Notre Dame got its first win of the Niele Ivey era, beating Miami (Ohio) 88-68 in the home opener for the Fighting Irish.
It was a sloppy start for the Irish, who committed three turnovers and three fouls in the first three minutes, and missed their first two shots. Ivey quickly went to the bench, bringing in freshmen Alli Campbell and Amirah Abdur-Rahim early, and the young duo provided a spark.
Campbell’s length and ability to close out on the perimeter helped extend the Miami offense, which could not get into a good rhythm against the Irish defense. Abdur-Rahim was aggressive on the glass but also scored four quick points and added an assist on a pick-and-roll play.
That duo stayed on the court the remainder of the first half and helped turn a 4-3 lead into a 19-11 lead by the time the period was over.
In the second quarter another freshman, Maddy Westbeld, made her presence felt. Westbeld played just one minute in the first quarter due to an early turnover and foul, but she came back in period two with a vengeance, scoring 10 points (5-8 shooting), grabbing a pair of rebounds and dishing out a pair of assists.
Westbeld’s ability to attack the rim with the dribble was just as impressive as her ability to make plays in the low post.
Notre Dame’s defense resulted in 10 RedHawk turnovers in the first half, including seven in the second quarter, which led to 16 fast break points in the opening half as the Irish built a 45-30 lead at the midpoint break.
Sophomore Anaya Peoples was an all-around force for Notre Dame in the second quarter. Peoples scored six points, grabbed five rebounds, handed out four assists and had three steals. Peoples sparked multiple Irish runs in the first two quarters on both ends of the court.
Westbeld and veteran guard Destinee Walker picked up where they left off in the second half, leading the Irish offense. The Irish didn’t shoot it as well in the final two periods, but the defense continued to make stops and Miami never got within 14 points in the final two periods.
Walker led the Irish with 24 points on 8-12 shooting. Westbeld scored 19 points, grabbed nine boards, had four assists, had three steals and blocked two shots. Peoples had her second double-double in as many games, scoring 14 points and bringing down 11 rebounds while handing out five assists and making five steals.
Junior guard Abby Prohaska had a career-high 10 points in the win. Campbell scored eight points off the bench, blocked two shots and had a steal. Fellow freshman Alasia Hayes scored nine points. Transfer guard Dara Mabrey, who scored 34 points in the season opener, was held scoreless on just three attempts.
Notre Dame forced 23 turnovers and scored 30 points off those turnovers, which was fueled by 26 fast break points. The Irish also dominated down low, out-scoring Miami 54-28 in the paint.
The Irish once again played without starters Sam Brunelle, Mikayla Vaughn and Katlyn Gilbert.
The Irish next play on Thursday, Dec. 3 at home against Michigan.
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