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ND Women’s Basketball

ND looks to bounce back against Blue Demons

| Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The No. 5 Irish will travel to Chicago on Wednesday to take on No. 25 DePaul at 9 p.m.

The Irish head into the matchup after a troubling 76-58 loss to No. 2 Connecticut on Saturday at home. The Blue Demons (6-2) are the third consecutive ranked opponent for Notre Dame (8-1), who defeated No. 14 Maryland, 92-72, last week. Assistant coach Beth Cunningham said DePaul’s offensive attack makes it a challenging team to play against.

“They have a high-octane offense that scores 90 points a game, and four or five starters averaging 10 points or more,” Cunningham said. “They have a lot of versatility and the ability to put up a lot of points since they play a fast-paced, track meet style of game.”

Cunningham said the Irish have improvements to make after the performance against Connecticut, especially on defense, but they also have a number of advantages over DePaul. She said the play of junior guard Jewell Loyd, who scored a career high 31 points Saturday, will be crucial.

Irish junior guard Jewell Loyd scans the court during Saturday's 76-58 loss to Connecticut in the Purcell Pavilion. Loyd tied her career high with 31 points against the Huskies.Wei Lin

Irish junior guard Jewell Loyd scans the court during Saturday’s 76-58 loss to Connecticut in the Purcell Pavilion. Loyd tied her career high with 31 points against the Huskies.

“Jewell Loyd is playing great right now; she’s probably the best player in the country,” Cunningham said. “We’re a young team right now, and there’s a lot that we have to learn from the Connecticut game. Our inside game can be a real strength against [DePaul], but the most important thing is we have to play better defense and rebound better and continue to share the ball and make good shots on offense.”

Notre Dame’s play in the paint will be strongly affected by the potential absence of freshman forward Brianna Turner, who suffered a shoulder injury against Maryland on Dec. 3 and could not compete against Connecticut. Cunningham said Turner’s status is day-to-day.

“Certainly we love having her on the floor,” Cunningham said. “She has such an inside presence offensively and defensively, but DePaul runs a four and almost five guard lineup, so there’s a good chance we’ll be playing a lot of the game with four guards and one post to keep up offensively. We’ll be counting on [sophomore forward] Taya Reimer and [senior forward] Markisha Wright to fill the void in the paint, both on offense and defense.”

Because of the potency of the Blue Demon offense, Cunningham said the Irish will emphasize locking down the perimeter and dictating the game’s tempo.

“We’ve got to do a great job containing the ball off of the dribble and defending the three point line because they’ve got lots of kids that can stand at the line and make shots,” Cunningham said. “Again, they’re averaging 90 points a game so they’ll want to handle the ball on offense as much as possible. A big key for us will be playing our style.

“Certainly we can get up and down the court and push transition when we need to, but at the same time we have to pick and choose when we do that and play our own game at our own pace.”

The loss to Connecticut ended a 34-game home winning streak for Notre Dame. Looking to regain its win streak, Cunningham said the team’s concentration is even more important competing on the road.

Irish senior forward Markisha Wright dribbles around a Connecticut defender during Notre Dame's 76-58 loss to the Huskies on Saturday in the Purcell Pavilion.Wei Lin

Irish senior forward Markisha Wright dribbles around a Connecticut defender during Notre Dame’s 76-58 loss to the Huskies on Saturday in the Purcell Pavilion.

“Any time you go on the road in someone else’s gym, you have to focus and bring your best game,” Cunningham said.

Notre Dame and DePaul tip off Wednesday at 9 p.m. in the McGrath-Phillips Arena in Chicago.

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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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