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ND Women’s Basketball

Irish offense bests ACC’s top defense in win over Louisville

| Tuesday, February 24, 2015

For the second Monday in a row, No. 4 Notre Dame faced a top-10 opponent at Purcell Pavilion, outlasting No. 8 Louisville in a dogfight for a 68-52 win.

The matchup pitted the ACC’s top scoring offense in the Irish (26-2, 13-1 ACC) against its best scoring defense in the Cardinals (23-4, 11-3).

Irish junior guard Jewell Loyd goes up for a layup during Notre Dame’s 68-52 win over Louisville Monday at Purcell Pavilion. Loyd led the team in scoring with 20 points.Jodi Lo | The Observer

Irish junior guard Jewell Loyd goes up for a layup during Notre Dame’s 68-52 win over Louisville Monday at Purcell Pavilion. Loyd led the team in scoring with 20 points.

Just like last week’s 63-50 win over then-No. 10 Duke, Notre Dame got off to a slow start against a physical and taller opponent, not taking its first lead until almost midway through the first half.

The Cardinals — who started four players 6-foot or taller, compared to Notre Dame’s two — outrebounded the Irish, 23-15, in the opening stanza and tallied eight of their 28 points on second chances.

“[Louisville] had 10 offensive rebounds at halftime,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “We’ve just gotta stop spotting them so many easy shots early on and easy rebounds. We’ve gotta do a better job boxing out.”

Notre Dame led 31-28 at the half, but it came out at full speed for the second frame. The Irish used a five-minute, 16-0 run to pull away from the Cardinals and establish a formidable lead that was never threatened.

“We were calmed down, we were executing well and we were getting to the free-throw line,” McGraw said of the run. “That was something that we did a lot better in the second half: we got to the free-throw line; we got to the bonus early and that helped because we were a much more aggressive team.”

Senior guard Madison Cable shoots a free throw during Notre Dame’s 69-52 win over Louisville on Monday at the Purcell Pavilion. Cable contributed seven points, two rebounds and a couple of steals in 25 minutes.Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Senior guard Madison Cable shoots a free throw during Notre Dame’s 69-52 win over Louisville on Monday at the Purcell Pavilion. Cable contributed seven points, two rebounds and a couple of steals in 25 minutes.

Referees called Notre Dame for just three fouls in the second half, with all of them coming in the game’s final eight minutes.

Louisville, on the other hand, was whistled 13 times after the break, including a technical foul on coach Jeff Walz, who questioned disparity in calls after the game.

“With two minutes to go in the game, they’ve got one team foul,” Walz said. “I’ve never been a part of something where a team went 18 minutes and fouled one time.”

Irish freshman forward Brianna Turner tallied six of her seven blocks in the second half, including five during the five-minute, pull-away stretch. The mark tied her career high in her seventh game with five or more blocks this season.

The freshman approached triple-double territory, putting up 11 points and nine rebounds as well.

While Turner’s post presence slowed down Louisville’s offense in the second half, sophomore forward Taya Reimer fueled the Irish in the paint, flashing an unstoppable midrange jumper en route to a 16-point, 8-of-8 performance from the floor.

“She has really been working on it,” McGraw said of Reimer. “Every day after practice, she’s out there shooting free-throw jumpers, and it really paid off for her tonight.”

“I love seeing our players do well — it sparks everyone,” Irish junior guard Jewell Loyd said. “Everyone starts building off that energy. They got a little aggressive. Bri started taking control of the paint, and Taya was unreal. She wasn’t thinking — she was just cash; she was money.”

Loyd led all scorers with 20 points, eight of those coming from the charity stripe, and she brought down seven rebounds, three on the offensive glass.

“Jewell was really efficient tonight,” McGraw said. “I thought she didn’t force a lot of things — only 12 shots and got 20 points out of it.”

The Irish return to Purcell Pavilion for senior night and their final home game Thursday in a matchup against Pittsburgh at 7 p.m.

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