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For Olivia Miles and Niele Ivey at Notre Dame, this is just the beginning

(Amanda Hajjar/Just Women’s Sports)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Niele Ivey doesn’t like to waste time.

It took her four days after being named the new head coach of Notre Dame women’s basketball in August 2020 to land two of the top recruits in the nation. Those freshmen, guards Olivia Miles and Sonia Citron, have quickly evolved into two of the top scorers and playmakers on the roster.

Then it took her one season to lead Notre Dame back to the Sweet 16, a place the program has become familiar with after two championships and four runner-up finishes under Muffet McGraw, Ivey’s former coach and predecessor.

And after Notre Dame’s heartbreaking 66-63 loss to NC State in the Sweet 16 on Saturday, Ivey said it wouldn’t take long for her to turn the page and begin preparing for next season.

“I’m excited to get back to work. Maybe I’ll take 24 hours off, and then I’m going to start watching film and get back to work because that’s what it is. This is a grind,” she said.

For nearly three quarters on Saturday, Notre Dame played like it didn’t want to waste any time, either. After going down 16-12 in the first quarter, Miles led the Fighting Irish on a 24-10 run in the second, scoring eight of her team-high 21 points during that stretch.

Notre Dame maintained its lead all the way into the fourth quarter, not letting NC State get within more than four points for nearly 15 minutes. Citron and Maddy Westbeld, the other two underclassmen in Notre Dame’s starting lineup, were key offensive catalysts, combining for 21 points and 13 steals in the game.

Notre Dame’s offense was so potent, five days after scoring 108 points in their win over Oklahoma, that NC State coach Wes Moore switched things up at the start of the fourth quarter. The Wolfpack started pressing Notre Dame higher up the floor, forcing Miles as the ball-handler into making tough decisions.

From there, NC State methodically clawed its way back into the game, exploiting Notre Dame’s 16 turnovers for 22 total points. Raina Perez sealed the comeback with under 30 seconds to go, stripping Dara Mabrey of the ball at halfcourt and hitting the layup at the other end to put NC State up 64-63. She then closed out the win with two made free throws.

“I could have done a way better job of getting my team more organized,” Miles said after the game. “I was kind of quiet because I was trying to figure it out for myself, figure out the spots that I can go and get the ball up the floor. That caused some of my team to create turnovers, and I take the blame for that.”

Ivey spoke before practice on Friday about Miles’ leadership being the next step in her career evolution. Being vocal isn’t something that comes naturally to the freshman, so she’s had to push herself into uncomfortable situations to help her team.

“Coach Ivey is a national champion point guard, so she’s seen the worst of it, and she knows and she helps me,” Miles said.

A game like Saturday’s, though demoralizing for the way it ended, only strengthens that bond between a coach and her star player.

From now until the start of preseason next fall, Ivey can mull over Miles’ performance and the fact her team was 30 seconds away from upsetting No. 1 seed NC State and advancing to the Elite Eight. But she won’t be thinking about it that way.

Niele Ivey doesn’t have time to dwell on the past when her present and future are so bright.

“I was told, oh, you’re going to need three to four years. Well, I needed one,” Ivey said. “I’m hoping that what we showed as a program and as a team, I hope that attracts even more talented players to want to play for this family.”

Hannah Withiam is the Managing Editor at Just Women’s Sports. She previously served as an editor at The Athletic and a reporter at the New York Post. Follow her on Twitter @HannahWithiam.

Esme Morgan Signs With Washington Spirit

Esme Morgan of England inspects the pitch prior to the UEFA Women's EURO 2025 qualifying match between England and France
The England national will join the Spirit in DC on July 15th. (Naomi Baker - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

English defender Esme Morgan has signed with the Washington Spirit, the club announced Thursday. 

Morgan had been with WSL side Manchester City since 2017, with one year remaining on her contract. She’ll now make a move to the NWSL, with City receiving a fee for the move. 

"I wanted to join the Spirit because they have the ambition and tools to be the best team in the NWSL, and trying to achieve that will be a great but enjoyable challenge," Morgan said in a club statement.

"On an individual level too, the opportunity to work under Jonatan [Giráldez], one of the world's best coaches, is really exciting and I look forward to learning from him and pushing myself to become the best player I can be, hopefully helping the team to success."

According to ESPN, Morgan’s lack of playing time under City manager Gareth Taylor played a key role in her decision to leave the league championship runners-up. She’ll join the Spirit in Washington, DC on July 15th, but won’t be able to begin play until August. 

Spirit president Mark Krikorian called Morgan an "exceptional talent" and added that the club is "thrilled" to add her to the roster.

"I think she’s pretty talented," Giraldez told reporters on Friday. "A young player with a great future, but with experience already in a great league and with the national team. She’s been surrounded by great players and also great coaches, so she can give us experience."

Ledecky Goes for 4 at Olympic Swimming Trials

Swimmer katie ledecky swimming at Toyota US Open
Decorated swimmer Katie Ledecky is aiming to make her fourth-straight Olympic squad. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Swimming Trials begin this weekend, running from June 15th through June 23rd in Indianapolis, with Katie Ledecky eyeing her fourth-straight Summer Games.

While traditionally held in Omaha, Indiana's Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, has been fitted with a 50-meter pool to host the meet that will determine the 2024 Paris Olympics roster.

All eyes will be on seven-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky, who will be competing in the 200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter, and 1500-meter freestyle — all events in which she’s been an Olympic champion. 

Rival Ariarne Titmus had her trials last week, breaking the world record in the 200-meter freestyle. Ledecky’s 200 is intended to qualify her for the Olympic relay. Meanwhile stateside, Katie Grimes stands to be a challenger in the 1500-meter freestyle has already qualified for the Paris Olympics in the 10km open water event.

Other competitors of note include 47-year-old Gabrielle Rose, who stands to become the oldest US Swimming Olympic qualifier in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke.

Additionally, Kate Douglass — an NCAA and World Champion — is a favorite to make her first Olympic team in the 200-meter IM and 200-meter breaststroke. Simone Manuel, an Olympic champion in the 100-meter freestyle, is also looking to make her third-straight Olympics.

Where to watch: The Trials will be streaming all week on Peacock, with later qualifying heats airing live on USA Network and event finals airing in primetime on NBC.

Orlando and Kansas City Shoot for 13 in NWSL Weekend Action

NWSL's T. Chawinga #6 of the Kansas City Current passes the ball during the first half of their game against the Utah Royals FC
The Kansas City Current hopes to extend its NWSL unbeaten streak to 13 with a win over Chicago. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

The 13th match weekend is fast approaching in the NWSL, with two season-long unbeaten streaks on the line.

League-leaders Kansas City and Orlando will attempt to survive the weekend with their unbeaten runs intact, as the Current host Chicago on Friday and the Pride travel to North Carolina for Saturday's match.

But while Kansas City and Orlando have been the gold standard this year, they're still a number of wins away from tying Washington's record for longest unbeaten streak in a single NWSL season. In 2021, the Spirit went 20 games without a loss en route to the club's first NWSL championship.

Both Gotham and Louisville are carrying momentum into their matchup on Saturday. Louisville is unbeaten in three games, and they’re looking to finally leapfrog Chicago and claim sixth place in the league standings. Gotham, on a seven-game unbeaten run, is into fifth place.

Portland and Seattle will face off in the Cascadia Clash this weekend, with Golden Boot contender Sophia Smith absent, as the decorated forward was shown a red card last weekend for time-wasting on the bench.

The Reign could use a win against their long-time rivals, as a difficult start has 13th-place Seattle registering only two wins amid nine losses so far this season.

Elsewhere in the league, 2024 expansion teams Bay FC and Utah meet for the first time this weekend, as both look to rise from the bottom half of the standings. And Washington will ride a four-game winning streak into Saturday's game against a San Diego side that's earned two hard-fought draws in recent weeks.

Watch more: "Sophia Smith is INNOCENT!" on The Late Sub with Claire Watkins

WNBA All-Star Voting Starts on June 13th

Phoenix Mercury mascot Scorch waving a 2024 WNBA All-Star flag at a 2023 home game.
Phoenix Mercury will host the 20th-annual All-Star Game on July 20th, 2024. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Voting for the 2024 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game opened at 2 PM ET today and runs through June 29th.

All active WNBA players are eligible to make the All-Star Game, set for July 20th in Phoenix. Unlike previous formats that featured two voted-in All-Star squads, this year’s contest pits a single All-Star team against the already-decided Olympic-bound USA Women’s National Team.

Fans can submit a daily ballot nominating up to 10 athletes via or the WNBA App.

Fan-submitted ballots account for 50% of vote, with the other 50% split equally between current WNBA players and members of the media. The top 10 athletes will automatically make the All-Star Game, with league coaches then voting from a pool of the next 36 to complete Team WNBA’s 12-player roster. The final lineup will be announced on July 2nd.

This year's All-Star Game format presents an opportunity for fans to vote for players they might consider Olympic snubs. Indiana rookie Caitlin Clark and Dallas’s Arike Ogunbawole seem like shoo-ins given the discussion surrounding their Olympic omissions, while Connecticut stars Brionna Jones and DeWanna Bonner are also expected to snag All-Star nods.

And after a career-high 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in last night’s 83-75 loss to the Sun, Chicago rookie Angel Reese could also secure a spot.

Regardless, it won't necessarily be smooth sailing for Team USA, as history has tended to favor the underdog. 

The first USA vs. All-Stars matchup took place in 2021, with the league’s squad humbling the Tokyo Olympians 93-85. With 26 points, Ogunbawole was named All-Star Game MVP after barely missing the Olympic cut. Could she and Clark turn the tables on Team USA this year?

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" by Expert Adjacent

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