Women's basketball: How Notre Dame matches up with N.C. State
WHO: No. 7 Notre Dame (17-2, 8-1 ACC) vs. No. 20 North Carolina State (15-5, 5-4).
WHEN: Sunday, 3 p.m.
WHERE: Reynolds Coliseum (5,500), Raleigh, N.C.
LISTEN: WQLQ (99.9 FM; link at UND.com).
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ABOUT NOTRE DAME: The Irish meet the team that ended their season last year — by virtue of the Wolfpack’s 66-63 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 win in Bridgeport, Conn. — but also the team that ND secured its most signature regular-season win against, 69-66 to hand the eventual ACC regular-season and tourney champs what would be their only league blemish. The Pack went into both games ranked No. 3 in the nation; the Irish stood No. 20 for the first meeting, No. 22 for the rematch. … Olivia Miles continues to pace ND in points (15.1 per game), rebounding (7.2), assists (7.1) and steals (2.2), while fellow sophomore guard Sonia Citron (13.9 ppg, 6.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals) leads the Irish in 3-point accuracy at 26-of-54 for 48.1% and free throw accuracy at 85.7% to go with 54.8% on 2s. … Other ND rotation regulars include Maddy Westbeld (10.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.5 blocks), Lauren Ebo (9.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg), KK Bransford (8.3 ppg) and Kylee Watson (6.5 ppg). … Much of the manner the Irish use to separate themselves from opponents, especially given that takeaways and giveaways are nearly even, boils down to the difference between shooting and defending shooting. ND’s net effective field goal percentage is 51.0%, 34th of 361 teams in the country, while its defensive EFG is 38.6%, sixth-best in the country. Further, the Irish attempt nine more free throws per game than their opponents. NC State uses a similar recipe. The Pack are 50th in EFG at 50.2% while holding opponents to 41.4%, 33rd in the nation, and they add five more free throws per outing than the opposition.
ABOUT NC STATE: Four starters from last year’s powerhouse, including consensus All-American center Elissa Cunane have departed, but the Wolfpack had no trouble fanning out as they picked up transfers from South Carolina (Saniya Rivers), Maryland (Mimi Collins) and Florida State (River Baldwin), to join the two they already gained the year before from Rutgers (Diamond Johnson) and Mississippi State (Madison Hayes). … Johnson leads an exceedingly balanced club at 12.8 points and 3.7 assists to go with 36-of-88 on 3s. Jada Boyd’s at 9.8 points, fellow senior Camille Hobby 8.9 points and Rivers 8.9 points to accompany 2.1 steals. Four others average 6.1 to 8.8 points, and the rebounding splits are unusually balanced as well with eight individuals between 3.8 and 5.1. … The Pack pack size galore, with Baldwin at 6-foot-5, Collins and Hobby each 6-3 and four other rotation regulars 6-0 to 6-2. … In the last five seasons heading into this one, coach Wes Moore’s clubs have gone 136-26 with at least Sweet 16 appearances in each of the four NCAA Tourneys staged and three ACC Tournament titles. … NC State’s 9-2 at Reynolds (14-point loss to league co-leader Duke and an eight-point upset loss to Boston College) and expecting its fifth sellout in its last six home games. … The Pack, coming off a 63-51 win at Louisville, have had a week to prepare, while ND played Thursday and hit the road Saturday. … State’s 1-1 against top-10 teams, losing 91-69 at Connecticut in November, but winning 94-81 at Iowa in December.
QUOTING: “I’m excited. It’s our first time playing at NC State (since February 2019, with a 2021 trip canceled during the pandemic-shortened season). It’s gonna be an incredible matchup. From here on out, every opponent we see is going to be really tough and we have to have that road mentality, that warrior mentality. That’s my plan. Really great team. They’ve got a couple new pieces. It’s sold out. I know that they’re gonna play their best game against us.” — Niele Ivey, Notre Dame coach.
— By Anthony Anderson