Jan. 30, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (AP) – Second-ranked Notre Dame couldn’t get going against Virginia Tech until a 15-1 run to end the first half broke the game open.
Six Irish players scored during the spurt to turn the game into a 74-48 rout, with Kayla McBride, who led the Irish with 18 points, sparking the run with a jumper.
“They went to the 2/3 toward the end of the first half and we started getting it inside and getting easy looks and started getting some steals and turnovers that allowed us to get into transition,” McBride said. “And we just started hitting shots.”
The Irish opened the second half with an 8-2 spurt to quickly extend the lead to 24 points and eventually led by 30.
The Irish (20-0, 7-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) are off to their second best start, three victories shy of matching the 2000-01 start en route to a national championship. It was the most lopsided loss of the season for the Hokies (10-10, 0-7), who have lost eight straight.
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said facing the struggling Hokies was difficult sandwiched between games against No. 8 Maryland, whom the Irish beat on Monday, and No. 3 Duke, whom the Irish face Sunday.
“You could tell when we came out. We were just flat. We just didn’t have it,” she said.
One of the highlights for the Irish was an alley-oop layup by Jewell Loyd, who made a steal, passed to Lindsay Allen and Allen passed it back for one of her season-high eight assists. It was the third straight basket for Loyd, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds and three steals.
“It brought us energy,” McGraw said. “We just needed something to get the crowd going.”
Virginia Tech coach Dennis Wolff said he thinks his team fell asleep on the possession, something they couldn’t afford to do against the Irish.
“They have really good players. They make good plays. They are smart, they’re well coached and they’re tough. So there is a reason why they are 20-0,” he said.
The Irish outscored the Hokies 32-12 in the paint and had a 41-34 advantage in rebounds. The Irish led 37-19 at intermission, the fewest points allowed by the Irish in the first half this season, and the Hokies were held to their lowest point total this season. Virginia Tech was held to 27.4 percent shooting, matching their season-low.
Wolff said the key was Notre Dame’s run at the end of the first half.
“It is difficult for us to make up that ground against this kind of team,” he said.
Vanessa Panousis led the Hokies with 12 points. Uju Ugoka, who averages 20.2 points, was held to 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting as the Irish frequently double-teamed her.
“Their wing players are as big as Uju, so that changes everybody’s perspective on the whole thing,” Wolff said.
McBride said she believes the Irish showed their mental toughness by taking control after a slow start.
“We came out a little flat, but we got it done,” she said.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame rises to 20-0 this season (7-0 in the ACC), inching closer to tying the 2000-01 squad (23-0) for best start to a season in school history … the Fighting Irish match the fourth-longest winning streak in program history, with the 1999-2000 club also earning 20 consecutive wins … Notre Dame posted its 20th win of the season on Thursday, and has now produced 24 20-win seasons under head coach Muffet McGraw, including a remarkable 20 in the last 21 years … this year’s Fighting Irish squad reached the 20-win mark before the end of January for the third time in school history, and faster (in terms of calendar date) than all but one team in program annals (the 2011-12 team got its 20th victory on Jan. 23, while the 2000-01 club reached the mark on Jan. 31) … Notre Dame extends its regular-season win streak to 43 games and its home win streak to 22 games … the Fighting Irish have won 27 consecutive regular season conference games, as well as their last 14 regular season conference home games … the Fighting Irish go unbeaten in the month of January for the third consecutive season and have won 31 consecutive January games dating back to the 2010-11 season … Notre Dame moves to 6-1 all-time against Virginia Tech, including a 4-0 record at Purcell Pavilion … the Fighting Irish posted their largest margin of victory in the series with the Hokies, while holding Virginia Tech for fewer than 60 points for the sixth consecutive series meeting … Notre Dame held Virginia Tech to an opponent season-low 19 points in the first half, while the 48 points allowed for the game tied for the second-fewest the Fighting Irish have given up this year … Notre Dame also limited Virginia Tech to an opponent season-low .274 field goal percentage … Notre Dame lifts its record since 1995-96 to 288-15 (.951) when the opponent scores fewer than 60 points … Notre Dame raises its mark against Virginia schools to 11-8 (.579), including a 6-1 (.857) home record … Notre Dame shot better than 50 percent from the field for the 12th time this season … the Fighting Irish totaled four players in double figures for the 15th time this season and moves to 90-5 (.947) since the start of 2009-10 when four players score 10-plus points, including earning victories in 60 of its last 61 games … in taking a 37-19 lead into the halftime break, Notre Dame improved to 296-19 (.940) since 2000-01, including 133-2 (.985) since 2009-10, when leading at half … junior guard Madison Cable nearly doubled her career high in rebounds with a game-high 13 boards … freshman guard Lindsay Allen bested her previous season high with eight assists to go along with just one turnover … McBride (8-for-8) and Reimer (5-for-5) went a combined 13-of-13 from the free throw line to help the Fighting Irish shoot 81.8 percent from the charity stripe (both players also enjoyed the best individual foul-shooting percentages of the season for a Notre Dame player) … with 8,556 fans on hand Thursday night, the Fighting Irish posted their 44th consecutive game with at least 8,000 fans at Purcell Pavilion.