March 1, 2017
By Leigh Torbin
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Brianna Turner stopped plenty of opponents for the No. 3 Notre Dame women's basketball team this winter and the ACC's coaches couldn't be stopped from recognizing her as the league's defensive player of the year, an award announced on Wednesday morning. She also won the accolade in 2015-16 and was the ACC's rookie of the year in 2014-15.
The junior center leads the ACC, and ranks 15th nationally in blocked shots with 77 on the year. Her 254 career blocked shots already rank 11th in ACC history and second in Irish lore behind only Ruth Riley's 370. Turner is eighth among all active players in blocked shots and second among her peers in the junior class. The centerpiece in a defense which held its foes to 60.9 points per game and a .389 shooting percentage while facing the nation's second-toughest schedule, Turner also has 25 steals and 7.3 rebounds per game. No slouch on the offensive end of the court either, Turner leads Notre Dame at 15.5 points per game with a .617 field goal percentage that leads the conference and ranks 10th nationally.
"Bri is such an amazing presence defensively," Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Women's Basketball Coach Muffet McGraw said. "Teams completely change things when she's in the game. She's had five, six, seven blocked shots in games. She's lately been on a tear inside, rebounding well and blocking shots. She changes the game."
"It's exciting, but we're just looking forward to the ACC Tournament," Turner said. "We want to win it again and get first place to be in a good spot heading into the NCAA tournament."
The Irish begin their quest for a fourth consecutive ACC Tournament championship at 2 p.m. on Friday when they face the winner of Thursday's second round game between Virginia and Wake Forest. The game will be broadcast regionally by the ACC Network. For those outside of the ACC Network's footprint (including the South Bend area), the game can be streamed live online at WatchESPN.
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.