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ND Women’s Basketball: Irish overrun Scots

Matthew Robison | Friday, November 2, 2012

In a battle of the North Atlantic, the Fighting Irish defeated the Fighting Scots 88-28 in Notre Dame’s first and only exhibition game of the season Thursday in Purcell Pavilion. Freshman guard Jewell Loyd led all scorers with 20 points in her Notre Dame debut.

Despite the impressive showing against their Division II opponent, Irish coach Muffet McGraw said she saw areas for improvement.

“I thought we’d be better in defense and rebounding,” McGraw said. “Offensively, I thought we’d be able to score and I think we were right about that.”

A new season brings an overhauled Irish team to the court. The departure of Brittany Mallory, Devereaux Peters and Natalie Novosel left a void in the starting lineup. Loyd stepped in and filled the hole left by Novosel.

Sophomore guard Madison Cable played in Mallory’s stead and sophomore forward Markisha Wright played down low in the four-guard offense.

What was a senior-heavy squad last season is now a talented young team led by Diggins. She and guard Kaila Turner are the only two seniors. Fittingly, Diggins scored the first six points for the Irish on two layups and a pair of free throws, and Notre Dame jumped out to an early 12-2 lead.

“There was a lot of excitement and a lot of nerves,” Diggins said. “We wanted to come out and have a great start in the first game.”

But Loyd stole the show.

The Irish led 43-13 at the half, and Loyd led all scorers with 16 in the first period.

In her first game in an Irish uniform, Loyd scored in a variety of ways. She slashed to basket on backdoor cuts, she knocked down the mid-range jumper and she got to the charity stripe, hitting all eight of her free-throw attempts.

McGraw lauded Loyd for her versatility.

“One of her jobs is to get to the free-throw line, and she was eight-for-eight tonight,” McGraw said. “She drove the ball, she tried to get to the basket, she offensive rebounded.”

Having a third offensive threat, in addition to Diggins and McBride, makes the Irish much more difficult to match up against.

“We expect Jewell to be able to contribute on the offensive end,” McGraw said. “I think, defensively, people are going to have to figure out who they’re going to guard.”

Junior forward Natalie Achonwa will get many of the starts at forward as well this season. She did not play Thursday night due to an injury, but she’s expected back to practice Monday and will be day-to-day after that.

Wright had a solid game with nine points, seven rebounds and four assists. Junior forward Ariel Braker also played 16 minutes and scored six points with five boards. But McGraw would have liked to see more of an emphasis on those two players.

“I think we could have gone into the post a little bit more,” McGraw said. “I think we need to work on our high-low game. We didn’t execute that at all today.”

Cable did not play at all last year, but she started and was the “surprise” player of the game according to McGraw.

“She’s really come along and did some really good things today,” McGraw said. “So I think she’s some we’ll be able to count on both ends of the floor.”

Notre Dame’s first regular season game is slated for Nov. 9 against Ohio State on the U.S.S. Yorktown, an aircraft carrier, in Charleston, S.C. The game will be aired on the NBC Sports Network at 4 p.m.


Contact Matthew Robison at [email protected]