Summer 2024

Star freshman Hannah Hidalgo leads No. 9 Notre Dame, is 'always thanking God'

Niele Ivey’s shorthanded No. 14 Notre Dame team used only six players to beat No. 10 N.C. State and capture the program’s sixth ACC Tournament title on Sunday. Unsurprisingly, it was star freshman Hannah Hidalgo who led the way and took home MVP honors.

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Hidalgo gave the Fighting Irish the lead twice in the final 2:24 and secured the 55-51 victory by splitting a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left. She finished with a game-high 22 points, six assists (also a game-high) and six rebounds. In 39:33 of playing time as her team’s primary ball handler, Hidalgo did not commit a single turnover as Notre Dame (now No. 9 in the country) extended its winning streak to eight.

In the postgame press conference, Hidalgo gave thanks to God and emphasized the important role faith plays in her life.

“It’s truly a blessing from God, and, obviously, I give all glory to God,” she said. “I try and stay humble. … I’m excited for just another accolade and all credit to my teammates, because I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.”

Hidalgo โ€” who declares she is “saved by Jesus Christ” in her Instagram bioย and includes multiple references to her faith in her bio on X โ€” has been quick to praise the Lord in interviews all season.

โ€œIโ€™m a really big faith person, so I really do believe that everything I have comes from God,โ€ she told The Observer in November. โ€œAnd so I make sure that I keep my head humble because I know that everything the Lord has given me could all be taken in an instant. But I also know where I came from, and I didnโ€™t always have all of this.โ€

A top-five recruit, Hidalgo helped the U.S. win a gold medal at the 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup before arriving in South Bend. To say she has justified the hype would be an understatement. Hidalgo leads the country in steals per game with 4.6 and is third in the ACC in assists per game (5.5), while her 23.3 points per game trail only Iowa’s Caitlin Clark (31.9) and fellow freshman sensation JuJu Watkins of USC (27.0) nationally in scoring.

Last week, Hidalgo was named the ACC Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, as well as a first-team all-conference selection.

Speaking to ND Insider in February, Ivey complimented her point guard on the way she lives out her faith.

โ€œSheโ€™s a woman with great character,โ€ Ivey said. โ€œShe understands that this is just a game and God has blessed her with these gifts, and she tries to honor God in the way that she plays, and sheโ€™ll tell you that.โ€

The spotlight on Hidalgo is only going to get bigger with Notre Dame now preparing for the NCAA Tournament, and three more seasons ahead of her. Yet, she is intentional about being grateful for the position the Lord has put her in.

โ€œI know that every gift I have comes from God,โ€ Hidalgo told ND Insider, โ€œand at any moment can be taken away from me. So Iโ€™m always thanking God for my talent, because at the end of the day, it wasnโ€™t me that did that.โ€

The Fighting Irish will find out who it faces next during the NCAA Tournament selection show, which will take place Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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