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ND Women’s Basketball

Notre Dame road win streak snapped by Miami

| Tuesday, January 13, 2015

No. 7 Notre Dame started its winter break schedule off calmly enough, picking up four wins, but the tail end of that stretch turned chaotic, with an upset loss to Miami last Thursday and the absence of sophomore forward Taya Reimer from the team’s last two games.

After earning victories against St. Joseph’s, UCLA, No. 20 Florida State and No. 25 Syracuse, the hot start came to an abrupt halt with a 78-63 road loss to unranked Miami. The Irish (15-2, 3-1 ACC) made just six field goals in the first half and shot 35.9 percent for the entire game, while the Hurricanes (13-3, 3-0) made 52.7 percent of their shots.

Irish sophomore guard Lindsay Allen calls out a play during Notre Dame’s 70-50 win over Michigan on Dec. 13 at Purcell Pavilion.Kat Robinson | The Observer

Irish sophomore guard Lindsay Allen calls out a play during Notre Dame’s 70-50 win over Michigan on Dec. 13 at Purcell Pavilion.

Junior guard Jewell Loyd (27 points) and freshman forward Brianna Turner (17 points, 10 rebounds) posted impressive numbers again, but it was not enough this time. The defeat snapped Notre Dame’s 30-game road winning streak, which was the longest in the country at the time.

Reimer did not make the trip to Miami for “personal reasons.” She had started each of the team’s previous 15 games, and she averaged 9.9 points and 6.1 rebounds in those contests.

Returning home for the final game of the break, the Irish collected a bounce-back 104-58 win against Boston College in a sold-out Purcell Pavilion. Six players were in double-figures for Notre Dame, including all three freshmen — Turner with 21 points, forward Kathryn Westbeld with 15 and guard Mychal Johnson with 13.

“It’s been a long time since we really relied on freshmen,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said Sunday. “We’ve had a lot of really good freshmen coming in, but there’s always been the burden on the upperclassmen. I think we’re asking these two [Turner and Westbeld] to do a lot. I think they’re doing really well, but it’s a lot to ask a freshman because it is complex.”

McGraw said it was important for the Irish to pick up a big victory after the loss to Miami.

“We were really, really just shattered after that last game,” she said. “There were so many things that we didn’t do well, so it was really great to come out and be firing on all cylinders.”

McGraw also discussed Reimer’s absence for the second straight game. She said the sophomore decided she would remain with the team for the rest of the semester after the two met earlier in the week, though she did not say when Reimer would return to the court.

“We just talked about a few things,” McGraw said Sunday. “She was not happy with the way things were going on the court, so we talked about some things we could fix, we could work on. She was concerned. She wants to play well. She’s a really good player, and she has a lot of talent, and so we had a really good conversation about how we’re going to get there.”

Before the games against Miami and Boston College, the Irish collected two non-conference victories against St. Joseph’s on Dec. 21 (64-50) and UCLA on Dec. 28 (82-67).

Notre Dame got a big boost at home against the Hawks (5-10, 1-2 A-10), as Turner returned to the court after missing three games with a shoulder injury. Her 19 points led the team, and she missed just one of her eight field-goal attempts.

“I was really excited to have Brianna back,” McGraw said Dec. 21. “Definitely changes the game for us — five blocks, 19 points, and we’ve really missed that over the past few games.”

At Pauley Pavilion against the Bruins (7-9, 3-2 Pac-12), sophomore guard Lindsay Allen scored a career-high 22 points to pace the Irish.

They then opened up the new year and their ACC schedule with a home matchup against No. 20 Florida State on Jan. 2. Backed by another strong effort from Allen, this time with 18 points and eight assists, and Loyd’s 20 points, Notre Dame left with a 74-68 win over the Seminoles (15-2, 2-1).

Irish junior guard Jewell Loyd looks to drive past a Michigan defender during Notre Dame’s 70-50 win Dec. 13 at Purcell Pavilion.Kat Robinson | The Observer

Irish junior guard Jewell Loyd looks to drive past a Michigan defender during Notre Dame’s 70-50 win Dec. 13 at Purcell Pavilion.

However, the Irish struggled late in the game and found themselves down by nine points five minutes into the second half. Allen had to score 11 of her 18 points from there on out to help the team earn the win.

“I thought Lindsay Allen was spectacular,” McGraw said Jan. 2. “She was just amazing and saved us a number of times, kind of bailed us out with some great ballhandling and was able to get through the defense and get some shots when we really needed to score — just so confident in her with the ball in her hands late in the game.”

Notre Dame traveled east to take on No. 25 Syracuse in the Carrier Dome two days later. Loyd put up 25 points, six assists and four steals, and the Irish grabbed an 85-74 victory. Turner added 20 points and 13 rebounds for her second career double-double.

The Irish return to action Thursday in an ACC matchup against No. 12 North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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Current Assistant Managing Editor, former Sports Editor of The Observer | Follow Mary on Twitter: @maryegreen15

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