Big night for Maddy Westbeld, two Iveys and Notre Dame women in win over Wake Forest
SOUTH BEND — Jaden Ivey finally got an in-person chance to see his mom coach, and mom’s team made it worth the trip for the NBA Rookie of the Year candidate.
Doing exactly what they’ve done every time Notre Dame’s lost a women’s basketball game over the last two seasons, the Irish won their next one, shredding Wake Forest 86-47 on Thursday night at Purcell Pavilion.
“To bounce back is always great,” ND coach Niele Ivey said. “We had a great week of practice, and I’m really proud of us having a complete game today for 40 minutes.”
Junior forward Maddy Westbeld matched her career high with 25 points, grabbed a game-high eight rebounds and dished four assists despite sitting out all of the inconsequential fourth quarter as the No. 7-ranked Irish moved to 13-2 overall, 4-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Sophomore point guard Oliva Miles added 13 points, six boards and four dimes against just one turnover for the winners.
Early enrollee Cass Prosper scored 12 points in 17 minutes off the bench; Lauren Ebo tallied 10 points; KK Bransford netted nine; and Sonia Citron had eight to go with four steals.
The Demon Deacons (11-7, 2-5) were paced by Elise Williams with 13 points.
Wake Forest guard Jewel Spear, the ACC’s defending scoring champion and averaging 15.9 per game this season, was limited to five points on 2-of-11 shooting after missing the Deacons’ last game for an undisclosed reason.
► The Irish — 24-9 with a Sweet 16 trip last winter — have lost 11 times over the last two years. Each time, they’ve won the next time.
In nine of those 11 instances, they’ve won by double digits, and four of the victories have come against ranked teams, including last month’s 74-60 dispatching of No. 3 Connecticut.
“We find ways to learn from our losses,” Ivey said. “When you lose, it gives you an opportunity to figure out what you need to do better. I feel like this group, we do a great job of just kind of reconnecting and figuring out, how can we be better? They do a great job of responding, especially when we’re at home.”
ND fell 60-50 on Sunday at No. 22 North Carolina.
“I didn’t know about that stat,” Miles said of the 11-for-11 bounce-back streak, “but we always emphasize watching film, getting better. Sunday taught us a lot, and losses always teach a lot.”
Specifically, according to Miles, Sunday’s taught that “we need to rely on our defense when our offense isn’t necessarily going for us.”
The Irish seemed somewhat unalarmed after that Carolina game at shooting by far a season-low 28% from the field, instead pinning the loss on their defense.
ND, besides hitting 54% against Wake, held the Deacons to 31%.
The Irish registered 11 steals as well, and their man-to-man defense demonstrated a consistent display of smooth switching.
“Collectively, I felt like we were on the same page defensively,” Ivey said. “We went through a lot of their plays, and I felt like we knew the sets. We were more disciplined (against) their sets, kind of knowing what to expect. They ran a lot of motion, so that just required a lot of discipline.”
► Westbeld, coming off a four-point game in Chapel Hill that included 2-of-10 from the field, was the indisputable spark for the Irish.
She scored or assisted on five of Notre Dame’s first six field goals.
By halftime, Westbeld had 19 points, six rebounds, all of her four assists and both of her two steals as the Irish owned a 44-25 lead.
She added six more points during a third period that ND closed out with a 12-0 run to push the spread to 66-37.
“I think we had to set the tone on both ends of the floor after what happened Sunday,” Westbeld said, “so that’s just what I was trying to do, be aggressive for my team on the defense, and then let that flow to the offense.”
Westbeld finished 10-of-15 from the field with a pair of 3-pointers and added 3-of-4 at the line to match her career-high point total that occurred two years ago as a freshman against none other than the Deacons.
► While Niele Ivey’s been able to attend her son’s games roughly a couple-dozen times over her first three seasons as Irish coach — that stretch coinciding with Jaden’s two years at Purdue and this season with the Detroit Pistons — it’s been immensely harder for Jaden to break away, first as a full-time student-athlete, part of that coming during a pandemic, and now as a pro player with an 82-game slate and travel galore.
But he was in the front row opposite the ND bench Thursday, accompanied by friends, including ex-Irish standout Demetrius Jackson.
“I was really excited,” Niele said. “He told me a couple weeks ago he was going to try to get to this game, so when he said he was gonna make it happen, I was really excited, really happy.
“He’s always been that person, my support system for the last 15 years,” the coach continued. “I know with his schedule, it’s really hard for him to get here, so the fact he made it to support me and the program, I was really happy.”
Jaden was introduced between the third and fourth quarters to warm applause.
The Pistons played a home game Wednesday and were slated for another one Friday.
Men's basketball:Historic night for former South Bend prep standout, Irish guard
Westbeld’s 10-of-15 from the field included her making 10 of her first 13, all of that damage done over the game’s first 26 minutes, 16 seconds.
Dara Mabrey’s slump from 3-point land reached 1-of-18 over the last three games with an 0-for-5 against the Deacons, but not without controversy.
She appeared to hit a triple to start the fourth quarter, and was initially credited with one on the scoreboard, but the official signaled a deuce.
The scorer’s table suggested the shot may have been a trey and a review was conducted during a timeout, with the basket ultimately declared a 2-pointer.
Either way, Mabrey found other manners in which to contribute.
She dished a season-high six assists against two turnovers and both her steals set up Irish baskets.
Prosper’s eventful, 12-point night included a season high among the early enrollee’s four appearances since joining the team.
She drained 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter and added a rebound bucket on her way to 10 points and four rebounds in that period.
She also switched from No. 4 to No. 40 due to blood on her uniform.
Worth noting II
The Irish recorded their largest margin of victory against an ACC opponent in over four years. They beat Pittsburgh 100-44 on Jan. 3, 2019.
ND hits the road for each of its next two games, visiting Syracuse (13-4, 4-2) for a 2 p.m. contest Sunday, then heading to Clemson next Thursday.
That’ll put five of the team’s first seven ACC games on the road, before six of the ensuing eight come at home.
No. 7 Notre Dame 86, Wake Forest 47
WAKE FOREST (11-7): Summiel 3-9 0-0 7, Harrison 4-13 2-2 10, Scruggs 1-4 0-0 2, Spear 2-11 0-0 5, Williams 3-10 5-6 13, Becker 1-2 0-0 2, Hinds 3-5 0-2 6, Morales 0-0 0-0 0, Andrews 1-3 0-0 2, Conley 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 18-58 7-10 47
NOTRE DAME (13-2):
Watson 2-3 0-2 4, Westbeld 10-15 3-4 25, Citron 3-4 2-2 8, Mabrey 2-8 0-0 4, Miles 5-8 3-4 13, Ebo 3-4 4-4 10, Bransford 3-5 3-4 9, Brown 0-1 1-2 1, Prosper 4-9 2-3 12, Cernugel 0-0 0-0 0, Marshall 0-2 0-0 0, Totals 32-59 18-25 86
3-Point Goals—Wake Forest 4-17 (Summiel 1-2, Harrison 0-1, Scruggs 0-2, Spear 1-5, Williams 2-5, Andrews 0-1, Conley 0-1), Notre Dame 4-16 (Westbeld 2-5, Mabrey 0-5, Bransford 0-1, Prosper 2-5). Assists—Wake Forest 10 (Williams 3), Notre Dame 18 (Mabrey 6). Fouled Out—Wake Forest Hinds. Rebounds—Wake Forest 27 (Harrison 6), Notre Dame 49 (Westbeld 8). Total Fouls—Wake Forest 20, Notre Dame 10. Technical Fouls—None. A—4,319.