2022 Shamrock Classic: Notre Dame holds off Cal in historic women’s basketball matchup

The ninth-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish took the early lead and never let go in a 90-79 win over California on Saturday in the inaugural Citi Shamrock Classic in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Fighting Irish’s three-point specialist, Dara Mabrey, led the scoring for Notre Dame with 16 points and six rebounds. Mabrey went 2-for-6 from behind the arc, with her second three tying the program record for career three-pointers made with 274. Making the milestone even more special was that it tied her for first with sister Marina Mabrey, who played at Notre Dame from 2015-2019.

All five Notre Dame starters scored in double digits, including Oregon transfer Kylee Watson (15), last year’s scoring leader Olivia Miles (13 points), Sonia Citron (12) and Maddy Westbeld (12).

Cal sophomore guard Jayda Curry, who earned 2021-22 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors, led all scorers with 24 points and five assists. Mia Mastrov came off the Cal bench to add 10 points.

The triumph served as a victorious homecoming of sorts for Notre Dame’s third-year head coach Niele Ivey, who grew up in St. Louis. As a high school player at Cor Jesu Academy, Ivey led the program to its first Missouri state title in 1995. She went on to play for Notre Dame and was a member of its 2001 NCAA national championship team – which won the title in none other than St. Louis.

And while Cal walked away with a loss on the board, the matchup itself was considered a win by Golden Bears fourth-year head coach Charmin Smith, who also hails from St. Louis. Smith played for local Ladue Horton Watkins High School before heading to Stanford, where she appeared in three consecutive Final Fours with the Cardinal.

The game, which made history at the first live broadcast of a women’s college basketball game on NBC, anchored a weekend of events focused on women’s empowerment and served as an opportunity for both coaches to be an important visible representation as premier coaches in their sport.

The Shamrock Classic marked the third all-time meeting between Notre Dame and Cal, with the first two matchups taking place in the NCAA Tournament. The Irish defeated the Bears in the first round of the 2007 tournament and again in 2012 in the second round.

Notre Dame, who finished last season at 24-9, is aiming for a return trip to the postseason after advancing to the 2022 Sweet Sixteen. The Irish are off to a 2-0 start after winning their season opener Monday vs. Northern Illinois (88-48).

Cal, which finished 11-13 last year, is looking for a rebound season and now stands 1-1 . The Golden Bears next host Idaho at home on Wednesday while the Irish travel to face Northwestern.

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: ND’s Nat Marshall talks Shamrock Classic, gender inequity in basketball, more

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2022 Shamrock Classic: Notre Dame holds off Cal in historic women’s basketball matchup originally appeared on NBCSports.com