Looking to continue its recent dominance, Notre Dame women’s basketball now heads to Louisville to take on the Cardinals in the first of a two-game season series. Notre Dame enters the matchup having won its last three over UConn, Georgia Tech and Pitt. Louisville lost its Monday matchup at third-ranked North Carolina State. Notre Dame has had success against lower and mid-tier ACC competition so far, but after a sweep from Syracuse, Coach Ivey now looks to improve the Irish’s standings in the country’s best league.
Louisville struggled mightily on defense against the Wolfpack, especially in the second quarter. Center Olivia Cochran showed an impressive scoring drive but couldn't outmatch Aziaha James, the Wolfpack’s star guard. The Irish will look to contain Cochran; recently, the team has played more zone defense, especially trying to pair senior forwards Maddy Westbeld and Kylee Watson together to set a trap. Earlier in the season against South Carolina, the Irish had a very difficult time against the Gamecocks' post players.
Louisville, on the other hand, thrives on a robust transition game, ranking among the top teams in fast-break points. Its scoring average of 75.7 points per game is propelled by a high-octane offense, emphasizing efficient ball movement and capitalizing on turnovers. The Cardinals average a lofty 9.4 steals per game, which could be a problem for the Irish. Notre Dame has been sloppy at times, especially in the passing game when playing transition offense.
Notre Dame now averages 83.1 points per game, showcasing a balanced scoring attack. Its effective three-point shooting at 36.2% will test Louisville’s perimeter defense. At the same time, Notre Dame needs to secure defensive rebounds to limit Louisville’s transition opportunities. The Cardinals’ game plan hinges on aggressive defense to generate turnovers and fuel its fast-break offense. Their inside-out game, utilizing post players to kick out for open shots, could be a key factor against Notre Dame’s defense. Against Pitt, Notre Dame did a nice job limiting post players’ ability to kick the ball beyond the arc, but Notre Dame has repeatedly gotten beat along the baseline.
In a zone, graduate guard Anna DeWolfe and junior guard Sonia Citron will likely be running around. When the Irish do concede shots, look for opportunities to fall to Louisville’s Sydney Taylor, currently shooting under 30% from three this season on 121 attempts.
Louisville typically plays nine players per game, but that can extend up to 11. Irish fans should fully expect Niele Ivey to stay with her core eight: Hannah Hidalgo, Citron, DeWolfe, Westbeld, Watson, Natalija Marshall and KK Bransford.
Thursday’s action tips off at the KFC Yum! Center at 6 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN and carried by WVFI, Notre Dame’s campus radio station.