Yup, they did it again.
The end of the regular season is upon us, and the Number 5 Fighting Irish Women’s Basketball team find themselves once again at the top of the ACC standings. After closing out the regular season with two home wins, the Irish (27-2, 15-1) have won the ACC Regular Season Title. That’s five years in the ACC and five Regular Season Titles. Let that sink in. It’s just pure and utter domination.
Unfortunately, the Irish have to share the title this year with Louisville, who won (handily, at that) the only match up of the season between the two teams. However, they are still champions for the fifth year in a row. Let’s break down the last week of games in the regular season, shall we?
Last Week’s Games
Virginia Tech: Same story, different day. It was a close game after the first quarter, with the Irish leading 26-24. Then, the Irish went on a 12-0 run to help the lead be 45-32 at the halftime break. Another run of 15-3 just led to the Irish imposing their offensive will against the Hokies. Led by Marina Mabrey and her double-double as well as Kathryn Westbeld gaining her 1,000th career point, the Irish won the contest 89-59.
NC State: This was the regular season finale as well as Senior Day. Lili Thompson, Mychal Johnson, Kristina (Koko) Nelson, and Kathryn Westbeld were all honored before the game. They have helped contribute to a lot of the success within the last four years. We wish them well, and thank you, ladies, for your hard work and determination!
As for the game, more of the same story (we love this story). A competitive start for both teams. NC State came into the game ranked 21st in the country, so they played tough through three quarters. Even after the Irish took a 39-31 lead into halftime, the Wolfpack had a 12-6 run in the third quarter, cutting the Irish lead to two points (45-43). However, the relentless Irish came in hot with a 21-6 run to end the third quarter. Riding that momentum for the fourth quarter, the Irish never looked back. Final score: 86-67.
Points of Note:
- The Irish saw huge injuries this year, and they still managed to get yet another ACC regular season championship. Muffett McGraw was proud and relieved, saying:
“That’s the first deep breath I’ve taken since November 1. I’m just so proud of this team and what they’ve overcome. We just kept losing people throughout the year and we never put our head down and never felt sorry for ourselves. They just came back to work every single day. They stepped up individually and as a team.”
- Kathryn Westbeld became the 39th player in program history to record 1000 points. That happened in the game against Virgina Tech.
- Three members of the team received All-ACC honors. Arike Ogunbowale and Jessica Shepard were named to the First Team, while Marina Mabrey was named to the Second Team.
It’s Tourney Time!
Starting today, the ACC Tournament began in Greensboro, NC. The Irish look to defend their four straight championships this year to bring home a fifth championship in five years in the conference. Here is how the bracket looks for this year’s tournament:
The Irish are the number 2 seed in the tournament, again because they lost the head-to-head match up to co-regular season champion, Louisville. Because of being in the top four in the conference, the Irish get the double-bye in the tournament, automatically advancing to the quarterfinals.
The team will next play the winner of #7 seed Virginia and #10 seed Georgia Tech. That game for the Irish will be on Friday night (3/2) at 6 PM. You can find that game on The ACC Network. Next games could potentially be on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 PM on ESPNU and also on Sunday at 2 PM for the championship game. That will be on ESPN2.
Regardless of how the Irish do, watch as much of this tournament as you can. It’s some of the best basketball in the country.
We will follow the Irish as they hopefully play three games this weekend. Look for a recap right after the Irish complete their time in the ACC Tournament.