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ND Women’s Basketball

Win falls flat for McGraw

| Thursday, January 22, 2015

No. 6 Notre Dame may have come away with a win over Georgia Tech on Thursday, but coach Muffet McGraw was far from satisfied with her team’s performance.

“It is about how you play and the attitude that you have, the toughness that you show, and we did not show any toughness today,” she said after the 89-76 victory at Purcell Pavilion. “We had no pride in our defense whatsoever. I was extremely disappointed with the defensive effort, the rebounding effort.”

Irish junior guard Jewell Loyd drives against two Georgia Tech defenders during Notre Dame's 89-76 win Thursday at Purcell Pavilion.Amy Ackerman | The Observer

Irish junior guard Jewell Loyd drives against two Georgia Tech defenders during Notre Dame’s 89-76 win Thursday at Purcell Pavilion.

The Irish (18-2, 5-1 ACC) jumped out to an 18-point lead over the Yellow Jackets (12-8, 2-4) midway through the first half, but Georgia Tech gradually cut that advantage to seven points at halftime.

Notre Dame did not struggle much offensively, shooting 56.5 percent from the floor, but it did have trouble stopping the Yellow Jackets, who shot 50 percent for the game and notched 40 points in the paint.

“The only reason we won the game was because we outscored them, and it looked like that was our mentality,” McGraw said. “We are just going to try to outscore them. We are not gonna try to stop them, and that is not acceptable.”

Junior guard Jewell Loyd paced the Irish with 29 points, hitting all nine of her free-throw attempts, and seven assists.

Sophomore forward Taya Reimer grabbed eight rebounds, and Notre Dame squeezed by in the battle on the boards, 34-30.

“I thought Taya Reimer did a great job on the defensive glass,” McGraw said. “No one else did their job. It was extremely disappointing to watch.”

Irish freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld surveys the defense during Notre Dame's 89-76 win Thursday over Georgia Tech at Purcell Pavilion.Amy Ackerman | The Observer

Irish freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld surveys the defense during Notre Dame’s 89-76 win Thursday over Georgia Tech at Purcell Pavilion.

Though the Irish came into the game coming off tough victories against No. 12 North Carolina and No. 5 Tennessee, Loyd said they need to perform at a high level in every matchup, no matter the opponent.

“That’s not an excuse,” she said. “We have to be ready for every single game. There are no off days.”

Irish starting freshman forward Brianna Turner played only 17 minutes after picking up two fouls in each half. Yellow Jackets sophomore guard and leading scorer Kaela Davis also rode the bench more than usual Thursday with foul trouble herself.

Even without Davis on the floor, the Yellow Jackets reached their season average of 75.9 points per game as a team.

“… A win over North Carolina, a win over Tennessee, it’s a huge game; there’s a lot of emotion,” McGraw said. “They come out tonight — ‘We’re supposed to win, so let’s give it half the effort.’”

Georgia Tech junior guard Aaliyah Whiteside said her team missed opportunities to jump on Irish lethargy and earn an upset on the road.

“We just kept playing hard, and I thought we got some key defensive stops that led to some baskets on our end,” Whiteside said. “But we just never were able to get it all the way down. They just would get a transition bucket, or we would turn it over.”

Irish sophomore guard Lindsay Allen pushes the ball up the court during Notre Dame's 89-76 win over Georgia Tech on Thursday at Purcell Pavilion.Amy Ackerman | The Observer

Irish sophomore guard Lindsay Allen pushes the ball up the court during Notre Dame’s 89-76 win over Georgia Tech on Thursday at Purcell Pavilion.

McGraw said she hoped her team would get in a good workout — “mentally, at least” — tomorrow before it faces off on the road with Clemson.

The Tigers (9-10, 1-5) enter the game with five consecutive losses, two of those at home.

McGraw said Notre Dame needs to tap into its focus for the contest with Clemson, the second in a string of 11 straight ACC games.

“This is a really tough stretch coming up, and we need to be ready every single night because everyone in this league can beat us, and we still, even after the Miami game, are not aware of that,” she said.

The Irish meet the Tigers on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, South Carolina.

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