Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2024

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

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82 MARCH 2024 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED WOMEN'S BASKETBALL BY TYLER HORKA H annah Hidalgo is one of one. The Notre Dame freshman point guard set a new record for ACC Rookie of the Week award wins with her 11th when it was announced on Feb. 12. There's a catch, though; what she did in the two games that were worthy of another league accolade being bestowed upon her was not enough for the Fighting Irish to have an unblemished record. They split games with then-No. 15 Louisville and Florida State in the pair of outings that were examined for the conference's weekly honors. Hidalgo av- eraged 28.5 points, 6 steals, 5 assists and 4 rebounds in the two matchups. "Hannah did a great job of scoring, kind of carrying the team on her back of- fensively," Notre Dame head coach Niele Ivey said after a 73-66 Irish loss to Lou- isville. It was nearly a winless week for Ivey's team, too, if not for more offensive car- rying for Hidalgo. Notre Dame needed double overtime to beat unranked Florida State, 98-94, in Tallahassee on Feb. 11. To nobody's surprise, Hidalgo led the way for the Irish with a team-high 27 points. Those didn't come easy, though. She took 25 shots to get there and only made seven of them. She was nearly per- fect from the free throw line, though – 13-of-14. She put the game on ice with a pair of makes from the line with 1.9 sec- onds remaining. With the regular season winding down, it's become very clear that's what Notre Dame needs from Hidalgo to compete with good to great teams. The Irish went into Storrs, Conn., and knocked off then No. 8-UConn because Hidalgo scored 34 points. That was a career-best at the time. She exceeded that total by a point in Notre Dame's very next game against Georgia Tech. But when the Irish took on Louisville on the road, none of Hidalgo's teammates got into double digits in the scoring department. Hidalgo herself had 30 points. It wasn't enough against a Cardinals team that had a career outing from sophomore forward Nyla Harris, who had 19 points, plus a pair of other starters who had 13 and 12 points. Notre Dame senior forward Maddy Westbeld had 9 as did junior guard Sonia Citron. As Hidalgo goes, so does Notre Dame. When she's even remotely off, as she was against FSU, teams can compete with and even beat Notre Dame. The Irish are at their best when she's getting steady help from some of her cohorts. Backcourt mate Anna DeWolfe had 24 points against Florida State, her highest point total in an Irish uniform. Westbeld had 19. Citron had 18. In most games, 88 points from the quartet of Hidalgo, Westbeld, Citron and DeWolfe would be more than enough to wipe everyone off the floor. However, the Irish revealed a few of their other warts in the four-point win over the Seminoles. For one, they can hardly ever get meaningful scoring con- tributions from the center spot or the bench. Senior center Kylee Watson had 2 points in 31 minutes against Florida State. That was after laying down a line of 6 points and 8 rebounds in the loss to Lou- isville. Notre Dame isn't asking Watson to be a stellar scorer. At this point in her career, it's evident she isn't one. And the Irish have Hidalgo, Westbeld and Citron for that anyway. What Notre Dame is asking of Wat- son is to make winning plays, and she did just that at FSU when she punched an inbounds pass away from the Seminoles and into the hands of Hidalgo to set up the game-sealing free throws in the final seconds. Fighting Irish Need More Than Heroics From Hannah Hidalgo To Reach Their Full Potential Hidalgo, a freshman point guard, has won 11 ACC Rookie of the Week awards, the most of any player ever. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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