Ugly, ugly loss ... Things spiral out of control as No. 3 Louisville blows out Notre Dame

Anthony Anderson
Tribune Correspondent
Louisville's Hailey Van Lith gets into it with Notre Dame's Olivia Miles. in Louisville, Feb. 13, 2022

Sam Brunelle got sidelined by injury in the first quarter, Maya Dodson got temporarily sidelined by foul trouble in the second quarter and overmatched, outworked Notre Dame got whipped the remainder of the way by Louisville.

The No. 3-ranked host Cardinals handed the No. 18 Irish their worst loss of the women’s basketball season, 73-47, Sunday afternoon at the KFC Yum! Center.

“We hit a lot of adversity with Sam and then Maya, and then after that, we lost our composure,” ND coach Niele Ivey said. “I don’t know if it’s from the situation. I just thought they really came after us. They did a great job of attacking us. It was a really tough stretch that allowed them to extend their lead.”

Louisville (22-2) improved to 13-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, a half-game behind frontrunning North Carolina State at 14-1.

Notre Dame women's basketball:A decent midseason report card for Ivey's Irish

The Irish (19-6) dropped to 10-4 in the league and fell into a fourth-place tie with No. 11 Georgia Tech — Thursday’s road opponent for ND — while Virginia Tech moved into sole possession of third at 11-3 by virtue of its win over North Carolina.

With the ND up 13-12, Brunelle suffered a right shoulder sprain at 1:45 remaining in the opening quarter while jockeying for defensive position on the block against the Cardinals’ Emily Engstler.

Ivey said there’s at least a chance the junior forward could be back in time for Thursday’s game, though ND spokesman Josh Bates added that there will be a continuing assessment of the injury “over the next few days.”

With Brunelle already out for the afternoon, Dodson, ND’s premier post player at both ends, picked up a pair of fouls less than a minute apart, the second at 3:54 left in the second quarter with the Irish trailing 21-19.

Dodson sat the rest of the half and Louisville pounced, outscoring the Irish 11-2 for a 32-21 lead at the break.

The Cardinals weren’t close to done, though.

Notre Dame forward Maya Dodson (0) tries to get away through the defense of Louisville guard Kianna Smith, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Louisville, Ky., Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

They started the second half with an 11-0 run for a 43-21 lead.

Notre Dame got no closer than 19 the rest of the way, that coming early in the fourth quarter.

“No,” Ivey said of whether she expected Louisville to continually beat the Irish up the court in the manner that the Cardinals decidedly did. “It’s something that we’ve been working on, transition defense, because they do run really well, but I didn’t feel like we matched their intensity unfortunately.”

Louisville outscored the Irish 10-2 on fast-break points, 17-6 on second-chance points and won the rebounding battle 50-32.

The sidelining of Brunelle left an already-thin ND bench even thinner with just six scholarship players available.

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

Abby Prohaska missed a fourth straight game with the eye socket injury she suffered Feb. 1 in the win over NC State, and Ivey said the senior guard could remain out another two weeks.

Nat Marshall’s been sidelined for the season since January with a knee injury and Katlyn Gilbert since December for personal reasons.

“No matter what happens, foul trouble, six people healthy, five people healthy, the one thing we have to bring is our competitiveness and our toughness and our willingness to fight, and I didn’t feel like we had that,” Ivey said. “We lost our composure, and it’s hard to lose your composure with the No. 3-ranked team on the road (and have a chance).”

Freshman Sonia Citron led Notre Dame with 13 points, but was just 6-of-17 from the field.

Louisville's Hailey Van Lith goes by Notre Dame's Sonia Citron to make the basket. Feb. 13, 2022, in Louisville.

Olivia Miles added 11 points, but matched her season low with two assists and was 4-of-13 from the field.

Dodson paced the Irish with nine rebounds and five blocks to accompany eight points, while Maddy Westbeld finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.

Dara Mabrey, ND’s top 3-point threat on the season, finished scoreless over 32 minutes with an 0-of-8 showing from the field, including 0-of-5 from distance.

“Unfortunately, she hasn’t shot the ball well over the past couple games,” Ivey said of Mabrey, who is 5-of-28 outside the arc over her last six outings, “but I always have confidence she’s gonna find her light, find it again.”

As a team, the Irish hit just 20-of-63 from the field, including 2-of-22 from long range.

Kianna Smith scored 17 points, Hailey Van Lith 16 and Chelsie Hall 13 for the Cardinals. Engstler added nine points, 12 rebounds, five assists and five steals.

Louisville and ND meet again Feb. 27 at Purcell Pavilion.

No. 3 Louisville 73, No. 18 Notre Dame 47

NOTRE DAME (19-6): Dodson 3-6 2-5 8, Westbeld 5-13 0-0 10, Citron 6-17 0-1 13, Mabrey 0-8 0-0 0, Miles 4-13 2-2 11, Brunelle 2-3 0-0 4, Peoples 0-3 1-2 1, Totals 20-63 5-10 47

LOUISVILLE (22-2): Cochran 1-5 4-4 6, Engstler 4-9 1-4 9, Hall 5-7 2-2 13, Kianna Smith 6-13 2-2 17, Van Lith 7-14 2-2 16, Dixon 0-1 0-0 0, Parker 1-1 0-0 3, Robinson 1-4 0-0 2, Ahlana Smith 2-6 0-0 5, Schetnan 0-0 0-0 0, Verhulst 1-3 0-0 2, Totals 28-63 11-14 73

Notre Dame | 13 | 8 | 16 | 10 — 47

Louisville | 14 | 18 | 26 | 15 — 73

3-Point Goals_Notre Dame 2-22 (Westbeld 0-4, Citron 1-4, Mabrey 0-5, Miles 1-6, Brunelle 0-1, Peoples 0-2), Louisville 6-17 (Cochran 0-1, Engstler 0-1, Hall 1-1, K.Smith 3-7, Van Lith 0-1, Parker 1-1, A.Smith 1-4, Verhulst 0-1). Assists_Notre Dame 10 (Peoples 4), Louisville 14 (Engstler 5). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Notre Dame 32 (Dodson 9), Louisville 50 (Engstler 12). Total Fouls_Notre Dame 17, Louisville 14. Technical Fouls_None. A_10,056.