Olivia Miles delivers triple double as Notre Dame opens March Madness with win over UMass

By Anthony Anderson
ND Insider

Olivia Miles unleashed just the second Notre Dame triple-double in NCAA Tournament women’s basketball history, while Maddy Westbeld, Maya Dodson and Dara Mabrey divided 55 points almost evenly, as the fast-starting, offensively-smooth Irish opened their postseason with an 89-78 victory over Massachusetts on Saturday night at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.

Second-year ND coach Niele Ivey notched her first NCAA Tourney win in her first try.

Miles scored 12 points, dished 11 assists and grabbed 11 rebounds to join Skylar Diggins-Smith in 2012 as the lone Irish players with NCAA Tourney triple-doubles.

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Westbeld scored 19 points, Dodson 18 and Mabrey 18.

Mabrey drained 5-of-8 on 3-pointers, while Westbeld went 8-of-11 from the field.

Fifth-seeded ND (23-8) earned a spot opposite fourth-seeded host Oklahoma (25-8) in Monday night’s second round at 6 p.m.. The Sooners were 78-72 winners over IUPUI (24-5).

For the Minutewomen (26-7), Sam Breen matched her career high with 31 points. The Atlantic 10 Player of the Year hit 12-of-19 shots with three triples and 4-of-4 at the line.

Irish senior guard Abby Prohaska made her first appearance in nearly seven weeks after suffering a Feb. 1 eye injury and undergoing surgery.

She delivered an immediate spark with six points and two steals off the bench in the opening period as ND racked up its most points in any quarter this season while jumping out to a 32-17 advantage.

Notre Dame's Dara Mabrey (1) celebrates with Sam Brunelle (33) during a women's basketball game between Notre Dame and UMass in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla., Saturday, March 19, 2022. Notre Dame won 89-78.

The Irish never relinquished the lead they grabbed by way of Mabrey’s right-wing 3-pointer on the game’s opening possession.

UMass closed to 49-41 by halftime on Breen’s banked-in half-court shot and got to within six points on three occasions in the third quarter.

ND, though, responded to the final six-point spread with an 11-0 run that began with Anaya Peoples’ putback bucket at two seconds left in the third period.

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

The Irish led by as many as 18 points at 84-66 with 4:28 remaining in the game. The Minutewomen got no closer than the final margin.

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► Miles engineered ND’s up-tempo offense far more like a seasoned pro than a freshman making an NCAA Tourney debut.

In the process, she joined Diggins-Smith and Jackie Young as the only Irish players ever to log multiple career triple-doubles, each owning a pair. Neither of those latter two players, though, ever notched one before her junior season.

“I mean, that’s crazy,” Miles said of joining the duo. “Those are all-time greats at Notre Dame, both amazing players, so it just feels surreal that my name can be in that company.”

“I felt like my team was hitting shots, and that’s the biggest area that helps me get these stats,” Miles continued, “so I credit it all to my teammates. It feels so good playing with them, running the court with them.”

The Irish made 34-of-59 shots from the field for 58%, including 7-of-17 outside the arc for 41%.

Notre Dame's Sam Brunelle (33) and Olivia Miles (5) celebrate after a first-round game against Massachusetts in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Saturday, March 19, 2022, in Norman, Okla. (AP Photo/ Mitch Alcala)

“Gosh, I don’t think she has a ceiling,” Ivey said of Miles. “She’s so special. … She has great vision like Skylar, but she plays differently just with her flair, her swag. It’s just incredible that she can come into her first tournament and get a triple-double.”

Ivey called Miles’ floor vision a key in ND dictating the game’s tempo.

The Irish outscored UMass 13-2 in fast-break points officially, but also had more than that with their secondary transition.

“Our brand of basketball is pushing pace,” Ivey said. “We talked about that the last two weeks, that in the ACC Tournament we didn’t play fast.”

Notre Dame's Dara Mabrey (1) attempts a 3-pointer in an 89-78 win against UMass on Saturday night at Lloyd Noble Center.

► Mabrey sparkled in her first NCAA Tourney game — that appearance coming in her fourth collegiate season after she was denied a sure bid in 2020 at Virginia Tech when that tournament was canceled due to the pandemic.

The Irish guard’s five 3-pointers were her second-highest total of the season, just one short of the six she made in a win over North Carolina.

“Our (scouting report) was really good,” Mabrey said. “We knew what types of shots we were gonna get and I practiced those shots all week, so it felt good to see those go through the net.”

It also felt good to finally be part of March Madness, “soaking it all up,” Mabrey said, “but understanding that we’re here to win. We got the job done tonight.”

► The contest marked Ivey’s 75th NCAA Tourney game as part of the Notre Dame program, but her first as head coach.

“I didn’t know how I was gonna be today,” Ivey said, “(but) I wasn’t nervous. I felt like we’ve been working really hard to prepare. I watched a lot of film on UMass, so I felt comfortable.”

Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey shouts instructions during a women's basketball game between Notre Dame and UMass in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla., Saturday, March 19, 2022.

Ivey shared that she texted her Hall of Fame predecessor, Muffet McGraw, earlier in the day, asking for any last-minute advice. They wound up having “a really good conversation.”

“She just talked about making sure that we set the tone, to stay aggressive and to start fast,” Ivey said of a message the Irish clearly carried out in a dominant first quarter.

During her playing days, Ivey was a part of ND teams that competed in 19 NCAA Tourney games with a national title in 2001, and during her 12 seasons as an assistant, she was a part of clubs that competed in another 55, including the 2018 national title.

But this was different.

“This is a moment I’ve dreamt of my entire life as far as being a head coach,” Ivey said. “To be able to sit that one seat over and to lead this group, this team, it’s just a dream come true. … I’m embracing every single part of this journey, but I’m also not satisfied, and I don’t want the team to be satisfied just to be here.”

Worth noting

Miles’ triple-double was the 18th over 40 years of NCAA women’s tournament play.

The last one came in 2019 when Oregon junior Sabrina Ionescu notched her second one during a second-round win over Indiana. She also picked up one as a sophomore.

Stanford’s the only team that has collected three triple-doubles (two of those by Nicole Powell in back-to-back games in 2002).

The Irish joined just Stanford and Old Dominion as the only programs to have two different players notch triple-doubles.

Including regular-season play, Miles recorded the 10th triple-double in ND history.

The tourney triple-double by Diggins-Smith came during an 80-49 regional final blowout win over Maryland. She had 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

NOTRE DAME 89, UMASS 78

UMASS (26-7): Breen 12-19 4-4 31, Ngalakulondi 2-2 0-1 4, Mayo 4-14 4-4 12, Philoxy 1-7 2-2 4, Taylor 7-15 3-3 21, White 3-7 0-0 6, Brooks 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 29-64 13-14 78

NOTRE DAME (23-8): Dodson 6-11 6-8 18, Westbeld 8-11 2-2 19, Citron 4-7 0-0 9, Mabrey 6-9 1-2 18, Miles 5-9 2-3 12, Brunelle 1-4 0-0 2, Peoples 2-4 1-2 5, Prohaska 2-4 2-2 6, Totals 34-59 14-19 89

UMass | 17 | 24 | 18 | 19—78

Notre Dame | 32 | 17 | 18 |22—89

3-Point Goals_UMass 7-16 (Breen 3-4, Mayo 0-3, Philoxy 0-1, Taylor 4-8), Notre Dame 7-17 (Westbeld 1-3, Citron 1-2, Mabrey 5-8, Miles 0-2, Brunelle 0-2). Assists_UMass 15 (Philoxy 6), Notre Dame 18 (Miles 11). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_UMass 22 (Mayo 5), Notre Dame 37 (Miles 11). Total Fouls_UMass 17, Notre Dame 12. Technical Fouls_None. A_0.