ND Women’s Basketball
Citron, Miles team up to push Notre Dame past BC
Tyler Reidy | Friday, February 3, 2023
Citron, Miles team up to push Notre Dame past BC
With No. 16 Duke on the horizon, the prospects of a visit to middling Boston College wouldn’t typically raise many eyebrows. However, for the ninth-ranked Notre Dame women’s basketball team, Thursday night’s matchup in Beantown was a bit close for comfort. After pummeling the Eagles 85-48 on New Year’s Day, the Irish churned out a 72-59 victory at Conte Forum to open February. With the win, Niele Ivey’s squad advanced to 18-3 overall and 9-2 in ACC play.
The game opened similarly to the January 1 contest, as Boston College struggled to find offensive consistency. The Eagles started on a 2-for-9 stretch from the floor, falling behind 11-2 in the first four minutes. A few Notre Dame turnovers shrunk the deficit to five, but the Irish took a 19-10 lead to the end of the first quarter. Even with graduate center Lauren Ebo out for a second straight game, Notre Dame’s interior play starred in the game’s first ten minutes. The Irish executed three blocks, scored 12 points in the paint, and limited the Eagles to a 4-for-17 mark from the field.
Notre Dame’s offense went scoreless through the first 4:39 of the second, pulling BC back into the game. Boston College opened the frame on an 8-0 run, cutting the Irish advantage down to one point with four minutes until halftime. The Eagles were soaring, but sophomore guard Sonia Citron grounded them quickly. She scored seven points in just over a minute, widening the Irish lead back to eight. Boston College fired right back with the help of its guards. Sophomore Andrea Daley and freshman T’yana Todd buried three-pointers, trimming Notre Dame’s halftime lead to 32-30. The game had an entirely different feel in comparison to the first meeting, when ND led BC 49-16 through 20 minutes.
Freshman guard KK Bransford’s work in the paint helped the Irish to a 38-30 lead, as the freshman guard scored the second half’s first four points. Once again, Boston College did not back away. Taina Mair hit three jumpshots midway through quarter three, and her third evened the score at 43. That was the last time the Eagles sniffed the lead. Notre Dame darted out to a 10-0 run in the ensuing three minutes, entering the final quarter ahead 53-45.
Boston College opened the fourth by cutting the deficit back down to 55-50. From there, an avalanche of Irish baskets sent the Eagles away for good. In just over three minutes, Sonia Citron and sophomore guard Olivia Miles teamed up to tally 14 unanswered points. Before they knew it, the Eagles trailed 69-50 and faced an Irish team in full control of the game. Though junior forward Maddy Westbeld fouled out after a 4-for-4 effort from the field, Notre Dame had plenty of room to work with it. Boston College went down quietly, wrapping up a 72-59 Irish road victory. With the win, Notre Dame secured its first season sweep of the Eagles since the 2018-19 campaign.
Sonia Citron and Olivia Miles, who anchored Notre Dame’s three major runs, accounted for 45 of the 72 Irish points. Citron’s 23 fell one short of a season-high, as did Miles’ 22. Beyond her scoring output, Miles played her typical brand of remarkably dynamic basketball. She grabbed 8 rebounds and issued 10 assists, earning her 7th double-double of the season and her first of 2023. In Lauren Ebo’s absence, KK Bransford delivered a strong performance on the inside, collecting 10 points and 8 rebounds. Notre Dame committed an alarming 22 turnovers but evened them out with a field goal percentage of 50.7 and a +14 rebounding margin.
The Eagles enjoyed success from the charity stripe (14-for-17), but endured a difficult night everywhere else. They shot just 35.6 percent from the floor, including a 17.6 three-point mark. Sophomore forward-center Maria Gakdeng racked up 16 points, while T’Yana Todd battled through an inefficient night to score 13. Andrea Daley also scored in double-figures with 10 and added 8 rebounds.
With the top spot in the ACC on the line, Notre Dame will play its biggest game of the season to date on Sunday. No. 16 Duke (19-3, 9-2) will visit Purcell Pavilion in the only regular season meeting between the two schools this year. The Irish and Blue Devils are currently tied atop the ACC standings with under a month remaining. Duke’s schedule has stiffened recently, yielding losses to No. 11 North Carolina and No. 23 Florida State.
Defense has carried the Blue Devils to the top of the standings this season. As of Thursday night, Duke ranked in the nation’s top 20 in blocks per game (5.0) and opponents’ field goal percentage (35.0). The Blue Devils also own one of America’s top scoring defenses, allowing just over 50 points per game. Kara Lawson’s team has surrendered more than 58 points just three times, accounting for their only three losses.
Offensively, Duke puts forth a balanced attack and wields one of the deepest benches in the ACC. Senior guard Celeste Taylor (11.9) and senior guard-forward Elizabeth Balogun (10.3) are the only scorers averaging double-figures. However, eight players behind them are healthy and have played at least 200 minutes. The Blue Devils defeated Pittsburgh 53-44 at home Thursday night, leaning on their defense again. Neither team exceeded 38 percent from the field or 58 percent from the free throw line. Taylor and sophomore guard Shayeann Day-Wilson each put forth 13 points to lead Duke to victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Sunday’s ACC showdown will tip-off at 1:00 p.m. ET and will be available on Regional Sports Networks and the Notre Dame Radio Network.