March 08, 2015
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Jewell Loyd and Notre Dame have made themselves quite comfortable in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Especially in the league tournament.
Loyd led the second-ranked Fighting Irish to their second straight ACC championship, beating No. 7 Florida State 71-58 in the title game on Sunday.
The ACC player of the year scored 18 points and was selected as tournament MVP for the second straight year.
”She never ceases to amaze me,” coach Muffet McGraw said.
Taya Reimer added 16 points for the top-seeded Irish (31-2), who shot 52 percent and led by 22 points while claiming their 17th straight win and third consecutive conference tournament title.
Notre Dame won the BIG EAST Tournament in 2013 – its final season in that league – and improved to 6-0 in ACC tournament games.
”Tonight was the best game we played all year,” McGraw said. ”I don’t think it will be the best game we’ll play.”
Maegan Conwright had 14 points for the second-seeded Seminoles (29-4), who had their seven-game winning streak snapped and came up empty in their first appearance in the ACC championship game.
They shot 37 percent but missed 15 of 17 shots during the stretch when the game began to slip away.
”That affected our defense, and any time our defense is affected, that’s not our strong suit – that’s what we hang our hat on, defense and rebounding,” Florida State coach Sue Semrau said.
The Seminoles tried to make things interesting late, closing to 69-56 on Ivey Slaughter’s free throw with 3:24 left before they came up empty on four of their next five possessions.
For Florida State, the second half was an uphill climb against a Notre Dame team that methodically stretched its lead into the 20s.
Madison Cable put the Irish up by 20 for the first time with a corner 3 one possession before Loyd’s slick layup gave them their largest lead, 67-45, with just under 8 minutes left.
Cable finished with 13 points and ACC freshman of the year Brianna Turner added 10 for Notre Dame, which played in a conference final for the fifth straight year.
The Fighting Irish earned their first measure of separation late in the first half by holding the Seminoles to two field goals in almost 13 minutes.
Leticia Romero had 13 points and Adut Bulgak finished with 10 for Florida State.
Notre Dame became the first team this season to outrebound Florida State, building a 39-27 advantage on the boards. ”In a big-game situation,” Semrau said, ”we lost what we were best at.”
Florida State: Bulgak was the only Seminole to make a field goal during the final 13 1/2 minutes of the first half.
Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish claimed their eighth tournament title in their third league. In addition to their recent 3-year run, they won what’s now known as the Horizon League five times.
Florida State: Awaits at-large berth into NCAA Tournament.
Notre Dame: NCAA Tournament.