Also, Notre Dame defeated Fordham in the opener 60-55.No. 16 Notre Dame will be without 6-foot-3 junior center Mikayla Vaughn for four to six weeks because of a right knee sprain.
Vaughn was injured Tuesday night during the season-opening win at Fordham.
"It's hard for all of us, especially Mikayla -- she doesn't want to let the team down," coach Muffet McGraw said. "She's a little disappointed right now. She knows how much we need her experience. She was our leader."
Abby Prohaska, a 5-foot-10 guard who provided a defensive presence off the bench, learned before the season that she would be out indefinitely after blood clots were found in her lungs. There is no timetable for her return.
The losses leave McGraw with seven scholarship players heading into Friday night's home opener against Loyola (Maryland). The Fighting Irish reached the past two national championship games, winning one, but lost their entire starting lineup in April's WNBA draft
BRONX, N.Y. — With each of its two freshmen starters making productive — albeit uneven — debuts, and with Notre Dame overcoming an injury to junior center Mikayla Vaughn, the Irish escaped against late-rallying Fordham, 60-55, in their women’s basketball season opener Tuesday night at Rose Hill Gym.
Sam Brunelle scored 12 of her 14 points in the opening half and fellow frosh Anaya Peoples netted nine of her 11 after the break as No. 16 Notre Dame won its 25th straight season opener and claimed the 1,000th victory in program history.
The Rams (0-1) charged to as close as 57-55 with 13 seconds to go after trailing 53-43 at five minutes left, before Peoples hit 2-of-4 free throws and Katlyn Gilbert 1-of-2 to seal the game.
The Irish helped themselves down the stretch by scrapping for a handful of offensive rebounds
The Irish and the Lady Vols have met every season since 2011 and 29 times since 1983.
Their last meeting was in Knoxville on Jan. 24, 2019, and the Irish left with a 77-62 victory. Arike Ogunbowale scored 28 points and grabbed six rebounds, while Jackie Young totaled a triple-double with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in the win for Notre Dame. Tennessee was led by Zaay Green’s 19 points.
Notre Dame has won eight of its last nine games against Tennessee, but the Lady Vols won the first 20 games in the rivalry from 1983 through 2008. They have met in the NCAA tournament four times. Tennessee still leads the all-time series 21-8.
Notre Dame: Katlyn Gilbert, Sophomore, Guard
Gilbert has stepped up in the first two games of the season for Notre Dame, scoring in double-digits in wins over Fordham and Loyola Maryland. In all, she’s totaled 38 points, 11 rebounds, three steals, two blocks and two assists so far in 63 minutes played.
A former McDonald’s All-American from Indianapolis, Indiana, Gilbert was playing regularly off the bench as a freshman last season for Notre Dame — and featured often in the Irish’s early season wins over Gonzaga and Drake — but she separated her shoulder against Iowa on Nov. 29, 2018, and missed the rest of the year after having surgery to repair it.
In losing all five starters from last season’s Final Four team, McGraw has relied on Gilbert early and often.