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Notre Dame women’s basketball takes down Miami 69-53

| Friday, February 11, 2022

Notre Dame women’s basketball bounced back from a weekend loss to Florida State Thursday night, taking down Miami 69-53 at Purcell Pavilion.

In a reversal of the Irish’s defeat at the hands of Florida State, it was a big third quarter that broke the game open for Niele Ivey and co., and didn’t doom them. Though the Irish led with relative comfort through the first and second frames, their pace often seemed sluggish and Miami was able to hit a number of key shots to stem momentum. But slowly, thanks to a double-double by graduate student forward Maya Dodson and a 21-point performance by sophomore forward Maddy Westbeld, Notre Dame battled their way to a 20-point lead that they wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the night.

Notre Dame’s defense was locked in all night, holding Miami to just 11 points in three of the four quarters of the contest. 

“I felt like after Sunday I really focused on talking about our energy defensively, and our intensity for all 40 minutes. As you saw vs. Florida State, we were down 18 at the eight-minute mark, and we cut it to a one-possession game. So we’re capable, and we talked about doing that for 40 minutes. We played a little bit of zone and I thought they were really focused defensively, and understood the energy needed to start from the beginning and needed to happen on the defensive end as well,” Ivey said on her squad’s defensive performance.

Notre Dame also impressed down low, as the Irish outscored the Hurricanes 34-16 in the paint. Ivey stressed it as aspect of her team’s game that she’s been attempting to cultivate and it came to fruition Thursday night.

“It’s something I stress all the time — in transition I want to run the floor, get to the post, find a mismatch. I’m always stressing that I want to score more inside. I want paint points; I want to utilize our size. I feel like we can space the floor, use our scorers on the perimeter, but I always want to establish our inside game. So that’s always part of our game, and I was happy that we did that today,” Ivey said. 

Looking forward, the Irish will now head to Kentucky to face off against a nationally ranked Louisville Cardinals side. The Irish fared well in their other contest against the only other team currently above them in the ACC standings, as just last week Notre Dame notched a statement win over North Carolina State at home. If the Irish were to follow up that landmark upset with a win over Louisville, on the road in front of a hostile environment, it would be a major statement about the team’s intentions to compete for the ACC title, in both the regular season and tournament, as well as their ability to match up with the best of the best come time for March Madness.

Ivey was quick to note the benefit the Irish’s earlier clash against North Carolina State will provide the team heading into a game with such a tough opponent.

“We’re just going to go in there with a dog mentality, a road warrior mentality,” Ivey said. “That’s the number one thing. We want to come in, regardless of what they do, with that confidence, like we came out against North Carolina State. We have to raise our game to a higher level. So we understand going into the game it’s going to be an incredible matchup and we’re ready. We’ve had an incredible schedule, the ACC is super tough, and we’re definitely ready for this challenge. We’re excited about it and I just want us to come out with that swag and [winning] mentality, that no matter where we are we’re going to be one unit and we’re going to play hard and play with confidence.”

Westbeld stressed carrying their mentality from Thursday’s victory into the weekend as much as the on-court performance:

“We just need to keep that resilience and that warrior mentality. That’s something that in road games we take for granted, and I think we have to go in and keep our heads down and go to work. Just do what we know how to do,” she said.

The game tips off on Sunday at 2 p.m., at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville against the Cardinals. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN.

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