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Friday, March 1, 2024
The Observer

Irish defeat Cal in inaugural Citi Shamrock Classic

It was a team effort once again for a potent Irish offense as Notre Dame women’s basketball defeated California 90-79 in the 2022 Citi Shamrock Classic Saturday evening, with five different players reaching double figures in scoring.

Graduate student guard Dara Mabrey led the way with a team-high 16 points. Junior forward Kylee Watson was efficient in the post, notching 15 points on 6-8 shooting. Sophomore guard Olivia Miles added 13 points of her own in the victory but was more impressive as a creator. The sophomore guard dished out 10 assists, at least doubling every other player’s finish in that category.

And while her play doesn’t explode off the stat sheet, junior forward Natalija Marshall was also notable. A former top-40 recruit, Marshall initially looked to be the first face of the Ivey era. Injuries had bogged down her college career up to this point. But Saturday was her first performance in over a year where she looked like the highly-touted recruit she was before her injury.

Playing 15 crucial minutes, Marshall saw her time on the court double from the season opener against Northern Illinois. And she came up big for Ivey, adding an additional player to the rotation. That was especially crucial, considering five different Irish players picked up four or more fouls. Marshall made a convincing case for a continued uptick in minutes, notching nine points on 4-5 of shooting and six assists in her time on the court.

In contrast to the spread-out offensive output from the Irish, the star of the show for the Golden Bears was unquestionably Jayda Curry. The guard put forth a masterful performance under the Enterprise Center lights, dropping a game-high 24 points. No other Cal player had more than 10 points, as Curry again and again willed the Golden Bears into striking distance. Cal ran its offense almost exclusively through the sophomore, who played 37 minutes. Curry was also tied for the Golden Bear team lead in assists on the day.

Notre Dame will now look ahead to a showdown against Northwestern, as the Irish will look to test their 2-0 record against another Power Five foe. The Wildcats have struggled so far in their first season in years without star guard Veronica Burton, who was taken No. 7 overall in the 2022 WNBA Draft in April.

In its season opener, Northwestern struggled in a major way defensively. No. 20 Oregon reached 100 points against the Wildcats on the back of four double-digit scorers. The Wildcats did rebound with a win against Penn on Sunday. They hope to prove their 43-point loss to Oregon was not the bar for their games against top twenty opponents.

The Irish will take on Northwestern at 9 p.m. EST in Evanston, Illinois on Wednesday. The game is available on the Big Ten Network.