Bimini, Bahamas – Through its first four games of the season, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team was barely tested. That didn’t change on Thursday, as the Fighting Irish (5-0) cruised to a 90-65 win over American University (0-4) in the Goombay Splash Tournament in the Bahamas.
Olivia Miles led a balanced attack with 19 points. She also pulled down 10 rebounds for her fourth double-double in five games this season. She was one of five different Irish players in double figures. The Irish have continued to play better with each passing game of the young season.
“That’s what we’re looking for,” Irish assistant coach Charel Allen told the Notre Dame Radio network after the lopsided win. “Things that we’re focused on in practice, we try to carry over to the games. We don’t want to be playing our best basketball right now, so there (is) room for improvement, which is great, but come March we want to be as sharp as we can.”
Sonia Citron chipped in with 17 points. She was just 3 for 11 from the field, but cashed in at the free throw line at an 11 for 12.
“Her field goal percentage isn’t there, but she did her good job of getting to the free throw line,” said Allen. “No one can stay in front of her and she executed at the free throw line, 11 for 12. I mean that’s easy points.”
Citron’s night helped Notre Dame go 28 for 41 at the line. The high percentage day at the line offset the season-low 10 assists the Irish had as a team.
“We just felt like we could beat them off the dribble and get to the foul line,” Allen commented. “I wish we could have made a little bit more.”
The Fighting Irish were also able to force 16 turnovers. Led by three steals from freshman KK Bransfordwho scored in double figures for a second straight game with 12 points, Notre Dame scored 15 points off turnovers and also had a 23-3 fast break point advantage over the Eagles.
“I felt like our best offense is our transition,” said Allen. “It stems from our defense. So, I felt like at times we could have played better defense and probably scored a lot more. So just focusing on the defensive end now and going from there.”
Oregon transfer Kylee Watson led the front court with a solid 10 points and eight rebounds. She and Texas transfer Lauren Ebo have taken turns picking each other up down low.
“That’s our identity on offense,” Allen remarked. “If you focus on Olivia, (Citron) is going to step up. If you focus on (Citron) Kylee is going to step up big. Same with Maddy (Westbeld) and Dara (Mabrey). I feel like we’re hard to guard. Now we’re tightening up on the defensive end.”
Mabrey finished with 15 points, thanks in part to three 3-pointers in a game that saw many Irish families making the trip to Bimini, Bahamas for the Thanksgiving weekend.
“I know a lot of the player’s parents are here, so that’s nice to see that they’re able to spend time with family as well,” Allen said. “Then we’re their extended family, but we love them up as much as we can and then to get a win. That’s the ultimate thing. The ultimate goal is to win and this is a great Thanksgiving gift if we’re allowed to give gifts.”
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The Irish will close their weekend in the Bahamas when they face Arizona State Saturday afternoon.
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