Women's basketball: Maddy Westbeld has a happy birthday in Irish win over Miami

By Anthony Anderson
ND Insider
Feb 10, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Maddy Westbeld (34) celebrates with guard Olivia Miles (5) in the second half against the Miami Hurricanes at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

SOUTH BEND — Hotter than a lit birthday candle, sophomore Maddy Westbeld celebrated hers by scoring a game-high 21 points, draining a career-high four 3-pointers in just five tries and grabbing eight rebounds as Notre Dame earned a 69-53 women’s basketball victory over Miami on Thursday night at Purcell Pavilion.

The No. 18-ranked Irish (19-5, 10-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) improved to 12-0 at home heading into Sunday’s 2 p.m. showdown at No. 3 Louisville (22-2, 12-1).

ND built a 53-33 lead through three quarters by holding the Hurricanes (12-10, 5-7) to 11 points during each of the first three periods.

► One game at a time: A journey through Notre Dame's 2021-22 women’s basketball season

The Irish owned their biggest advantage at 65-43 with 4:22 remaining.

Freshman Sonia Citron scored 15 points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished five assists and snatched three steals for ND.

Maya Dodson added her sixth double-double in her last nine outings with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Kelsey Marshall was the lone Cane in double figures with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting outside the arc.

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► Strictly against her own statistical standards, established as a freshman and backed up during the first eight weeks of this season, Maddy Westbeld hadn’t quite been Maddy Westbeld lately.

She blasted out of that drop-off against Miami.

“Just in a slump,” Westbeld said, refusing to blame other variables for her recent play. “I don’t know. I just found my way out of it (tonight). I’ve just been staying in the gym.”

Westbeld averaged a team-leading 15.2 points last winter on the way to ACC all-freshman honors, and she roughly matched that over her first 13 games of this season at 14.5, but right as the calendar turned to 2022, she nosedived, averaging merely 7.5 over her last 10 games before the Canes came to town.

Her 21 points Thursday were one off her season high, and she scored every point of an 8-0 Irish spurt over a span of just 1:09 during the opening quarter, flipping ND’s last deficit of the night into a 15-8 lead.

“She was awesome,” Irish coach Niele Ivey said. “She led us in so many different areas. Her energy was great, she shot the ball so well. I was just super happy for Maddy. She had an incredible performance. Couldn’t take her off the floor.”

Feb 10, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Maddy Westbeld (34) reacts after a three point basket in the second half against the Miami Hurricanes at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

A year ago, Westbeld paced the Irish in scoring by nearly four points per game, but this season, Olivia Miles is at 14.5, Dodson 13.2, Westbeld 12.4, Citron 11.9 and Dara Mabrey 10.6.

“I think it’s a little bit of weight off,” Westbeld acknowledged. “It’s great to have everybody on the floor who can take control of any game at any time, and every single night, it’s somebody different.”

Westbeld, who also made a pair of steals and dealt a pair of slick assists, moved to 6-of-7 on 3-pointers over her last two outings — on the heels of going 1-of-16 from distance over her previous 12 outings.

“I would say I’ve definitely been working on that more,” Westbeld said. “Especially with (the threat of) Maya on the inside, I think it’s gonna be to our advantage to have threats everywhere outside.”

► The 53 points the Irish allowed were the fewest they’ve given up in a league game this season, and 20 of those points came in the fourth quarter with ND largely in control.

“I thought it was really good,” Ivey said of her players’ defense. “I felt like they were really focused defensively, and they understood that the energy needs to start from the beginning. We have to bring that energy on the defensive end. They understand that, they’re committed to it, and I felt like we grew today in that area.”

Feb 10, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Maya Dodson (0) looks to shoot as Miami Hurricanes forward Destiny Harden (3) defends in the first half at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Predominantly in zone, the Irish still finished with 11 steals, their most in any of their last nine games.

Miami’s 24 turnovers were its second-highest figure of the season, 7.1 more than its average and the most an ND opponent has committed in 12 games.

The Canes shot a paltry 9-of-30 on 2-pointers, with Dodson blocking three tries.

Mostly thanks to Marshall, whose six triples were a season high, the visitors finished 10-of-27 on 3-pointers. It was something the Irish appeared willing to allow given Miami’s 28.3% from distance going into the night.

Who's hot

Feb 10, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Sonia Citron (11) passes the ball as Miami Hurricanes guard Ja'Leah Williams (12) and forward Lola Pendande (21) defend in the second half at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Citron from the line nearly all season.

She added 5-of-6 against the Canes to leave her at 9-of-10 over her last two games and 61-of-70 overall for 87.1% overall.

Who's not

Miles in the turnover department.

She coughed up six, putting her at 29 over her last six games, though she still delivered her usual assortment of breathtaking positive plays, including some pretty finds among her game-high eight assists.

Worth noting

These bounce-back Irish improved to 5-0 following a loss.

The last four of those wins have each come by double digits, while the first one came against then-No. 16 Oregon State the day after losing in overtime to Georgia.

Up next

ND’s visit to Louisville on Sunday is the first of two scheduled matchups against the third-ranked Cardinals over a span of 15 days.

No. 18 NOTRE DAME 69, MIAMI 53

MIAMI (12-10): Harden 4-9 0-2 8, Pendande 2-6 1-2 5, Erjavec 3-9 1-4 9, Marshall 6-14 0-0 18, Williams 0-3 0-0 0, Djaldi-Tabdi 0-6 0-0 0, Mbandu 0-0 0-0 0, Gray 3-8 1-1 9, Dwyer 0-1 0-0 0, Fraile Ruiz 1-1 0-0 2, Roberts 0-0 2-2 2, Totals 19-57 5-11 53

NOTRE DAME (19-5): Dodson 5-13 2-2 12, Westbeld 8-11 1-1 21, Citron 5-11 5-6 15, Mabrey 2-4 0-0 6, Miles 3-8 1-2 7, Brunelle 1-3 0-0 2, Peoples 2-4 2-2 6, Cernugel 0-1 0-0 0, Cha 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 26-55 11-13 69

Miami 11 | 11 | 11 | 20—53

Notre Dame | 17 | 16 | 20 | 16—69

3-Point Goals—Miami 10-27 (Harden 0-1, Erjavec 2-6, Marshall 6-11, Williams 0-1, Djaldi-Tabdi 0-1, Gray 2-7), Notre Dame 6-16 (Westbeld 4-5, Citron 0-2, Mabrey 2-3, Miles 0-4, Brunelle 0-1, Peoples 0-1). Assists—Miami 14 (Harden 4, Williams 4), Notre Dame 20 (Miles 8). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Miami 36 (Pendande 6), Notre Dame 35 (Dodson 10). Total Fouls—Miami 16, Notre Dame 10. Technical Fouls—None. A—4,908.