Jan. 27, 2014
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) – Notre Dame had just won a close game on the road to remain unbeaten, yet Irish coach Muffet McGraw was still disappointed.
That’s because second-ranked Notre Dame lost a 22-point lead and had to scramble to salvage an 87-83 win over No. 8 Maryland on Monday night.
“If it’s possible to be disappointed after a (win), I’d say that’s how I’m feeling right now,” McGraw said. “I thought we completely lost our poise, which is so unusual for us.”
“We made some big shots when we had to. We certainly weren’t going to get any stops,” McGraw said. “That was the only way we were going to win, to outscore them.”
The Irish (19-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) appeared on their way to another easy victory after building a 41-19 lead late in the first half. But Maryland (16-3, 4-2) stormed back behind senior star Alyssa Thomas to go up 64-63 with 10 minutes left.
Notre Dame answered with a 10-2 run and the Terrapins never got even after that.
McBride hit a long jumper as the shot clock was about to expire to make it 87-83 with 12.2 seconds to go, the last in a series of clutch shots by the Irish in their closest game of the season.
Loyd, a 5-foot-10 sophomore guard, missed Notre Dame’s last game with a sprained knee. She returned to score 20 points in the first half and finished 12 for 20 from the floor and 7 for 8 at the foul line.
Thomas had 29 points and 12 rebounds, her NCAA-leading 17th double-double. Thomas scored 19 after halftime, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Maryland from absorbing its second straight defeat.
“Like I told them in the locker room, I loved our fight,” coach Brenda Frese said. “I thought we showed a lot of character, especially when we were down, to be able to come back and scratch and claw and give ourselves a chance in the second half.”
Two of the Terrapins’ three losses this season have come at home against the top two teams in the country: Connecticut and Notre Dame.
This one was much closer than the 72-55 bashing administered by UConn in mid-November.
Maryland cut the deficit to 12 at the break and opened the second half with a 14-7 run to make it 54-49. Thomas capped the surge with 10 straight points, including a pair of three-point plays.
It was 58-51 before Thomas made another three-point play, giving her 12 points in a span of 3:06.
Thomas gave the Terrapins their only lead, sinking a stop-and-pop jumper in the lane to make it 64-63.
McBride answered with a driving layup, Michaela Mabrey made two foul shots and McBride hit a 3-pointer to put Notre Dame ahead 70-64.
Maryland kept it close, but the Irish seemingly always had an answer. McBride hit a 3-pointer for a 78-74 lead, a three-point play by Loyd made it 81-76 with 2:24 to go, and Loyd followed her own miss with a layup for an 85-81 advantage with 1:03 remaining.
The Irish shot 67 percent from the field (18 for 27) in taking a 47-35 halftime lead.
Although Maryland started 3 for 11 from the field, Notre Dame led by only 9-8 after 4 1/2 minutes. That was before McBride scored on a drive and popped a 3-pointer to spark a 14-2 spurt that put the Irish up by 13.
Minutes later, Loyd made a three-point play, stole a Maryland pass and hit two foul shots to make it 30-14. At that point, Thomas was 1 for 8 from the field.
Maryland closed the half with a 16-6 run during which McGraw twice called timeouts in an effort to stem the momentum swing.
“We lost this game in the first half,” Frese said. “Notre Dame came in and showed their experience, showed their poise early and late down the stretch, hitting big shot after big shot.”
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame extends the second-best start in program history to 19-0, trailing only the 2000-01 Fighting Irish team that began 23-0 … Notre Dame’s 19-game winning streak also is the fifth-longest in school history, and the third time in four seasons the Fighting Irish have put together a winning streak of that length … Notre Dame has won a school-record 42 consecutive regular season games, as well as a school-record 30 consecutive regular season road games (37 of its last 42 overall) … the Fighting Irish have won 26 consecutive regular season conference games, including 19 in a row on the road … Notre Dame improves to 5-0 this season against ranked teams (3-0 against top-10 opponents) and is now 32-5 (.865) against Top 25 teams since the start of the 2011-12 season (12-2 on the road in that span) … Notre Dame is 8-0 on ESPN’s “Big Monday” during the past three seasons (2-0 this year) … the Fighting Irish shot better than 50 percent from the field for the 11th time this season … Notre Dame is 13-0 this year and 75-2 (.974) in the past five years when it scores at least 80 points in a game … the Fighting Irish are 3-4 all-time against Maryland and have won their last two games in the series with the Terrapins … Notre Dame evens its road record in the series at 2-2, defeating Maryland in College Park for the first time since Jan. 9, 1985 (a 49-40 victory at legendary Cole Field House) … the Fighting Irish scored a series-high 87 points tonight and topped 80 points against the Terrapins for the second consecutive meeting after not scoring more than 62 points in their first five series games … Notre Dame is 5-4 all-time against Maryland schools (also 2-0 vs. Loyola) … sophomore guard Jewell Loyd scored a career-high 31 points, topping her previous best of 30 points set five weeks ago in a Dec. 22 win over Central Michigan at Purcell Pavilion … Loyd is the first Fighting Irish player with multiple 30-point games in a single season since 1999-2000, when Ruth Riley did so against Liberty (32 on Dec. 5, 1999, at Wachovia Invitational in Richmond, Va.) and Miami (36 on Feb. 22, 2000, at Purcell Pavilion) … Loyd’s 31 points were the most by a Notre Dame player in a game in almost exactly one year, since Skylar Diggins had 33 points at Tennessee on Jan. 28, 2013 … Loyd scored in double figures for the 24th consecutive game, tying current Fighting Irish associate coach Beth (Morgan) Cunningham for the third-longest streak of double-digit games in program history, as well as the longest since Natalie Novosel’s 27-game run from March 8, 2011 to Jan. 21, 2012 … Loyd had a career-high six assists, while tying her career best for field goals made and attempted … senior guard/tri-captain Kayla McBride posted her team-high seventh 20-point game of the season, and fifth in her last six games … sophomore guard Michaela Mabrey registered her fourth consecutive double-figure scoring night and fifth in six games (11th of the season after having three all of last year) … Mabrey also made at least three three-pointers in a game for the sixth time this season, and connected on multiple treys in a game for the 12th time … Notre Dame dished out at least 20 assists in a game for the 14th time this year.