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ND Women’s Basketball: Irish take down Quakers

By Brian Hartnett | Monday, November 25, 2013


No. 5 Notre Dame may have been making its first road trip of the season, but the Irish showed many of the same characteristics that have made them successful at Purcell Pavilion, as they received contributions from both veteran leaders and freshmen to defeat Penn, 76-54, at The Palestra in Philadelphia on Saturday.

Notre Dame senior guard and captain Kayla McBride propelled the Irish (4-0) with 15 points and nine rebounds, while senior forward and captain Ariel Braker added nine rebounds. 

Notre Dame’s third senior captain, forward Natalie Achonwa, compiled four points and three rebounds in her first game since undergoing surgery for a meniscus tear in her right knee Oct. 30.

“[Achonwa’s] conditioning looked really good,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “We were worried that if you take a month off, you expect that she’s not going to be in great shape, but she really was. I think she was a little rusty in terms of game situations, but overall, I was really pleased with what she was able to do for us.”

Achonwa’s entry into the starting lineup forced freshman forward Taya Reimer to come off the bench for the first time in her college career, but Reimer still saw plenty of playing time, as she totaled 14 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes of action.

“I expect [Reimer] to play about the same number of minutes that she was playing as a starter, and she gives us a great lift off the bench,” McGraw said. “We don’t lose anything when she comes into the game. I think we really have six people who can start anytime.”

The Irish struggled at the start against the Quakers (0-2), as the two teams were deadlocked at eight five minutes into the game.

“I didn’t think we came out with the intensity that we needed,” McGraw said. “I’m not sure if it was just because we were on the road, but we certainly didn’t handle it as well as we did the first three games at home.”

Notre Dame soon went on an 11-0 run to jump out to a 19-8 lead, but, helped by some timely rebounds, Penn cut the lead to 21-17 with 7:34 left in the first half. 

After averaging more than 50 rebounds in its first three contests, the Irish struggled to get the edge on the boards, gaining a 43-37 rebounding edge on the Quakers.

“I was disappointed with our effort to rebound,” McGraw said. “I really was. I thought we could have done a lot better. That’s something we really pride ourselves on, and we need to do a better job.”

Notre Dame finished out the first half on a 9-2 run to open up a 12-point halftime lead. 

Penn cut Notre Dame’s lead to 36-27 with 18:59 to go in the second half, but the Quakers would not come any closer, as the Irish shot at a .485 clip from the field in the final frame to cruise to a 76-54 victory. 

Notre Dame finished with a .625 shooting percentage from 3-point range and received 35 points off the bench, including 13 from sophomore guard Michaela Mabrey. The Irish committed only 12 turnovers, which tied their season low. 

“I think [freshman guard] Lindsay Allen is doing a fantastic job taking care of the ball,” McGraw said. “Overall, I think we’re making good decisions and playing with a lot of intelligence.”

Notre Dame returns to action on Tuesday, when it hosts No. 25 DePaul at Purcell Pavilion.

Contact Brian Hartnett at [email protected].