Any basketball Head Coach will tell you, the one quarter you don’t want to lose is the fourth quarter. Staying aggressive and keeping on the accelerator is one way to do that. Unfortunately, when you don’t keep on the accelerator, a team will chip away at the lead and eventually take the lead. With N.C. State’s experience in this department, that mentality allowed for them to chip away at Notre Dame’s lead on Saturday afternoon in Bridgeport CT.
The first quarter saw Dara Mabrey lead off the scoring for the Irish. Both teams struggled for the next two minutes to find the underside of the net. In particular, the Irish struggled in the paint and missed two layups as well as two jump shots. Mabrey and Olivia Miles accounted for the for the Irish twelve points. The offense also had five turnovers in the first quarter.
Defensively, the Irish allowed for seven baskets in the paint, and did not allow any Wolfpack shots from distance. Sonia Citron gathered three defensive rebounds and a block, and Anaya Peoples got two blocks as well. The defense did gather ten defensive rebounds in the opening block of the game.
The start to the quarter went in the Fightin’ Irish favor. At 9:12, Marbrey makes the steal and scores at the other end to tie the game at 16-16. Peoples makes good on a layup to tie the game at 18-18. Mabrey sparks the Irish to the on a three pointer to put them up 21-20 at 07:43. Westbeld adds another shot from behind the arc to put the Irish up by four, 24-20. Miles matches Westbeld with her own three pointer, followed by Peoples layup to put the Irish up by six. The Irish was setting their tempo of play and the Wolfpack could not stop them.
The offense changed it up in the second quarter and the stat sheet reflected it. ND scored twelve points in the paint, four points off of turnovers and seven fast break points. That was eight more points in the paint from the quarter and seven more fast break points from the first quarter. A very positive turn around as they made 11-16 from the field. Defensively the Irish only allowed six points in the paint and held the Wolfpack to 6/15 from the field.
Coming out of the locker rooms it’s about keeping the momentum and staying on the throttle. Both teams came out cold to start the third. Maya Dodson defensively started with a block on Kai Crutchfiled. Offensively, the Irish missed their first two layups. Miles started the scoring for the Irish on a jumper to put the lead to ten with the score 40-30. The crispness of the second quarter was disappearing from the Irish offense. Both teams once again struggled to score for approximately three minutes with the score 46-38 with an Irish lead at 4:37.
With the score 51-41 (2:18), the Wolfpack started chipping away at the Irish lead. The Wolfpack start a 6-0 run which Citron stops at 00:15 left in the quarter and a score of 53-46 that ends the quarter. While scoring six baskets in the paint, the Irish had only one shot from behind the arc for a miss. Miles continued to score her points, it’s a team effort. Missed points in the paint was crucial in the quarter.
To start the quarter, it was a bit sloppy. A turnover by Abby Prohaska and Westbeld did not help the cause. The Wolfpack open with a 5-0 run to start. The Irish don’t score until 8:20 in the fourth on a Miles layup that was part of a 6-0 run by the Irish until 5:57 left in regulation. Then deja vu set in. The next four points scored by the Wolfpack came without the clock running. the lead is cut to two points with 5:03 remaining in the game.
Westbeld puts the Irish up by four with 3:19 left in the game. With 00:13 left in the game and up 63-62, Raina Perez steals the ball from Mabrey on the Irish end and cruises for a layup and the lead. A whole lot went wrong quick for the Irish as they were outscored 20-10 in the last frame. The Irish lose a heartbreaker 66-63.
The Wrap Up
Final stats for the Fightin’ Irish. 5 offensive rebounds, 26 defensive rebounds, 9 assists, 6 blocks, and 5 steals. Olivia Miles led all scorers with 21 points, 9-19, 3-10 from behind the arc, 6 defensive rebounds, 6 assists, in 38 minutes of play. Maddy Westbeld was next with 13 points, 8 defensive rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, in 37 minutes of play. Dara Mabrey had 9 points, 1 defensive rebound, 1 assist, and 1 steal.
The Fightin’ Irish seem to be a team that will be able to return next year if everything holds.
Cheers and Go Irish! ☘️🏀🌩️