Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2021

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 32 of 39 FEBRUARY 2021 33 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL wins versus Wake Forest (79-72) and then the rematch with Boston Col- lege (83-73). In both contests, the Irish were challenged down the stretch be- fore responding positively this time. … AND BOUNCING BACK Notre Dame held a 67-53 lead against the Demon Deacons with seven minutes remaining — but found itself clinging to a 75-72 ad- vantage with 29.3 seconds remaining before closing out with a 79-72 win. "We're still working on that," Ivey said of finishing games. "I think some- times we get tight just because of the time and score … it's just something we're going to have to grow through. You can only learn from those situa- tions by being in them." Freshman forward Maddy West- beld tallied 25 points, hauled in nine rebounds and dished out four assists to lead the Irish against Wake. Se- nior center Mikki Vaughn added 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting, and helped the Irish to a 42-28 scoring advantage in the paint. As strong as she was inside, West- beld also converted an NBA-range three at the halftime horn, buried a clutch trey to make it 72-62 to briefly stem Wake Forest's momentum and in between converted a desperation jumper as the shot clock sounded. "She's one of the most confident players I've ever been around," Ivey said. "… She's a special player. She came in with a college body, but she also came in with an upperclassman mentality. You don't see that too of- ten as far as having women coming in right away with confidence. "She's a very coachable kid, and she's very team-oriented player. She never wants the glory; she just wants the team to win. She's just a winner. I'm blessed to have her. She's go- ing to be one of the best to ever go through this program." Junior Abby Prohaska stuffed the stat sheet with team highs in assists (seven) and steals (three) to go with eight points and five rebounds. "She's our glue; she's the toughest player that I have," Ivey said of Pro- haska, who was unable to play last sea- son because of pulmonary embolism. "Everyone feeds off her energy. She brings it every day and is always in the gym, always working on her game. "She's going to do whatever it takes — take the charge, get the re- bound, make the defensive stop. Ev- erybody respects her." Three days later, four Notre Dame players tallied double-figure scoring, and six overall produced at least eight points in the 83-73 win versus Boston College. The Irish began displaying earmarks of their scoring prowess, or at least at home, that made them a su- perpower from 2011-19. Notre Dame converted a season high 61.4 percent from the field, notably 17 of 26 (65.4 percent) in the second half. Junior guard Dara Mabrey led the effort with 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor — 3 of 4 beyond the arc — and added five assists. Sixth-year senior Destinee Walker produced 20 points — 14 in the fourth quarter — and Vaughn (10 points) had her fourth straight game in double figures. Westbeld had a typically strong all- around performance with 13 points, seven rebounds and a team-high- tying six assists. Sophomore guard Anaya Peoples paced the team in re- bounds (11), assists (six) and steals (four) to go with nine points. Notre Dame scored 48 points in the paint, the second straight contest it eclipsed the 40-point mark in that category. The Eagles tied it up at 49 on back- to-back threes before two Mabrey free throws gave the Irish the lead for good, 55-53, at the end of three quar- ters. Boston College pulled within 59-58 before Mabrey drained a three to pull away. With the Jan. 7 debacle still fresh, Notre Dame closed out strong and composed. "It's a really big confidence boost for this group," Ivey said. "We're learning a lot. Just having confidence that we can finish games is going to carry us for the rest of ACC play." ✦ Three-Point Play 1. Olivia Miles Enrolling This Month Ranked as the nation's No. 2 point guard and No. 8 overall player, 5-11 New Jersey standout and 2021 recruit Olivia Miles has enrolled for the second semester at Notre Dame. After a one-week quarantine, she is expected to start practicing Jan. 25 and would be eligible to play, if needed, Jan. 31 at Syracuse. Because of COVID-19, she would not lose any eligibility if she were to see action this year. A true point guard in the lineup is one of Notre Dame's top needs. Although her job description does center quite a bit on point-guard duties, junior Dara Mabrey was used in more of an off-guard role against Boston College Jan. 17. Anaya Peoples, Destinee Walker and Maddy Westbeld all aided in bringing the ball up to help take some of the burden off Mabrey. One of the nation's best three-point shooters the past two years at Virginia Tech, Mabrey is shining again in that category, converting 24 of 51 (47.1 percent) from beyond the arc. Playing off the ball more could facilitate her shooting and all-around game without putting too much of an onus on her also running the offense. 2. Defense And Rebounds Identifying where shooters are and aiding Westbeld (7.2 rebounds per game) and the 5-10 Peoples (6.4 rebounds per game) on the boards are the next objectives moving forward. On Jan. 14, Wake Forest's Gina Conti kept the Demon Deacons in the game while converting 8 of 12 three-pointers on her way to 29 points. Three days later Boston College converted 13 of 24 beyond the arc — and hauled in 20 offensive rebounds compared to Notre Dame's nine. "We left them open a lot," head coach Niele Ivey said of Boston College's marksmanship. "Rebound- ing is just a mentality … there's really no drills you can do. You just have to want to go get the ball, and that's something we're going to have to continue working on, being competitive and being better as a defensive group and rebounding." 3. Scoring Balance During the 7-5 start, Westbeld paced the team in scoring (16.0 points per game) and rebounds (7.2 boards per contest), was tied for first in steals (20) and was second in assists (36) and blocked shots (nine). Sixth-year senior guard Destinee Walker was averaging 12.8 points per contest, while Mabrey was at 12.0 and Peoples 10.0. Both senior center Mikki Vaughn and sophomore forward Sam Brunelle are in the 8.0 range and getting more minutes after having been slowed by injuries during the beginning of the season. Junior guard Katlyn Gilbert, last year's third-leading scoring, likely will be out the remainder of Janu- ary following a foot injury. Brunelle wore a protective mask at home versus Wake Forest and Boston College after taking an inadvertent shot on the bridge of her nose in the game at Boston College Jan. 7. — Lou Somogyi

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