Notre Dame women get by Pittsburgh

Tribune Staff Report
ND Insider

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Mikki Vaughn came up big in her second game back for Muffet McGraw’s struggling Notre Dame women’s basketball team.

Vaughn, who suffered a knee injury in the season opener at Fordham Nov. 5 and was out until Sunday’s 71-55 home loss to ACC rival Clemson, hit a key basket with 1:33 remaining off a feed from Destinee Walker and finished with a career-high 17 points as Notre Dame scored a 60-52 victory over Pittsburgh Thursday night.

Vaughn, who was saddled with four fouls in the fourth quarter, hit 8 of 19 shots from the field, grabbed nine rebounds, had three assists, two steals and two blocks. The Irish also got a double-double from Anaya Peoples (10 points, 11 rebounds) and 16 points off the bench from Destinee Walker, who overcame back spasms.

The Irish shot 33 percent (23 of 69) and held the Panthers to 25.4 percent (16 of 63), forcing 21 turnovers, 17 in the first half on way to building a 17-point lead, 41-24, early in the third quarter.

Gabbie Green had 13 points to lead Pitt and Amber Brown had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Panthers, who outrebounded the Irish 53-46.

The Irish (6-8, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) continue a two-game road trip at Syracuse Sunday at 4 p.m. The Panthers fell to 3-10 overall and 0-2 in the ACC.

Both teams struggled in the first quarter that ended 8-8. Vaughn had six points, including the game-tying basket off an assist from Kaitlin Cole just before the quarter buzzer that ended an Irish scoring drought of more than 4:20. The Irish hit just 22 percent (4 of 18) from the field and had six turnovers.

Pitt, meanwhile, went 4:51 after Green’s second 3-pointer of the game without scoring, and the Panthers finished with nine turnovers while shooting 27 percent (3 of 11).

Vaughn, who was 6-of-14 shooting in the first half, added seven points in the second quarter and the Irish, despite enduring a 1-of-12 shooting drought, continued their defensive pressure, forcing another eight Pitt turnovers. A late 6-0 run by the Irish that finished with Peoples’ tip-in of a Sniezek shot at the buzzer gave the Irish a 30-22 halftime advantage.

At halftime, the Irish were shooting just 29 percent (12 of 41) to Pitt’s 30 percent (7 of 23), but the Panthers finished the quarter with a 2:26 scoring drought. Notre Dame had a 27-19 edge in rebounds (six by Vaughn) and had just 10 turnovers to Pitt’s 17.

A 7-0 run by Notre Dame on Walker’s 3-pointer, a bucket by Katlyn Gilbert and a layup by Walker gave the Irish a 37-22 lead and Pitt coach Lance White called for a timeout with 8:53 remaining. It was part of a 13-point Irish run around halftime.

An Emy Hayford basket stopped the run with 8:15 but the Irish, who hit 5 of their first 6 shots of the half, opened a 41-24 lead on Sam Brunelle’s second basket of the quarter with 6:54 remaining in the third quarter.

But an 8-0 Pitt run coupled with an Irish scoring drought of 4:58 cut the Notre Dame lead to 41-32 as Vaughn drew her third foul. Peoples ended a scoring drought of five minutes with a pair of free throws for a 43-32 Irish lead with 1:58 remaining.

The Panthers cut the lead to six points twice in the fourth quarter, the second time to 48-42 when Vaughn drew her fourth foul with 8:12 left. Aysia Bugg hit two free throws but Gilbert answered to put the Irish lead back to six, 50-44, with 8:01 left.

The Irish found themselves in foul trouble and Brown’s two free throws cut the lead to 50-46 with 7:07 left. Marta Sniezek answered with a free throw, but Brown hit two more free throws to make it 51-48 with 5:56 left.

The Irish led 53-48 and had a chance to increase the lead but Peoples missed two free throws and Dayshanette Harris went coast-to-coast for Pitt to cut the lead to 53-50 with 2:33 remaining.

McGraw called a timeout and Walker made an acrobatic shot to put the Irish up 55-50. Harris then hit two free throws to make it 55-52 with 1:57 to play before Vaughn made her basket with an assist from Walker, who then hit three throws to seal the victory.

NOTRE DAME 60, PITTSBURGH 52

At Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.

NOTRE DAME (60): Sam Brunelle 4-11 0-0 8, Mikki Vaughn 8-19 1-1 17, Katlyn Gilbert 3-11 2-2 8, Anaya Peoples 3-10 4-7 10, Marta Sniezek 0-5 1-2 1, Destinee Walker 5-11 5-6 16, Kaitlin Coles 0-1 0-0 0, Danielle Cosgrove 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS 23-69 13-18 60.

PITTSBURGH (52): Aysia Bugg 0-10 2-2 2, Gabbie Green 4-9 2-2 13, Amber Brown 2-11 8-14 12, Cara Judkins 1-6 0-0 2, Jahsyni Knight 0-0 0-0 0, Dayshanette Harris 4-14 1-2 9, Emy Hayford 2-7 4-4 8, Ismini Prapa 0-0 0-0 0, Kyla Nelson 0-1 0-0 0, Rita Igbokwe 3-5 0-1 6. TOTALS 16-63 17-25 52.

Notre Dame 8 22 16 14—60

Pittsburgh 8 14 14 16—52

Shooting: Notre Dame 23 of 69 for 33.3 percent; Pittsburgh 16 of 63 for 25.4 percent. 3-point goals: Notre Dame 1-8 (Walker 1-4, Gilbert 0-1, Brunelle 0-3), Pittsburgh 3-17 (Green 3-6, Bugg 0-6, Hayford 0-3, Nelson 0-1, Harris 0-1).

Rebounds: Notre Dame 46 (Peoples 11, Vaughn 9), Pittsburgh 53 (Brown 11, Igbokwe 8).

Assists: Notre Dame 18 (Gilbert 4, Sniezek 4), Pittsburgh 11 (Bugg 5, Brown 3)

Turnovers: Notre Dame 16, Pittsburgh 21.

Steals: Notre Dame 11 (Peoples 3, Walker 3), Pittsburgh 9 (Bugg 3)

Blocked shots: Notre Dame 7 (Brunelle 4), Pittsburgh 8 (Igbokwe 4)

Total fouls (fouled out): Notre Dame 20 (none), Pittsburgh 18 (none).

A—1,368 (12,508).

Records: Notre Dame 6-8, 1-1 ACC; Pittsburgh 3-10, 0-2 ACC.

Notre Dame’s Mikayla Vaughn watches from the bench during the Notre Dame-Tennessee game on Nov. 11 in South Bend. Vaughn hopes to be off the bench and in the game Sunday against Clemson.