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ND Women’s Basketball: McBride leads squad to victory

Vicky Jacobsen | Monday, February 4, 2013

Irish junior guard Kayla McBride entered the weekend as a player with a shooting problem. She had made just 4-of-23 shot attempts in her previous two games, but, one minute into Saturday’s 64-42 home win over Cincinnati, McBride threw up a jumper that sailed through the net for the game’s first points.

“It’s a good feeling,” McBride said of sinking her first shot. “I think it’s a momentum thing, it gives you energy and helps you in other things; getting steals on defense, getting rebounds, and tempo.”

McBride hit her first seven shot attempts, leading the No. 2 Irish (20-1, 8-0 Big East) to an early 20-8 advantage over the Bearcats (8-13, 0-8).

“That was probably one of the best individual performances that I’ve seen in the Big East this season,” Cincinnati coach Jamelle Elliott said of McBride’s efforts.

The Irish shut down Cincinnati’s offense for much of the first half. The Bearcats didn’t score until six-and-a-half minutes into the game, when senior center Lesha Dunn broke though with a jump shot. The Irish held senior guard Dayeesha Hollins, Cincinnati’s top scorer to a season-low six points.

“I thought [Hollins] had some makeable shots, missed some easy bunnies” Elliott said. “To Notre Dame’s credit, she’s our best player, everybody knows it. Everybody knows that we have trouble scoring, and we expect everyone that we play to try and get her out of her game offensively and make somebody else score.”

McGraw said she thought Hollins was limited by her three personal fouls, two of which came in the first half.

“We were trying to hold her to single digits, we did a pretty good job there,” McGraw said. “I think she missed some shots, and she only took nine.”

McBride scored 17 points in the first half and added two more in the second, and was complemented by the production from Irish senior guard Kaila Turner, who scored 11 points. 

“I thought Kaila Turner gave us some great minutes off the bench,” McGraw said. “She really stepped up when we needed a little bit of poise and composure.” Bearcats junior guard Kayla Cook led her team with 12 points. She was the only Cincinnati player to end the game with double-digit points.

The win over Cincinnati was the 699th of McGraw’s career.

“No, I really don’t,” McGraw said when asked if she thought much about her career milestones. “Not when you watch [former Tennessee coach] Pat Summitt win 1,000 [games]. [700] seems like a pretty small number to me.”

The matchup was the team’s annual “Pink Zone” game in support of breast cancer awareness and research, and the Irish wore pink-accented uniforms and shoes. 

Some of the earliest Notre Dame women’s basketball players attended the game Saturday and were recognized in a pregame ceremony.

“It means a lot to me because that’s back in my era, when I was playing, and I know exactly what they went through,” McGraw said. “It kind of brought back some memories for me, how we got where we are, from those women that got this all started.”

McGraw will try for her 700th win as a head coach Tuesday night when the Irish travel to Villanova.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu