Jan. 4, 2015
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) – Notre Dame is tough on the road, and no team knows that better than Syracuse.
Notre Dame (14-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) won its 30th straight road game to tie the record set by UConn.
Coach Muffet McGraw was relieved to escape after the Orange played the Irish to a standstill in the first half.
“We’re a very young team. We’re kind of a work in progress. We’re still learning a lot,” McGraw said. “They are a really, really tough team. They’re on the national scene now. They’ve really made a big jump. They’re right there with the top teams in the country.”
All of the losses for Syracuse (10-4, 0-1 ACC), which has been ranked all season, have come against teams in the Top 25, including No. 1 South Carolina (67-63) and No. 6 Baylor (74-72).
“We’ve just got to do a better job,” coach Quentin Hillsman said. “We’ve got to start winning these top-10 games.”
Diamond Henderson and Brianna Butler led Syracuse with 19 points apiece.
“There’s always a sense of urgency when you’re down and you know the time’s ticking away,” Henderson said. “It’s definitely a confidence-builder, but at the same time you want to win.”
The Irish, whose lone loss came against No. 2 Connecticut a month ago, went on a 14-4 run early in the second half to go up 12 points.
After Butler’s 3 pulled Syracuse within 46-44, Orange forward Briana Day picked up her fourth foul. With the 6-foot-4 Day on the bench, the Irish got a three-point play from Taya Reimer and seven points from Loyd to take a double-digit lead.
Consecutive three-point plays by Henderson had the Orange within 73-67 with 5:12 to go. Loyd countered with a layup, and the Irish quickly extended the lead back to double figures.
“We went inside the second half and played with poise down the stretch,” McGraw said. “Jewell made some key steals, and that really kind of sealed the game for us.”
Day had five blocks and four rebounds in the first half to keep the Orange close. Notre Dame took a 42-41 edge into halftime behind its 3-point shooting. The Irish were 6 of 14, including four 3s from Michaela Mabrey, while Syracuse was just 2 of 9.
“We were hitting some 3s, so we stuck with that for a while,” McGraw said. “But we really wanted to look inside and try to get it to the high post and see what happens from there.”