Niele Ivey, Maddy Westbeld speak after loss to Duke knocks Irish out of first
SOUTH BEND – The good news for Notre Dame is there’s plenty of time to reclaim first place in the ACC after Duke claimed it.
The bad news is the 57-52 loss the Blue Devils handed the Irish means Niele Ivey will have to figure out how to play catch-up. That’s not where a team wants to be with less than a month to go before the ACC Tournament. Alas, the Irish have no choice.
Maddy Westbeld played the entire game and had 15 points and seven rebounds. But she contributed to the Irish’s 2-of-13 shooting from the field in the fourth quarter, missing all three of her shots. In fact, the six points olivia miles scored in that frame were all the Irish produced. Lauren Ebo surely could have helped stop the bleeding had she been available, but we’ll never know for sure.
Here is some of what Ivey and Westbeld said about the Irish’s toughest loss this season:
Ivey's opening statement
“First of all, I was really thankful for our Notre Dame community (coming) out. … So I’m just really appreciative of the energy. Our fans: They’re just so amazing. Everywhere we go on campus or in the community, they just love this group. They embrace me, they embrace this group, so I’m just so grateful to have such an incredible atmosphere. Unfortunately, (we) fell short today. But I know that it’s part of our growth. It’s part of our journey. Sometimes, that journey, when you lose the way we lost today, it’s never easy. But there’s always something you can take from it, and that’s what we’re gonna do. (I) talked about it with the team.
As far as individual performances, I thought Maddy was amazing. Played every minute this game. Gave me everything. Left it on the floor. Sonia (Citron), as well, had to do a lot. Both of them had a requirement to do a lot. So I just really appreciate the way that they led us. But defensively, we struggled. Scoring in the fourth quarter: Six points (for us), nine points (for Duke). And defensively, we had some lapses that really cost us the game. Offensive rebounds. When we finally got the stop, not being able to capitalize in transition. I thought that was the difference. I thought Duke’s guard play, you could tell (is) a little bit more mature as far as their leadership, as far as just having more experience at different points. And again, hats off to them, but again, (I’m) just really grateful for this turnout today and what it means for us, and we’ll move on, and we’ll bounce back.”
Ivey on the Irish's poor fourth-quarter shooting
“You know what? It was some of those opportunities (that) were in transition. We didn’t get a chance to capitalize with those. Some of our half-court shots – I thought they were good looks (but) a little bit short. We felt like we did a good job at finding the open person. We just didn’t nail the shots. We got some wide-open looks. I didn’t feel like we got great offensive rebounding. I felt that we were one-and-done. That really hurt us ’cause we got wide-open shots at points but just didn’t have anybody crash it. … You gotta rely on your defense, and again, they only scored nine points, but again, every stop matters, and every possession matters.”
Ivey on what the most frustrating moment of the fourth quarter was
“I just felt like offensively, we just couldn’t find the ball to go in the basket to be honest. It was a bunch of plays back-to-back-to-back that we were just so close. Just couldn’t get over that hump. I felt like even (when it) was a one-point game, and energetically, if we had made – I think it was a basket in transition or one of our shots, I thought it was gonna explode going up. So that’s what I was waiting on, but 2 for 13, that’s tough.”
Ivey on the play design when the Irish trailed, 55-52, in the final seconds, which resulted in a Miles turnover
“I was trying to get us a quick score and get her downhill. So instead of kind of a flat screen, I wanted her to get downhill. That was the idea: Get a quick paint touch, turn around, try to get a stop, get a foul, advance it and try to run a play.
Just from when we have been in some late-game situations (we’ve been) working on this week, I want to get Liv downhill. We had 15 seconds. She got there in about three seconds, so I was trying to get two first before I went for the 3.”
Ivey on her lineup adjustments
“I have to adjust a lot with what’s going on. If Maddy was doing a great job and being at the five as more of a threat. Having four guards and more of a threat on the floor, so I was trying to mix it up, throw them off a little bit. And then, I try not to be saying the same thing too long for them to get comfortable. I thought ([autotag]KK Bransford[/autotag])’s been doing a great job of being inside-out. She’s always in different looks. I was trying to do some things offensively, so that’s why I switched it up a little bit. When they went to their two bigs, I went back to my two bigs.”
Westbeld on her versatility
“Like Coach said, from Dara (Mabrey) and Ebo, obviously, they bring a lot to the table. And without them, we have different players. I have to step up every night, so just being that player, whatever Coach needs is whatever my team needs to just try and step up and do that.”
Ivey on what Ebo's presence could have done in this game
“A mere paint presence. They outscored us in the paint. Ebo does a great job of being a great go-to scorer on the block. Her size, her ability to rebound, and her post defense. So we’re lacking that right now, but again, I know that ([autotag]Natalija Marshall[/autotag]), Kylee (Watson), Maddy are taking more reps at that to try to help.”
Ivey on trying to figure out her team's identity without Mabrey and Ebo
“Again, that’s an adjustment. That’s part of the game. You gotta figure out a way to navigate regardless. And yes, injuries have plagued us the last couple weeks, but again, adversity gives a lot of opportunity for our team. And so, we have some players that are really young (who have) never been in these moments. You gotta learn the fire unfortunately, but I know we’ll be better for it down the road.”
Ivey on what she knows her team can figure out
“Being more locked in defensively. Offensively, we’re gonna get better. We’re gonna be better executing. We’re always working on us, always working on offense, and always working on taking care of the ball. So we’re gonna get better on both sides of the ball.”
Ivey on whether the pressure of the moment played a role in the Irish's poor fourth-quarter shooting
“There are some times when I have two freshmen, two sophomores on the floor or two freshmen, one junior. So a lot of the different lineups are players that have not been in this moment. Normally, those moments were with Dara. … And Ebo obviously, but I think that’s a credit to that. Some of those shots in the fourth quarter (were) wide open. We normally make those, so again, just have to be in it. You learn a lot and just having the confidence to be in those moments. They’re gaining that. Even with a loss, you’re still gaining my trust. They know that I trust them, and those opportunities are going to present themselves again, and they’ll have been in those moments. So it’s gonna help us down the road.”
Ivey on a timetable for Ebo's return
“Every day, I’m just getting one more feedback, so she’s been working really hard with her rehab. We have a great performance team, so every day, they’ll just update me, so it’s kind of day-to-day.”