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ND Women’s Basketball

Notre Dame beats BC, 82-61, clinches program-best start

| Thursday, February 13, 2014

The No. 2 Irish rolled through yet another ACC matchup, setting a record for the best start to a season in program history with a definitive 82-61 win Thursday over Boston College in Chesnut Hill, Mass.

Irish sophomore guard Jewell Loyd dribbles the ball during Notre Dame's 101-64 win over Syracuse in the Purcell Pavilion on Feb. 9.John Ning

Irish sophomore guard Jewell Loyd dribbles the ball during Notre Dame’s 101-64 win over Syracuse in the Purcell Pavilion on Feb. 9.

With its 24th win, Notre Dame (24-0, 11-0 ACC) bested the season-opening winning streak of the 2000-01 squad, which went on to win the NCAA Tournament. The Irish have won their last 30 conference games.

Despite this accomplishment, Irish coach Muffet McGraw said her team has to keep pushing forward.

“It doesn’t mean a thing,” McGraw said. “Time will tell if this is the best team ever. We’ve got a lot of games left to play.”

Notre Dame shot 53.6 percent from the field, although Boston College (12-14, 3-9) was not far behind with a 51.0 percent mark. The Irish came into the game leading the country in field goal percentage with 51.8 percent shooting and leading the ACC in total offense with 87.7 points per game.

McGraw said she thought Notre Dame had good shot selection but could have done better from behind the three-point-line, where the Irish hit two of eight attempts. The Irish also lead the nation in three-point shooting percentage with a clip of 43.6 percent.

“I though we shot the ball pretty well,” McGraw said. “[But] we didn’t shoot as well from the three-point-line … We were a little out of our rhythm. It was a hard game for us to play because we had already beaten them by more than 40 at ND.”

Notre Dame defeated the Eagles, 95-53, on Jan. 9.

On Thursday, the largest discrepancy in scoring stats came in the free throw category. The Irish sank 20 free throws compared to just eight for the Eagles. Entering the game, the Irish had made 73.3 percent of their free throws on the season, led by senior guard Kayla McBride with 84.7 percent.

Irish junior guard Madison Cable dives for a loose ball during Notre Dame's 101-62 home win over Syracuse on Feb. 9. John Ning

Irish junior guard Madison Cable dives for a loose ball during Notre Dame’s 101-64 home win over Syracuse on Feb. 9.

Notre Dame got off to a quick start to build a 41-26 lead by halftime, and the Irish kept up the pressure in the second half.

Irish sophomore guard Jewell Loyd opened the second half with a steal from Eagles freshman guard Kelly Hughes, and Notre Dame struck first in the half on a layup from senior forward Natalie Achonwa to widen its lead to 43-26.

The Irish went on to outscore Boston College 41-35 in the second half, a margin largely propelled by McBride, Loyd and Achonwa.

All three scored in double digits, with McBride’s 19 points leading the way. Loyd deposited 18 points and Achonwa notched 13. Freshman forward Taya Reimer added nine points and has developed into a consistent producer for the Irish with 8.5 points per game, which puts her in the top five in total offense on the team.

McGraw said Reimer has made solid improvements this season and provides depth for the Irish.

“I was really happy with Taya tonight,” McGraw said. “She was really aggressive.”

McGraw added praise for McBride’s performance as well and for her consistent play over the course of the season.

For the Eagles, junior guard and forward Kat Cooper and senior forward/center Katie Zenevitch led in scoring with 13 and 12 points respectively.

Zenevitch also snagged eight rebounds and kept Boston College close to the Irish total, but Notre Dame outrebounded the Eagles 28-26. Loyd led the Irish with five rebounds.

The Irish return home for a conference contest against Georgia Tech on Monday at 7 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.

Contact Samantha Zuba at szuba@nd.edu

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