NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Notre Dame’s Olivia Miles just posted a triple-double.
Oklahoma’s Taylor Robertson is fresh off a 17-point second half.
The star guards likely will play key roles in determining which squad reaches the Sweet 16. Fourth seed Oklahoma will host No. 5 seed Notre Dame in the second round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Monday night.
Miles became just the 18th player in women’s tournament history to post a triple-double. She had 12 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in an 89-78 first-round win over Massachusetts on Saturday.
“You have to be able to guard her as a team,” Oklahoma coach Jennie Baranczyk said. “She’s such a — she can put the ball in the hole. She can score in a variety of ways. But she just makes everyone around her better, and so that is such a challenge as an opponent.”
Miles leads Notre Dame with 13.6 points and 7.3 assists per game.
“She’s had to take on carrying a team, carrying a program as a freshman, which is a very hard task,” Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey said. “But I knew that she was capable of handling it. And, yeah, I’m just really proud of what she’s done. She’s a dynamic guard. She sees the floor at a very elite level. She’s a high-level player, and I just feel like she’s really growing in front of our eyes.”
Robertson, the national leader in 3-point goals heading into the tournament, made four in the second half of a 78-72 first-round win over IUPUI on Saturday. She scored 22 points in all.
“Robertson is the best 3-point shooter in the country,” Ivey said. “We’ve never seen a shooter like Robertson, so we have a hard task.”
Robertson said teams extend their defenses to stop her.
“They’re face guarding me,” she said. “Even sometimes like right as I cross half court, they’re already right in my face, just trying to not let me touch it at all. Then, they just follow me around and they are always aware, and I think that has been a little bit different than some of the years.”
Baranczyk said that helps the Sooners because Robertson is versatile.
“As time has gone on, she’s done an incredible job of really cutting to the basket,” Baranczyk said. “But she also is an incredible passer, and I think that that’s a little bit underrated. Because when she has the ball in her hands, she can really create some things for some other people. She just draws so much attention.”
Baranczyk and Ivey are trying to get to their first Sweet 16s.
Both are coming off the first NCAA women’s tournament wins of their head coaching careers. Baranczyk coached at Drake for nine years, then took over at Oklahoma.
Ivey, a former Notre Dame player and assistant coach, went 10-10 and missed the tournament last year before getting the program back on track this year.
“I’m embracing every moment,” Ivey said. “Every moment is my first. So super excited to come back here today, to still be in Oklahoma.”
Oklahoma’s leading scorer and rebounder is Madi Williams. The junior forward averages 18.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while shooting 47% from the field. She had 21 points against IUPUI.
She plays off of Robertson’s game, and vice versa.
“Madi Williams and Taylor Robertson are completely different people, they’re completely different players and yet they work, and it’s incredible to watch that they can play to each other’s strengths because they know who they are and they know who each other are,” Baranczyk said. “And I think when you have that, that’s when magic really starts to happen.”
Notre Dame assistant coach Coquese Washington was an assistant at Oklahoma during the 2019-20 season. She’s been on Ivey’s staff at Notre Dame the past two seasons.
Ivey said she wanted to get Washington on her staff back in 2020, when Ivey first took over at Notre Dame.
“When I got hired, she was the first person that I called, because I was like, I need experience, I need loyalty,” Ivey said. “I need family around me, somebody that I know that knows me well and can relay the messaging and knows Notre Dame extremely well. I didn’t think I was going to get her.”
Notre Dame has another excellent freshman guard in Sonia Citron. The ACC Freshman of the Year averages 11.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest.
RUN AND GUN
Oklahoma entered the tournament ranked third nationally in scoring offense, and many teams have tried to slow the Sooners down.
Notre Dame won’t shy away from pushing the pace.
“We’ll definitely come to stay true to our style and our brand of basketball, so we’re going to try to get out and run with OU tomorrow night,” Ivey said.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: twitter.com/CliffBruntAP
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