Anna DeWolfe takes a selfie as she helps cut down the net after Notre Dame defeated North Carolina State in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game on March 10 to earn an automatic berth in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. Chuck Burton/Associated Press

When Anna DeWolfe made the decision to transfer from Fordham to Notre Dame for her final season of college basketball, there were two primary factors behind it.

She wanted to play against the best competition. And she wanted an opportunity to play on the biggest stage.

“The biggest thing for me was taking my fifth year to play at a higher level and be able to make the (NCAA Tournament) and make a big run at it and win a championship,” she said. “That was the biggest thing in transferring, and probably one of the reasons why I did it.”

The women’s NCAA Tournament begins Friday, and for the first time, DeWolfe will be a part of it. The former Greely High star is a starting guard for a Fighting Irish team that won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship and is the second seed in one of the two Albany regions. Notre Dame (26-6) will host 15th-seeded Kent State (21-10) in a first-round game at 2:15 p.m. Saturday in South Bend, Indiana. It will be shown on ESPN.

“Since I was a little kid, this was one of my biggest goals, was to go to March Madness and play Division I basketball,” said DeWolfe, a Cumberland native. “To have this be a reality is really humbling.”

From the start, even before her high school career began, DeWolfe seemed destined for big things and big stages. Asked what she’s looking forward to as she steps onto the biggest stage of them all, the 5-foot-8 guard turned her thoughts to the players who will follow behind her.


“Just really putting Maine on the map and just being able to be a good role model for kids back home,” DeWolfe said, “and (helping them) understand that if you set goals and you work hard, you can achieve really anything.”

DeWolfe thrived for four years at Fordham, earning three Atlantic 10 first-team All-Conference selections and ranking third in program history with 1,883 points. Despite her play, the Rams missed the NCAA tournament all four years, falling in the conference semifinals her freshman year and the quarterfinals the next three.

As DeWolfe pondered changing programs for her final season, one coach made sure to get at the front of the line.

Anna DeWolfe has started all 32 games for the Fighting Irish, and averages 8.5 points and 2.5 assists while shooting a career-high 43.9% from the floor. AP Photo/John Amis

“She was somebody (who), my first phone call, I was like ‘We have to get her,'” Niele Ivey, Notre Dame’s fourth-year coach, said in December. “She’s a Notre Dame kid. She’s just phenomenal. … She’s very unselfish and someone that just has an incredible heart.”

Ivey sealed the deal and brought DeWolfe to South Bend by addressing the one missing line on the resume.

“That was the first conversation I ever had being recruited by Notre Dame,” DeWolfe said. “(She said) ‘If you come here, this is where we win championships. You definitely will be a part of that, and you’ll be able to feel that the second you get on campus.’ That’s exactly what happened.”


DeWolfe has started all 32 games for the Fighting Irish, and averages 8.5 points and 2.5 assists while shooting a career-high 43.9% from the floor.

“She’s come in and has done everything I thought she was going to do,” Ivey said. “Her leadership, her experience, the way that she can score. She plays with an edge, she plays with a chip on her shoulder, and she’s just getting more and more comfortable. I’m just so grateful that she chose to play here.”

She’s often had to take a back seat statistically – she’s been held under 10 points 18 times this season, compared to six the previous three years at Fordham – and she’s been fine with it.

“It wasn’t hard to get used to, because I knew that’s what was going to happen. At this level, it’s not like that, and we’re such a diverse team and such a deep team, it (can be) anyone’s given night,” she said. “And honestly, I don’t even think about that. It’s not about that for me. It was never about that for me.”

Instead, it’s been about the winning, and that highlight came on March 10 when Notre Dame beat North Carolina State, 55-51, to win the ACC title and earn DeWolfe that long-awaited trip to the dance.

“It was surreal,” said DeWolfe, who helped the Irish reach the conference final with 14 points and five assists against Virginia Tech in the semifinals. “That’s what you play for all year, is a championship. To be able to finish like that, especially as my fifth year comes to an end, I couldn’t ask for a better experience.”

Now that she’s set to make her national tournament debut, DeWolfe is ready to soak in the moment.

“There are a lot of emotions. (It’s) pure joy,” she said. “I’m just going to really be focused on enjoying every moment, and every opportunity that’s ahead of us and myself. I’m excited to take in all the emotions and all the memories that I’m about to make.”

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