Cunningham is in her second season as a Blue Devil assistant after eight years on the ND bench. It’s believed that she’ll become the first-ever Notre Dame basketball Ring of Honor recipient, women’s or men’s program, to face the Irish (Digger Phelps coached against ND in 1971, but that was before beginning his Irish affiliation). Cunningham capped her Notre Dame playing career in 1997 as the program’s all-time leading scorer and is now No. 3. … Duke, playing for the first time without star freshman Shayeann Day-Wilson of Canada, and having two backups likewise sidelined due to health and safety protocols, fell 77-55 in its ACC opener Thursday at Virginia Tech. It was not immediately clear if the trio would be available Sunday. … Wilson leads the Devils at 12.9 points and 3.5 assists per game to go with 26-of-56 outside the arc for 46.4%. … Other Duke leaders include Celeste Taylor (12.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.4 steals), a junior transfer from Texas; senior Elizabeth Balogun (10.1 ppg), at her third ACC school following Georgia Tech and Louisville; and Lexi Gordon (9.5 ppg), a grad-student transfer from Texas Tech. Eight other players average 3.5 to 7.5 points each. … The Devils, in their second year under Kara Lawson, have made a steady rise in poll recognition similar to ND’s. They did not receive votes in either preseason major poll, but are now No. 22 in the coaches’ to go with No. 15 from AP. … Before Thursday, Duke’s lone loss was 55-46 to No. 1 South Carolina, and its wins included 79-64 decision over No. 21 Iowa.

QUOTING: “It was such a feel-good game. I feel like there were a lot of key factors (in addition to three 20-point scorers in Dodson, Westbeld and Miles). I feel like everyone contributed. Anaya (Peoples) started us off really well. Sam gave us great minutes in the first half, and Abby (Prohaksa) came in and helped us defensively, gave us a spark.”

— Niele Ivey, Notre Dame coach, on last week’s 91-86 win at DePaul.

— By Anthony Anderson