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Virginia won't have Sam Brunelle for Sunday's matchup with Notre Dame

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Virginia’s Sam Brunelle celebrates during a game against North Carolina at John Paul Jones Arena on Jan. 12.

The Virginia women’s basketball team will look to get back on track Sunday when it travels to South Bend to take on No. 7 Notre Dame.

Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m on the ACC Network.

The Cavaliers (14-5, 3-5 ACC) are coming off a 77-68 loss to Florida State on Thursday. In the loss, Virginia led by 12 points in the fourth quarter before fading down the stretch.

It was the second time in three games that Virginia suffered a loss to an ACC opponent after holding a double-digit lead. The Hoos also saw a large lead evaporate in a 70-59 loss to North Carolina on Jan. 12.

“I think we have to take care of some of the self-inflicted errors,” Virginia coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton said after Thursday’s loss.

The Cavaliers will face one of their biggest tests of the season on Sunday when they take on the Fighting Irish (15-2, 6-1), who enter the matchup on a three-game winning streak.

Here are five things to know about Sunday’s matchup.

No Brunelle

Virginia forward Sam Brunelle will not get the opportunity to take on her former team on Sunday.

Brunelle is suspended for Sunday’s game because she was issued a “fighting foul” during the Cavaliers’ loss to Florida State on Thursday. On the play that led to the call, Brunelle collided with Florida State’s Sara Bejedi while setting a pick. Bejedi fell to the ground and locked legs with Brunelle.

After a video review, officials did not like how Brunnelle attempted to free herself from the entanglement and issued her a “fighting foul” and ejected her from the game. Players who are issued a “fighting foul” are automatically suspended for one game. The ruling can not be appealed.

“Thankful for the people in my corner #GoHoos,” Brunelle tweeted on Saturday.

Brunelle is averaging 11.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game for the Cavaliers this season. In her three seasons at Notre Dame, Brunelle averaged 10.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

Long time coming

Virginia and Notre Dame have not faced off on the court in nearly three years. The last time the Cavaliers and Fighting Irish played each other was January 26, 2020. Virginia forfeited last season’s scheduled matchup and the 2021 matchup was nixed after the Cavaliers cancelled their season after just five games due to COVID-19 issues.

In the last matchup, Virginia rolled to a 90-60 victory at John Paul Jones Arena during Brunelle’s freshman season at Notre Dame. Brunelle, who was greeted to loud cheers from fans welcoming her home for the first time, scored 21 points for the Fighting Irish. Carole Miller, then a freshman, scored 18 points to lead the Hoos.

Milestone watch

Virginia forward Camryn Taylor is closing in on two milestones.

The senior enters Sunday’s game with 999 career points. Taylor scored 598 of those points at Marquette before joining the Cavaliers as a transfer. If she reaches the mark on Sunday, Taylor would become the second UVa player to reach 1,000 career points this season, joining Brunelle.

Taylor also is closing in on 500 career rebounds. She enters Sunday’s game 16 rebounds shy of the mark. Taylor is in the midst of a strong stretch of basketball that has seen her score in double figures in four of Virginia’s last five games. She had 18 points and 10 rebounds in Thursday’s loss to Florida State, her second double-double of the year.

Scouting report

Sunday’s matchup continues a challenging stretch for Virginia, which will be playing its fourth game against a nationally ranked opponent in its last six contests. Sunday’s game also will be Virginia’s third straight road matchup against a top-10 team.

Notre Dame, which is coming off a 57-54 victory at Clemson on Thursday, has only lost twice this season (vs. Maryland and at North Carolina.) The Fighting Irish are led by Olivia Miles, who ranks sixth in the ACC in scoring at 15.8 points per game. She also ranks fifth in the nation in assists per game (7.2 apg) and eighth in the ACC in rebounding (7.5 rpg).

Back on the road

Virginia will be playing its first road game since Jan. 8. The Hoos wrapped up a three-game home stand Thursday against Florida State. UVa went 1-2 during its home stand, earning a win over Boston College while suffering losses to UNC and FSU.

UVa has another road game on Thursday at Syracuse before returning home next Sunday to take on rival Virginia Tech.

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