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Sunday, April 21, 2024
The Observer

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Irish offense flounders without Hidalgo’s help in loss to NC State

Notre Dame shoots 27% overall, drops third straight ranked ACC matchup

Notre Dame women’s basketball dropped its second home game of the season Thursday, falling 59-43 to North Carolina State.

The Irish offense sputtered out of the gate and struggled throughout the night. Notre Dame opened the game just 3 for 12 from the field. That slow start trailed only slightly behind the Irish’s final shooting efficiency for the game — a brutal 27%.

Woes from beyond the 3-point arc only amplified Notre Dame’s struggles to generate offense. Despite shooting four fewer 3-point attempts, the Wolfpack converted four more such shots. Star freshman guard Hannah Hidalgo couldn’t find a groove from the jump, ending the first half without a point for the first time this season. She ended with just 10 points on 4 of 19 shooting.

Hidalgo wasn’t the only Irish player who couldn’t seem to find a rhythm following the opening tip-off. Junior guard Sonia Citron and senior forward Maddy Westbeld were the only members of the home team to score over the course of the game’s first 20 minutes, with the rest of the Irish roster combining to shoot 0 for 12 from the field.

All told, Notre Dame’s 43 points were the fewest the team has scored at home in nearly 20 years. 

Though the Irish shooting woes were perhaps the most notable aspect of the defeat, the hosts were outclassed by North Carolina State in a number of other key areas as well. Notre Dame turned the ball over 15 times, including nine giveaways in the first quarter. 

The gap between the Irish and Wolfpack in terms of total turnovers wasn’t glaring — the Wolfpack had 13 themselves. However, the difference between how the two teams capitalized off of said giveaways was sizable. The Wolfpack poured in 16 points following Irish turnovers. Notre Dame, on the other hand, totaled just four.

As much as the Irish struggled to shoot the basketball, some of their troubles stemmed from an inability to move the ball before the shot. Notre Dame had just five assists on the game, three of which came from Citron.

The Irish will now head to Duke with a number of questions to answer. Notre Dame entered Thursday as one of the ACC’s most high-powered offenses. It left feeling somewhat exposed. 

Hidalgo has been a sparkplug all season for the Irish, a source of consistent offensive bursts even in the team’s worst moments. She had perhaps her first “freshman game,” as head coach Niele Ivey put it after the game, and the Irish offense looked badly out of sorts trying to work around her lack of usual production.

Notre Dame was always doomed to struggle for depth following injuries to freshman forward Cassandre Prosper and freshman guard Emma Risch, compounding junior guard Olivia Miles’ long-term absence. On Thursday, the Irish used just two players from the bench and received 1 point from outside their starting lineup.

A number of explanations were offered after the game for a loss that Notre Dame never really felt competitive in. Maddy Westbeld, whose 14 points and 9 rebounds represented likely the best Irish performance of the night, offered to bear some responsibility for the team’s sluggish play, saying leadership played a role. Ivey questioned shot selection, noting that her team’s offensive struggles might be sapping energy on the defensive end as well.

Regardless of the principal issue at Purcell Pavilion, Notre Dame will need to keep a short memory while traversing a deep ACC schedule. The Irish will get an extra day of rest over the weekend before trying to get back on track in a Monday night clash against Duke, where the ACC’s best scoring defense resides. The matchup in Durham will tip-off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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