Notre Dame's Peoples out for year, Walker hurting

Anthony Anderson
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND — Even with Anaya Peoples, Notre Dame’s been losing most of its women’s basketball games. Now the Irish will try to win without their high-spirited and highly productive freshman guard.

Peoples will miss the remainder of the season with a torn right shoulder labrum, coach Muffet McGraw said before practice Saturday afternoon as ND (6-12, 1-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) prepared for Sunday’s 1 p.m. visit by Miami (10-7, 2-4).

Averaging 12.6 points and a club-leading 8.1 rebounds to go alongside some of her team’s better defense, Peoples is expected to undergo surgery next week.

She’s already played too many games this season under NCAA rules to be eligible for automatic redshirt consideration.

“When Anaya’s not on the court, we lose a lot from our defense and our aggression,” junior center Mikki Vaughn said Saturday. “We lose rebounding for sure, so that’s something else we have to make up, and obviously we miss her ability to get to the rack. It’s unmatched, and we’re really going to miss it.”

Peoples’ shoulder originally “popped out and went back in,” as McGraw described it, during Notre Dame’s 73-64 overtime loss at Syracuse on Jan. 5.

She was termed “questionable” for the Boston College game four days later, but proceeded to play 31 minutes in a 75-65 loss.

Peoples hurt the shoulder again during the second quarter of last Sunday’s 90-56 loss to No. 9 North Carolina State, coming out for good at the time, then did not play in Thursday’s 50-47 loss at Duke.

“It’s one of those things where it could get worse,” McGraw said, “so it’s not worth the risk.”

The coach said initial X-rays on Peoples were negative, but an MRI this week revealed the tear.

Peoples wasn’t alone Saturday as ND’s season of injury and illness developments continued.

Destinee Walker, the team’s No. 2 scorer at 13.7 points per game, sat out practice after turning an ankle during the Duke game. McGraw called Walker “questionable” for Sunday’s contest.

On the plus side, Abby Prohaska participated in her first contact practice since being diagnosed shortly before the season with blood clots in her lungs.

However, the sophomore still will not return to game action this season, McGraw said, and remains eligible for a redshirt.

With Peoples joining Prohaska as sidelined from game action, the Irish are down to seven available scholarship players, counting Walker. Two of them are reserves Danielle Cosgrove (2.8 points in 14.1 minutes per game) and Katie Cole (0.7 in 9.3).

With that group, Notre Dame will attempt to snap a program-record five-game home losing streak Sunday, and will try to avoid a fifth straight loss overall, which would be its most ever within one season during McGraw’s 33 years in charge.

At Duke, ND led for virtually the entire game, including by as many as 13 points, and by nine with 8:48 to go before being outscored 17-5 the rest of the way.

The Irish coughed up five turnovers over the final 1:17.

The coach was nonetheless encouraged as she looked back Saturday.

“I think consistent effort is what we’ve been lacking, and I think we found that against Duke,” McGraw said. “We had that against Syracuse, too. So those games, even though we shot it so poorly (32.4% from the field against Syracuse, a season-low 28.1% against Duke), we were still in them.

“We’re in games as long as we’re competing and rebounding,” McGraw continued, “and Duke’s the first time we’ve outrebounded a team in awhile (the first time in six games), and they’re a good rebounding team, so I think those are positives.”

“Honestly, I think we weren’t prepared to win,” assessed Vaughn, who scored a career-high 18 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds against the Blue Devils. “We haven’t been up that much against an ACC team, and lately, we haven’t been close in some of our games at the end.

“It sounds kind of silly, but just factually, we haven’t had much practice at those kinds of situations.”

Mompremier missing?

The playing status of Hurricane star Beatrice Mompremier “will be a game-time decision,” a Miami athletic communications official said Friday afternoon in response to an email inquiry.

Mompremier, the ACC’s preseason player of the year, has missed the Canes’ last four games “due to an acute foot injury,” Megan Barnes said.

Without Mompremier, Miami has dropped three of those four games, although the first two were against No. 8 Florida State (73-62) and No. 7 Louisville (87-41).

The Canes bounced back to beat Syracuse 77-62, but got dusted 78-58 Thursday at North Carolina.

Mompremier decisively leads Miami in scoring (16.3) and rebounding (10.4) to go with 51.2% shooting from the field.

“Other than (North Carolina State’s Elissa) Cunane, we haven’t played that kind of player,” McGraw said of Mompremier. “She’s a tough matchup for us, and somebody who can really dominate a game inside.”

Added McGraw, “They’re a good team without her also, and not knowing (whether Mompreimer will play) means we have to prepare a lot of different ways.”

Notre Dame’s Anaya Peoples (21), grabbing a rebound against DePaul’s Deja Church (3), won’t play again this season because of a shoulder injury.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

WHO: Miami (10-7, 2-4 ACC) vs. Notre Dame (6-12, 1-5).

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

WHEN: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TICKETS: Available, $5 to $25.

TV: ACCN.

RADIO: Pulse (103.1 / 96.9 / 92.1 FM).

MIAMI VS. NOTRE DAME

NOTING: Besides star center Beatrice Mompremier (16.3 points, 10.4 rebounds), who is expected to be a game-time decision after missing Miami’s last four contests with a foot injury, Hurricane leaders are junior guards Mykea Gray (12.5 ppg, 30-of-86 on 3s for 35%), Kelsey Marshall (10.4 ppg, 34-of-107 on 3s for 32%) and Endia Banks (8.2 ppg, 3.2 assists). Miami’s top rebounder after Mompremier is sophomore forward Jamir Huston at just 4.8, although she’s done that in just 14.8 minutes per game. ... Five of the Canes’ seven losses have come against ranked teams, and the other two were ACC contests on the road against Georgia Tech (14-3, 5-1) and North Carolina (13-4, 4-2). ... Irish leaders include Katlyn Gilbert (13.8 ppg), Destinee Walker (13.7), Sam Brunelle (13.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Mikki Vaughn (11.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 58.6% field goals) and Marta Sniezek (5.9 apg). ... Host Miami upset eventual national runner-up Notre Dame 72-65 in last season’s lone meeting, while the Irish still lead the all-time series 20-5. ... Sunday’s game marks ND’s annual toiletry drive. Fans are encouraged to bring items to donate to the Northwest Indiana YWCA women’s shelter.

QUOTING: “A good game is when we win. We’ll take an ugly one of those over a pretty loss.” — Mikki Vaughn, Notre Dame center on what would constitute a strong performance Sunday.