Banks scores career-high 18 points, but Canes not enough to sink Notre Dame

Notre Dame guards Dara Mabrey and Destinee Walker scored 17 points each, forward Maddy Westbeld tallied 15 points, as Miami (4-3, 1-3 ACC) lost their first game played in 11 days on Thursday at the Watsco Center, 71-60.

Hurricanes senior guard Endia Banks, who received her first start on the season, paced her team with 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting through 34 minutes of action. Guard Taylor Mason also had 11 points, but the double-digit scoring efforts were not enough to outlast Notre Dame (4-4, 2-2 ACC), who shot 47 percent (8-17) from the 3-point line.

Miami sprung ahead 13-4 after completing a 7-2 run by the five-minute mark of the opening quarter, forcing first-year head coach Niele Ivey to call a timeout. The Fighting Irish, however, closed the period on a 10-0 burst to take a one-point lead, while the home team went scoreless for those final five minutes.

“On the offensive end, we have to find a way to win ugly right now,” Miami head coach Katie Meier said. “We’re just not hitting shots that we’re working on. We’re going to get in the gym and keep working.”

Walker, a North Carolina graduate transfer playing in her sixth season, scored six straight points for the Irish as Mabrey followed with a 3-point field goal to regain a narrow point lead. Forward Anaya Peoples added four points before halftime, widening the margin to nine. Notre Dame outrebounded UM 21-16 before the intermission.

Miami created a 9-0 run behind a three from redshirt junior guard Destiny Harden and two fast break layups from Banks and senior guard Kelsey Marshall, despite shooting only 29 percent as a team in the second half.

Banks, who started all 30 games as a junior last season, scored seven points in the third quarter after registering just five in Miami’s recent blowout loss to NC State.

“We started her for the first time this year,” Meier said. “I thought she had really good energy and was really leading her team. She just played the 3-point shot tonight that has not been in her stat sheet (recently).”

The senior guard finished with her season-high in points and assists (five), finding ways to make up for her team’s deficiency of perimeter offense.

“The defense pretty much gave me 3-point shots and a jump shot,” Banks said. “I’ve been working on my 3-point game, so I just stepped up and tried to knock them down for my team.”

Forward Sam Brunelle remained scoreless in the first half but began to sizzle in the fourth quarter in scoring 11 of the Irish’s 21 points to put the competition out of reach.

“We left her open too many times, and she stepped up and hit the shot like we knew she could,” said Banks on which Fighting Irish player remained the hardest to contain.

Marshall, who guided the Canes with 14 points in their loss to the Wolfpack, struggled to score consistently as she shot just 1-of-7 in the first half and ended with eight points.

The Canes posted 18 points in the final frame but were unable to slice the deficit to lower than six, trailing by 16 with 3:20 remaining. They will face Clemson next, looking for their first ACC victory since Dec. 14.

“[We need to] come out like we did this game,” said Banks on Miami’s key to defeating the Tigers, who defeated Notre Dame 78-55 on Dec. 20. “Come out and play hard, stay focused, and we just gotta come out and be tough. I know Clemson is a tough team, they rebound hard and everything. We just gotta basically match their intensity and just come out and give it all we got.”

UM and Clemson will square off at noon on Sunday and the matchup will be broadcast on the ACC Network.