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ND Women’s Basketball

Notre Dame escapes upset bid by DePaul

| Thursday, December 11, 2014

No. 5 Notre Dame, on the brink of defeat, turned to its best player, and Jewell Loyd responded with a program-record 41 points to lead the Irish to a 94-93 overtime win over No. 25 DePaul in Chicago on Wednesday night.

With the victory, the Irish (9-1) avoided the start of a losing streak after falling to No. 2 Connecticut at home Saturday. Notre Dame has not lost back-to-back games since 2010.

Loyd, a junior guard, carried the Irish all game but was at her best in overtime, when she scored the last seven of Notre Dame’s 12 points, including the game-winning free throws with five seconds remaining and the Irish down by one. She also racked up 12 rebounds and three assists in 42 minutes of play.

“She has been amazing all year long, but tonight was just phenomenal,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “The free-throw line was key, and then 12 rebounds, three assists to one turnover — I mean, she played the entire game, [had] great defense and did so many good things. She just never quit. We gave her less than a minute’s rest, and she was still able to find it in the tank to finish the game.”

Those 41 points tie her with former All-American Ruth Riley for the program record for most points in a single game.

Irish junior guard Jewell Loyd surveys the court Dec. 6 against Connecticut at Purcell Pavilion. Wei Lin | The Observer

Irish junior guard Jewell Loyd surveys the court Dec. 6 against Connecticut at Purcell Pavilion.

With freshman forward Brianna Turner still sidelined by a shoulder injury, the Irish deployed a four-guard starting lineup against the Blue Demons (6-3), adding senior guard Madison Cable to the starting rotation. Despite the lack of size, Notre Dame still owned a 58-38 advantage on the boards, and three Irish players — Cable, Loyd and sophomore forward Taya Reimer — finished the contest in double figures for rebounds, the first time Notre Dame has done this since 2012.

“In the last game, the defense was packing it in and daring us to shoot jumpers, so inserting Madison into the lineup gives us another person to stretch the defense and doesn’t allow them to pack in the zone as much,” McGraw said. “I like the four-guard lineup. I’d just like to see our post step up a little bit, especially off the bench.”

Despite Notre Dame’s edge in rebounding, the Blue Demons gave the Irish all they could handle. Throughout the first half, neither team led by more than six points, and DePaul matched Notre Dame’s up-tempo style of play, with four of its starters scoring 10 or more points. The Blue Demons feature the nation’s sixth-ranked scoring offense.

DePaul was aided by early foul trouble for several Irish players, including sophomore guard Lindsay Allen. Allen played 31 minutes on the night, second fewest among all Irish starters, before fouling out in overtime, alongside freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld.

“I was disappointed in Lindsay Allen,” McGraw said. “I thought her fourth foul was just not a smart play. She’s a smart player who really knows better. We need her on the floor. And that was disappointing because with their pressure, we needed our point guard out there to run the team, and we didn’t have her for a lot of minutes.”

Notre Dame led by five at halftime, but in the second stanza, momentum swung wildly, as DePaul went on a 9-0 run, followed by an 8-0 stretch for the Irish. Finally, the Blue Devils rallied from a 63-60 deficit with 10 minutes left to lead 71-63. They would not trail for the rest of regulation.

“They only made three 3’s in that first half, and then they made six the rest of the way,” McGraw said when asked how DePaul kept the game close. “They made some big shots, too. I thought it was a great game to watch.”

In the final 2:50 of regulation, the Irish rallied from six points down, with Loyd scoring seven of Notre Dame’s final 10 points. The team was also helped out by poor free-throw shooting on the part of DePaul senior guard Brittany Hrynko, who missed four shots from the charity stripe in the last 22 seconds of the second half.

In overtime, the Blue Demons’ woes continued, as they missed six consecutive free throws in a nine-second span. Each time, they collected the offensive rebound, only to be fouled again and head to the line. On the night, DePaul shot 41.4 percent from the free-throw line.

After the last miss, Loyd collected the rebound and raced down court only to be fouled. Then, she calmly stepped to the line and sank both shots to secure the win.

In addition to Loyd, Cable and Reimer both had double-doubles on the evening. Cable in particular impressed McGraw, scoring 20 points, a season high, grabbing 11 rebounds, a career high, and chipping in two assists and steals as well, despite leg cramps keeping her on the sidelines for most of overtime.

“She was tremendous,” McGraw said. “First career double-double for her. She did everything. She guarded, she rebounded, she shot it well. Just so many good things at both ends of the floor. … She stepped up big for us.”

The Irish have only three days to recover from overtime, as they play Michigan this Saturday at Purcell Pavilion at 1 p.m., in their last game before final exams.

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About Greg Hadley

Greg Hadley is a senior from Rockville, Maryland, majoring in political science with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He served as The Observer's Editor-in-Chief for the 2015-2016 term and currently covers Notre Dame baseball and women's basketball.

Contact Greg