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No. 2 Irish Women Back In Action

After playing only one game the past 13 days, an 87-49 victory at Marquette last Sunday, head coach Muffet McGraw’s No. 2 Notre Dame team returns to the hardwood Sunday at DePaul in McGrath-Phillips Arena.

Junior guard Kayla McBride and the Irish play at DePaul on Sunday afternoon.

The game will tip off at 3:30 p.m. ET (2:30 CT) and it will be televised nationally by ESPNU. Notre Dame is 24-1 overall (12-0 in the Big East), while DePaul under 27th-year head coach Doug Bruno is 18-8 (7-5 in the Big East).

Notre Dame is on numerous winning streaks, highlighted by 19 straight victories since losing to defending national champ and current No. 1 Baylor on Dec. 5 (73-61). During this 19-game string, the Irish have won by an average of 26.6 points. They headed into this weekend ranked among the top 6 nationally in seven different categories:

• Free throw percentage (2nd — .796, 445-of-559). Last year, Notre Dame set a school record by connecting at a .763 clip from the foul line.
• Scoring offense (3rd — 80.7)
• Assists (3rd — 19.8),
• Rebounding margin (3rd — +11.8.)
• Scoring margin (4th — +24.9)
• Field goal percentage (6th — .467)
• Assist/turnover ratio (6th — 1.26)

Among other streaks, Notre Dame has won a school-record 20 straight regular-season games on the road, including all eight this season, and 14 consecutive Big East Conference regular-season road games. Ironically, the last such loss occurred Feb. 28, 2011, a 70-69 setback at No. 12 DePaul.

Senior All-America point guard Skylar Diggins leads the well-balanced attack by pacing the Irish in scoring (16.2 points per game game) and assists (144). Junior wing Kayla McBride is chipping in 14.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest, while junior center Natalie Achonwa (13.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per game) is atop the Big East in double-doubles with 14, two off the school record, and she also is second to Diggins in assists (64).

Freshman Jewell Loyd (11.8 points, 5.2 rebounds) is the fourth regular double figure scorer. Junior forward Ariel Braker (5.8 points, 4.4 rebounds per game) did not play at Marquette after getting her knee drained. Sophomore Madison Cable (5.0 points, 3.8 rebounds per game) played her role well in her place.

The young Blue Demons also have had the past week off after getting blown out 81-55 at No. 10 Louisville last Sunday (a team Notre Dame trounced 93-64 on Feb. 11). DePaul has been without leading scorer and senior guard Anna Martin (knee injury) since mid-January, so it has started two freshmen and a sophomore, current top scorer Brittany Hrynko (15.3 points per game).

The lineup is rounded out with junior Jasmine Perry (13.7 points per game) and senior Katherine Harry, the only person in the league ahead of Achonwa in rebounds per game (10.8).

Bruno is 12-12 all time against Notre Dame. The two teams last met in the Big East Championship quarterfinals March 4 last year, a 69-54 win by the No. 3 Irish over the No. 23 (coaches poll) Blue Demons.

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