Women's Hoops: Irish Finish Regular Season Undefeated

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

With the victory Sunday over N.C. State, the Notre Dame women's basketball program completed its first ever regular season in the ACC undefeated.

In what could only be described as a dominant inaugural season in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (29-0, 16-0) entered Sunday with just one more regular season accomplishment left. The Irish completed their mission, finishing their undefeated season with a no-doubter on the road at the 13th-ranked N.C. State Wolfpack (24-6, 11-5).

This is the first undefeated regular season in program history and surpasses the 2000-2001 squad's 23-0 as the best start to a season. That team went on to have some postseason success, if I remember correctly.

En route to their 29-0 record, Notre Dame won all but two games by double-digits. Their 53% field goal percentage is best in the country, and their 88 points per game is topped only by Oregon, all this despite a top ten strength of schedule.

If RPI is your thing, the Irish are first in the country over otherwise-undisputed number one UConn, thanks in large part to the differences in schedule strength (although I won't hate on the Huskies' 37 point-per-game scoring margin).

In Sunday's game against the Wolfpack, the Irish held just an eight-point lead at the half before exploding in the second half, leading by as much as 30 before settling in with the 24-point victory.

Notre Dame was led by senior Natalie Achonwa with her 19 points and 6 boards. Second in line was Jewell Loyd with 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting. Achonwa and Loyd were joined in double-figures by Ariel Braker and Kayla McBride, each of whom tallied 12. The All-American and legitimate National Player of the Year candidate McBride filled up the stat sheet in addition to her 12 points, adding 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, and a block.

The Wolfpack was led by Miah Spencer and her 18 points off the bench. She was joined in double-digits by Kody Burke (15) and Markeisha Gatling (12).

The ACC tournament starts in Greensboro on Wednesday, but Notre Dame, by virtue of being a top four seed, has a double bye and will not play until Friday. The Irish are, of course, the substantial favorite and an absolute lock for a number 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, which looks like a collision course in the Final Four with the top-ranked Connecticut Huskies.

Congrats to Muffet McGraw and the Irish for a remarkable regular season!

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