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ND Women’s Basketball

Notre Dame women’s basketball falls 57-54 to Miami in ACC semi-finals

| Saturday, March 5, 2022

Notre Dame women’s basketball fell 57-54 to Miami in the ACC semi-finals Saturday afternoon. 

The Irish struggled to find a rhythm on both offense and defense all game. On multiple occasions Notre Dame fought their way to within a score, only to surrender to another Miami run soon after. The trend persisted throughout the game, and it struck most brutally in the final minutes. 

With four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Irish trailed by four. A crafty layup by freshman guard Sonia Citron and a corner three by freshman forward Maddy Westbeld put Notre Dame ahead by one with 2:55 remaining. But instead of building on that momentum, the Irish folded. Karla Erjavec drove the lane to put Miami back in the lead with a layup, and just 15 seconds later, the Irish turned the ball over with a pass out of bounds. Miami made no mistakes capitalizing, as Kelsey Marshall drained a three to push the Hurricane lead to four.

Notre Dame had a chance to cut the lead down once again, but could only produce another turnover. This time in the form of a Mykea Gray steal, this second turnover in as many minutes would prove costly. A free throw miss by the Hurricanes on their ensuing offensive possession would keep the Irish alive, but senior guard Dara Mabrey’s three with 24 seconds remaining proved too little too late. 

Miami would split another pair of free throws to allow Notre Dame a chance to tie the game with a three on their last shot, but Mabrey’s second effort struck the rim right before the buzzer.

Maddy Westbeld led the way for the Irish, scoring a team-high 14 points along with a game-high 9 rebounds. Westbeld was also the only player to make multiple three-pointers on the day. With Notre Dame struggling from behind the arc, the team often played through the post when they needed a bucket. Between Westbeld, Citron and graduate forward Maya Dodson, the Irish outscored Miami in the paint 28-24. Citron and Dodson had 10 points each in the game. 

Ultimately, the Irish now enter the NCAA tournament in an interesting spot. The loss to the Hurricanes likely all but eliminates them from consideration for a top-four seed. As a result, Notre Dame will have to play all their tournament games away from South Bend. The Irish have been far from dominant on the road compared to their record at home (7-5 and 13-1, respectively). Still, they have the talent to be a frightening matchup for any team.

Notre Dame’s resume contains wins over four different ranked teams, with a pair of those coming on the road or at a neutral venue. There’s no doubt the Irish have an abundance of talent, but the inexperience on the roster makes their game-to-game performance a mixed bag. Notre Dame is capable of going blow for blow with a team like No. 3 North Carolina State. They’re also capable of getting stuck in a rut like today’s game against an unranked Miami.

How they come out in March Madness is anyone’s guess. Niele Ivey will now likely face her tallest order yet as head coach of the Irish. Coming off a loss, she’ll be tasked with preparing a team with three underclassmen starters for the biggest stage in the sport. 

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