Women's basketball: Miles goes off for a triple double in Irish win over Valparaiso
Olivia Miles registered just the second-ever triple-double by a Notre Dame freshman, yet it was numbers she minimized that also figured prominently in the Irish shaking off winless-but-pesky Valparaiso for a 73-56 women’s college basketball road victory Wednesday night.
Highlighted by an assortment of shiny dimes, Miles notched game highs of 13 assists and 13 rebounds to go with 11 points for the No. 22-ranked Irish, who were deadlocked 25-25 at halftime.
► One game at a time: A journey through Notre Dame's 2021-22 women’s basketball season
► More:Women's basketball: Previewing No. 22 Notre Dame vs. Valparaiso
Miles’ dazzling second half not only included 11 assists, nine points and eight boards, but just one scant turnover to go with all her ball-handling.
Maddy Westbeld tallied 20 points for ND (8-2), while Dara Mabrey scored 14 and hit 4-of-9 on 3-pointers to accompany a pair of blocked shots.
Senior guards Shay Frederick and Carie Weinman scored 19 and 15 points, respectively, for the Beacons, who dropped to 0-8.
► Miles’ joined Marina Mabrey — who also picked up hers at Valparaiso — as the only ND freshmen ever to log triple-doubles.
However, Mabrey’s — the only one of the nine Irish triple-doubles all-time that have featured double-digit steals — came in a 110-54 blowout in 2015, while Miles’ came in a game that was surprisingly close much of the way.
“My teammates ultimately made it happen,” said Miles, whose basket at 58 seconds to go gave her the final leg of the feat. “They were informing me of my stats and telling me, ‘You need one more bucket, you need one more bucket,’ and that’s really helpful, because obviously, I don’t know the stats in-game, but they were just there for me and wanted me to get it the whole game, and that was super special for me. It just shows how much they care.”
“I think it’s amazing,” Irish coach Niele Ivey said of Miles’ effort. “It shows you how bright the future is for a freshman to come in here and do that. … Special performance for a special young talent.”
There was little hint at halftime that the triple-double was coming. Miles had five rebounds, but just two points and two rebounds, plus three turnovers.
But a half does not a game make, and Miles wound up with sterling numbers that weren’t that unusual for her overall.
She entered the evening with a trio of double-doubles. Miles was at 11.1 points per outing and second in the nation at 7.1 assists to go with 6.3 rebounds.
“Every game,” said Ivey, “she gets better and better the way she manages the team.”
► The Irish appeared at times in the first half as if they needed a wake-up alarm to sound, and Miles became one of the noisemakers at the break in delivering.
“I went into the locker room and the first thing I said to the girls was, ‘We just gotta talk (on the court). I feel like we’re not communicating well,’” Miles shared. “They all shook their heads and agreed with me. I feel like our communication is everything with this team. That’s what bonds together our chemistry.”
Notre Dame was credited with nine fast-break points in the second half after none in the first half, those points triggered by defense.
“We talked more in the second half,” Miles said, “and we were on the same page, and that’s what led to a lot more stops … and what we do best is run in transition, and run fast, and that’s what we did, and that’s why we got out to such a big lead.”
ND had trailed by a high of 22-14 a minute into the second quarter and was still down 25-18 at 3:50 to go before intermission before ending the first half with a 7-0 spurt capped by a Dara Mabrey 3-pointer.
Valpo, though, hung tight for half of the third period, forging a 34-34 tie at the 5:07 mark, before the Irish outscored the hosts 39-22 the rest of the night.
► ND made a series of adjustments in the second half beyond just talking more. Those included sprinkling in some two-three zone after all man-to-man looks in the first half “just to disrupt their rhythm,” said Ivey, and going with a smaller lineup for longer stretches than usual.
“Their style of play is so different,” Ivey said of the Beacons. “We normally play two post players and I try to go inside a lot, and this game, I had to switch it and go four guards because of their five-out motion. … I played a lot of different lineups I don’t normally play.”
Ivey said she “knew this was going to be a really tough game” regardless of Valpo’s record. She cited her team’s relatively quick turnaround from Sunday’s loss at No. 2 UConn and the Beacons’ “intricate offense” as a couple of the reasons.
“I thought Valpo played tremendously well,” Ivey said.
The subs were collectively so for the Irish, who out-tallied the Beacons 23-8 in bench points.
Freshman Sonia Citron, coming off her program-record 29 bench points at Michigan State and 19 more at Connecticut, this time matched her season high of 10 rebounds to go with another nine points and the first two blocks of her career.
Abby Prohaska scored nine as well, made 4-of-5 shots over 20 minutes, including a 3-pointer, and coaxed a couple opposition charging fouls.
Sam Brunelle added five points, and they all came in the fourth quarter, including a right-wing 3-pointer to begin the period for a 53-45 ND lead.
Maya Dodson, who wound up the victim of that switch to a smaller lineup.
Dodson was exceedingly and typically active early, but she finished with by far a season low in minutes at eight — her previous low was 28 — and she continued her struggles of late from the field, making 1-of-7 to drop to 11-of-41 over her last four games.
► This was ND’s first in-state road game in over six years (the last one happening to be that Marina Mabrey triple-double performance at Valpo).
Ivey called it nice “being able to play down the street” and said intrastate matchups are a positive for the state’s fans.
► By virtue of dropping to 0-8 with the loss, the Beacons are off to the program’s worst start in at least 48 years, and that’s after going 29-25 over the previous two seasons.
Valpo also fell to 1-47 all-time against ranked teams, the win being 71-60 over No. 21 Purdue in December 2008.
The Irish will induct former head coach Muffet McGraw into their Ring of Honor on Sunday when they host Purdue Fort Wayne. Pregame ceremonies at Purcell Pavilion are planned for 1:30 p.m., with the game tipping at 2.
It’ll be ND’s first home contest in three weeks.
No. 22 NOTRE DAME 73, VALPARAISO 56
NOTRE DAME (8-2): Dodson 1-7 0-1 2, Westbeld 8-12 2-2 20, Mabrey 4-10 2-2 14, Miles 4-12 3-6 11, Peoples 1-2 1-2 3, Brunelle 2-5 0-0 5, Citron 3-8 2-2 9, Prohaska 4-5 0-0 9, Team 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 27-61 10-15 73
VALPARAISO (0-8): Morrison 3-9 0-0 7, VanKempen 2-2 0-0 5, Frederick 8-15 0-0 19, Weinman 6-12 2-5 15, White 1-10 0-0 2, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Dunson 0-1 0-0 0, Earnest 3-5 2-2 8, Gunn 0-1 0-0 0, Team 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 23-55 4-7 56
Notre Dame 14 | 11 | 25 | 23 — 73
Valparaiso 19 | 6 | 20 | 11 — 56
3-Point Goals—Notre Dame 9-18 (Westbeld 2-2, Mabrey 4-9, Miles 0-1, Brunelle 1-3, Citron 1-2, Prohaska 1-1), Valparaiso 6-23 (Morrison 1-4, VanKempen 1-1, Frederick 3-8, Weinman 1-3, White 0-6, Gunn 0-1). Assists—Notre Dame 19 (Miles 13), Valparaiso 11 (White 4). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Notre Dame 44 (Citron 5-10), Valparaiso 27 (Gunn 2-2). Total Fouls—Notre Dame 11, Valparaiso 15. Technical Fouls—None. A—1,550.