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Saturday, April 20, 2024
The Observer

ND Basketball: Staying Strong

After trailing one-win Providence by as many as 11 points Wednesday night, No. 6 Notre Dame hopes it has learned something.

"I hope we've learned a lesson," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "I think the team knows how I felt about [Wednesday's] game."

The Irish take a season-high eight game win streak into Saturday's game against Georgetown. This contest will prove to be another tough Big East game for the Irish (21-3, 9-2 Big East) in their quest for the conference title.

"Saturday we'll learn what they thought about in terms of how they come out

with effort and intensity," McGraw said. "I think we learned anybody can beat you on any given night. You've got to be ready to bring your 'A' game."

The Hoyas (9-12, 4-6 Big East) aren't the strongest team in the Big East, with 30-point losses to the likes of Boston College and Rutgers, but Providence was worse, and the Irish struggled with them Wednesday night.

"You cannot look past teams just because of their record," McGraw said. "If we learned that lesson [Wednesday night] it will serve us very well for the rest of the year."

Georgetown is led by senior Varda Tamoulianis, who averages 11.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Her 6-foot-4 frame is the anchor of the Hoyas zone defense. She averages over two blocks per game.

"We need to try to contain [Tamoulianis]," McGraw said. "She's been playing well."

Joining the senior leadership have been two newcomers. Freshman Kieraah Marlow is averaging 13.2 points and a conference-leading 9 rebounds per game in her first season as a Hoya. The 5-foot-10 forward is joined by fellow rookie Kristin Heidloff, who is averaging 6.3 points per game. Heidloff attended Fenwick High School in a suburb of Chicago, the same high school as Purdue's Erin Lawless, who the Irish faced earlier this season.

The last time these two teams faced off, the Irish were victorious 66-52 at the Joyce Center, Feb. 4. This game followed the previous matchup at Georgetown, where the Hoyas knocked off the Irish for the first time in 16 years. Since then, however, the Hoyas had Rebekkah Brunson, who was selected 10th in last year's WNBA draft. The Hoyas also have a new coach, Terri Williams-Flournoy.

McGraw remembers the past games, and is concerned about the Hoyas, who have won three straight.

"They have some pretty good 3-point shooters," she said. "It's going to be hard for us to play a lot of zone. They beat us out there last year, but we tried everything-man, zone, and nothing really worked well."

Notre Dame will be led by All-American Jacquline Batteast (17.9 points, 6.5 rebounds per game) and point guard Megan Duffy (11.3 points per game, 134 assists). Courtney LaVere will see her second straight start after returning from December knee surgery.

"I thought she played really well at [Pittsburgh]," McGraw said.

And despite Georgetown's sub-.500 record, Notre Dame now knows not to take anyone lightly.

"They're on a roll," McGraw said. "They have a lot of energy right now because they've won three in a row. It's a big game for us."

Tipoff is 2 p.m. Saturday at the Joyce Center.