SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Notre Dame’s second straight fourth-quarter collapse sent the Irish to a second straight women’s basketball loss for the first time all season Sunday, 81-69 at Syracuse.
The Orange (9-3, 6-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) overwhelmed ND 23-4 in the final quarter after trailing 65-58 heading into the period. Syracuse tallied the game’s last 14 points.
The Irish (8-7, 6-5) fell despite Sam Brunelle registering season highs across the board of 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists, despite senior Mikki Vaughn’s career-high 12 boards to go with nine points, and despite an encouraging debut from mid-season enrollee Olivia Miles.
“The fourth quarter, we basically came out really flat,” ND coach Niele Ivey said. “We couldn’t find a way to score. I thought (Syracuse 6-foot-7 freshman Karmilla) Cardoso came up big. She got four big blocks (on her way to nine in the game), and after those blocks, I felt like the momentum really shifted in their favor.”
Notre Dame led most of the way, including by as many as 15 points in the second quarter and 13 late in the third.
The Irish, however, were coming off being outscored 15-3 over the final 4:15 in their 78-73 loss at North Carolina seven days ago, and earlier this season lost at Boston College after leading by 12 with less than three minutes to go.
“Honestly, I think it’s a little bit (about) maturity as far as just growth of us trying not to be tight when we’re up,” Ivey said of whether there’s a common thread in the three late road meltdowns.
“It’s just working on trying to maintain a lead in the fourth quarter, not going rogue offensively,” Ivey said. “It’s something we worked on last week and we just have to continue working on it, trying to find a way to finish games.”
The Irish shot 2-of-14 from the field in the final quarter Sunday after entering it at 28-of-52. They committed four turnovers in the period to the Orange’s one.
Brunelle came out at 2:41 left with ND down 76-69 after rolling her ankle, but did return for the final minute.
“I thought she played with a ton of confidence,” Ivey said. “I thought she battled down low … this is the best game I’ve seen her as her head coach. She had a career night. Also had five assists and zero turnovers, so I thought she played great. Just seeing how hard she’s been working, for it to show today, I was really happy for her.”
Miles — the celebrated recruit who only began practicing with the Irish on Tuesday and just turned 18 on Friday — checked into the game at the 7:42 mark of the second quarter and had a quick impact with two points, two assists and two steals in her first four minutes.
She finished with four points, a game-high three steals, two assists and two turnovers in 15 minutes with 2-of-6 shooting and four fouls.
“I felt like in the second quarter (against) their press, she was a great point guard,” Ivey said. “She has a lot of confidence. She’s still young, learning, but this is a game I actually needed another point guard and to put Dara (Mabrey) off the point, so I thought she did phenomenal for her first time. High school senior coming in to play for us. She has a heart of gold, she wants to learn and be a sponge, but unfortunately her first game is playing one of the best teams in the ACC.”
Crafty graduate point guard Tiana Mangakahia led Syracuse with 19 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds to go with 5-of-10 on 3-pointers. Cardoso added 18 points and seven rebounds, and Kiara Lewis 16 points.
Maddy Westbeld scored 12 points for Notre Dame on 6-of-8 shooting. Destinee Walker added 11 points.
The Irish have a week between games again, and will be on the road again, heading to No. 1-ranked Louisville next Sunday for a 2 p.m. tip.
NOTRE DAME (8-7): Westbeld 6-8 0-1 12, Vaughn 4-6 1-1 9, Mabrey 3-12 0-0 8, Peoples 0-3 2-2 2, Prohaska 2-4 0-0 4, Brunelle 9-18 0-0 19, Cosgrove 0-1 0-0 0, Miles 2-6 0-0 4, Walker 4-8 0-0 11, Team 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 30-66 3-4 69
SYRACUSE (9-3): Strautmane 3-7 0-0 7, Cardoso 8-12 2-4 18, Lewis 4-14 5-8 16, Mangakahia 6-12 2-2 19, Williams 3-14 2-2 11, Djaldi-Tabdi 1-2 0-0 2, Engstler 3-10 1-3 8, Washington 0-1 0-0 0, Team 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 28-72 12-19 81
Notre Dame;28;16;21;4 — 69
Syracuse;15;19;24;23 — 81
3-Point Goals_Notre Dame 6-21 (Mabrey 2-10, Brunelle 1-5, Miles 0-2, Walker 3-4), Syracuse 13-38 (Strautmane 1-3, Lewis 3-8, Mangakahia 5-10, Williams 3-11, Engstler 1-5, Washington 0-1). Assists_Notre Dame 21 (Mabrey 5), Syracuse 23 (Mangakahia 11). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Notre Dame 39 (Vaughn 5-12), Syracuse 46 (Team 5-8). Total Fouls_Notre Dame 15, Syracuse 5. Technical Fouls_None. A_0.