March 7, 2015
Inside The Game: #2 Notre Dame 55, #16 Duke 49 (ACC Championship Semifinals)
March 7, 2015 – Greensboro, North Carolina (Greensboro Coliseum)
It Was Over When: Junior guard Jewell Loyd grabbed an offensive rebound following a missed free throw by freshman forward Brianna Turner, circled back out to the wing, then drove in for a layup with 1:15 remaining to give Notre Dame a 53-46 lead. Duke had clawed back to within four points but the Fighting Irish held strong and scored five consecutive points (four from Loyd) in the closing two minutes to seal the win.
Game Ball Goes To: Loyd, who was the one reliable offensive weapon for either side in a defensive struggle, scoring a game-high 21 points while grabbing eight rebounds. Loyd also scored 10 consecutive points for Notre Dame in a span of 5:33 midway through the second half, singlehandedly keeping the Fighting Irish ahead by at least two possessions throughout the final 20 minutes against hard-charging Duke.
Unsung Hero: Freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld turned in a blue-collar effort on the blocks, collecting four points, nine rebounds, three assists and a career high-tying three steals while providing stellar post defense against the taller Duke front line.
Unofficial Play of the Game, Part I: With 14:28 left in the game, sophomore guard Lindsay Allen collected an outlet pass from Westbeld, drove down court and then dropped a wicked crossover dribble that left Duke’s Ka’lia Johnson grabbing at air before Allen finished with a soaring layup to put Notre Dame ahead 32-23.
Unofficial Play of the Game, Part II: Loyd’s offensive rebound and basket with 1:15 to play, followed by a second offensive rebound by Turner off Loyd’s missed foul shot with 27 seconds left allowed Notre Dame to re-set its offense twice and effectively bleed off the remaining two minutes of what had become a nip-and-tuck game down the stretch.
Stat Of The Game: Notre Dame advances to its conference tournament championship game for the fifth consecutive year and 14th time in 27 seasons (all under current head coach Muffet McGraw). The Fighting Irish also reach the conference tournament title game for eighth time in nine all-time appearances as a No. 1 seed, having previously won five championships (most recently last year’s ACC crown) and finished second twice.
Additional Notes: Notre Dame earns its 30th win of the season, the fifth consecutive year and seventh time in program history the Fighting Irish have reached that mark … Notre Dame improves to 9-1 this season against ranked opponents … the Fighting Irish have won 17 consecutive games decided by single digits or in overtime, dating back to the 2012 BIG EAST Conference Championship final (a 63-54 Connecticut win on March 6, 2012, at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut) … coincidentally, that 2012 contest was the last time Notre Dame scored fewer than the 55 points it registered on Saturday against Duke … when factoring in regular-season and postseason tournament results (league and NCAA), Notre Dame has won 74 of its last 78 games against conference opponents … since joining the ACC prior to the 2013-14 season, the Fighting Irish are 37-1 (31-1 regular season, 6-0 postseason) against fellow ACC members … Notre Dame is 23-7 in conference tournament games as the higher seed dating back to the 1995-96 season … since the 2001 BIG EAST final, 19 of the past 30 Fighting Irish games in conference tournament play have been decided by 11 points or fewer, with Notre Dame going 9-10 in those close contests … the Fighting Irish have held their last 12 opponents to 63 points or fewer, including eight to less than 60 points (Notre Dame is 17-0 this season and 309-15 since 1995-96 when it holds opponents under the 60-point mark) … in their last 11 conference tournament games, the Fighting Irish have held eight opponents to fewer than 60 points, the lone exceptions coming in back-to-back games in the 2012 BIG EAST final (63-54 loss at UConn) and 2013 BIG EAST quarterfinal (75-66 win over South Florida at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut), as well as this year’s ACC quarterfinal (77-61 win over Miami in Greensboro) … Duke’s 15 first-half points were the second-fewest the Fighting Irish have allowed in the opening 20 minutes this season (Harvard scored 13 on Nov. 24 at Purcell Pavilion) … Notre Dame had held Duke to 25 consecutive misses from the three-point line in its last two-plus matchups with the Blue Devils (covering nearly 70 minutes of game action) before Duke’s Rebecca Greenwell sank a triple with 10:05 left in the second half (one of three for the Blue Devils on 13 attempts on Saturday) … Notre Dame moves to 11-1 all-time against Duke and has won the past nine games in the series … the Fighting Irish are 27-2 all-time against North Carolina schools, including an active 17-game winning streak … Notre Dame is 16-1 all-time when playing in the state of North Carolina, including a 7-0 record at neutral sites (5-0 at the Greensboro Coliseum) … since 2008-09, the Fighting Irish are 52-10 when playing on one’s day rest or less, including a 7-0 record this season … junior guard Jewell Loyd posted her 18th 20-point game of the season, tying for second on the school’s single-season list with Katryna Gaither (1995-96) … Loyd also has scored 20 points in nine of 10 games against ranked opponents this season (25.6 ppg. against Top 25 teams this year) … Loyd moved to sixth place on the Notre Dame single-season scoring list with 658 points, edging past Skylar Diggins (657 in 2011-12).
Up Next For The Fighting Irish: Notre Dame will play No. 7/6 (and second-seeded) Florida State in the ACC Tournament championship game at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. The title game will be televised live on ESPN, as well as ESPN3/WatchESPN (blackout rules may apply). In addition, radio coverage will be available in South Bend on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) and free of charge worldwide online through the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND (watchnd.tv).
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director