ND Women’s Basketball
Irish open with dominating win
Samantha Zuba | Monday, November 17, 2014
It was Notre Dame’s game from the earliest seconds Friday in a 105-51 win over UMass Lowell at Purcell Pavilion.
The Irish and River Hawks were tied 0-0 for 51 seconds before the Irish scored their first points and took the lead for good. The Irish (1-0) scored 14 points before the River Hawks (0-1) got on the board.
Notre Dame built a 61-24 halftime lead and hit the 100-mark with just more than five minutes remaining in the game. Freshman forward Brianna Turner impressed with a game-high 29 points in her debut, including several layups off fast breaks.
“I think Bri runs the floor as well as anybody in the country,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “I think she’s a tough matchup because she can get down the floor so quickly. I feel like you don’t even see her from free-throw line to free-throw line, and all of a sudden, she’s open for a layup at the other end, and we’re doing a really nice job of looking up and finding her.
“I just ran the floor, and they just saw me, and they were able to get it up to me quick, and I was able to finish the layups,” Turner said.
Notre Dame outshot UMass Lowell 56.9 percent to 28.8 percent from the field. In all, 10 Irish players scored, and four achieved double figures.
Junior guard Jewell Loyd poured in 20 points as the second-leading Irish scorer. After the game, she complimented the forward play of Turner and sophomore forward Taya Reimer, who scored 10 points.
“Their ability to handle the ball, it’s awesome and takes a little stress off the guards,” Loyd said. “The inside-outside game from both players — it’s great having them, and I love playing with them.”
Junior guard Michaela Mabrey drained three of four 3-point attempts for all of her nine points, and senior guard Madison Cable was two-for-two behind the arc as part of her 10 points.
Turner and Loyd dominated the first half, with Turner posting 22 points and five rebounds and Loyd tallying 18 points and four rebounds.
Loyd got off to a brisk start. She was fouled scoring Notre Dame’s first two points, sank the free throw for the third then tossed in a layup off a steal to make it five.
“We were definitely excited to get out here and show our fans and ourselves and our coaches that we’re ready to go and have that attack mindset,” Loyd said. “For me personally, I think I just wanted to get aggressive and set the tone.”
UMass Lowell senior guard Shannon Samuels attacked the rim and led the River Hawks with 16 total points.
“I thought Shannon had a really nice game, being able to score 16 points for us, and she was essentially able to get to the rim at will against one of the best teams … in the country, so I was really impressed with her,” UMass Lowell coach Jenerrie Harris said.
The game flowed smoothly for Notre Dame with a few exceptions such as giving up a coast-to-coast layup play to Samuels in the final minute of the first half and a miscommunication in the final minutes that sent a fast-break pass flying out of bounds.
The Irish committed several early turnovers but appeared to grow more comfortable as the game went on.
“A lot of nerves in the beginning,” McGraw said. “I think we had four turnovers in the first four minutes. Our goal was 15; we had 18, so I thought we settled down. We had a few people that got a lot, and I think that was just nerves because you see three of them were freshmen, so I think that’s just going to get better.”
Those freshmen now have one collegiate game under their belts as they prepare with the rest of the Irish to take on Michigan State on Wednesday at Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan, at 7 p.m.