Women's basketball: Previewing Western Illinois at Notre Dame
Western Illinois (0-0; 8-16 last season) vs. Notre Dame (1-0; 10-10).
WHEN: Thursday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Purcell Pavilion (9,149), Notre Dame.
WATCH: ACCNX (subscription required).
LISTEN: WQLQ (99.9 FM).
NOTING: The Leathernecks lost top scorer Grace Gilmore (13.8 points per game, 3.7 assists) by transfer to Nova Southeastern, but their next eight leading point producers are back. That includes senior guard Danni Nichols (11.4 ppg), 6-2 senior forward Evan Zars (11.3 ppg, 9.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 54% from the field), senior guard Elizabeth Lutz (9.0 ppg, 2.5 steals) and the trio of Anna Deets, Carla Flores and Samantha Pryor, who combined for a 19.1 average and 111-of-299 outside the arc for 37%. … A member of the Summit League, Western started last season 3-11, but won five of its final seven (including avenging a 105-102 double-OT loss at Omaha with a 23-point win the next night under the Summit’s two-in-two scheduling format). … The Leathernecks, who face Notre Dame for the first time ever, are coming off exhibition home wins of 90-56 over NAIA program Columbia (Mo.) and 87-60 over NCAA Division II Illinois Springfield. Zars led balanced Western attacks over those two contests with 30 points, 20 rebounds and six blocks. … Up 47-42 at the break, the Irish pulled away in the second half of their season-opening 105-69 victory Tuesday over visiting Ohio. It marked the first time in 40 games that Notre Dame cracked 100 points, dating to December 2019. … Pacing ND were Maya Dodson (25 points, four blocks), Sam Brunelle (20 points), Maddy Westbeld (13 points), Sonia Citron (13 points, six assists, no turnovers), Dara Mabrey (12 points, six assists, one turnover) and Olivia Miles (11 assists, three turnovers). … Mabrey needs two 3-pointers for 200 in her career and 25 points for 1,000, those figures including her two seasons at Virginia Tech.
QUOTING: “I’ve gone through two rebuilding years so far, so to start the season out like this, it’s very hopeful. I’m excited, because I came to Notre Dame to play for excellence and to play for a high standard. I knew and I believed, and I’ve kept my loyalty here, because I know that we’re gonna put it together and we’re gonna get back to where we were at. I truly believe in that. I’ve never doubted that.” — Sam Brunelle, Notre Dame junior, after Tuesday’s win.
— By Anthony Anderson