In 2022, Northwestern lost to Notre Dame by 34 points. About a year later, not much has changed. In fact, the ‘Cats soured their performance in the series, losing by 58 Wednesday night.
Notre Dame (2-1, 0-0 ACC) crushed Northwestern (2-1, 0-0 B1G), 110-52, in South Bend. Sonia Citron, who exited late in the third quarter after suffering an injury, led the way for the Irish, scoring 23. As for the ‘Cats, Hailey Weaver had the best outing, notching three three-pointers and shooting 4-for-8 from the field. Paige Mott, who led the Big Ten in rebounds per game heading into the contest, fouled out without tallying a board.
NU turned it over 25 times in four quarters of play. Joe McKeown’s squad only made it to the free throw line six times and shot a collective 34% on the night.
Northwestern started strong by winning the tip, but it almost immediately pushed the ball out of bounds to give Notre Dame a chance to put the first points on the board. The Irish turned it right back over, though, straight into the hands of Caileigh Walsh, who passed it to Melannie Daley for the first field goal of the game.
Caroline Lau was the next to score with another two in the paint off of a Fighting Irish mistake. Paige Mott and Hailey Weaver catalyzed an 8-0 Northwestern run, forcing a Notre Dame timeout.
That’s when the game started (and continued) to go downhill for the ‘Cats. Out of the timeout, Notre Dame went on a run of its own — good for 15 unanswered points, led by Hannah Hidalgo, who had nine of those 15.
Lau managed to bring Northwestern out of that three-minute scoring drought on a driving layup, but it felt like Northwestern’s initial momentum had come to a complete halt.
The first quarter ended with a buzzer beater from Sonia Citron, making the score 16-24.
The Wildcats started the second period with another failure to keep the ball in bounds, following the trend of sloppy play that we saw in the first quarter.
Lau proceeded to steal the ball but Notre Dame got it right back. The Irish had nine turnovers on the half to NU’s 15, which they turned into 20 points.
The rest of the half consisted of zero free throws from the visiting team and a myriad of sloppy shots. Any response from the Wildcats felt almost like a miracle during Notre Dame’s 54-18 scoring run, which ensued following the Irish’s first timeout.
Citron came up with another end-of-quarter buzzer beater to end the half up 55-26. Northwestern’s shooting percentage was a dismal 37% at the half, having only made four shots in the second period.
The third quarter began with Northwestern cutting the 30-point deficit down to 28, scoring the first two with a jumper. A Paige Mott foul followed on due to a moving screen, putting her in foul trouble with an entire half to go. Even over the TV broadcast, the dejection on the bench was evident.
Notre Dame looked to extend its lead to 40 points, as it scored eight straight during another NU dry spell. Fortunately for the box score, Weaver got Northwestern to within 31 with a three-point field goal.
Paige Mott fouled out with a little over two minutes left in the third quarter, leaving the ‘Cats with only four of their original starters in the game. One of them, Caileigh Walsh, scored her only three points of the night with one minute left to go in the quarter.
Citron, with what looked like a left ankle injury, left the game towards the end of the third quarter, leaving the Fighting Irish without their highest point-getter of the game. They deferred the buzzer beater (fun fact: ND had a buzzer beater in each of the first three periods, madness.) to Emma Risch. The third quarter wrapped up, 42-79.
Northwestern was only outscored by seven points in that period, notching 16 to Notre Dame’s 23. A relative bright spot in an otherwise uninspiring game.
Northwestern had three missed layups to start the fourth quarter, leaving the door wide open for Hidalgo to score the opening jumper and give the Irish a 39-point lead.
An onslaught of jumpers later, Notre Dame’s lead had ballooned up to over 50. The game ended with a score of 52-110 — a more-than-dominant showing by the Fighting Irish.
Expectations for the game were low, but unfortunately, the matchup did not go any better than predicted for the ‘Cats. They’ll look to bounce back against Southeastern Missouri State this Sunday.