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ND Women’s Basketball

Mocs come to Purcell Pavilion to face Irish

| Thursday, November 20, 2014

No. 3 Notre Dame will return to a friendly environment Friday to take on Chattanooga at home, coming off a 71-63 victory at No. 15 Michigan State on Wednesday.

The Irish (2-0) dominated the season opener against UMass Lowell and pulled out the win over a Spartan team that kept it close all night for their 27th straight road win. Michigan State led by a point at the half, but Notre Dame buckled down in the second half to secure an eight-point cushion by the end of the game.

Irish junior guard Jewell Loyd streaks downcourt during Notre Dame’s 105-51 blowout over UMass-Lowell last Friday at Purcell Pavilion. Loyd leads the Irish in points per game, with 24.Kat Robinson | The Observer

Irish junior guard Jewell Loyd streaks downcourt during Notre Dame’s 105-51 blowout over UMass-Lowell last Friday at Purcell Pavilion. Loyd leads the Irish in points per game, with 24.

Meanwhile, the Mocs (2-1) decisively defeated Butler on Wednesday, 76-47. The game against the Mocs will be a chance to improve, which is crucial for a young team at this early stage of the season, Irish associate coach Beth Cunningham said.

Cunningham pointed to depth and athleticism as a facet of Chattanooga’s lineup that could push the Irish on Friday, as evidenced by the Mocs’ solid performances against the teams they have faced thus far.

“Friday, we’ve got another opportunity to continue to get better against Chattanooga,” Cunningham said. “They’re very athletic; they’ve got a lot of versatility at a number of different positions. They had a good win over Villanova in their first game, and they had a loss that went down to the wire at South Florida, and those are two teams we’ve been familiar with over the past couple years, and they also got a win [Wednesday] over Butler. It’s still early in the season for us, so it’s just about continuing to get better, game in and game out.”

The Irish rank second in the nation in scoring offense. Against Michigan State, junior guard Jewell Loyd led the team with 28 points, while freshman forward Brianna Turner added 17 and sophomore guard Lindsay Allen recorded 14. Cunningham said that attack could be on display against the Mocs due to the size difference between the teams. Notre Dame has six players who stand at 6-foot-2 and taller on the roster, while Chattanooga has three.

“We have an advantage with our inside game, and that’s something we want to exploit,” Cunningham said. “They don’t nearly have the size that we do inside. I think that could be a real strength for us. So we’ll just try to exploit them in the paint, and then also, we’ve got to do a better job than we did rebounding-wise, but I think that could be an advantage for us against Chattanooga.”

Against UMass Lowell, Notre Dame scored 105 points, and Turner broke an Irish record by scoring 29 in her first game in Notre Dame uniform. Though a repeat triple-digit performance is a tall order, Cunningham said the Irish always have the potential to post high point totals when they execute.

“Offensively, we want to be efficient,” Cunningham said. “We want to take care of the ball, take good shots and make good decisions. I don’t think we go into it saying our goal is to score triple digits, but if we execute our game plan and are efficient on offense, we’ll put up a lot of points.”

While Notre Dame has never played Chattanooga before, there is some history between the two coaches: Irish head coach Muffet McGraw worked as an assistant coach in 1980 under Chattanooga head coach Jim Foster, then at St. Joseph’s.

The Irish face the Mocs on Friday at 5 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.

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About Renee Griffin

Notre Dame senior, formerly of Farley Hall. Originally from Lake Zurich, IL, majoring in American Studies with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Enjoys talkin' about practice.

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