March 27, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the second time in three weeks, both Notre Dame senior guard/tri-captain Kayla McBride (Erie, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) and sophomore guard Jewell Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) have been named finalists for a major national player of the year award, as the Fighting Irish pair are among 12 remaining candidates for the 2014 Wade Trophy, which is presented annually to the nation’s most outstanding NCAA Division I women’s basketball player. The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and SHAPE America, the two organizations that coordinate the award, along with the Wade Trophy Committee, announced this year’s 12 finalists on Thursday.
McBride and Loyd, who previously were chosen as finalists for the Wooden Award (and McBride also is one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy) less than a month ago, are looking to become the first Notre Dame player to earn the Wade Trophy — Ruth Riley (2001) and Skylar Diggins (2013) are the only prior Fighting Irish cagers to be chosen as finalists for the Wade Trophy.
Joining McBride and Loyd on this year’s rundown of Wade Trophy contenders are: Stefanie Dolson (Connecticut), Bria Hartley (Connecticut), Jordan Hooper (Nebraska), Natasha Howard (Florida State), Maggie Lucas (Penn State), Tiffany Mitchell (South Carolina), Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford), Odyssey Sims (Baylor), Breanna Stewart (Connecticut) and Alyssa Thomas (Maryland).
Combined with Howard and Thomas, McBride and Loyd give the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) a full one-third of the 12 Wade Trophy finalists, more than any other conference, and one of just three leagues with multiple finalists (the American Athletic Conference has three and the Big Ten Conference has two).
The 2014 finalists were selected by a vote of the Wade Trophy Committee, whose members consist of leading basketball coaches, journalists and administrators. This committee also will select the recipient of the 2014 Wade Trophy from among these 12 finalists who also are named to the 10-member WBCA Coaches’ All-America Team when it is chosen in April. The Wade Trophy recipient will be announced during the WBCA Awards Show at 5:30 p.m. CT (6:30 p.m. ET) April 7 at the Omni Nashville Hotel’s Broadway Ballroom in Nashville, Tenn. The event is part of the WBCA National Convention and is held in conjunction with the NCAA Women’s Final Four.
Already an espnW first-team All-America and WBCA Coaches All-Region II choice, and the ACC Player of the Year, McBride is one of the country’s top all-around players. A member of the 2014-16 USA Basketball National Team Player Pool, McBride has started all 34 games for Notre Dame this season, registering career highs of 17.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game with a 1.93 assist/turnover ratio, while posting a team-high 12 20-point games.
McBride is a fixture among the ACC statistical leaders, ranking in the top 10 in five categories — scoring (10th), free throw percentage (2nd – .880; also 14th in the nation), assist/turnover ratio (4th), assists (8th) and three-point percentage (10th – .375). Her numbers were even sharper in conference games, where she ranked seventh in scoring (19.3 ppg.), first in free throw percentage (.919), third in assist/turnover ratio (2.03) and eighth in assists (4.1 apg.).
On Feb. 3, McBride swept all the major national player of the week awards (espnW, United States Basketball Writers Association and NCAA.com) and was named ACC Player of the Week after averaging 20.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists with a .600 field goal percentage in wins over No. 8/6 Maryland, Virginia Tech and No. 3 Duke.
Those performances are part of McBride’s remarkable success in 11 games against Top 25 opponents this year, against which she has averaged 19.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game with a .466 field goal percentage. In six games against top-10 teams, she’s even better, averaging 22.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game with a .495 field goal percentage.
Loyd, an espnW second-team All-American, as well as a WBCA Coaches’ All-Region II and first-team all-ACC pick, has started 33 games this season (she missed one due to injury), averaging career highs of 18.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game with four double-doubles, plus 11 20-point games and a team-high two 30-point outings (the first time a Notre Dame player has had multiple 30-point games in the same seasons since Riley in 1999-2000).
The reigning United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year, Loyd ranks among the top 20 in the ACC in four statistical categories — scoring (7th), free throw percentage (6th – .823), field goal percentage (8th – .528) and steals (tied-12th). In conference play, she finished fifth in the ACC in scoring (19.7 ppg.), as well as second in three-point percentage (.474), fifth in free throw percentage (.864), sixth in field goal percentage (.536) and ninth in steals (1.8 spg.).
Loyd, who has scored in double figures in 39 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in program history, is the third-fastest Fighting Irish player ever to score 1,000 career points, doing so in only 67 games to trail only Beth Morgan (56 games from 1993-97) and Shari Matvey (66 games from 1979-83). What’s more, she is just the third Notre Dame player to score 1,000 points before the end of her sophomore year (along with Morgan in 1994-95 and Diggins in 2010-11).
Loyd also was named the espnW National Player of the Week and the ACC Player of the Week on Feb. 24 after averaging 25.7 points and 7.7 rebounds with a .509 field goal percentage in wins over Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and No. 7 Duke, the latter victory securing Notre Dame’s first ACC regular season title.
The No. 2 (and top-seeded) Fighting Irish return to action in the NCAA Championship at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday when they play host to No. 21/18 (and fifth-seeded) Oklahoma State in an NCAA Notre Dame Regional semifinal game at Purcell Pavilion, with the game televised live on ESPN and the WatchESPN platform, while the Notre Dame Radio Network broadcast can be heard live in Michiana on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1), as well as online through the official Fighting Irish athletics multimedia platform, WatchND, with veteran broadcaster Bob Nagle on the call.
Currently, all single-session tickets and all-session passes for this weekend’s NCAA Notre Dsme Regional games (Baylor and Kentucky meet in the first semifinal at noon ET Saturday, with the regional final set for 7:30 p.m. ET Monday) are sold out. Some additional tickets could be made available depending on returns by participating teams, with fans wishing to purchase tickets for the regional encouraged to contact Notre Dame’s Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office weekdays during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. ET) by calling (574) 631-7356, going online to UND.com/buytickets or through Twitter (@NDTix), or visiting the ticket windows inside Gate 9 (Rosenthal Atrium) at Purcell Pavilion.
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women’s basketball Twitter pages (@ndwbbsid or @ndwbb), like the program on Facebook (facebook.com/ndwbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director