basketball Edit

Backcourt fuels Notre Dame WBB team's road romp at Ball State

Notre Dame leaned on freshman point guard Hannah Hidalgo in its 90-59 win at Ball State on Friday, Hidalgo led the Irish in scoring, assists and steals.
Notre Dame leaned on freshman point guard Hannah Hidalgo in its 90-59 win at Ball State on Friday, Hidalgo led the Irish in scoring, assists and steals. (Gus Martin, The Star Press/USA Today Network)

For the first and only time this season, No. 17 Notre Dame women's basketball went on the road in its own state of Indiana, and captured a victory on Friday.

The Irish completed their home-and-home series with Ball State by defeating the Cardinals, 90-59. They'll host Purdue, a Big Ten opponent, inside Purcell Pavillon on Dec. 17.

Ball State (5-1), which was picked No. 2 in the Mid-American Conference preseason poll, wasn't taken lightly by Notre Dame's starting backcourt of Hannah Hidalgo and Anna DeWolfe, who combined for 42 points.

"We know any team can be beat," Hidalgo said. "We don't wanna take any game for granted and, obviously, we want to go out and just play every game like it's our last game."

The Irish lost to Ohio, another program in the MAC, in their 2020-21 season opener and head coach Niele Ivey's head coaching debut. Since, the Irish have won 16 consecutive games against non-Power 5 opponents, not counting two NCAA Tournament wins over Southern Utah and UMass.

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In April, DeWolfe, a 5-foot-8 guard, committed to the Irish as a graduate senior after spending four years at Fordham. The former first-team All-A10 guard star joined Hidalgo, freshman guard Emma Risch and Pepperdine grad transfer Becky Obinma as new faces in Notre Dame's program.

Through five games, DeWolfe has played 25 or more minutes in four of Notre Dame's wins and has seen an increased role in the absences of guards Olivia Miles and Sonia Citron, the latter of whom is expected back from injury in the next week.

DeWolfe had her best statistical game in an Irish uniform against Ball State, with 17 points and 3-of-5 made 3-point attempts. She added six rebounds and five assists.

"I think my teammates have helped me a lot and my coaches believing in me," DeWolfe said. "We have a really tight-knit group here at Notre Dame, and I think just having the support from my teammates and my coaches really helped me get acclimated here quickly."

Hidalgo, who scored a game-high 25 points, stuffed the stat sheet with eight steals — two more than her average that leads the nation — seven assists and five rebounds. She pressured Ball State's guards and consistently defended Ball State point guard Ally Becki the full length of the court.

Ivey said she's pleased with Hidalgo's transition and expected this type of immediate impact after coaching her this summer.

"I mean, I knew recruiting her what she was capable of providing for us," Ivey said of the nation's fifth-leading scorer at 25 points per game. "I needed leadership. I needed scoring. And somebody that could just handle the ball ... just the experience that she brings.

"And then we obviously fell in love with her. She has an incredible personality. So when you have that match with somebody with high character, somebody that plays with the unselfishness that she plays with, it fits into our system perfectly."


Nat Marshall and Maddy Westbeld rounded out Notre Dame's double-digit scoring, with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Notre Dame, missing forward Obinma due to an illness, led by as many as 37 points and won the rebounding margin by 28, but had cracks in its overall performance.

The Irish committed a season-high 29 turnovers, including 21 from their starting five of Hidalgo, DeWolfe, Westbeld, Cassandre Prosper and Kylee Watson. Ball State was credited with 13 steals, which means 16 of Notre Dame's turnovers were dead-ball turnovers, including travels, stepping out of bounds or offensive fouls.

"I think it's a little bit of just not focusing for 40 minutes," Ivey said. "We work on passing every day. We're always working on our ball-handling ... I think our decision-making was, unfortunately, off today, but we'll clean that up."

Notre Dame returns to the floor next Wednesday at No. 19 Tennessee (3-2) in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge. Tip-off is 5 p.m. EST.



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