Sonia Citron, Olivia Miles lead No. 9 Notre Dame to easy win over Northwestern ... sort of
Blowout victories aren’t supposed to be this eventful, but Notre Dame’s women’s basketball win Wednesday night at Northwestern was an exception, and Irish coach Niele Ivey wasn’t pleased.
“Lack of composure … that’s something I’m going to fix,” Ivey said sternly after ND downed the Wildcats 92-58 at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill.
Despite the lapses in composure, there were also some sparkling individual efforts for the Irish.
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Sharpshooting sophomore Sonia Citron collected game highs of 24 points and 10 rebounds as ninth-ranked Notre Dame moved to 3-0.
Fellow guard Olivia Miles added 21 points, four steals and four assists in just 24 minutes — before the preseason All-American’s night was cut short when she was ejected late in the third quarter by virtue of her second technical foul.
Lauren Ebo, ND’s grad transfer center from Texas, added a career-high 19 points and seven rebounds in merely 13 minutes while going 8-of-9 from the field, her domination slowed only by her foul trouble.
► Miles was involved in both of the game’s notable flare-ups, each accompanied by her being whistled for a technical.
The first occurred 1:13 before halftime with the Irish leading 44-28 as ND’s Nat Marshall and Northwestern’s Paige Mott jockeyed for position during a free throw. Their arms remained interlocked well after the play, with each called for an intentional foul.
Miles intervened on Marshall’s behalf, getting close to Mott’s face.
While it resulted in that initial tech on Miles, it wound up a far more expensive development for the Wildcats (1-2).
Three of their players — starters Courtney Shaw and Caileigh Walsh, along with backup Jasmine McWilliams — were all ejected by rule for leaving the bench area during the conflict.
Then at 1:09 remaining in the third period with the Irish up 69-39, Miles and Northwestern’s Hailey Weaver were both called for technicals.
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Weaver, who’d aggressively been defending Miles, was initially whistled for a personal foul. The two players jawed at each other during the dead ball, bringing the techs.
Because it was Miles’ second, she was ejected.
“We have to do a better job of not allowing circumstances to take us out of our character and our composure,” Ivey said, adding that the instances are not “who we are, what we represent at Notre Dame.”
Ivey described both dust-ups as teaching moments.
“I think both teams were just being competitive,” Ivey said of the second-quarter play. “Their arms kind of got flailed together and unfortunately it kind of got out of hand, but hopefully, it’s a lesson for both teams.”
Added Ivey of her club, “I don’t think this group has ever seen” players ejected for leaving the bench area, “so (we’ll) use that as a teaching moment. Regardless of the play, regardless of the situation, the circumstances, we have to make sure that we continue to play the right way.”
Ivey said that, contrary to high school rules, Miles’ ejection will not carry into the next game.
► You get a quarter; you get a quarter; you get a quarter.
It was like that for assorted ND players much of the evening as the high-octane Irish offense countered the assortment of defenses that Northwestern tried, including the Cats’ oft-vaunted “blizzard” look, a 1-1-3 matchup zone involving traps.
Ebo, coming off the bench, scored 11 of her points over just five minutes in the opening period.
Citron rang up 14 of hers during the second quarter.
Miles added nine of hers over the first 2:42 of the third.
“I feel like as a team, we just take what’s open,” said Citron, who made her first eight tries on the way to 8-of-10 from the field with four 3s. “I was open a lot around the 3-point line and my teammates found me. Some games, it’s going to be more on the inside and we’re gonna try to find the post, but honestly, we just take what’s given to us.”
ND’s 92 points put the team’s early-season average at 90.0. The Irish tallied 46 in the paint (to 32 by Northwestern) and 17 on fast breaks (to the Cats’ 11).
“I think we have great balance offensively,” Ivey said. “We share the ball. We’re very unselfish.”
The Irish were also relentless on the offensive glass, scrapping to 24 such rebounds on their way to a 58-32 board advantage overall and putting in 25 second-chance points to the hosts’ nine.
► After starting 30 games last season for the Elite-Eight Longhorns, Ebo continued to show she also can flourish off the bench.
For the season, she’s averaging 12.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 16 minutes per contest, and doing it efficiently at 13-of-19 from the field and 11-of-12 at the line.
“Absolutely,” Ivey said of whether Ebo’s like having a sixth starter. “I mean she’s incredible when she gets the ball in position. She does a great job, great hands, one of the best finishers in the country. (We’re) just trying to keep her on the floor.”
Ebo’s four fouls against the Cats came on the heels of committing five in just 15 minutes against Cal.
“I’ve talked to her about finding ways to adjust to the (way a game is called),” Ivey said. “I think she’s going to get better at it.”
Besides Ebo and Citron being blistering so from the field in this one, Miles has been likewise at the free throw line. She hit 9-of-9 there against Northwestern to push her season totals to 20-of-22.
Maddy Westbeld made just 1-of-10 from the field against the Cats, but she was 10-of-16 entering the night — and she remains perfect on 3-pointers at 4-of-4.
Dara Mabrey drained her 275th and 276th career 3-pointers, passing sister Marina (274) for the all-time collegiate lead among the Mabrey siblings.
Marina, who capped her ND career in 2019, remains the leader in program history, as 155 of Dara’s came while at Virginia Tech.
Including Michaela (228), a fourth-year Irish assistant, the three sisters have hit 778.
But don’t forget the brothers.
Oldest sibling Roy dropped in 264 3-pointers from 2011-15 at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., while youngest sibling Ryan is just getting started. He has three over his first three games as a freshman starter at Miami of Ohio.
The Irish host Ball State at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Katryna Gaither, who starred from 1993-97, will be inducted into ND’s Ring of Honor during a pregame ceremony.
No. 9 Notre Dame 92, Northwestern 58
NOTRE DAME (3-0): Watson 4-10 0-2 8, Westbeld 1-10 0-0 3, Citron 8-10 4-5 24, Mabrey 2-9 1-2 7, Miles 6-13 9-9 21, Ebo 8-9 3-4 19, Bransford 1-5 1-2 3, Brown 1-4 1-2 3, Cernugel 0-0 0-0 0, Marshall 1-1 2-6 4, Totals 32-71 21-32 92
NORTHWESTERN (1-2): Shaw 2-3 1-2 5, Walsh 3-7 0-0 7, Brown 2-8 0-0 5, Rainey 2-3 0-0 5, Wood 1-5 2-2 4, Goodchild 2-5 1-2 6, Mott 2-4 1-6 5, Daley 3-5 2-4 8, Hartman 0-1 0-0 0, Lau 0-6 3-4 3, McWilliams 1-1 0-0 2, Ademusayo 3-8 0-2 6, Morris 0-5 0-0 0, Weaver 1-1 0-0 2, Totals 22-62 10-22 58
3-Point Goals—Notre Dame 7-17 (Westbeld 1-1, Citron 4-5, Mabrey 2-7, Miles 0-3, Brown 0-1), Northwestern 4-17 (Walsh 1-2, Brown 1-4, Rainey 1-1, Wood 0-2, Goodchild 1-4, Hartman 0-1, Lau 0-1, Morris 0-2). Assists—Notre Dame 19 (Brown 4, Mabrey 4, Miles 4), Northwestern 13 (Ademusayo 2, Lau 2, Wood 2). Fouled Out—Northwestern Mott. Rebounds—Notre Dame 58 (Citron 10), Northwestern 32 (Ademusayo 6). Total Fouls—Notre Dame 22, Northwestern 26. Technical Fouls—Notre Dame Miles 2, Northwestern Weaver 1. A—1,176.