Niele Ivey, Sonia Citron, Maddy Westbeld speak after Notre Dame loss
For the second straight season, Notre Dame has gone out in the Sweet 16 during the NCAA Tournament. With the Irish’s bigs in foul trouble during the third quarter, it only was a matter of time before Maryland took advantage of a team that had no real remaining strength. That’s exactly what happened in a 76-59 Terrapins victory. All Niele Ivey can do now is build a better team for next year and hope it will stay healthy – something this year’s team couldn’t do.
Ivey spoke after the Irish’s final game of the season alongside sonia citron (14 points, seven rebounds) and Maddy Westbeld (nine points, five rebounds). Had All-American point guard olivia miles been able to play, there is little doubt that she would have taken part in the season’s last postgame news conference. Alas, she will have to hope that she’s able to do it next year, hopefully just after winning a national championship.
Here is some of what Ivey, Citron and Westbeld had to say:
Ivey's opening statement
“Obviously disappointed in the game loss. Thought the second half, we really struggled with pressure, turned the ball over more than we would like, couldn’t really get into our flow in that third quarter. So just really disheartening.
It hurts for our seniors, but what I’m mostly proud of as their coach is just where we are at this moment with everything that we had to go through, the toughness, the resilience that I felt like I’ve seen in this team, the growth of this group, especially with these two.
I forced them with all of our adversity to do a lot of different things that they normally wouldn’t have to do, playing much, much bigger roles than really was expected, Sonia running the point, Maddy pretty much doing it all.
Maryland, hats off to them. They played an incredible game for 40 minutes. Super tough team.
And, again, I’m just really proud, proud of my team, just like I was last year. No one expected us to be here. We’re going to come back a stronger, better team because of this.
And it never feels good when you go through a game like this, but what I am encouraged by is that I have a very – a sophomore, junior coming back, my core is strong, and I’m looking forward to what Notre Dame women’s basketball is going to look like in the future.”
Westbeld on defending in the second half with foul trouble
“Yeah, we definitely had to be more careful going into it. It was unfortunate we were in that situation to begin with.
But I think, yeah, we definitely had to change the game plan based on that, just me and (Lauren) Ebo and Kylee (Watson). But, yeah, it was pretty tough. But at the end of the day, we just weren’t as tough as we should have been on the boards.
That’s really what the game came down to.”
Citron on the Irish's 25 turnovers
“I honestly think we did it to ourselves, just too many turnovers. We didn’t take care of the ball. And I think we let Maryland speed us up, and we kind of just went rogue.
That’s on us. We didn’t really play with the discipline we should have, and we didn’t take care of the ball.”
Citron on what Maryland changed in the third quarter
“I think they definitely started with a much more aggressive man press in that third quarter, but again, I think we did it to ourselves because we got the ball, and we were breaking it. It was just our decision-making, and we just, like I said, we went rogue, so…”
Citron on the adversity this year's Irish faced
“Yeah, this team has faced so much adversity. I never thought I’d be playing the point. I’m sure Maddy never thought she’d be basically a 2 or a 3 guard.
But I think through all of that, I think we learned so much. So I think you can look on the positive side, and next year, we will all just have so much more experience because of the situations we were put in.”
Westbeld on guarding Terrapins All-American Diamond Miller
“I think to start the game, we definitely did a really good job on her. She’s a great player. We game planned against her.
She caught the ball, we had a couple people coming for her, and made her turn the ball over in the first half, and it was good.
And then I think the foul trouble, we couldn’t stop fouling in the third quarter, and she got comfortable at the free-throw line. They kind of all did. Then I think once you get comfortable there, they got just more comfortable offensively.”
Ivey on scouting the Terrapins twice in one season
“Yeah, no, we’re fortunate that we actually had a chance to see them, play them early on, knew exactly who they are.
Coming in the first time we played them, it was a little bit different because getting a lot of new pieces. But I feel like we knew what their identity was, and we tried to take that away the majority of the game.
It was a lot easier, I guess, knowing when we have tape and film playing against them.”
Ivey on what went wrong in the second half
“You know what, I think Soni said it the best, we went rogue. First half, felt like we played our style, what we were trying to do game plan-wise down one, start the first possession turning the ball over, and that momentum really hurt us.
Then I think everyone was trying to get us going, so the rogue – the rogue part of it kind of going one-on-one because they were trying to make something happen after we broke the press, and I think when you have possession after possession of that, empty possessions on one end offensively, on the other end, they did a great job on the boards, they shot the ball really well in that third quarter.
And then when they actually missed shots, they did a great job of getting second opportunities, and that’s where we fell short, and I felt like we dug ourselves a really deep hole trying to find a way to fight out of that hole.
Then you add on the foul trouble, it just really hurt.”
Ivey on what the Terrapins did differently with Miller and Shyanne Sellers in the second half
“Yeah, I think Sellers, their press full court, their man-to-man press I think stifled us offensively for sure. But in the second half, Diamond is a senior, she’s an incredible scorer, and she’s going to do whatever she can to help her team win.
In the first half, we did a great job of kind of limiting her touches and got more bodies against her, had her turn the ball over a little bit. In the second half, she took over.
It’s not anything differently I felt like they did. I just felt like they were confident and aggressive, and they got really good looks, and they nailed every shot that they took.”
Ivey on Cassandre Prosper and a timetable for Miles' return
“Yeah, well, I think Cass has done just an incredible job coming in. She was a blessing for us, to have her join our team as an early enrollee. She got a ton of great experience playing in this type of game, playing in a first- and second-round NCAA game and a Sweet 16 game.
It’s invaluable the things she learned on the fly, and she’s a sponge. She soaked up everything. She had to take on a lot to really kind of adjust to college life, being a 17-year-old, and also me. I asked her to come in and guard one of the best players in the country.
It’s going to help her down the road. It’s going to help her throughout her career, having this experience, being on the big stage. She’s a big-time player, and she wants to be on the big stage.
This is really going to help her down the road and help our program.
As far as your question about Olivia, they’re looking at dates for next week for her surgery. So after surgery, obviously, it depends on healing, rehab and all that stuff. I expect her probably to rejoin us when we come back this summer.”
Ivey on suddenly having to prepare for Sellers when the focus already was on stopping Miller
“Yeah, well, we were prepared for all of them, to be honest. They all can score. We just wanted to bring a little bit more focus on Diamond after the first game we played them. Sellers. Every one of their players were on our scouting report.
Sellers, I felt like she did a great job against us in South Bend, and today, she was phenomenal leading the team, being aggressive offensively, defensively, got some defensive stops and charges.
She made really good heads-up plays. She plays with a ton of confidence, and the team goes as she goes, and she had an incredible game, as well.
Their team, they have a lot of balance. You just can’t stop one person. We had that mindset coming in.”
Ivey on how the Terrapins were able to attack the basket more in the second half
“Well, the first half, I looked at showing a little bit more zone, and I felt like when I went zone in the second half with our foul trouble, I felt like we let them loose, and they got some 3s within our zone, so I had to shift.
It was more strategic with as many shooters as they put out on the floor. But I felt like we contained them better in the first half with the zone, and in the second half, their shooters got loose.”