Women's basketball: How Notre Dame matches up against Georgia Tech
WHO: No. 19 Notre Dame (19-6, 10-4 ACC) vs. No. 16 Georgia Tech (19-6, 10-4).
WHEN: Thursday, 8 p.m.
WHERE: McCamish Pavilion (8,600), Atlanta.
WATCH: ACC Network.
LISTEN: WQLQ (99.9 FM).
About Notre Dame
While it’s a pivotal ACC matchup for the Irish and Tech alike, the Irish may possess less margin for error. At a minimum, the winner not only takes a one-game-lead in the race for fourth place in the league standings — and the last of the double byes in the ACC Tourney — but would also own a head-to-head tiebreaker. However, all of the Yellow Jackets’ three opponents after Thursday are sub-.500 teams in league play, while ND still has to face third-ranked Louisville (13-1) again, after losing 73-47 to the Cardinals on Sunday, and to go with that, there’s been no confirmation yet that Notre Dame’s twice-postponed game at last-place Virginia will be made up. Thus, Tech could lose Thursday and still own a favorable shot to beat out the Irish in the standings (13-5 to 12-5) if ND goes on to lose against Louisville or Clemson. … Meanwhile, both sides do enter the contest just one game behind third-place Virginia Tech (11-3), and the Hokies, losers to the Irish and winners over the Jackets, have their own rigorous stretch drive with matchups at Louisville and against No. 4 North Carolina State (14-1). … ND leaders are Olivia Miles (13.8 points per game, 7.0 assists to rank third in the nation, 1.8 steals), Maya Dodson (12.5 ppg, 7.8 rebounds, 2.7 blocks), Maddy Westbeld (11.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 50.8% net on field goals), sixth-time ACC Freshman of the Week Sonia Citron (11.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 85.9% at the line) and Dara Mabrey (9.7 ppg, 52-of-144 on 3s for 36.1%).
About Georgia Tech
The stingy Jackets are third in the country among 356 teams in fewest points allowed per game (50.1), fifth in net field goal percentage defense (38.6%) and sixth in fewest points allowed per possession (.764). That accompanies being 21st in rebounding rate (55.3%) and 26th in margin per possession (.184). … Lorela Cubaj, Tech’s versatile and 6-4 fifth-year forward, owns the rare distinction of pacing a team in rebounds (11.2), assists (4.4), blocks (1.5) and steals (1.4), to go with 10.9 points per game. … Other leaders for former Olympic, Purdue and Indiana Fever coach Nell Fortner include 6-5 junior center Nerea Hermosa (11.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 52.8% from the field, 82.7% at the line), 6-1 sophomore swing Eylia Love (10.9 ppg), senior point guard Lotta-Maj Lahtinen (10.6 ppg, 4.2 assists) and fifth-year forward Digna Strautmane (8.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg). … The Jackets are 12-2 at McCamish, and the only two losses came in December to then-No. 3 UConn and 50-48 last month to now-No. 3 Louisville. … Tech, previously 0-13 all-time against the Irish, picked up a split last winter — with both games happening to be at ND — winning 82-67 before barely falling 69-67 in the rematch three weeks later.
QUOTING: “Everyone has to step up, do a little bit more. I pray that Sam can play, but my (message) to the team is, whatever we have, if we have five, we gotta play, we gotta perform. … Foul trouble’s gonna be key.” — Niele Ivey, Notre Dame coach, on having no more than seven, and possibly six, scholarship players available.
— By Anthony Anderson