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ND Women’s Basketball: Declawed

Matthew Robison | Thursday, January 24, 2013

After trailing by three points in the first half, No. 2 Notre Dame allowed only 18 points in the second half to pull away in a 73-47 road victory against Pittsburgh on Wednesday night. Junior guard Kayla McBride led all scorers with 19 points.

The Irish (17-1, 6-0 Big East) started fast, but senior guard Skylar Diggins picked up her second foul, which forced her to the bench.

“We got off to a great start,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “We were winning 16-5, and we just a little complacent. I think we thought the game was about over. We got a little complacent on defense and Skylar got her second foul shortly after that. We sputtered a bit on offense without her in the game.”

But Notre Dame turned it around before the intermission and led 35-29 at the half.

The Irish outperformed the Panthers (9-9, 0-5) on rebounds, 36-25. Three Irish players grabbed seven boards each, including two guards. Junior forward Natalie Achonwa, sophomore guard Madison Cable and McBride led the way on the glass.

“We play four guards for stretches so we need them to be good rebounders – Kayla McBride, especially,” McGraw said. “That’s her job, to rebound.”

But McGraw thinks her team can do an even better job rebounding, saying the Irish gave up too many offensive rebounds Wednesday.

“[Freshman guard] Jewell Loyd is capable of rebounding more,” McGraw said. “The guards have to do a better job of it. We generally did a pretty good job. But we let them get just a couple offensive rebounds. We missed a couple box-outs, and I think we need to be just a little more disciplined on our box-outs.”

The Irish extended their school record for Big East road wins to 11. Notre Dame is the only Big East team is who still unbeaten in conference play.

“We have a veteran team,” McGraw said. “I think we come out
the same way on the road as we do at home. When you have good leadership, it’s easy to come out ready to play.”

Everything started with defense for Notre Dame. Pittsburgh shot just 35 percent from the field for the game.

“We can be really good, I think, when we have our intensity up,” McGraw said. “We started the game with a press. We got three quick steals to really get the offense going. We’ve just got to try to get that 40 minutes of intensity and to continue it when players sub in so we can maintain that high level of defense the entire game.”

It was a homecoming for Cable, who is from Mt. Lebanon, Pa., and McBride, who is from Erie, Pa. McBride went 5-for-9 from the field, while connecting on nine of her 10 free throws.

“[McBride] worked on getting good shots,” McGraw said. “I think she attacked the basket and got to the free throw line. She was very efficient scoring tonight. She’s from Erie so she had quite a few people there in the crowd for her. It was a big game for her.”

Notre Dame’s next game is Saturday against Providence at the Purcell Pavilion at 2 p.m.

Contact Matthew Robison at [email protected]