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ND Women’s Basketball: Baby steps

Vicky Jacobsen | Thursday, October 31, 2013


Sophomore guard Jewell Loyd received a thunderous greeting from the home crowd before No. 2 Notre Dame’s 118-49 exhibition win over California (Pa.). And by the end of the night it was easy to see why.

Loyd helped jumpstart the Irish on Wednesday night, scoring 27 points in just 19 minutes in a game whose outcome was never in doubt. The sophomore was 6-for-8 from the free-throw line, 3-for-3 from behind the arc and sunk one of her shots as she fell backwards onto the floor.

“Offensively, I think Jewell played really well,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “She really made a good effort to rebound more. She attacked the basket more.”

Loyd said her efforts at the backboard were a conscious attempt to follow McGraw’s instructions. 

“Coach [McGraw] wants me to get inside and be mean, try to attack the basket and let the game come to me, ” Loyd said

But Loyd had company on the stat sheet. Freshman forward Taya Reimer was statistically perfect in her collegiate debut, hitting all 11 of her shots from the floor and all five of her free-throw attempts. She scored 20 points in the first half, matching the Vulcans’ entire offensive output from the first period, finishing the game with 27. 

“Taya shot the ball extremely well,” McGraw said. “That’s a fantastic line for a freshman in her first game. She was all around the basket, and I think she got in position, got the ball where she wanted it.”

Reimer said her success was a matter of getting open when her teammates looked her way. 

“I was just trying to be in the right place at the right time,” Reimer said. “Jewell and [freshman guard Lindsay Allen] both did a great job of looking for me and I tried to do the same for them. I was just trying to be as physical as I could down low.”

For one night, at least, former point guard Skylar Diggins was not too sorely missed – and not just because she came to watch her old team, greeting the fans a few minutes into the second half.  Allen proved herself to be a promising successor to Diggins, who has been helping the young player adjust to her new role. Allen played for 27 minutes, dishing out eight assists and adding 13 points to the Irish effort while giving up just one turnover.

“I was really pleased with Lindsay Allen,” McGraw said. “She ran the team well, she took good shots. She took care of the ball – only one turnover.

She really understands the game; she’ll take it from the timeout to the court as well as anybody that I’ve ever had as a freshman.”

Allen said she was disappointed in the turnover in an otherwise stellar game. 

“I definitely didn’t want the one turnover,” Allen said. “I guess just one turnover is fine. But with the offense that we have and the transition game that we have, it makes it a lot easier to just kick the ball up.”

The Vulcans never stood much of a chance against the Irish. After California jumped to a 5-4 lead, the Irish scored the next 20 points and never looked back. Junior guard Emma Mahady, a native of Albury, Australia, led the Vulcans with 11 points.

McGraw, however, was not completely satisfied with Notre Dame’s performance, especially on defense. Her main complaint about her players? They’re just too nice.

“When they cross that line at midcourt and go to defense, they play like freshmen,” McGraw said of the underclassmen-heavy rotation. “This is a very, very sweet team. They’re very cordial to each other on the court, and that’s something that I’d like to change very quickly.

“[Past squads], they could get in-between the lines and they were going to be physical and knock you down. They weren’t going to help you up, and this team is going to help you up.”

Notre Dame played without senior forwards Natalie Achonwa and Ariel Braker and senior guard Kayla McBride. After the game, McGraw said Braker and McBride should be able to practice by Saturday, and expects both to be ready for the official Nov. 9 season opener. But the Irish will be without Achonwa for approximately four to six weeks as she recovers from a scope on her right knee. Achonwa averaged 9.5 rebounds and 13.8 points a game last season.

Freshman forward Kristina Nelson and freshman center Diamond Thompson also made their debuts Wednesday. Nelson scored six points on 2-for-3 shooting, while Thompson added three points and five rebounds in eight minutes of play.

The Irish kick off their regular season  Nov. 9 with a visit from UNC Wilmington. 

 The game begins at 1 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at