Feb. 1, 2017
By Leigh Torbin
No. 7/8 Notre Dame heads back on the road but, thankfully, is playing just a single road game on this trip, at 7 p.m. on Thursday night at Virginia Tech. The Irish are in the midst of a stretch with four of five games at home (wrapped around this game) and six out of nine to close out the regular season - a welcome departure from the road-heavy seven weeks prior.
Notre Dame stands at 20-3 on the year and 8-1 in ACC play, tying Florida State for first in the stout league. The Irish, coming off of a win on Sunday afternoon over Virginia, have now collected 20 wins in a season for each of the past 11 years and 23 of the last 24 overall. This consistent success has been a hallmark of the program for over two decades now and Notre Dame hopes to see those results continue tomorrow night in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Here are a few more things to know about the game.
About the Hokies
Virginia Tech stands at 16-5 on the year and 3-5 in league play. The Hokies started the year 15-0, peaking at No. 15 in the AP poll, but are just 1-5 since. Virginia Tech has historically been tough on its home floor at Cassell Coliseum and the Hokies are, unsurprisingly 12-2 there in 2016-17 while compiling a 4-3 road record. Chanette Hicks leads Virginia Tech at 15.9 points per game while Sidney Cook is pouring in 14.0 per game for the Hokies. Regan Magarity averages a double-double at 13.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. Kenny Brooks is in his first year as the head coach in Blacksburg after a long and successful run just up I-81 at James Madison. This will be his first time facing the Irish.
· Notre Dame leads the all-time series, 8-1, including wins in each of the last four meetings. The Irish posted a 5-1 mark against the Hokies in BIG EAST play from 2001-04 including a victory during the 2001 league tournament at UConn’s Gampel Pavilion. Notre Dame has claimed wins in each of the three meetings as ACC members, including the team’s most recent visit to Cassell Coliseum in 2015.
While this will be the first time Hokies head coach Kenny Brooks has faced the Irish or Muffet McGraw, he has regularly crossed paths with one of McGraw’s top lieutenants. Brooks and associate coach Beth Cunningham matched up 22 times 2003-2012 when Brooks was head coach at James Madison and Cunningham the head coach at fellow CAA-member VCU. Brooks came out on top of the matchup, going 14-8 against Cunningham’s Rams teams. Cunningham faced the Hokies twice as a head coach, losing in 2009 in Richmond but winning at Cassell Coliseum in 2010.
Last year, the Irish held the Hokies to just 11 first half points en route to a dominating 80-41 win at Purcell Pavilion. Brianna Turner led the way with 18 points while Arike Ogunbowale chipped in 15 and Marina Mabrey 12 more. Sidney Cook (21) had more than half of the Virginia Tech points as the Hokies shot just 27.3% on the day.
Notre Dame and Virginia Tech Unite For Flint
When the Flint water crisis came to light last winter, Notre Dame women’s basketball teamed up with Virginia Tech to help the problem and the impacted residents. Uniquely, Virginia Tech returned the favor to the University in November.
In December, 2015, Virginia Tech researchers helped uncover the news which would shock the country about the high lead levels in Flint, Michigan’s water supply. Always concerned for the greater society in alignment with the University’s mission, the Irish women’s basketball team held a “Fighting For Flint” bottled water drive. Additionally, with the timing of the Flint news breaking shortly before the Hokies’ Jan. 24, 2016, game at Purcell Pavilion, the Irish team raised $2,000 which was presented to Virginia Tech’s crisis-revealing Flint Water Project.
Flint-based charities have since received over $600 million in funding to help alleviate both the root of the problem and the medical needs of residents. To the Virginia Tech researchers, the Irish women’s basketball team’s $2,000 stood out.
Touched by the assistance from their ACC peers, Virginia Tech paid the money forward this fall. On Nov. 19, the morning of the Notre Dame-Virginia Tech football game at Notre Dame Stadium, Siddhartha “Sid” Roy and Dr. Kelsey Peiper from Virginia Tech spoke about their initial research and their work since at Notre Dame’s Jordan Hall of Science. The pair presented $2,001 to the University’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB). The group will use the donation to build water wells in rural Cameroon.
The Irish team had practice during the Hokie professors’ lecture, but team administrator Jill Bodensteiner accepted the check on the team’s behalf. “Notre Dame’s membership in the ACC isn’t just about athletics,” she said. “It’s about the values of service we share and this gift is a great example of that.”
“We want Notre Dame to know that their initiative was one of the first supports from another academic institution made directly to us,” Roy said. “It was one of the most heartening things ever!”
Allen Collects Historic Double-Double
The Notre Dame career of Lindsay Allen has been unconventional in that she started the opening game of her freshman year and has yet to miss one, starting all 135 contests of her time at Notre Dane to date.
In those 135 starts, Allen had recorded a triple-double (Dec. 27 at Chattanooga) but she had yet to record a true double-double until Jan. 29 when she had a career-high-tying 11 rebounds plus 10 assists against Virginia.
Naturally, Allen’s first double-double would prove unconventional. It is believed to be the first in Notre Dame history that has not included points as one of the double digit categories.
Not Fouling Fairly Well
While playing solid defense this year, Notre Dame has done it in a smart manner. The Irish lead the ACC with just 15.8 fouls per game called against them. Virginia Tech is second at 16.0 fouls committed per game.
Only Duke (1) and Clemson (2) have fewer foul-outs in the ACC this year while the three disqualifications by the Irish tie for the 36th-fewest nationally.
Call Me Mabrey
Nine games into the ACC season, Notre Dame’s leading scorer in the elite league is Marina Mabrey. The sophomore wing is averaging at 14.9 points per game.
Mabrey’s league slate started with a 22-point showing in Notre Dame’s upset loss at NC State on Dec. 29 with 11 of those points coming in a fourth quarter when the Irish valiantly attempted to dig out of a deep deficit. The sophomore also broke the 20-point plateau in the Jan. 19 win at Boston College where she tallied 15 points in the third quarter alone en route to a 21-point night.
She led Notre Dame with 26 points in the Jan. 29 win over Virginia, one shy of her career-high of 27 on Nov. 22 against Louisiana-Lafayette. It is, however, a career high for games played in just one arena as the contest with the Ragin Cajuns was split between two different Houston venues due to a power outage.
Hitting double figures in six of the last eight games, Mabrey also played well in the non-conference matchup at Tennessee (Jan. 16) where she led the Irish with 17 points.
How to Watch/Listen
The first official steps towards the creation of an ACC Network began this summer in conjunction with ESPN. Most non-televised ACC road games will now be streamed under the banner of ACC Network Extra, similar to all of Notre Dame's non-televised home games. Games are available online at WatchESPN.com (formerly branded as ESPN3) or through the WatchESPN app. Streams are free to all ESPN subscribers.
Information on how to access WatchESPN is available here.
For those familiar with the WatchESPN, the direct link to the webcast of the Virginia Tech game is available here.
Bob Nagle is in his 12th season as the radio voice of the Irish. Notre Dame's local home on the radio is Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) while the audio is also available globally via WatchND.tv and the WatchND app. The audio link for the broadcast is here.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications associate director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for Notre Dame's women's basketball and men's golf teams. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.