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Monday, May 27, 2024
The Observer

Irish women’s basketball wins fifth straight against Georgia Tech

On Thursday night, Notre Dame women’s basketball extended their winning streak to five, downing Georgia Tech 76-53. 

Coming off a 40-point triumph over Pittsburgh on Sunday, the Irish entered Purcell Pavilion looking to notch another “style points” win against a Yellow Jackets squad currently sitting 14th in the ACC. Perhaps too focused on style, Notre Dame struggled to find its rhythm early.

Georgia Tech jumped out to an 8-0 lead from the opening tip, prompting Irish head coach Niele Ivey to call an uncharacteristic early timeout.

Ivey said after the game that the timeout was mainly to get the team in a more focused mindset on both ends of the floor.

“I think it was a reset mentally,” Ivey said. “We got some good looks, my goal was to go inside early, but we got no offensive rebounds and ended up one and done. So we talked about executing and crashing the boards. Obviously our defense [struggled], giving up eight quick points, I talked to them about locking in defensively. Changed a little bit of the rotation, I think that worked. Sometimes it’s like that, given the emotion of senior night. They came out on fire, we had to adjust, so I’m just happy we adjusted early and turned the tables.”

Those small defensive tweaks turned out to be well worth it. Freshman Cassandre Prosper was brought into the game to give the Irish some more length. The rookie guard immediately rewarded Ivey with a steal, a block and an assist as the Irish tied up the game with an 8-0 run of their own.

That timeout proved to be a turning point for an Irish defense that dug its heels in for the rest of the game, alternating between different schemes depending on personnel. The constant changes proved impossible for Georgia Tech to keep up with, as Notre Dame forced 16 turnovers and several bad shots.

In her postgame comments, Ivey remarked on her willingness to cycle through personnel and defensive looks throughout a game.

“I’m a believer in adjusting your defense, trying to throw teams off with different defensive schemes,” Ivey said. “I have a three-big lineup, that helps, we extended our zone, we picked up full court with our press. I like adjusting, and throwing teams off. Not staying in one [scheme] too long, I think that makes us hard to scout.”

Points in the paint were a major emphasis for the Irish. For just the third time this year, all five members of Notre Dame’s frontcourt rotation recorded at least 10 minutes. The Irish capitalized off of a strong outing from their frontcourt corps, outscoring the Yellow Jackets 44-18 down low.

Kylee Watson in particular enjoyed a solid performance, notching her first double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The outing marked yet another strong showing from the junior forward. She has seemingly found a second gear since the return of graduate student center Lauren Ebo from injury. 

Watson was one of five Notre Dame players to reach double figures on the scoresheet, as the Irish once again handled scoring by committee. No player scored more than 13 total points, but eight recorded at least one basket.

Notre Dame will now head back on the road to end its regular season. The team will travel to Louisville for a Sunday matinee tipoff. The showdown with the Cardinals will be the second in two weeks. The Irish notched their first win over Louisville since 2019 on Thursday, Feb. 16 thanks to a buzzer-beater from sophomore guard Olivia Miles.