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ND Women’s Basketball

Irish shut down Hokies, sprint to win

| Thursday, January 29, 2015

No. 4 Notre Dame defeated ACC foe Virginia Tech on Thursday in a 74-50 rout in Blacksburg, Virginia, and will return home to face Wake Forest on Sunday.

The Irish (20-2, ACC 7-1) took a commanding 43-17 halftime lead and never looked back. The Hokies (10-11, ACC 1-7) had trouble getting into a rhythm on offense and stopping Irish scorers on defense.

Irish junior guard Jewell Loyd rises up for a shot during Notre Dame’s 88-77 win over Tennessee on Jan. 19 at Purcell Pavilion. Loyd led all scorers with 34 points and chipped in five rebounds and four assists.Jodi Lo | The Observer

Irish junior guard Jewell Loyd rises up for a shot during Notre Dame’s 88-77 win over Tennessee on Jan. 19 at Purcell Pavilion. Loyd led all scorers with 34 points and chipped in five rebounds and four assists.

“I felt we got off to a pretty good start,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “The first half was good, I liked the tone that we set. We executed well offensively, we guarded them pretty well, so I was pleased with what we were doing.”

Notre Dame could not quite replicate its success from the first half in the second but still maintained a secure lead, McGraw said.

“We got a little bit complacent with the lead,” McGraw said. “We could’ve been a little more in touch in the second half. We missed a lot of free throws, missed a lot of layups and didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, and we didn’t guard them quite as well in the second half. I think that’s the youth of our team, sometimes not having the killer instinct.”

McGraw said she also liked the performance of bench players who played significant minutes as the starters rested with the game in hand in the second half. Freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld especially stood out, she said, netting a career-high 17 points.

“I thought Kathryn Westbeld and [junior guard] Hannah Huffman in particular both played very well,” McGraw said. “Kathryn offensively was very aggressive, really did a nice job. Hannah was a really good high-post player against Virginia Tech.”

McGraw said sophomore forward Taya Reimer also had a standout game, the most recent in a chain of solid efforts.

“Taya Reimer had 10 rebounds,” McGraw said. “She’s really doing her job on the boards, doing a fantastic job. She’s been close to a double-double I think the last couple games in a row. She’s really put together a good string of rebounding games.”

Irish freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld goes up for a jump shot during Notre Dame’s 88-77 win over Tennessee on Jan. 19 at Purcell Pavilion. Westbeld  played for 23 minutes against the Volunteers.Jodi Lo | The Observer

Irish freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld goes up for a jump shot during Notre Dame’s 88-77 win over Tennessee on Jan. 19 at Purcell Pavilion. Westbeld played for 23 minutes against the Volunteers.

The inside game was one of the most significant strengths Notre Dame exhibited against Virginia Tech, McGraw said.

“I thought we really rebounded well,” McGraw said. “They only had single-digit offensive rebounds, and that was probably the best stat of the game.”

Notre Dame will next take on Wake Forest (10-12, ACC 1-7) at home Sunday. Irish assistant coach Carol Owens said Notre Dame will have to focus on containing Wake Forest’s star player, senior forward Dearica Hamby.

“The core of their team is Dearica Hamby,” Owens said. “She’s one of the best post players in the country, we believe, let alone our conference. She’s the glue person, the one that gets their offense going. They have a very young team with the exception of her, with three freshmen. However, they’re a very athletic team.”

Owens said Notre Dame will utilize its advantages in the outside game to minimize the influence of Hamby.

“Although Wake Forest is a good 3-point shooting team, the key is again limiting Hamby on the inside,” Owens said. “She’s a special player. You’re not going to keep her scoreless, of course, but any time we can get her not catching the ball, that’s a good possession for us. I think we have a lot of experience on the perimeter. We need to really execute and find opportunities and attack them on defense.”

The Demon Deacons will visit Purcell Pavilion to challenge the Irish on Sunday at 1 p.m. Sunday’s game will also be the team’s annual ‘Pink Zone’ game, honoring former North Carolina State coach Kay Yow, who succumbed to breast cancer in 2009. Donations from the game benefit both local and national breast cancer foundations, and the Irish will wear special pink jerseys with pink accenting.

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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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