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ND Women’s Basketball

Notre Dame stays perfect

| Friday, February 21, 2014

Despite a night of cold shooting, No. 2 Notre Dame topped ACC rival Wake Forest on Thursday by 25 points, winning 86-61.

“Overall, we played a pretty good game on a night when we didn’t shoot the ball that well at all,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “To be able to put up that many points in a game like this is great.”

Senior forward Ariel Braker goes for a rebound during Notre Dame’s 79-52 win over Miami on Jan. 23 in Purcell Pavilion.Emmet Farnan

Senior forward Ariel Braker goes for a rebound during Notre Dame’s 79-52 win over Miami on Jan. 23 in Purcell Pavilion.

Notre Dame (26-0, 13-0 ACC) leads the NCAA in 3-point shooting this season, as the Irish have hit 41.6 percent of their shots from behind the arc. Against Wake Forest (14-12, 5-8 ACC), Notre Dame hit only three of their 16 3-point attempts.

“When we shoot like that, it does influence our offensive mentality,” McGraw said. “I think we need to shoot a little smarter. We needed to step inside and get to the free-throw line a little bit more; we probably should have attacked the lane a little bit more.”

Irish sophomore guard Jewel Loyd shone as the lone bright spot on a rocky shooting night, hitting nine of her 17 shots. Against the Demon Deacons, Loyd scored 29 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.

“She has been playing so well and has just been fantastic at both ends of the floor,” McGraw said. “She’s been rebounding, scoring, driving the ball, and getting to the free-throw line.

She’s just doing everything well in all phases of her game.”

Loyd leads Notre Dame in scoring this season, and is also averaging 6.2 rebounds per game.

“At the beginning of the season, we were talking about how she might be able to be the leading rebounder on the team,” McGraw said. “She’s an excellent rebounder because she has some great instincts. Offensively, she recognizes where the ball is going to go and seems to be in the right spot at the right time. Defensively, she’s been boxing out and really working to keep her man off the glass. She’s just going after it.”

Nonetheless, Notre Dame is still seeking perfection in all phases of the game to match its perfect record, McGraw said.

“We are just frustrated [that Wake Forest junior forward Dearica] Hamby scored 26 points,” McGraw said. “She came into the game as the leading scorer in the conference and we had a plan to double-team her. We didn’t execute it quite like we planned and she had a big game. That was frustrating.”

The Irish will look to improve on defense when they host No. 7 Duke on Sunday. While the Irish were claiming their 26th straight win, Duke (24-3, 11-2 ACC) was simultaneously picking up its 11th ACC win over No. 14 North Carolina State, 83-70.

“It’s going to be a battle against Duke, a great game,” McGraw said. “We beat them down there and we’re expecting it to be a great game here. They have some very good players, but we’ll play them well. There is a lot on the line, so it’s going to be a great game to see.”

Earlier this season, Notre Dame traveled to Durham, N.C., to play the Blue Devils on Feb. 2. When all was said and done, the Irish claimed a decisive 88-67 victory.

“It helps when you win like that and can beat them at their place,” McGraw said. “Now, we get to play in front of our crowd, which is always a plus for us.”

On Sunday at 1 p.m., Notre Dame hosts Duke in Purcell Pavilion.

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