SOUTH BEND — Maddy Westbeld didn’t give much thought to how pivotal the moment was.
She merely came through, just like she came through during all of the fourth quarter, and just like she has repeatedly come through over the first four games of her Notre Dame women’s basketball career.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it,” the freshman said of what went through her mind as she launched the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:35 remaining during ND’s 65-58 comeback win over IUPUI on Sunday afternoon at Purcell Pavilion.
“That’s probably why I made it,” Westbeld said, “because I wasn’t thinking about it.”
Westbeld scored 12 of her game and career-high 22 points in the fourth period and added a team-high six rebounds and four assists for the late-charging Irish.
Notre Dame (2-2) scored the game’s final seven points — beginning with that Westbeld triple from the left wing — and outscored the Jaguars 15-5 over the final 7:24 after trailing 53-50.
“Every game, I’m watching this team grow in front of my eyes, especially Maddy Westbeld,” Irish rookie coach Niele Ivey said of her team’s composure down the stretch. “I was really proud that we found a way to execute and then get stops. That was huge. I was really proud of the effort.”
Anaya Peoples tallied 14 points for Notre Dame, while Sam Brunelle netted 11 points over 22 minutes off the bench in just her second game back from injury.
The Jaguars (2-1) led for most of the first half, including by a high of 33-25 at halftime.
The Irish answered a 38-31 deficit early in the third quarter with an 8-0 run, edging ahead 39-38 in what would be the first of five lead changes over a span of less than 10 minutes.
ND went up for good at 54-53 on Westbeld’s putback basket at 6:08 to go. Then she got another offensive rebound on the hosts’ next possession, was fouled and converted both free throws for a 56-53 lead.
Before those four points, IUPUI had outscored the Irish 16-0 on second-chance opportunities.
“We started off a little slow,” Westbeld said. “I think we just kind of needed the first half to kind of get warm, to kind of get our function back, because we’re still playing with new players coming in every game. The second half, we looked a little better, and then in the fourth quarter, we were solid.”
Notre Dame played primarily man-to-man in the second half after playing primarily 2-3 zone in the first half. Before the break, the Jags shot 13-of-27 from the field overall and 5-of-13 on 3-pointers. After the break, they hit 10-of-30 and 4-of-11.
“I’m still trying to find the right defense for this group,” Ivey said, adding that Brunelle and fellow second-game returnee Katlyn Gilbert working their way into shape factors into that equation.
“I know coming in, they were a really great 3-point shooting team, averaging nine 3s a game,” Ivey said of the Jaguars, “so I knew we would eventually have to go to man-to-man. I felt like when we went to man-to-man, we got a little more pressure on the ball and that really helped.”
So did Westbeld’s glistening effort. She made 9-of-14 shots from the field for the Irish, who closed at 27-of-52 as a team for 52%.
Westbeld’s averaging team-leading figures of 17.5 points and 6.8 rebounds to go with 54% from the field and has scored in double digits in all four of her games.
That matches the second-best streak by an ND freshman to begin a career.
Brunelle set the record last season with seven.
On Sunday, Brunelle and Gilbert continued their progressions toward being full tilt.
“Really happy with Sam,” Ivey said. “She had 11 points in 21 minutes, and Kate, I thought she did a great job defensively. She’s just so long and athletic. … I love the upward trend I have with those two. I basically have two starters coming off the bench. They gave me huge sparks tonight.”
Brunelle made 5-of-8 shots from the field. Gilbert added 7 points, making 3-of-5 from the field, blocked a shot and snapped off the assist on Westbeld’s tie-breaking 3-pointer.
Sydney Roule led IUPUI with 16 points, going 4-of-11 outside the arc, with 13 of those points coming before halftime. Fellow guard Rachel McLemore added 11.
Forward Macee Williams, the two-time reigning Horizon League Player of the Year, was limited to eight points, but added game highs of 10 rebounds and three steals.
The Irish, after being whipped 22-7 on the glass in the first half, bounced back to outboard the Jaguars 18-14 in the second half.
Notre Dame is idle until opening the Atlantic Coast Conference portion of its season by hosting Georgia Tech next Sunday afternoon.
IUPUI (2-1): Williams 3-8 2-2 8, Andersen 3-6 0-0 7, McLimore 4-11 1-1 11, Perkins 2-8 0-0 5, Roule 6-16 0-0 16, Allen 2-4 0-0 4, O’Reilly 2-3 0-0 4, Beier 1-1 0-0 3, Team 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 23-57 3-3 58
NOTRE DAME (2-2): Westbeld 9-14 3-4 22, Mabrey 1-6 0-0 2, Peoples 6-13 2-2 14, Prohaska 1-1 0-0 2, Walker 2-4 2-2 6, Brunelle 5-8 0-0 11, Gilbert 3-5 1-1 7, Abdur-Rahim 0-0 0-0 0, Campbell 0-0 1-2 1, Hayes 0-1 0-0 0, Team 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 27-52 9-11 65
IUPUI;18;15;12;13 — 58
Notre Dame;13;12;20;20 — 65
3-Point Goals_IUPUI 9-24 (Williams 0-1, Andersen 1-3, McLimore 2-4, Perkins 1-4, Roule 4-11, Beier 1-1), Notre Dame 2-9 (Westbeld 1-2, Mabrey 0-2, Peoples 0-2, Brunelle 1-2, Hayes 0-1). Assists_IUPUI 14 (Roule 4), Notre Dame 14 (Westbeld 4). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_IUPUI 36 (Williams 4-10), Notre Dame 25 (Westbeld 2-6). Total Fouls_IUPUI 14, Notre Dame 10. Technical Fouls_None. A_523.