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Irish women’s basketball cruises to first win over NJIT

| Monday, November 13, 2023

Mary Votava
Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Niele Ivey walks the sideline during Notre Dame’s 74-60 win over UConn on Dec. 4, 2023.

Notre Dame women’s basketball eased to their first win of the season on Sunday, dispatching NJIT 104-57.

Freshman point guard Hannah Hidalgo starred for the Irish once again, chipping in 26 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Hidalgo also added 12 steals, tying a program record. Junior guard Sonia Citron also added 26 points on a remarkably efficient 10-11 shooting performance. Every member of Notre Dame’s starting lineup reached double figures in scoring.

Despite the gaudy scoreline, Notre Dame didn’t dominate Sunday’s contest from the opening tip. The Highlanders battled early on and the Irish led by just three with a minute remaining in the first quarter.

A late steal and layup by Hidalgo ahead of the end-of-quarter buzzer gave Notre Dame the spark they needed to take control the rest of the way. After winning the first quarter by just a seven-point margin, the Irish won the second and third quarters by 16 and 15, respectively. 

After a difficult season debut against a South Carolina front court that figures to rank among the nation’s best, Notre Dame’s post play ticked up a bit against a more overmatched opponent on Sunday. The Irish soundly out-rebounded NJIT, led by senior forward Maddy Westbeld’s team-high 11 boards. Junior forward Kylee Watson added 12 points after a quiet outing against the Gamecocks. Transfer center Becky Obinma chipped in 6 points and a pair of rebounds after missing the South Carolina matchup.

There is still room for Niele Ivey’s squad to improve heading into their midweek matchup with Northwestern, though. Despite an improved frontcourt outing, Notre Dame still conceded 18 offensive rebounds to the Highlanders. Three-point shooting was another sticking point, with the Irish finishing just 3-10 from beyond the arc. Just two Notre Dame players (Hidalgo and Citron) connected with a three pointer in Newark.

The Irish will now look ahead to their home opener at Purcell Pavilion on Wednesday against Northwestern. The Wildcats will enter with an undefeated record, with wins over Omaha and UIC under their belt so far on the season. 

Leading the way for Northwestern will be junior guard Melannie Daley. Daley played almost exclusively in a rotational role in 2022-23, but has emerged as a major breakout candidate over the Wildcats’ first two games. She’s averaged 23 points per game over the last week, good for a team-high by a margin of eight. 

Down low, Notre Dame’s ever-growing front-court platoon will face their newest test in senior Paige Mott. An experienced forward with over 1500 minutes under her belt, Mott has also enjoyed a strong start to the season. She is averaging 13.5 points and 16.5 rebounds through two games for the Wildcats.

Notre Dame women’s basketball will be back in action on Wednesday night at Purcell Pavilion. First tip against the Wildcats is set for 7 p.m. and the contest will be broadcast on the ACC Network.

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About J.J. Post

J.J. Post is a senior in Fisher Hall. Hailing from Mountainside, New Jersey, he's currently working his way towards being the nation's foremost expert on college soccer. Whether via the button below or his overly active Twitter (@JayJayPost), feel free to reach out and talk about Notre Dame soccer, football, basketball, volleyball, baseball or softball. Or any other Notre Dame sport you can think of. Odds are he watches it as well.

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