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Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Observer

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Irish dominate Georgia Tech, look to stay hot against Pitt

Another career night for Hidalgo helps Irish cruise to sixth win in last seven

Notre Dame women’s basketball powered past Georgia Tech on Thursday night, controlling the contest wire-to-wire in an 85-48 victory.

For a brief stretch of time in the first quarter, the teams traded baskets in a back-and-forth affair. With 6:22 remaining in the opening frame, the game was knotted at a 9-9 scoreline. But then the Irish hit the accelerator.

A Kylee Watson layup sparked a 26-0 run for Notre Dame, a dominant stretch that spanned across both the first and second quarter. The Yellow Jackets were held without a point for over ten continuous minutes of game action as the Irish asserted their will on both sides of the ball.

Watson had perhaps her best game of the season, notching 19 points to go with 9 rebounds. The senior forward was held scoreless in Notre Dame’s big win over UConn last Saturday, and the Irish seemed to make it a point to get her the ball early on in Atlanta.

Eight of her points came off assists from Hannah Hidalgo, who added another chapter to a phenomenal freshman campaign. Hidalgo poured in a in a new career-high 35 points, surpassing the mark set in her last outing against UConn. She also added 6 steals to her ACC-leading total, continuing a pace that has her on track to break the Notre Dame record for thefts in a single season.

The Irish will ride the win into a home matchup with a Pitt team that has struggled mightily this season, despite giving Notre Dame a serious scare in early January. The Panthers have just one win in ACC play this season and have lost seven of their nine conference games by double-digit margins. 

A theoretically comfortable win over Pitt at Purcell Pavillion would set the Irish up nicely for what will likely be their toughest stretch of the season. After the Panthers, Notre Dame will play three games against teams in the top half of the ACC in a seven-day stretch, two of which will be on the road. The three-game swing will start with a trip to Louisville, currently first in the ACC standings and No. 16 nationally, and end with a home contest against NC State, third in the conference but No. 5 in national polls.

Notre Dame’s weekend win on the road over UConn has instilled a renewed energy around the program, providing credibility to the idea that this Irish team can take down the country’s best squads. Entering the game, Notre Dame was 0-4 on the season against teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25.

But first, the Irish will need to dispatch a Pitt team that took them to the wire in their first meeting. The Panthers led that game heading into the fourth quarter. Notre Dame eventually pulled away late for a 5-point win. But the smaller margin of victory no doubt will instill a boost of confidence in the Panthers as they look to flip the script on their season in South Bend.

The Irish are back in action on Sunday at Purcell Pavillion against the Pittsburgh Panthers. The game is slated for a 2 p.m. tip and will be broadcast on the ACC Network.

Senior sports writer Jake Miller contributed to this article.

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