March 25, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the sixth consecutive year, Notre Dame has had at least two women’s basketball players earn all-region status in the same season and now are in position to contend for places on the 2015 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Coaches’ All-America Team, it was announced Wednesday by the WBCA.
Junior guard Jewell Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) earned her second all-region citation in as many seasons, while freshman forward Brianna Turner (Pearland, Texas/Manvel) garnered all-region honors for the first time in her career. Turner also is one of just three freshmen in the nation to earn all-region status this season, along with Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell and South Carolina A’ja Wilson.
The Fighting Irish duo is among 52 all-region selections, and two of the seven honorees from the WBCA’s Region II, which includes players from schools in the Atlantic Coast, Big South and Metro Atlantic Athletic conferences, as well as the Colonial Athletic Association. All told, 16 Fighting Irish players now have collected all-region laurels a total of 30 times in the program’s 38-year history.
Loyd’s selection is particularly noteworthy, as it puts her in position to become just the third Notre Dame player to be a two-time selection to the 10-member WBCA Coaches’ All-America Team, following up her citation in 2014. Skylar Diggins was the first Fighting Irish player to be a multiple-time WBCA Coaches’ All-America Team pick, having earned the honor three times (2011, 2012, 2013), with Kayla McBride following suit as a member of the 2013 and 2014 WBCA Coaches’ All-America Teams.
In addition to Loyd, McBride and Diggins, two other Notre Dame alums earned WBCA Coaches’ All-America Team recognition during their careers. Ruth Riley made her way on the 2001 team, while Jacqueline Batteast did likewise in 2005, both during their senior seasons.
From this year’s list of 52 all-region nominees, a group of 10 will be chosen by the WBCA Coaches’ All-America Team selection committee for this year’s WBCA Coaches’ All-America Team. The 2015 WBCA Coaches’ All-America Team will be announced at 1:10 p.m. (ET) April 4 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, during Super Saturday events surrounding the NCAA Women’s Final Four.
Those all-region nominees not chosen for the 10-member State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team will be designated as State Farm Coaches’ All-America Honorable Mentions, a status earned by 12 Fighting Irish players, all since 1991 — Karen Robinson (1991), Katryna Gaither (1996, 1997), Beth Morgan (1996, 1997), Riley (1999, 2000), Batteast (2002, 2004), Megan Duffy (2005, 2006), Charel Allen (2007), Diggins (2010), Lindsay Schrader (2010), Natalie Novosel (2011, 2012), Devereaux Peters (2011, 2012) and Natalie Achonwa (2013).
Wednesday’s announcement is the latest in a recent spate of awards for both Loyd and Turner, who were tabbed the ACC Player and Freshman of the Year earlier this month. Loyd also was chosen as the espnW National Player of the Year, and she is a finalist for numerous other national player-of-the-year awards, including the Naismith Trophy, Wooden Award and Dawn Staley Award, as well as a prime candidate for the WBCA Wade Trophy and United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Year award.
Along with taking the ACC’s top individual awards, Loyd and Turner also garnered first-team all-ACC and All-ACC Defensive Team honors, while Turner was selected to the All-ACC Freshman Team. In addition, for the second year in a row, Loyd was named the Most Valuable Player of the ACC Championship, becoming the seventh two-time ACC Championship MVP in conference history and the second Notre Dame player to be a two-time conference tournament MVP after Krissi Davis at the 1989 and 1991 Midwestern Collegiate Conference Tournaments.
Loyd was a four-time ACC Player of the Week this season, tying Jacqueline Batteast’s 2004-05 program record for conference player-of-the-week selections in one year (Batteast did so while playing in BIG EAST), while being the first ACC player to pull off that feat since 2011-12, when Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas was a four-time honoree.
Loyd has started all 35 games this season, averaging career highs of 20.1 points and 3.1 assists per game, plus 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game with two double-doubles. She also leads the ACC with 18 20-point games this season (tied for second-most in school history), while her school-record four 30-point games likewise set the ACC standard this year.
A consensus preseason first-team All-America pick, Loyd ranks among the top 15 in the ACC in four statistical categories — scoring (2nd – also 25th in nation), free-throw percentage (6th – career-best .828), assists (11th) and assist/turnover ratio (12th – career-high 1.21). In conference play, she finished fourth in the ACC in scoring (19.0 ppg.) and free-throw percentage (.829), as well as 10th in assist/turnover ratio (1.16), 11th in assists (3.1 apg.) and 15th in steals (1.6 spg.).
Loyd, who ranks second on Notre Dame’s single-season scoring list with 704 points and has scored in double figures in 77 of her last 78 games (34 of 35 this season), has been at her best when the stakes have been highest, averaging 24.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals in 11 games against Top 25 teams this season. In those 11 contests, she has scored at least 20 points nine times, including three 30-point outings — career-high and school record-tying 41 points at No. 25 DePaul on Dec. 10, 34 points vs. No. 5/6 Tennessee on Jan. 19 at Purcell Pavilion, and 31 points against No. 3 Connecticut on Dec. 6, also at Purcell Pavilion.
Turner joined Loyd on the midseason watch lists for the Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy. The Pearland, Texas, native has been one of the nation’s top freshmen all season long, tying a school record with six ACC Freshman of the Week honors (a mark first set by Alicia Ratay in 1999-2000 and duplicated by Batteast in 2001-02, both in the BIG EAST), while also earning two USBWA National Freshman of the Week citations, the first Fighting Irish player ever to be so honored.
In addition, Turner became the first player in school history and only the sixth in ACC history to earn conference player-of-the-week and freshman-of-the-week accolades on the same day, doing so on Jan. 19 after registering career highs of 29 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocks four days earlier in a win at No. 12/10 North Carolina. With that performance, Turner joined Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris as just the second NCAA Division I player since 1999-2000 to post those numbers in a single game (Paris registered 30 points, 20 rebounds and seven blocks in an overtime loss to Missouri on March 11, 2008, in the first round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament in Kansas City).
Turner has started 31 of the 32 games she has played this season, missing three games in mid-December with a separated shoulder and coming off the bench for a Feb. 26 Senior Night win over Pittsburgh at Purcell Pavilion. She is averaging 13.8 points per game and leads the team with 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game, plus a .665 field-goal percentage. She also has eight double-doubles (fourth all-time among Notre Dame freshmen) and six 20-point games to her credit this year.
Turner has been a fixture among the national and ACC statistical leaders all season, currently leading the country in field-goal percentage and ranking 29th in blocked shots. Should it hold up, her field-goal percentage would be second-highest in school history and best ever by a freshman (Ruth Riley shot .683 from the field as a sophomore in 1998-99), while Turner’s 81 blocked shots are fifth on the Notre Dame single-season list and second-most by a Fighting Irish freshman (Shari Matvey had 94 blocks in 1979-80).
On the conference level, Turner ranks in the top 20 in the ACC in four categories — field-goal percentage (1st), blocks (5th), rebounding (9th) and scoring (16th).
In addition, Turner’s eight double-doubles rank second among ACC freshmen and ninth among all ACC players, while her six 20-point games are third among ACC rookies and 14th among all ACC players.
During conference play, Turner led the ACC in field-goal percentage (.686) and ranked second in blocks (2.9 bpg.), while also finishing seventh in rebounding (8.6 rpg.) and 16th in scoring (14.4 ppg.).
Like Loyd, Turner has been exceptional when the lights have shone brightest this season. In eight full games against ranked opponents (not counting her injury-shortened four-minute stretch against No. 15/10 Maryland on Dec. 3, plus ensuing missed games against No. 3 Connecticut and No. 25 DePaul), Turner is averaging 14.9 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.9 blocks per game with three double-doubles and a .653 field-goal percentage.
No. 2 Notre Dame (33-2) has advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championship for the sixth consecutive season and the seventh time in eight years. The top-seeded Fighting Irish will take on fourth-seeded (and No. 14/17-ranked) Stanford in the NCAA Oklahoma City Regional semifinals at approximately 10 p.m. (ET) Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The game will be televised live on ESPN and the WatchESPN app.
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— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director