Women's basketball: Everything you need to know about Notre Dame at Michigan State on Thursday

By Anthony Anderson
ND Insider

No. 24 Notre Dame (6-1) vs. Michigan State (6-2)

WHEN: Thursday, 6 p.m.

WHERE: Breslin Center (14,759), East Lansing, Mich.

WATCH: Big Ten Network.

LISTEN: WQLQ (99.9 FM).

ABOUT NOTRE DAME

The Irish, who have moved into the AP poll this week at No. 24 and the coaches’ poll at No. 25, will take the court as a ranked team for the first time in just over a year. They’re coming off a 71-67 overtime loss to now-No. 20/19 Georgia and then a 64-62 win over now-No. 23/21 Oregon State in last week’s Daytona Beach Invitational. … Thursday’s contest is part of the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Notre Dame’s 6-1 in such games, its run of perfection broken by a 2019 home loss to Minnesota. There was no Challenge during last year’s pandemic-altered season. … Irish leaders include Maddy Westbeld (15.4 points, 7.9 rebounds per game; 53% from the field), Maya Dodson (12.3 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.6 blocks), Dara Mabrey (11.9 ppg, 3.6 assists, 15-of-38 on 3s), and freshmen Olivia Miles (11.6 ppg and 6.9 assists, third in the nation) and Sonia Citron (9.1 ppg, 1.9 steals). … ND follows up Thursday’s game with a visit Sunday to No. 2 Connecticut for a noon contest.

► Women's basketball: Notre Dame holds on for win over No. 16 Oregon State

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Notre Dame's Sam Brunelle (33) during the Notre Dame vs. Fordham University NCAA women's basketball game Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021 at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend.

ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE

What the Spartans have done best is shoot. They’re fourth in the nation in total field goal accuracy (50.5%), eighth in free throw accuracy (81.3%) and 35th in 3-point accuracy (60-of-160 for 37.5%). … MSU had two November opponents in common with the Irish. The Spartans beat Bryant 100-60, but lost at Fordham 71-68. ND beat visiting Fordham 71-56 and crushed Bryant 94-35. … Michigan State leaders include returning All-Big Ten first-teamer and senior guard Nia Clouden (19.5 ppg, 5.5 apg, 54% field goals, 16-of-34 on 3-pointers and 40-of-45 at the line), junior guard Alyza Winston (13.1 ppg, 1.8 steals) and 6-foot freshman Matilda Ekh (10.4 ppg) from Sweden. The Spartans have five other players averaging 5.9 to 8.6 points, and have five players at 4.3 to 5.8 boards. … MSU ended a seven-game head-to-head skid against ND by edging the host Irish 72-69 in November 2019 to close to within 11-9 in the all-time series.

QUOTING

“I’m going to celebrate all those small victories, and that's a small victory for us to get back into the Top 25. I’m not big on rankings, but it’s a credit to this team. We came in with a chip on our shoulder. We’re trying to improve, we’re trying to grow. So that’s just one little bit of respect. I think we’re still trying to earn that and we still have to do that every day.” — Niele Ivey, Notre Dame coach, on the Irish returning to the polls.

— By Anthony Anderson