Notre Dame girls basketball on three-game win streak after beating Chaminade

Notre Dame’s Riley Mann looks for a pass under pressure from Natalie Patrick-Aguiar of Chaminade in a Mission League girls basketball game Jan. 18, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Dame’s Miabella Spica guards Alyssa Saldana of Chaminade in their Mission League girls basketball game Jan. 18, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Natalie Villamor is all smiles as Notre Dame defeats Chaminade in a Mission League girls basketball game Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Dame defeated Chaminade in a Mission League girls basketball game Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Dame’s Miabella Spica and Alyssa Saldana of Chaminade battle for the ball in their Mission League girls basketball game Jan. 18, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Chaminade’s Payton Montgomery, left, and Notre Dame’s Miabella Spica battle for a rebound during their Mission League girls basketball game Jan. 18, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Chaminade’s Payton Montgomery, left, is defended by Natalie Villamor of Notre Dame during their Mission League girls basketball game Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Dame’s Natalie Villamor, left, is defended by Chaminade’s Natalie Patrick-Aguiar during their Mission League girls basketball game Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Dame girls basketball coach Jena Laolagi leads her team to a victory over Chaminade in a Mission League game on Jan. 18, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Dame’s Raegan Davis, middle, gets past Chaminade defenders Rhema Clements and Payton Montgomery during their Mission League girls basketball game Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Chaminade’s Natalie Patrick-Aguiar defends Notre Dame’s Riley Mann during their Mission League girls basketball game Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Dame’s Amia Witt looks for help against Chaminade in a Mission League girls basketball game on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Dame’s Peyton Chalmers tries to keep the ball away from Mylee Lott and Natalie Patrick-Aguiar of Chaminade during their Mission League girls basketball game Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Chaminade girls basketball coach Jason Ancrum talks to a player as they face Notre Dame Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Chaminade girls basketball coach Jason Ancrum talks to his team during a timeout as they play Notre Dame Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Dame girls basketball coach Jena Laolagi talks to her team as they host Chaminade Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Chaminade girls basketball coach Jason Ancrum talks to his team during a timeout as they play Notre Dame Jan. 18, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

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SHERMAN OAKS — Notre Dame girls basketball shook up the Mission League standings and is now on a three-game win streak after beating Chaminade 64-54 on Thursday evening.

The two-game series is split between the two, and Notre Dame moves into a tie for third place in the Mission League with Harvard-Westlake.

“Going into the season I believed we can finish top three in league,” Notre Dame head coach Jena Laolagi said. “And at the beginning, the girls didn’t think it was attainable. After we sat down and watched film (of the loss to Chaminade), they all said to me, we can do this, we can beat them.”

Amia Witt scored 23 points and pulled down 16 rebounds for Notre Dame (14-8 overall, 3-3 in Mission League) and made seven of nine free throws in the fourth quarter. Natalie Villamor chipped in 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

Payton Montgomery led Chaminade (13-8, 4-2) with 23 points.

Chaminade gained an edge by one point with five minutes left in the first quarter when Payton Montgomery made a layup, but Natalie Villamor sank a 3-pointer 15 seconds later to give Notre Dame a 10-6 advantage that it continued to build on.

The Knights withstood a run from the Eagles with less than two minutes remaining to end the quarter with a 19-13 lead.

Notre Dame continued to find openings that allowed it to let 3-point shots fly. Villamor hit three 3s in the first quarter and another in the second half, but the percentage from range decreased as time went on.

The Knights began to work inside-out and held a 38-36 advantage at halftime.

Alyssa Saldana grabbed a steal and passed the ball to Natalie Patrick-Aguilar with 3:28 left in the third quarter for a layup that helped Chaminade cut the deficit to 10 points. The Eagles made five of eight shots to bring the score to 50-43 in Notre Dame’s favor heading into the final quarter.

“We picked up our intensity halfway through the third quarter,” Chaminade coach Jason Ancrum said. “Our team is still learning how to play together and how to deal with success. It’s like, we can go on a big run and then ‘Oh we made it back. OK, let’s let’s take our foot off the gas.’”

Chaminade nearly caught up and was trailing 53-50 with four minutes remaining in the game, but couldn’t fully leverage its size advantage to keep Notre Dame away from the hoop. Witt knocked down two free throws and made a layup within 30 seconds to extend Notre Dame’s lead further.

Notre Dame has become increasingly dialed in as the season has gone on, as the focus shifts to attaining one of the Mission League’s three automatic playoff spots. There are four league games left in the season.

The Knights are practicing three times a week and have 6 a.m. shootarounds with film study in addition to two games per week. The players are embracing it, especially after finishing sixth in league last season.

“We have a balance,” Witt said. “Coach Jena is really all about balance, and it’s not like she’s forcing us to do anything. As a team, in past years, Notre Dame hasn’t been as great at basketball. This year we’re really trying to turn that around.”

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