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ND Women’s Basketball

ND runs away with Final Four rematch

| Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Despite a second-half push by Maryland, No. 2 Notre Dame held on to win, 92-72, Wednesday at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The matchup was part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and marked the second win over a ranked opponent this season for the Irish (8-0), who also defeated then-No. 15 Michigan State, 71-63, on Nov. 19.

Irish junior guard Jewell Loyd dribbles during Notre Dame’s win over Holy Cross on Nov 23. Loyd scored 27 points against Maryland.Michael Yu | The Observer

Irish junior guard Jewell Loyd dribbles during Notre Dame’s win over Holy Cross on Nov 23. Loyd scored 27 points against Maryland.

The Irish dominated the first half, outscoring the Terrapins (6-2), 47-27. Notre Dame and Maryland each tallied 45 points in the second half, however.

The Irish benefited from two 20-plus point performances from junior guard Jewell Loyd (27) and sophomore forward Taya Reimer (21). This season, Loyd is averaging a team-best 21.1 points per game, and Reimer is averaging 10.4 points per game, third on the team.

Loyd contributed in every facet of the game, adding eight rebounds and six assists to her point total. Overall, she went 8-for-15 from the field, made three of her six 3-point attempts and sank eight-of-nine free throws for an average of just under one point per minute.

“I was really pleased with her rebounding,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said of Loyd after the game. “She took great shots. She got to the free throw line; she got six assists. Everything we could have asked, she did.”

Irish freshman forward Brianna Turner has had a stellar start to her collegiate career but did not score in just four minutes of play Wednesday night, limited by a shoulder injury suffered in the first half.

Turner will undergo an MRI today to evaluate the injury, McGraw said.

Notre Dame freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld looks up for a pass during the 104-29 win over Holy Cross in the Purcell Pavilion on Nov. 23.Michael Yu | The Observer

Notre Dame freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld looks up for a pass during the 104-29 win over Holy Cross in the Purcell Pavilion on Nov. 23.

Turner has earned consecutive ACC freshman of the week awards this season and has been Notre Dame’s second-leading scorer after Loyd, averaging 13.4 points per game. Turner has also averaged 6.1 rebounds per game entering Wednesday night and has started all eight of Notre Dame’s games.

Even without Turner, once the Irish took a 6-4 lead over the Terrapins less than three minutes into the first half, they had the lead for good. Notre Dame held the lead for 38:42 of the game’s 40 minutes.

Up 9-6, the Irish went on a 12-0 tear that swelled its lead to 21-6, and they continued making runs throughout the first half.

Notre Dame secured a 34-28 total rebounding advantage and also outscored Maryland in the paint, 34-26.

For Maryland, sophomore guard Lexie Brown and redshirt senior guard Laurin Mincy led the scoring push with 20 points each. Freshman guard Kristen Confroy added 14 points to round out the Maryland’s top-three scorers.

The Terrapins shot just 41 percent from the field as a whole: 53.8 percent from the floor in the second half but a 29.4-percent performance in the first half held the team back.

Solid defense by the Irish limited the Terrapins in the first half, but the second half showed room for improvement, McGraw said.

“I thought the defense in the first half was very good,” McGraw said. “It was not as good in the second half. I thought we could have played a little better defensively in the second half.”

Four Irish players scored in double figures: Loyd and Reimer, as well as junior guard Michaela Mabrey, who scored 11, including a trio of 3-pointers, and sophomore guard Lindsay Allen, who tallied 10. As a team, Notre Dame shot 58 percent from the field.

The Irish bench made contributions as well, as nine players scored for Notre Dame. Freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld and senior forward Markisha Wright scored nine points each off the bench, and Wright snagged eight rebounds, landing her in a tie with Loyd for the team high.

Notre Dame freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld drives inside for a shot against Holy Cross in a 104-29 defeat of Holy Cross on Nov. 23.Michael Yu | The Observer

Notre Dame freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld drives inside for a shot against Holy Cross in a 104-29 defeat of Holy Cross on Nov. 23.

Although the bench committed several turnovers, McGraw said she was pleased overall with their play. Wright and Westbeld joined starters Reimer, Allen, Mabrey and Loyd in recording over 20 minutes of play.

“They played well,” McGraw said of the bench. “I was really happy with the post play.”

Notre Dame now sets its sights on another rematch on Saturday when they take on No. 3 Connecticut. The game will renew the extensive rivalry after a regular-season hiatus last year, although the teams met in the NCAA championship, a game Connecticut (5-1) won, 79-58.

The Irish take on the Huskies on Saturday at 3:15 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.

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