Women's basketball: Boston College rallies to edge No. 19 Notre Dame, 73-71

By Anthony Anderson
ND Insider
Notre Dame’s Sam Brunelle (33) battles Boston College in this, Jan. 9, 2020 file photo. On Thursday, Brunelle scored a game high 15 points, but Boston College rallied for a 73-71 win at Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Notre Dame ended up confounded at Conte yet again.

For the third straight Conte Forum meeting, Boston College stormed back from at least a 12-point deficit over the final 14 minutes to stun the Irish, this time 73-71, in women’s college basketball Thursday night at Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Notre Dame led by a high of 55-41 inside of 2:40 remaining in the third period, but then allowed a 15-0 Eagle spree to fall behind 56-55.

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

Even with that, the Irish steadied themselves well enough for their own 7-0 run and a 62-56 advantage at 7:18 to go, then a 67-61 lead at 4:54 showing.

BC, though, outscored the Irish 12-4 the rest of the way.

Cameron Swartz (28) and Makayla Dickens (20) riddled ND with a combined 48 points while going a combined 11-of-18 on 3-pointers. Dickens scored 17 second-half points, featuring 5-of-6 shooting outside the arc.

Sam Brunelle led a balanced Irish attack with 15 points off the bench that included 6-of-8 from the field and a pair of triples, but she missed 1-of-2 free throws at 1:43 to go when she went to the line in place of temporarily sidelined Olivia Miles with ND owning a chance to knot the game at 72-all.

Sonia Citron and Maya Dodson tallied 13 points each, with Citron adding eight rebounds and four assists. Miles finished with 12 points and seven assists before fouling out at 4.8 seconds left.

The Irish (13-4, 4-2) suffered their first loss of the season to an unranked team, while the Eagles (13-5, 4-3) notched their first win over a ranked club, spanning four tries.

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► The zoning Irish couldn’t halt another Conte comeback by the Eagles, with ND’s inability to defend 3-balls dooming the visitors in the second half.

“We just didn’t do a good job of contesting them in our zone,” Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey said. “We’ve worked on trying to run them off the 3-point line, and unfortunately, we just didn’t have any awareness of where they were and gave them wide open looks.

They got comfortable and got hot.”

Swartz hit 3-of-4 on triples after halftime to complement the 5-of-6 by Dickens following the break. BC’s 8-of-13 as a team across the final two quarters followed a 3-of-10 showing over the first two periods.

ND came out of its staple 2-3 zone some in a late effort to slow the Eagles, but Ivey was steadfast afterwards that the zone will likely remain the primary defense.

“We’ve won the national championship two times with this 2-3 zone, so I believe in it,” Ivey said. “It’s a great zone; we just gotta be better at contesting shots and rebounding.”

Added the coach, “The first half, we had the awareness, we knew where they were, we contested closeouts. The second half, we didn’t fight through the screens (and) didn’t communicate.”

► The Irish managed solid looks at both taking the lead and tying the game in the waning seconds, but couldn’t capitalize on either.

At 7.8 ticks to go and down 72-71, ND inbounded under its offensive basket following a  BC turnover, but Dodson’s left-handed shot in the paint was off the mark.

At 4.8 left, Miles committed her fifth foul to stop the clock and the Eagles’ Marnelle Garraud hit 1-of-2 free throws for a 73-71 count.

The Irish then side inbounded in the forecourt following a timeout, finding Maddy Westbeld for a short jumper. It was off the mark, too, before Citron was unable to draw iron with a flying off-balance follow try as time expired.

“Absolutely,” Ivey said of whether she was satisfied with the shots under the circumstances. “Both (Dodson and Westbeld) had great looks. We just gotta finish.”

► The Eagles’ three straight wins over the Irish at Conte have come by a combined six points, and they’ve now beaten ND in four of the last five meetings overall — on the heels of losing each of the previous 14. Two years ago, Emma Guy’s final-second shot lifted BC to a 56-55 home win after the Irish led by 15 with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Last season, ND led 60-48 before being outscored 16-1 over the final 2:35 for a 64-61 loss.

“They’ve been playing tough every time we play them,” Ivey said. “They play to the last buzzer. … They’re a senior-dominated team and it showed today.”

The host Irish did capture last season’s rematch 83-73 just 10 days after losing to the Eagles, and they’ll get a rematch 10 days later this season as well, with BC visiting Purcell Pavilion on Jan. 30.

Who's hot

The Irish were collectively with their shooting, just making the defeat more frustrating.

ND hit 28-of-55 from the field for 51%, drained 5-of-12 on 3s for 42% and dropped 10-of-12 at the line for 83%.

It marked just the second time this season that ND went 50/40/80 within the same game, the other coming during an 82-56 mid-November win at Syracuse.

Who's not

By her own standards, Westbeld.

ND’s No. 1 scorer on the season at 13.1 per game going in, she finished just 2-of-8 from the field on her way to eight points, making her the team’s No. 6 scorer in this one.

Over her last four outings, Westbeld is averaging just 7.3 points and shooting 39.3% from the field with no 3-pointers.

Her season numbers before that were 14.5 and 53.4% with 10 triples.

“I think it’s just getting her confidence and trying to get her some looks and kind of playing through it,” said Ivey, who reminded that Westbeld is still just a sophomore and often drawing the opposition’s top defender. “She has such a high ceiling. She’s going to continue to battle. She works so hard, she’s so coachable and I just love her so much. She’s going to find her way.”

Worth noting

Abby Prohaska missed her fourth straight game and Katlyn Gilbert did not play for a fifth straight, leaving the Irish at eight scholarship players.

Prohaska has remained sidelined since suffering a concussion Dec. 22 at DePaul, while Gilbert has recently been out for personal reasons.

Up next

Notre Dame plays the middle of three straight road games Sunday when it visits Pittsburgh (10-8, 1-6).

It’ll be the first rematch of the season for the Irish, who beat the Panthers 85-59 on Dec. 19.


NOTRE DAME (13-4): Dodson 6-9 1-1 13, Westbeld 2-8 4-4 8, Mabrey 3-5 2-2 10, Miles 6-11 0-1 12, Peoples 0-4 0-0 0, Brunelle 6-8 1-2 15, Citron 5-9 2-2 13, Marshall 0-1 0-0 0, Team 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 28-55 10-12 71

BOSTON COLLEGE (13-5): Soule 6-13 3-4 15, VanTimmeren 1-4 0-0 2, Gakdeng 3-4 1-2 7, Garraud 0-2 1-2 1, Swartz 10-22 3-3 28, Dickens 7-14 0-0 20, Ivey 0-1 0-0 0, Waggoner 0-5 0-0 0, Team 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 27-65 8-11 73

Notre Dame 22 | 13 | 20 | 16 — 71

Boston College 17 | 10 | 27 | 19 — 73

3-Point Goals—Notre Dame 5-12 (Mabrey 2-3, Miles 0-2, Peoples 0-1, Brunelle 2-3, Citron 1-3), Boston College 11-23 (Soule 0-1, VanTimmeren 0-2, Garraud 0-2, Swartz 5-8, Dickens 6-10). Assists—Notre Dame 19 (Miles 7), Boston College 17 (Dickens 5). Fouled Out—Notre Dame Miles. Rebounds—Notre Dame 31 (Dodson 2-5), Boston College 35 (Soule 6-10). Total Fouls—Notre Dame 13, Boston College 14. Technical Fouls—None. A—1,017.