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Sunday, April 21, 2024
The Observer

Hannah Hidalgo

Notre Dame women’s basketball overcomes slow start to beat Boston College

Notre Dame women's basketball adds to its win streak in its last regular season game: a 25-point win against Boston College

Notre Dame women’s basketball had a long, difficult week with games in North Carolina and Massachusetts, sandwiched by a senior day matchup at home. The Irish looked tired at times, especially given Nat Marshall’s absence.

Marshall made the trip to Chestnut Hill, but she did not play due to illness. Head coach Niele Ivey said she should be back with the team shortly.

“Nat was under the weather,” Ivey said. “Should be back with us … just didn’t feel well.”

Notre Dame has lucked out recently, and before Marshall’s “DNP,” the team went 13 straight games without an injury to its core eight. Senior forward Maddy Westbeld was injured in the team’s Jan. 7 loss to North Carolina, the last time one of the team’s core was out with an injury. The loss against the Tar Heels is the Irish’s sole loss against a non-ranked team. 

Graduate student forward Becky Obinma and senior guard Sarah Cernugel made appearances in the win, playing two and one minutes, respectively.

Notre Dame continued its recent saga of slow starts. In the first quarter, the Irish only scored 11 points, lost the rebounding battle and did not make a three until the third quarter.

However, the Irish were helped by Boston College’s long second-quarter scoring drought. The Eagles only scored four points in the second quarter on 1/13 shooting from the field and 0/4 shooting from beyond the arc. In the second quarter alone, the Eagles committed nine turnovers — many which nullified a potential basket.  

Freshman guard Hannah Hidalgo continued to impress. Hidalgo had a relatively quiet night Thursday, scoring 10 points as the Irish’s seniors got most of the limelight. Hidalgo ended with 19, as the referees called a Hidalgo-friendly game. She took a lot of contact at the rim and was rewarded favorably with six shots from the free throw line. That carried over to the defensive game as well, where the officials allowed her to poke, something that has become a hallmark part of her game. She finished with four steals (and many more pokes) against two personal fouls. 

Westbeld continued her recent success from deep, shooting 2/2 from three. Westbeld has now made a three in six of the last 10 games she’s appeared in. She finished with 18. 

While Notre Dame came out strong, the Eagles’ took the home court advantage to heart; Sunday’s matchup looked quite different from the squads’ first meeting, a 50-point Irish win. The Eagles have now lost 10 games in a row. In six seasons at BC, head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee has yet to make the NCAA tournament. The Eagles had a losing record in 2022-2023, and barring a miracle, they’ll end in the same place this year.

In her postgame press conference, Ivey was happy about the team’s performance, especially after overcoming the early slump.

“I was really pleased with [the team’s] defensive effort, especially in the second quarter and the rest of the game,” she said. “Really happy to win. Just a really tough place to play.”

Notre Dame now returns to Purcell Pavilion to wrap up the regular season. The Irish play No. 8 Virginia Tech on Thursday, and they’ll conclude the regular season in a rematch against No. 20 Louisville. Coach Ivey is optimistic about the road ahead.

“Super tough stretch, but excited to be at home,” Ivey said. “Just want to build each game. I feel like we’re getting better and [I’m] grateful that we’re healthy.”

Both games are at home. Thursday’s action tips off at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN. 

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