Women's basketball: Notre Dame bounces back with win over Pitt
One outing after laboring at crunch time, Notre Dame was at its best during that time, outscoring Pittsburgh 13-3 over the final six minutes to close out a touch-and-go 77-63 women’s basketball road win over the Panthers on Sunday afternoon.
Maya Dodson powered for 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots to pace an otherwise balanced ND attack.
► One game at a time:A journey through Notre Dame's 2021-22 women’s basketball season
Dara Mabrey and Sam Brunelle netted 10 points each, and Maddy Westbeld eight.
The 19th-ranked Irish improved to 14-4 overall, 5-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Panthers (10-9, 1-7) caused ND fits much of the way, doing so five weeks after the Irish rolled by Pitt 85-59 at home.
Jayla Everett led the Panthers with 15 points, but was just 6-of-23 from the field. Destiny Strother added 14 points — all in the first half — and Dayshanette Harris 12 points.
Rita Igbokwe, matched up against Dodson in a spirited post battle much of the day, finished with 13 rebounds, five blocks and eight points.
► At last, a fourth quarter finally went in favor of the Irish. They’d been outscored in each of their last six fourth periods, although a couple of those did occur with the game already well in hand.
“It was a game of runs and it came down to our toughness,” Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey said. “It’s something we’ve been working on. Really proud of the second half. We had a great third quarter (outscoring Pitt 23-16) and finally won the fourth quarter (15-8).
The game was knotted 39-39 at the half.
ND’s 38-24 winning of the second half came three days after the Irish were outscored 46-36 after the break in their 73-71 loss at Boston College.
“A sense of urgency and a fight,” Ivey said of what she tried to share in her halftime message Sunday. “We felt like they were getting whatever they wanted. Whenever we would make a run or score, they would come down and counter that, so we just talked about locking in defensively.”
The Irish, in an attempt to slow the Panthers from long range, mixed in man-to-man defense in the second half after featuring a 2-3 zone in the first half.
Pitt, after going 5-of-13 on 3-pointers over the first two periods, including 4-of-4 by Strother, hit just 2-of-14 outside the arc over the final two quarters, including 0-of-4 by Strother.
► Dodson was relentless between her assortment of inside shots, board work and hustle, continuing a trend of strong performances over her last half-dozen games.
During that time, she has averaged 18.3 points and 8.3 blocks while shooting 53% from the field.
“She was fantastic,” Ivey said. “She made her presence known right from the beginning of the game. She’s been working so hard. Just what she brings to this team defensively, altering shots. She had four blocks. She’s just playing phenomenal.”
► The Irish finally got a reinforcement with Abby Prohaska playing for the first time since suffering a concussion Dec. 19 against DePaul.
It was just three minutes, but it was welcome nonetheless with ND being down to eight scholarship players in each of their previous four games.
Ivey said Prohaska is “working on getting herself back into shape,” and that the senior guard’s minutes will grow.
“We really missed her coming back from break,” Ivey said. “She brings us defense, she brings us energy, she brings us toughness.”
Meanwhile, Katlyn Gilbert did not dress, missing her sixth straight game.
“No she’s not,” Ivey said of whether Gilbert might return soon. “She’s still trying to get back healthy.”
Dara’s 10 points Sunday gave the three Mabrey sisters a combined 4,001 for their college careers.
Marina, a star on ND’s 2018 national title team, closed her Irish days with 1,896.
Michaela, now a Notre Dame assistant, finished at 936.
Dara’s at 1,169, the first 738 of those coming during her two seasons at Virginia Tech before transferring to Notre Dame prior to last season.
“That’s awesome,” said Ivey, who has witnessed most of the points by the siblings. “That’s a great stat to have for a family. That’s a credit to that family and the work they’ve put in.”
The Irish from the line. They were 19-of-20 against Pitt and are 29-of-32 over their last two games.
Ironically, Sunday’s lone miss came from Sonia Citron, who nonetheless remains the team’s season leader at 44-of-49 for 89.8%.
If the schedule holds, the Irish play the first of four straight home games Thursday when Syracuse (8-9, 1-6) comes to Purcell Pavilion. It’ll be another rematch contest, ND having won 82-56 on Nov. 14 at Syracuse.
The potential of four consecutive conference home games was set up when the previously postponed North Carolina State contest was re-slotted over the weekend to Tuesday, Feb. 1.
No. 19 Notre Dame 77, Pittsburgh 63
NOTRE DAME (14-4): Dodson 9-18 5-5 23, Westbeld 3-8 2-2 8, Mabrey 2-5 4-4 10, Miles 5-14 4-4 14, Peoples 0-0 0-0 0, Brunelle 4-7 1-1 10, Citron 4-8 3-4 12, Prohaska 0-0 0-0 0, Team 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 27-60 19-20 77
PITTSBURGH (10-9): Brown 1-2 1-2 3, Igbokwe 4-7 0-3 8, Johnson 1-5 0-0 3, Everett 6-23 1-2 15, Harris 5-17 2-2 12, Dunn 0-1 0-0 0, Ezeja 0-1 0-0 0, Exanor 3-7 0-0 6, Hayford 1-2 0-0 2, Strother 5-10 0-0 14, Team 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 26-75 4-9 63
Notre Dame | 17 | 22 | 23 | 15 — 77
Pittsburgh | 16 | 23 | 16 | 8 — 63
3-Point Goals_Notre Dame 4-13 (Westbeld 0-2, Mabrey 2-4, Miles 0-3, Brunelle 1-3, Citron 1-1), Pittsburgh 7-27 (Johnson 1-4, Everett 2-12, Harris 0-2, Exanor 0-1, Strother 4-8). Assists_Notre Dame 14 (Miles 6), Pittsburgh 14 (Harris 5). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Notre Dame 43 (Dodson 12), Pittsburgh 38 (Igbokwe 13). Total Fouls_Notre Dame 10, Pittsburgh 20. Technical Fouls_None. A_2,201.