Irish Lose Lead Late, Drop 81-69 at Syracuse

Sam Brunelle with a season high 19 points


SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Notre Dame women’s basketball team (8-7, 6-5) got off to a hot start at Syracuse (9-3, 6-3), building a lead as large as 15 while shooting over 57 percent in the first half. However, the Orange outscored the Irish 33-8 over the last 13 minutes of the game to rally for the 81-69 win. 

Sam Brunelle poured in 19 points on 9-of-18 shooting. The sophomore also tied her season-high in rebounds with eight, while dishing out a career-high five assists. 

“I thought we started the game exactly following our gameplan,” Karen & Kevin Keyes Head Coach Niele Ivey stated. “I thought our team came out, set the tone, and I thought we had a great first half, but credit to Syracuse, because they’re not going to quit.”

Maddy Westbeld added 12 points and four boards. Mikki Vaughn collected a career-high 12 rebounds and had a near double-double with nine points. Destinee Walker also contributed double-digit points with 11, going 3-for-4 from deep. 

In addition, both Olivia Miles and Danielle Cosgrove made their 2020-21 season debuts. Miles totaled four points, two rebounds, two assists and three steals in nearly 15 minutes of action. 


Notre Dame weathered a Syracuse 9-2 start and settled in on both sides of the court. The Irish recorded a 26-6 scoring stretch, including a 15-0 run to end the quarter. In fact, the Irish defense held Syracuse scoreless over the final 3:35. 

Offensively, Notre Dame shot 11-of-17, as Brunelle was a perfect 4-for-4, leading the squad with nine points. Vaughn and Walker followed next with seven and six points, respectively, as six different Irish players recorded points. 

Olivia Miles checked in at 7:42 in the second quarter and immediately made an impact. In four minutes of action, the early enrollee earned two assists, two steals and notched her first collegiate basket at the 3:54 mark.  

Westbeld got rolling in the second, scoring 10 of the team’s 16 points. The freshman out of Ohio went a perfect 5-for-5 from the field. In addition, Brunelle added four more points to join Westbeld in double figures and lead the Irish at the half with 13 points.

At the midway point, Notre Dame led 44-34, shooting 57.6 percent from the field compared to Syracuse’s 33.3 percent. 

Brunelle had a season-high 19 points by the end of the third, while Mabrey and Walker combined for three triples. Furthermore, Notre Dame recorded another strong shooting stretch, connecting on 5-of-6 from the floor over a two-minute stretch late in the period. All-in-all, Notre Dame led 65-58 heading into the fourth quarter. 

Yet, Notre Dame was held scoreless for the first three minutes of the fourth, as Syracuse ultimately tied the game at 67-all with five minutes remaining. Vaughn converted a layup at 4:23 but the Orange caught fire with a 9-0 run over the next 1:42, prompting a Notre Dame timeout down 76-69 with 2:41 remaining. Ultimately, Syracuse outscored Notre Dame 23-4 in the fourth. 


  • Notre Dame still leads the overall series 35-4, with a 15-3 mark at Syracuse.
  • The 15-point lead was the highest the Irish have given up in a loss this season.  
  • Brunelle scored a season-high 19 points on 9-of-18 shooting. The sophomore also dished out a career-high five assists. It marked her fifth double-digit scoring performance of the season and second in a row. 
  • Vaughn collected a career-high 12 boards to go with her nine points. 
  • Mabrey last four games: 21 assists, nine turnovers.
  • Westbeld earned her 13th game in double figures with 12 points against the Orange. In fact, she’s only finished in single digits twice this season. 
  • Walker tallied her eighth game in double figures with 11 points. The graduate student connected on 3-of-4 from three-point range. 
  • Olivia Miles made her Irish debut a few minutes into the second quarter. She scored her first collegiate points at the 3:54 mark in the second. 
  • Danielle Cosgrove made her 2021 debut at the 4:07 mark in the fourth quarter. 

Though the rankings are about to change, as of right now, the next two for Notre Dame – at No. 1 Louisville (Feb. 7) and at No. 2 NC State (Feb. 15).

— ND —