SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)Olivia Miles scored 13 of her game-high 23 points during the second half of No. 7 Notre Dame’s 70-58 victory over Syracuse on Sunday.
After a back-and-forth opening three quarters, the Fighting Irish went on an 11-2 run to start the fourth quarter. While Notre Dame and Syracuse traded baskets through the final minutes of the fourth quarter, the Irish did enough to hold on.
”It was our defense,” Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey said. ”I felt like we shot the ball better, made better decisions, but we defended. And I feel like our toughness, our grit showed a lot in the fourth quarter. And that’s what was the difference, our defense.”
Dara Mabrey chipped in 15 points for the Irish (14-2, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who were coming off a dominant 86-47 victory over Wake Forest on Thursday. Miles also had seven boards and seven assists.
”I feel like (Miles) did a great job of just managing the offense and managing the team,” Ivey said. ”I felt like she had the ball on a string. She was really feeling it offensively, but she also did a great job of pushing pace in transition. She was really comfortable and she did a really good job of picking her spots.”
Dyaisha Fair’s 14 points led the way for the Orange (13-5, 4-3), who entered Sunday on a three-game winning streak.
”Our offense wasn’t working,” Syracuse coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. ”Our defense was fine. We just weren’t scoring, and scoring gives you energy to play defensive. Has to get better.”
It was a low-scoring game for two teams that average about 80 points. The Irish were 48.4% from the field and 38.9% from behind the arc. The Orange were held to 35.8% from the field and 19% from the 3.
”We wanted to come in really focused defensively,” Ivey said. ”We were locked in. I thought we did a great job of holding them below their averages and I thought we showed a lot of toughness late in that third quarter.”
Notre Dame: The Irish dropped three spots in the latest AP polls after a tough loss to No. 22 North Carolina last Sunday. So far this season, Notre Dame has quality wins over No. 4 UConn and No. 13 Virginia Tech.
”I didn’t feel like we were in the same situation at North Carolina,” Ivey said. ”We didn’t get the stops. They got out and ran in transition and that really shifted the momentum their way.”
Syracuse: The Orange have only faced one other ranked opponent this season, falling to No. 11 N.C. State on New Year’s Day.
Notre Dame: At Clemson on Thursday.
Syracuse: At Georgia Tech on Thursday.
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