No letdown as No. 10 Irish women pummel Pitt

Anthony Anderson
Tribune Correspondent

So much for a letdown after an emotional win.

Bolting to a 24-8 lead through one quarter and never letting up, Notre Dame plastered host Pittsburgh 83-43 in women’s basketball Sunday afternoon at the Petersen Events Center.

Sonia Citron and Maddy Westbeld scored 13 points apiece as the No. 10-ranked Irish (22-4, 13-3) stayed tied with No. 9 Duke (23-4, 13-3) atop the Atlantic Coast Conference. Each team has two regular-season games remaining.

Notre Dame guard Sonia Citron (11) shoots in front of Pittsburgh forward Amber Brown (5) during the second half of an NCCA college basketball game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Freed)

'I blacked out.' Notre Dame's Olivia Miles hits OT buzzer-beater to sink Louisville

Olivia Miles added 10 points to go with game highs of 11 rebounds and five assists.

Led by Lauren Ebo scoring 10 points and grabbing six rebounds over just 12 minutes in her second game back after missing five, ND’s bench turned in a powerful collective performance.

Jenna Brown and Nat Marshall each tallied nine points among 33 in all by Irish reserves.

The Panthers (10-17, 3-13) — who had pushed host ND just 10 days earlier before falling 69-63 — were paced by Amber Brown with 13 points.

ND was coming off its roller-coaster 78-76 overtime victory against Louisville on Thursday, capped by Miles’ game-winning 18-footer at the final horn.

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► Between Thursday’s drama, Pitt’s recent improvement and this being ND’s first road test following four consecutive home outings, Irish coach Niele Ivey thought she had plenty of reasons to be concerned.

All concerns proved unfounded.

“I thought this was going to be a really hard game coming after an emotional win like that,” Ivey said, “so I just talked about for our team to not be complacent, to make sure we’re coming out locked in, and they were like that from the beginning.”

The Panthers entered having won three of their last four, their best four-game stretch in ACC play in eight years, yet ND proceeded to post its widest margin of victory against any league opponent in over four years.

The 24-8 advantage through one quarter came after the Irish had labored a bit in first periods lately.

They’d only outscored their opponents by an average of 15.1-13.3 across their last dozen opening quarters, and trailed after one quarter on five of those occasions.

Sunday, they scored the final eight points of the opening period and the first three of the second quarter for an 11-0 run while holding the Panthers scoreless for more than eight minutes.

They later added a 13-2 spree for a 40-16 spread at halftime.

They weren’t close to done, either. A 10-0 run stretched the margin to 55-22 late in the third quarter, and an 18-3 spanning the third and fourth periods made it 75-32 with 4:05 remaining.

For the day, ND outrebounded Pitt 48-26 and outpointed the hosts 16-3 on second chances.

► Ivey blended in her backups early and often, and never had cause to regret it.

Ebo and Cass Prosper checked in just 2:39 into the contest, Marshall just 4:21 in and Brown just 5:01 in.

“It’s been awesome,” Ivey said of the bench play recently, “and especially today. I thought the rotations were great. I thought everybody came in and did something really positive that really helped us on both sides of the ball.”

Notre Dame guard Jenna Brown (0) lays the ball up against PIttsburgh during the second half of an NCCA college basketball game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Freed)

Brown, a transfer from Stanford in her third active season, finished one point shy of her career high with the nine. She went 3-of-5 from the field with a 3-pointer, grabbed five rebounds and blocked a shot in 17 minutes.

“Coach Ivey’s been preaching it all year, just staying ready, making sure we’re paying attention and seeing where we can take advantage of the game when we come in,” Brown said. “The bench was definitely ready to go, but I thought the starters also did a great job setting the tone.”

Marshall’s nine points, matching her second-best output of the season, came in 16 minutes and included 5-of-6 at the line.

► Ebo remains on a minutes restriction, per Ivey, with the intent being to up those minutes each time out, but she didn’t appear at all restricted by the Panthers.

Notre Dame center Lauren Ebo (33) pulls down a rebound against Pittsburgh forward Maliyah Johnson, right, during the first half of an NCCA college basketball game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Freed)

The grad student center closed 3-of-5 from the field and 4-of-5 from the line to go with lots of smiles and engagement across her most action in over three weeks.

Ivey said Ebo’s still healing from the lower body issue that sidelined her in late January, but is continuing to progress well.

Worth noting

Ivey’s voice was still hoarse Sunday, and she acknowledged it was from Thursday’s win.

“You have to have a day with no talking, a silent day,” Brown playfully suggested to her coach during a postgame media session when the topic came up.

“She can be vocal,” Brown said of Ivey when pressed on the subject, before quickly adding that “she’s not a screamer, though.”

Who's hot

Led by Citron’s 3-of-4, the Irish went 8-of-19 on 3-pointers, good for their best percentage in 15 games and matching a season high for makes.

Who's not

Miles converted just 3-of-13 from the field, leaving her 21-of-66 for 32% over her last five games, but typically, it didn’t prevent her from leaving a decisively positive stamp overall.

Up next

The Irish play their home finale Thursday when Georgia Tech (13-14, 4-12) visits Purcell Pavilion.

The Yellow Jackets lost 80-66 on Sunday at No. 24 Florida State.

No. 10 Notre Dame 83, Pittsburgh 43NOTRE DAME (22-4): Watson 2-6 2-3 6, Westbeld 5-10 1-2 13, Bransford 4-7 0-0 8, Citron 5-7 0-0 13, Miles 3-13 3-4 10, Ebo 3-5 4-5 10, Brown 3-5 2-3 9, Prosper 2-6 0-0 5, Cernugel 0-0 0-0 0, Marshall 2-4 5-6 9, Totals 29-63 17-23 83PITTSBURGH (10-17): Brown 5-7 3-4 13, Ezeja 0-1 0-0 0, Harris 0-6 1-2 1, Hayford 0-2 0-0 0, Strother 3-6 0-0 8, Hutcherson 1-4 0-0 3, Johnson 3-12 0-0 6, Strickland 1-4 0-0 2, Clesca 0-0 0-0 0, Exanor 0-1 0-0 0, King 0-5 0-0 0, Lewis 1-5 3-3 5, Malcolm 1-2 0-0 3, Washenitz 1-2 0-0 2, Totals 16-57 7-9 43

Notre Dame24161924— 83
Pittsburgh881314— 43

3-Point Goals_Notre Dame 8-19 (Westbeld 2-5, Citron 3-4, Miles 1-6, Brown 1-2, Prosper 1-2), Pittsburgh 4-16 (Harris 0-3, Strother 2-5, Hutcherson 1-2, Johnson 0-1, Strickland 0-2, Lewis 0-1, Malcolm 1-2). Assists_Notre Dame 18 (Miles 5), Pittsburgh 11 (King 4). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Notre Dame 48 (Miles 11), Pittsburgh 26 (King 5). Total Fouls_Notre Dame 16, Pittsburgh 21. Technical Fouls_None. A_2,829.