Game 1 of the ACC Tournament
Today, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish women’s basketball team began their run in the ACC Tournament. As the number 1 seed in the tournament, the Irish had a double-bye. Their first game was in the quarterfinal round against the UNC Tar Heels. This was a rematch from earlier in the season, as the then-number 1 Irish lost to the unranked Tar Heels on the road.
The Irish and the Tar Heels began the game going back and forth on possessions. It wasn’t until the Irish took a 9-0 run and led 19-12 did it start to open up a bit. Everyone was firing on all cylinders. Steals, transition buckets, and points in the paint all seeing good numbers. However, UNC was hanging in there through the whole first half. This is partly because they were executing good plays on offense that exposed some holes in the Irish defense. Mainly, Paris Kea could create open space and hit threes, and Janelle Bailey would find back door cuts to hit mid-range jumpers.
Kea ended the half with 12 points, and Bailey ended the half with 10 points. They caused the most issues for the Irish, and Muffett, et al. needed to look to hinder those cuts and open spacing. At the end of the half, though, the Irish made good use of their possessions and were able to penetrate through the lane to the bucket well. After the first half, the Irish were still in command 45-38.
More of the same story for this game. One thing that was different was the overall confidence that the Tar Heels had with shots. In the first half, they were able to toy with the Irish defense. That was not so much the case in the second half, as the Irish came up with stingier defense. It mostly kept Kea and Bailey at bay. Too much offense proved to be the big difference, as the Irish roll to the [score] victory.
Tomorrow, the Irish play Syracuse in the first semifinal game of the tournament. That game is at noon on ESPNU.