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Sunday, April 14, 2024
The Observer

Irish take on Yellow Jackets in final home game

Notre Dame women’s basketball will return to Purcell Pavilion Thursday night following a brief weekend stint on the road in Pittsburgh.

The return will come on the back of what was likely the Irish’s best performance of 2023 thus far. After a stretch of several games where it felt as if Notre Dame was struggling to find a second gear and put opponents away, the Irish dominated the Panthers from the opening tip and didn’t let up until the final whistle. 

Nine players scored for the Irish in the 83-43 route. It was a complete team effort — no one player scored more than 13 points, and nond scored fewer than five. Maddy Westbeld, Olivia Miles, Sonia Citron and Lauren Ebo all made it into double figures. 

Ebo in particular figures to be a name to watch for the Irish as the regular season enters its final stretch. It’s no fluke that in the five-game stretch that the graduate student was out due to injury, Notre Dame went just 3-2. On a team that already plays a smaller rotation than most, Ebo’s injury was a critical blow at a position of dire need. 

While a platoon of usual starter Kylee Watson, rotational forward Natalija Marshall and an out-of-position Maddy Westbeld performed admirably in covering up the gaping hole in the Irish frontcourt left by Ebo, none could truly replicate her tireless efforts on the glass. Ebo played 12 minutes on Sunday, up from five on her return last Thursday. No doubt coach Niele Ivey will be looking to continue to push that number up further Thursday against the Yellow Jackets. 

Another key player to watch for the Irish will be Olivia Miles. Miles was the hero for Notre Dame in their last home game against Louisville, hitting a fadeaway buzzer beater to win it for the Irish. Finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, the Cardinal game was a shining example of just how dominant Miles can be when she’s at her best.

But Miles struggled to get going offensively against the Panthers even as the team rolled. Finishing 3-13 from the field, Miles had an uncharacteristic off day against an opponent that Notre Dame had their way with offensively. She’ll be looking to get back in rhythm against a backsliding Georgia Tech team that has lost four of its last five games.

On the Yellow Jacket side, look for Cameron Swartz to be a player Georgia Tech attempts to get going early if they want to pull off a major upset. Swartz has frequently attempted upwards of 15 field goal attempts a game, but has struggled for consistency. If the Yellow Jackets can get her going early, particularly from deep, they’ll have a shot to try and keep pace with the Irish offensively. If Swartz struggles to either find her shots or convert them, it's a safe bet the Georgia Tech offense will struggle with her, as well.

Notre Dame women’s basketball will take on Georgia Tech Thursday night at Purcell Pavillion. The game will tip off at 6 p.m. and will be broadcasted regionally.