ND Women’s Basketball
Loyd’s big night leads Notre Dame to win over Georgia Tech
Samantha Zuba | Friday, February 20, 2015
Georgia Tech again gave No. 4 Notre Dame all it could handle Thursday night.
The Irish (25-2, 12-1 ACC) pulled out the 71-61 win at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, but they didn’t enjoy a large lead until the end of the game.
The last time Notre Dame played Georgia Tech (14-13, 4-9), an 89-76 win for the Irish, they led by seven points at halftime, a small margin by their standards. Thursday night, the Yellow Jackets nabbed a 34-33 lead heading into the half, and Irish coach Muffet McGraw said Georgia Tech played even better Thursday than it did during the last meeting.
“It was really, really a tough game for us,” McGraw said. “And I thought their inside players played really well. Their post players really just kind of dominated us for a while.”
Freshman forward Zaire O’Neil led the Yellow Jackets with 20 points, and junior forward Roddreka Rogers grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds to go with 12 points.
McGraw gave the Irish defense a mixed review afterwards.
“They only scored 61; I think they were in the 70s at our place, but I was disappointed in the way we guarded the inside,” McGraw said.
Notre Dame built a 63-56 lead with just under four minutes remaining in the game.
That lead, like many of the others the Irish held, didn’t last long. Yellow Jackets sophomore guard Kaela Davis sank two free throws to cut the Irish advantage to 63-60. Davis finished with 19 points, the second-most for Georgia Tech on the night.
The Irish pulled away to a 67-60 lead with a minute left en route to the win.
Notre Dame and Georgia Tech traded points and small leads until late in the game. The Irish struggled on offense overall, shooting 44.4 percent and totaling 16 offensive rebounds.
“I thought we came out a little flat,” McGraw said. “I thought we were sloppy, missed some shots and didn’t do a great job on the offensive boards. I thought [junior guard] Jewell [Loyd] was good. … [Senior guard] Madison [Cable] shot it well, but other than that, we didn’t really do well.”
Loyd injected some energy into her team when she deflected a shot and drove down the court to score a fadeaway jumper and give the Irish a 51-47 lead. But with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game, the Yellow Jackets tied the game at 51.
Although the Irish rarely held the lead in the first half, it looked like Notre Dame might head to the locker room ahead after they went up 33-31 as the half entered its final minute. A pair of freshmen forwards gave the Irish the lead, as Kathryn Westbeld netted her first points of the game on a pass from Brianna Turner.
Georgia Tech sophomore forward Katarina Vuckovic dropped in a 3-pointer with seconds left to secure the one-point halftime advantage for the Yellow Jackets, however.
Loyd paced Notre Dame with 31 points, five rebounds and two assists. Cable tallied a team-high 11 rebounds and scored nine points.
“It is her toughness,” McGraw said of Cable’s rebounding performance. “That is all it is. She just outworks people.”
Rounding out the Irish leaders were Turner and sophomore forward Taya Reimer, who each scored eight points. Turner grabbed 10 rebounds, and Reimer secured seven to help Notre Dame out-rebound Georgia Tech, 44-35.
“I thought Taya Reimer played well, and Jewell Loyd was phenomenal,” McGraw said. “… Madison Cable, great minutes off the bench, 11 rebounds, just did a great job.”
Next up, the Irish will return to Purcell Pavilion on Monday for a 7 p.m. ACC matchup with Pittsburgh.