Women's basketball: All you need to know about Notre Dame's visit to Boston College Thursday

By Anthony Anderson
ND Insider

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Jan 16, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Sonia Citron (11) and guard Dara Mabrey (1) signal for possession in the second half against the North Carolina Tar Heels at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: No. 19 Notre Dame (13-3, 4-1 ACC) vs. Boston College (12-5, 3-3).

WHEN: Thursday, 6 p.m.

WHERE: Conte Forum (8,606), Chestnut Hill, Mass.

WATCH: RSN (Marquee Sports Network locally).

LISTEN: WQLQ (99.9 FM).

About Notre Dame

The Irish — in the first of three straight road games over six days — return to the venue that’s morphed into a house of horrors during each of their last two visits. Last January, they led 60-48 before BC outscored them 16-1 over the final 2:35. ND committed six turnovers in the closing 2:41. In February 2020, the Irish led by 15 with less than four minutes left in the third quarter, but fell 56-55 on Emma Guy’s final-second shot. Host Notre Dame did win last season’s second meeting to break the Eagles’ three-game head-to-head winning streak overall. … ND senior Dara Mabrey is coming off her first career ACC Player of the Week nod after scoring 46 points across wins over Wake Forest and No. 20 North Carolina. The Irish are the lone team so far this season with two different players to be named, with grad student Maya Dodson tabbed three weeks earlier.

Notre Dame’s Maya Dodson with one of her five blocked shots against Purdue-Fort Wayne in the second half Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, at the Purcell Pavilion.

… Five ND players are averaging 11.0 to 13.1 points each. They are sophomore Maddy Westbeld (13.1 ppg, 6.1 rebounds, 52.4% from the field), freshman Olivia Miles (12.4 ppg, 7.8 assists, 6.6 rpg, 2.0 steals, 51.1% on 2s), Dodson (11.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.2 blocks), Mabrey (11.6 ppg, 2.9 apg, 39-of-100 on 3s) and freshman Sonia Citron (11.0 ppg, 39-of-43 at the line for 90.7%). … Miles is in a tight race with Cal Baptist’s Ane Olatea for the national lead in assists, and is up 7.81 to 7.80 at the moment. Citron’s on pace for the best season at the line in Irish history, a mark established by Destinee Walker at 90.2 just last winter. … With a win, the Irish would be tied for second in the ACC loss column alongside the loser of Thursday’s No. 3 Louisville (5-0) at No. 4 North Carolina State (7-0) showdown and potentially Virginia Tech (5-1).

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

► Women's basketball: Finding balance, Notre Dame nets biggest win of the season over Tar Heels

About Boston College

The veteran-ladened Eagles feature four of the same players in seniors Taylor Soule (15.5 ppg. 56.3% from the field), Cameron Swartz (13.5 ppg, 39-of-46 at the line for 84.8%), Makayla Dickens (9.7 ppg, 2.9 apg, 29-of-84 on 3s for 34.5%) and Marnelle Garraud (9.2 ppg, 3.9 apg, 2.2 steals, 33-of-85 on 3s for 38.8%) who keyed them to last year’s comeback win over ND.

Boston College’s Taylor Soule (13) and Notre Dame’s Mikayla Vaughn (30) get a jump ball in this Jan. 9, 2020 file photo at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend. The senior Soule has plenty of experience playing against the Irish going into Thursday's game at Chestnut Hill.

… Added to that mix is 6-3 center Maria Gakdeng, who’s taken ACC Freshman of the Week honors each of the last four weeks to match Citron’s four on the season. Gakdeng is averaging 11.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks over her last eight games to go with a silly 72.1% from the field. She’s just 13-of-31 at the line on the season, though. … As a team, BC is third in the nation in total field goal percentage (47.9) and 10th in effective FG percentage (52.8). … Boston College is coming off a 63-53 home loss to No. 3 Louisville in its second matchup of the season with the Cardinals, who also beat the visiting Eagles 79-49 in December. BC’s only other game against a ranked team is a 76-73 loss to visiting North Carolina — which also represents the only opponent the Eagles have in common with the Irish so far. ND topped the visiting Tar Heels 70-65 on Sunday. … A rematch of Thursday’s game is set to come quickly, with BC visiting the Irish on Jan. 30.

Worth quoting

“I’m very fortunate to have so many capable scorers, and players that understand how to play with each other. I try to do different lineups in practice, and we’ve gained a great chemistry this year. It’s a credit to the culture, a credit to the love they’ve built off the court.” — Niele Ivey, Notre Dame coach, on her team’s offensive versatility.

— By Anthony Anderson