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ND Women’s Basketball

Irish take on Florida State with fresh momentum

| Wednesday, February 5, 2014

With two consecutive, decisive victories in ACC matchups against Duke and North Carolina State, the undefeated No. 2 Irish have created momentum for their next conference contest against Florida State tonight in Tallahassee, Fla.

Notre Dame (21-0, 8-0 ACC) will play on the road for the second time this week after traveling to Durham, N.C. on Sunday and defeating No. 5 Duke 88-67.


Irish junior guard Madison Cable defends the ballhandler during Notre Dame’s 99-50 victory over UNC Wilmington on Nov. 9, 2013.Emmet Farnan

Irish junior guard Madison Cable defends the ballhandler during Notre Dame’s 99-50 victory over UNC Wilmington on Nov. 9, 2013.

Despite remaining undefeated on the road, McGraw said that road games in the ACC have been a challenge.

“So far in the ACC, we’ve found that every place we go to has been a tough place to play,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “[It’s difficult] with the crowd and just getting used to the new arena. It’s been an adventure for us and we expect this will be yet another big road test for us.”

After a narrow, four-point win over Maryland on Jan. 27. the Irish responded by winning their next two games by 26 and 21 points, respectively.

Florida State (15-6, 3-5) has not been able to establish a comparable winning streak. The Seminoles broke a four-game losing streak Jan. 26 with a 70-54 win over Virginia Tech but lost to Wake Forest on Sunday.

Seminoles senior forward Natasha Howard leads Florida State’s in scoring and in rebounds and recently broke the school’s record for career double-doubles with 32. 1984 graduate Sue Galkantas held the former record of 31 for nearly 30 years.

“Natasha Howard is really good,” McGraw said. “She averages over 20 points a game, and she really is one of the best players in the league. She’s an all-conference type of player. She’s a great rebounder, she’s a great scorer, she’s really athletic and she can run the floor. She is tremendously talented and their best player.”

As of this date, Howard is averaging 18.2 points and rebounds per game.

Florida State dropped out of most recent AP top-25 poll but previously was tied for the No. 23 ranking, and McGraw said the Seminoles field a talented team with multiple threats. Florida State has performed well at home, putting together an 8-2 home record this season, compared to 6-4 on the road.

“Their point guard [senior Cheetah Delgado] is also very good and they have a guard on the wing, [sophomore] Morgan Jones, who’s a really good shooter and wing player,” McGraw said. “They’ve got some talent and they’re a very dangerous team, especially at home.”

So far this season, Delgado has made 133 assists, well more than twice as many as the second-highest total on the team. Jones averages 13.3 points per game, second only to Howard.

Irish sophomore guard Jewell Loyd leads Notre Dame players in scoring with 17.5 points per game, but senior guard Kayla McBride is close behind with 17.1.

McBride’s offensive output has surged in recent weeks, including a team-high 23-point effort against Duke (21-2, 8-2), and on Monday she was named the espnW National Player of the week as well as the ACC Player of the Week. McBride earned the honors after a week in which she averaged 20.3 points per game.

Although the Irish will be aware of Howard, Delgado and Jones, McGraw said that her team will work on its own game.

“We like to really focus on ourselves and what we can get better at,” McGraw said. “Rebounding and defense are two areas where we are always trying to improve.”

The Irish and Seminoles take the court Thursday at 7 p.m. in Tallahassee, Fla., at Donald L. Tucker Center.

Contact Samantha Zuba at szuba@nd.edu 

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