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Friday, April 12, 2024
The Observer

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Notre Dame stomps Pitt as win streak continues

Notre Dame continues its recent dominance, beating Pitt by 25 points in ACC play.

Continuing their cruise after last week’s big win at UConn, the No. 14 Notre Dame women’s basketball team returned home Sunday to take on Pitt. The Panthers played Notre Dame close, but the Irish broke away at the end of the second quarter, leading by 14 and never looking back. 

In comparison to her past two games, freshman guard Hannah Hidalgo had a quieter afternoon, but the Irish took advantage of the tempo. Hidalgo often fed a pass downcourt to junior guard Sonia Citron or junior forward Maddy Westbeld instead of waiting to set up the offense herself. Hidalgo finished with 22 points and missed four free throws.

Pitt struggled from the start, getting into foul trouble early. The Panthers had 11 team fouls in the first half, forcing head coach Tory Verdi to sit Liatu King, the team’s best player who gave the Irish trouble in their first matchup that was played exactly one month ago (a 71-66 Irish win).

With Pitt’s strength near the rim, head coach Niele Ivey called on sophomore guard KK Bransford to play 22 minutes. She finished with five points and five rebounds. Notre Dame had four players in double figures — now the 10th occurrence this season. The Irish shot well from deep, going 10 for 25 from beyond the arc. 

Notre Dame continued to experiment with a couple different defenses, including a modified 2-3 zone (with Hidalgo staying near the key and guarding a single player), a 1-1-3 zone and a loose man defense. This worked well against a Pitt team which struggled to break the zone, shooting 28.8% from the field and 13% from deep.

Junior forward Natalija Marshall fouled out of the game. She played 12 minutes. Both graduate student forward Becky Obinma and senior guard Sarah Cernugel entered the game in the fourth quarter. Ivey stated that “to have the opportunity to play the entire team is something I love to do.”

Sunday’s matchup was the annual “Think Pink” game, played to raise money in support of cancer research. Members of Notre Dame’s Harper Cancer Research Institute were present to raise awareness to the cause. The Irish wore white with pink streaks. Pitt wore pink jerseys with white embellishments. Ivey said that playing this game allows the team to honor “breast cancer survivors, those still fighting and those who we lost.”

Looking to continue their three game win streak, the Irish head down south Thursday to take on Louisville, ranked No. 16. The two squads have not met yet this season.

“February is a really tough stretch for us. [We’re] going to have to take it game by game and day by day,” Ivey said.

Notre Dame is currently in the midst of a 20-day stretch with only one home game. Thursday’s action tips off at 6 p.m. on ESPN. 

Associate Sports Editor J.J. Post contributed to this report. 

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