Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 12, 2022

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

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48 NOV. 12, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED WOMEN'S BASKETBALL BY TYLER HORKA N o. 9 Notre Dame gave a g l i m pse a t i ts 2 02 2‑2 3 product in a competitive, pub‑ lic setting for the first time Oct. 31. It was a spooky Hal‑ loween showcase at Purcell Pavilion for opponents on the upcoming schedule, including Northern Illinois — the Irish's season‑opening foe on Nov. 7. To nobody's surprise, head coach Niele Ivey's team took it to the visiting Truman State Bulldogs in a 92‑47 exhibition victory. Here are some observations on the Irish in their tune‑up triumph. CITRON SET TO SOAR Sophomore guard Sonia Cit‑ ron had the type of game where you look at the box score at the end of it all and say, 'Whoa, she led the team in points and rebounds?' Yep, she did. Citron scored 17 points and snagged 14 rebounds. She was 7 of 12 from the floor, including 2 of 5 from 3‑point range, and showed a strong rapport with sophomore point guard Olivia Miles. Ivey called Citron the team's "un‑ sung hero," and she wants her to be more assertive. "Coach Ivey has definitely been on me about getting more aggressive, so I'm working on that for this season," Citron said. MILES AS ADVERTISED The reigning first‑team All‑ACC se‑ lection and preseason All‑American went to work and made it look easy. Miles finished with 16 points on 8‑of‑ 11 shooting, 8 assists and 4 rebounds in 25 minutes. Miles was a menace in transition. Whether she was the one distributing to teammates on the run or finishing at the basket with her signature one‑ handed extension flip layups, Truman State could not guard her. Competition will obviously stiffen, but Miles showed last season she can be unstoppable at times no matter who's on the floor against her. Expect that to continue. EBO SHINES AT THE 5 Oregon transfer Kylee Watson got the start for Notre Dame at center, but Texas transfer Lauren Ebo was the bet‑ ter post player for the Irish out of the gates. She had 10 points and 3 rebounds in the first half. Watson had 2 and 4, respectively. Ebo has a bigger build than Notre Dame was used to with the ultra‑ath‑ letic Maya Dodson at center last season, and she uses it to her advantage in an efficient manner. Ebo isn't going to race down the floor with the ball in her hands in the way Dodson could, but when she gets the ball in post‑up situations she's difficult to defend. Truman State couldn't do it. And like Miles on the run, Ebo will likely still be able to punish foes in the paint even when the level of competition increases. Ebo finished with 14 points and 6 re‑ bounds. She got to the line effectively and made 4 of 5 foul shots. "Ebo is somebody I've al‑ ways known can score," Ivey said. "She has a knack and great hands. I thought her presence was felt right from the beginning. "She does so many things well for us and is such a leader with her experience." BRANSFORD STRUGGLES IN HER DEBUT Freshman KK Bransford, a McDonald's All‑American, put on a Notre Dame jersey in a game environment for the first time but it was a night to forget for the Cincinnati native — until the fourth quarter. Bransford missed her first 7 shots from the field and finished 2 of 10 for 5 points. She was in the right spot at the right time in plenty of instances, but she just couldn't get the ball to go through the hoop. Sometimes, it's like that. Better it be in a game that technically does not count than in one that does. "I think she's still trying to figure it out," Ivey said. "She's a freshman." Ivey left Bransford on the floor de‑ spite her struggles, partly out of ne‑ cessity because of Notre Dame's short bench and partly because Bransford's miscues were of no consequence in a game Notre Dame was always going to win and one that did not count in the win or loss column either way. Bransford played 22 minutes. She broke the seal on a late 3, and the crowd showed her some love for sticking it out and getting on the board. She hit a mid‑ range jumper in the final two minutes for good measure. The talent is there. The confidence at the college level just has to catch up to it. "We found her in transition, and she hit a 3," Ivey said. "I know that was like a weight off her shoulders. She started getting a little more comfortable. "Every game she's going to get more comfortable." ✦ Notre Dame Hints At 2022-23 Identity In Exhibition Victory Sophomore guard Sonia Citron led the Fighting Irish in scoring (17 points) and rebounding (14 boards) in their 92-47 exhibition victory over Truman State Oct. 31 and appears poised for a breakout season. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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