South Carolina women’s basketball vs Notre Dame: Paris game prediction

South Carolina women’s basketball vs Notre Dame: Paris game prediction

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PARIS — South Carolina women’s basketball opens the 2023-24 season in historic fashion against Notre Dame at Halle Georges Carpentier Arena.

The No. 4 Gamecocks and No. 10 Irish will play the first regular-season NCAA basketball game on Parisian soil Monday (1 p.m. ET, ESPN), and it also marks the first meeting between the two teams since 2017. South Carolina lost the matchup 92-85, and Notre Dame went on to win the national championship that season.

The Gamecocks trail the all-time series 2-3 and have lost the last three consecutive meetings. South Carolina’s last win came in 1982, the same year the program made its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Irish ahead of the Oui-Play game:

Who runs point without Olivia Miles?

Star point guard Olivia Miles of Notre Dame is expected to miss Monday’s game as she continues recovering from an knee injury suffered in the final regular-season game of the 2022-23 season. The junior was a second-team AP All-American averaging 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 6.8 assists and two steals per game.

Junior guard Sonia Citron took on the bulk of the point guard duties during the 2023 postseason after Miles’ injury and will likely continue to do so at the start of this season. Citron was the Irish’s leading scorer last season averaging 14.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, and though she is a less-effective passer than Miles, she averaged 3.8 assists across the NCAA and ACC tournaments.

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Sophomore guard KK Bransford also impressed in her first collegiate season. The ACC All-Freshman selection led Notre Dame in assists during the postseason with 4.2 per game, and she averaged 8.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and five assists during the NCAA Tournament.

Irish play high tempo on both ends

Speed is the centerpiece of Notre Dame’s play style, fueled by significant guard depth even without Miles. Citron and Bransford anchor the group, but the Irish also return Cassandre Prosper, who enrolled early as the No. 16 prospect in the Class of 2023, and add No. 5 prospect Hannah Hidalgo. What the Irish lack in size after graduating starting center Lauren Ebo they make up for with fast-paced offensive movement and a disruptive defensvie system.

Notre Dame was well-rounded in 2022-23 ranking in the top 50 nationally in both scoring offense and defense. However, the Irish averaged just 19.3 points per game off the bench last season, a figure coach Niele Ivey hopes to see improve in 2023-24.

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Five-star freshmen make opposing debuts

Hidalgo is one of the most anticipated freshmen from the Class of 2023 after she logged a record-breaking 26 points and record-tying eight steals to earn co-MVP honors at the McDonald’s All-American game. The 5-foot-6 point guard helped Team USA to a gold medal at the 2023 FIBA U19 World Cup alongside Gamecocks forward Chloe Kitts, averaging a team-high 5.4 assists and 3.1 steals over seven games.

On the Gamecocks’ side is another potential superstar point guard in MiLaysia Fulwiley. The 5-10 freshman was the No. 13 prospect in the Class of 2023 and averaged 25.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 5.7 steals per game in her senior season at W.J. Keenan. She began starting on Keenan’s varsity team in seventh grade and led the team to four state championships in six years. Fulwiley and Hidalgo played on the same McDonald’s All-American team, and Fulwiley had a highlight-reel stretch in the game with 11 points including a 3-pointer from the logo in less than two minutes.

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South Carolina 80, Notre Dame 71: The Gamecocks have the speed and defensive prowess to match the Irish, and Raven Johnson has a dominant outing in her first game as starting point guard. Kamilla Cardoso starts the season on a double-double as Notre Dame struggles to compete with her rebounding.

Follow South Carolina women’s basketball reporter Emily Adams on X @eaadams6 and subscribe to The Greenville News for exclusive coverage of the Gamecocks in Paris:

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