ND Women’s Basketball
Turner leads Irish to comfortable win over Virginia
Renee Griffin | Friday, February 6, 2015
Freshman forward Brianna Turner earned the sixth double-double of her career, as she led the No. 4 Irish to a decisive 75-54 win over ACC opponent Virginia on Thursday at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame (22-2, 8-1 ACC) faces a quick turnaround this weekend, as it will travel to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts for a matchup against Boston College on Sunday.
Turner led the Irish with 26 points and 13 rebounds, both team highs, as the Cavaliers (15-8, 5-5) had no answer for the Irish inside presence; 50 of Notre Dame’s points came in the paint, compared to just 18 for Virginia.
“I thought Brianna had a really phenomenal game,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “We were able to go inside early and were able to get lobs to her. [Sophomore guard] Lindsay [Allen] found her a number of times and really just executed well. I thought Lindsay had a good offensive game and played well defensively, too.”
Allen finished with 12 points, third on the team behind Turner and junior guard Jewell Loyd. Loyd had a quiet game by her standards, going 4-of-15 from the field for 14 total points. She tied Allen with a team-high four assists.
“We had a game where Jewell was a little bit off, and we still were able to score 75 points, and I think we need to see that more often, where Jewell’s not carrying us,” McGraw said. “[Jewell] wants to make every shot, like all good players do, and I think she was a little frustrated because she missed a couple of easy ones.”
The Irish jumped out to a 13-4 lead in the first five minutes of the game, and at one point in the first half went up 30-16 before Virginia could get a rhythm going.
Virginia narrowed the lead to five with 2:10 left in the first half, but a five-point run by the Irish in the final two minutes of the first frame left them with a secure 41-31 lead at halftime.
Both teams tightened up on defense in the second half, and the Irish lead hovered in single digits early in the half before they started to run away with the game about halfway through the second frame. Notre Dame pressured Virginia into reducing its perimeter opportunities, something the Irish have rarely done this season.
“I was really happy with the defense in the second half,” McGraw said. “I thought we had a lot more intensity and focus and really guarded the 3-point line pretty well and guarded the inside pretty well. Overall, just a much better effort in the second half.”
However, McGraw said there is still room for improvement on defense.
“I don’t think we’re there yet [defensively],” McGraw said. “You saw the first half where they shot pretty well, almost 50 percent, and that was disappointing to me. I think the second half was much better, but I’d really like to play 40 minutes of really good defense.”
There is still work to be done on the offensive side of the ball as well, McGraw said, and she hoped that the Irish could continue to minimize turnovers.
“We need to still get better offensively,” McGraw said. “Tonight we had 12 turnovers, that’s pretty good. In that way, we’re getting a little bit better. …We need to add a lot more things offensively, put some new plays in, put some out-of-bounds plays in. I think we’re a team that has been relying on some things quite a bit, and people are going to try to take that away, so it’s a time for us to really shake things up.”
After playing a struggling Boston College (10-12, 0-4 ACC) on Sunday, Notre Dame will have a bye week. Still, McGraw emphasized a need for the Irish to look at the next team up.
“February is a long month,” McGraw said. “It’s a real grind. Getting to the end of the season, you start looking ahead to March and wondering where you’re going to be, and it’s really important especially for a young team to keep that focus on one game at a time. …This is a time of upsets, this is when you’ve really got to be careful. Hopefully, our veterans will make sure our underclassmen are ready.”
Notre Dame will visit the Eagles on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.