SOUTH BEND — Fulfilling a vision, Niele Ivey introduced herself to the win column as Notre Dame women’s basketball head coach, while Maddy Westbeld introduced the world to what kind of superstar the Irish may have when she’s not in foul trouble.
Ivey even promised that’s what the freshman is on pace to become.
With Westbeld scoring 19 points and grabbing nine rebounds in her second collegiate game, No. 22 Notre Dame rolled to an 88-68 victory over Miami of Ohio on Sunday evening at Purcell Pavilion.
Destinee Walker led all scorers with 24 points for the Irish (1-1).
Sophomore Anaya Peoples added her second double-double in as many outings this season with 14 points and 11 rebounds, to accompany her game-high five steals and team-high five assists.
“This was a dream, something I visualized, something I’ve prayed about, just to be able to say that I can get a win,” Ivey said, sounding both relieved and thrilled. “To be the head coach and walking into Purcell Pavilion was an absolute dream.”
It wasn’t precisely what the longtime Notre Dame assistant to retired Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw might’ve envisioned — that thanks to the university’s COVID-19 policy keeping attendance to a scattered few — but it was gratifying nonetheless.
“I was really happy with the way we bounced back today. Friday was a really tough loss,” Ivey said, referring to ND’s 86-85 defeat in its opener at Ohio.
Westbeld was among those bouncing back.
She’d flashed her promise Friday with 11 points and five rebounds, but was limited to 16 minutes due to early foul trouble and ultimately fouled out at 5:40 to go with her team up 77-73.
“The first game was really tough,” Westbeld said. “I had so much adrenaline. … Not being able to play (more), that was tough.”
The second game started a little tough, too, with Westbeld committing a foul just 1:13 in, but this time Ivey quickly pulled her out before she could be whistled for a second and sat the forward for the final nine minutes of the first quarter.
“Maddy learned and I learned as well as a coach,” Ivey said.
Tough inside and smooth in transition, Westbeld would commit just one more foul the rest of the way over 30 minutes in all. She finished 9-of-18 from the field, and added four assists, three steals and two blocks to those 19 points and nine boards.
“I thought I was going to be a little more nervous,” Westbeld said, “(so) yeah, I’d say I surprised myself with how I played.”
She didn’t surprise Ivey.
““She’s been the most dominant player I’ve ever seen coming in as a freshman maybe outside of Skylar (Diggins) and Arike (Ogunbowale),” Ivey said, referring to a pair of former Irish All-Americans. “She has a college body, her approach to the game is incredible, her work ethic is incredible and she’s so versatile. That’s the one person I knew was going to make a wave, make an immediate impact.”
Fellow freshman Amirah Abdur-Rahim, who did not play in the opener for undisclosed reasons, made a bit of impact as well.
The least heralded of the five frosh the Irish landed from the high school class of 2020, Abdur-Rahim entered 3:30 into the game and picked up four points, four rebounds and an assist before the quarter was over.
“She played amazing,” Westbeld said.
She and Westbeld also gave ND two forwards one game after the Irish often had none who are listed as such against the Bobcats.
Notre Dame won its 26th consecutive home opener.
Sophomore Abby Prohaska contributed 10 points. Freshmen Alasia Hayes and Alli Campbell added nine and eight, respectively.
It didn’t even matter that Dara Mabrey finished the game scoreless.
The transfer from Virginia Tech was coming off a 34-point show at Ohio two days earlier that gave her the most points by any player ever in an ND women’s debut.
Mabrey was whistled for her second foul 4:51 into the game and sat the remainder of the first half without having taken a shot.
She finished with three misses, but added three assists against one turnover in 22 minutes as floor general.
Mikki Vaughn, Sam Brunelle, Katyln Gilbert and Nat Marshall, as they did Friday, all sat out again. Without being specific, Ivey said some of them may be back soon.
Minus the quartet, the Irish still took the lead for good at 4-3 against the RedHawks (0-1).
Notre Dame led 45-30 at halftime and 62-46 through three quarters. Miami got no closer in the fourth period than 73-58, that at 5:37 to go.
The Irish play the second of five straight scheduled home games Thursday when they host No. 25 Michigan (2-0) with a 6 p.m. tip.
The Hawks return to the state Thursday for a game at Purdue.
No. 22 Notre Dame 88, Miami (Ohio) 68
MIAMI (OHIO) (0-1): McLaughlin 4-6 2-2 10, Davidson 8-19 0-0 16, Garrelts 1-6 0-0 3, Hoff 3-8 0-0 8, Scott 7-20 3-3 18, Freeman 3-3 0-0 6, Fulton 0-1 0-0 0, Esbrand 0-0 1-3 1, Battle 1-2 4-5 6. Totals 27-65 10-13 68.
NOTRE DAME (1-1): Westbeld 9-18 0-0 19, Mabrey 0-3 0-0 0, Peoples 6-12 2-4 14, Prohaska 5-9 0-0 10, Walker 8-12 6-8 24, Abdur-Rahim 2-3 0-0 4, Campbell 3-5 1-2 8, Hayes 3-7 3-4 9. Totals 36-69 12-18 88.
Miami (Ohio) 11 19 16 22 — 68
Notre Dame 19 26 17 26 — 88
3-Point Goals_Miami (Ohio) 4-22 (Davidson 0-3, Garrelts 1-6, Hoff 2-5, Scott 1-8), Notre Dame 4-21 (Westbeld 1-6, Mabrey 0-3, Peoples 0-3, Prohaska 0-1, Walker 2-6, Campbell 1-2). Assists_Miami (Ohio) 15 (Garrelts 6), Notre Dame 23 (Peoples 5). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Miami (Ohio) 43 (Davidson 7-10), Notre Dame 34 (Westbeld 4-9). Total Fouls_Miami (Ohio) 20, Notre Dame 13. Technical Fouls_None. A_79.