ND Women’s Basketball
Greg Hadley | Monday, January 20, 2014
Behind a barrage of 3-pointers and solid bench play, the Irish sped off to a 86-70 victory over the No. 12 Lady Vols. Down by 12 with five minutes to go in the first half, No. 2 Notre Dame used a 19-6 run to take a lead they would never relinquish on the road,
The Irish (17-0, 4-0 ACC) ran into foul trouble early, with sophomore guard Jewell Loyd and freshman guard Lindsay Allen drawing two apiece in the first 10 minutes. Tennessee (14-4, 3-2 SEC) responded by going on a tear, shooting 56 percent from the field in the first half, and mixing shots in the paint and beyond the arc. Junior point guard Ariel Massengale and senior guard Meighan Simmons combined to hit six 3-pointers and dish out nine assists.
“In the first half, Jewell Loyd and Lindsay Allen were sitting on the bench, and they’re our best perimeter defenders,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “With them out of the game, we had a tough time defending their 3-pointer. They were just on fire.”
The Irish surrendered more first-half points then they have all season, but headed into the locker room with a little momentum ¾ courtesy of senior guard Kayla McBride, who scored four points in the final two minutes to pull Notre Dame to within five.
“Kayla was just unbelievable,” McGraw said. “She’s the best player in the country, in my mind. At the guard position, there is just nobody better.”
With Loyd and Allen back on the floor after the break, the Irish shut down the Volunteer offense, forcing 10 missed shots in a row. After clawing back to tie the game, Notre Dame broke the contest open on three straight 3-pointers from junior guard Madison Cable and sophomore guard Michaela Mabrey, pushing the lead to 58-51. Cable, Mabrey and freshman forward Taya Reimer all came off the bench and combined to score 36 points, compared to 16 from Tennessee.
“Michaela Maebry was just so poised, and Madison Cable was great on the boards,” McGraw said. “Taya Reimer was able to get in there and score as well. I was very pleased with all three them and how they played.”
As the Irish began to pull away for the win, the crowd of 13,346 in Thompson-Boling Arena quieted after a raucous first half.
“It was a hostile environment at the beginning of the game,” McGraw said. “It was like an NCAA tournament game for us. We haven’t seen a crowd like that all year, so I’m very pleased with how we … kept fighting.”
After 20 straight losses to the Lady Volunteers, this victory marks the fourth consecutive victory over Tennessee for the Irish.
McGraw said her team still needs to make adjustments moving forward, as the Irish reenter ACC play, with a matchup against No. 6 Maryland looming.
“We have to rebound better,” McGraw said. “We were outrebounded by almost 10 tonight and didn’t do the job on the boards that we needed. We can play better on defense as well. We need to work on our zone and fix it. They were beating us on the inside in the first half and we need to step up our ball pressure.”
The Irish return to the court on Thursday in the Purcell Pavilion against Miami in an ACC matchup at 8:30 p.m.