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Sunday, April 21, 2024
The Observer

Hannah Hidalgo

Notre Dame women's basketball bounces back to beat Duke

A game after the program's worst home regular season scoring outing in 20 years, Notre Dame women's basketball bounced back to beat Duke on the road.

No matter the setback Notre Dame women’s basketball has faced this year, they keep fighting back. Fresh off the program’s worst regular-season scoring effort at Purcell Pavilion in 20 years, the Irish used the entirety of their roster to beat Duke 70-62 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. 

The first half was a struggle for Notre Dame, though. Mental lapses and turnovers kept the action close, although Notre Dame was avoiding the shooting woes which plagued the team in recent beatdowns. The Irish committed nine first half turnovers, including three from both Maddy Westbeld and Hannah Hidalgo. Duke led by three entering halftime.

Niele Ivey used halftime to her benefit, though, using the break to look at film of plays that went wrong.

“We had the beauty of having film,” she said, “So we focused on some things defensively. Working on our spacing. Some things that were open. We talked about it, and they adjusted.”

The adjustments worked, as Duke had its worst quarter of the entire season — they were held to nine points, and committed eight turnovers against the Irish zone. While Notre Dame’s defense came out of the break ready to play, the third quarter offense really stole the show. Notre Dame went on a 14 point run to close the quarter, including a stretch where the team shot 6-6 from the field. The Irish found top gear in transition, scoring 10 points in the third quarter alone. 

Duke picked up the pace in the fourth quarter, but the Irish never lost command of the lead. Notre Dame was always up by at least seven points in the final frame.

To no one’s surprise, Hannah Hidalgo earned the spotlight, ending with 23 points on 43.8% shooting from the field. She added nine points from behind the arc — her first three point makes since the team’s win against Pitt on Feb. 4. Hidalgo continued her climb up the steal record boards, also adding four steals to her statline on the day. Ivey was highly complimentary of her play.

“I thought Hannah did an excellent job of running the team. Came up with some incredible steals. Her energy defensively really ignited us. Took great shots. Shot with confidence,” Ivey said.

In postgame comments to ESPN, Hidalgo explained her offensive mindset.

“We tried to keep space, look up for the extra pass,” she said.

The strategy clearly worked, especially with the performance of KK Bransford, who had several nice looks as a third or fourth option. She contributed 8 points off of 3-4 shooting from the field. Ivey expressed her confidence in Bransford after the game.

“KK’s a worker. She does whatever we need. I try to find opportunities to post her up and I thought she did a great job on defense and making plays in transition …. One of her best games. I thought she played with a sense of urgency and (was) extremely determined tonight,” Ivey said.

Along with Kylee Watson and Maddy Westbeld, Bransford’s performance helped the Irish dominate the paint in the second half, where the team scored 18 points. Conversely, in the first half, the team was forced to settle for worse shots: only six first-half points came from the paint.

Notre Dame has a very tough week upcoming, with three games in a span of seven days. The 19th-ranked Irish head back to South Bend to take on Clemson on Thursday. The squads have not yet met this season. The Irish then go back on the road to take on Boston College in Chestnut Hill on Sunday. Notre Dame has four regular season games remaining; three are at home. 

Thursday’s matchup tips off at 7:00 p.m EST on ACC Network Extra. 

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