Jan. 09, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (AP) – Boston College had trouble slowing Kayla McBride and second-ranked Notre Dame for even brief periods, much less stopping the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame scored the first seven points of the game, stretched the lead to double figures in less than 10 minutes and by halftime its lead was bigger than the Eagles’ most lopsided loss of the season. The Irish continued to pull away in the second half with its bench posting 55 points in a 95-53 victory Thursday night.
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw was pleased with the way the Irish reserves responded after being held to four points against Clemson.
“They are probably our best asset right now because I think we have the best depth of any team in the country,” McGraw said. “We’ve just got some really good players coming off the bench.”
McBride led the Irish (14-0, 2-0 ACC) with 20 points and eight rebounds, Michaela Mabrey had 18, Taya Reimer 15 and Jewell Loyd had 14 to pace the starters. Mabrey, who came in 0-for-12 shooting in the previous two games, shot 6 of 9 as the Irish made 62 percent for the game.
Boston College coach Erik Johnson said his team wasn’t prepared for the way the Irish attacked his team’s zone defense.
“We got exposed with a lot of things. I thought from a coaching point I got exposed by coach McGraw and her staff. They did a better job of attacking our zone, which had been really, really effective for the last bunch of games, against a lot of really good teams,” he said. “They attacked us in ways we had not seen yet that we should have been prepared for a little bit more. They attacked us in ways we weren’t prepared for.”
The Irish dominated on the inside in the first half, outscoring the Eagles 30-8 in the paint, then made 6 of 8 3s in the second half.
“We like to attack inside first and we were able to get some really easy shots inside,” McGraw said. “I think a lot of people see zone and immediately think they have to shoot 3s. We like to go inside first, then kick it out for 3s.”
McBride led the Irish attack on the BC zone.
“I was just trying to find the gaps in the zone to begin with and we were trying to go inside first, then bring it outside,” she said.
The Fighting Irish improved to 14-0 for just the third time in program history and won their 37th straight regular-season game and 20th straight at home. The loss ended a seven-game winning streak for the Eagles (10-6, 1-1), giving them their biggest loss this season.
Kristen Doherty led BC with 13 points, Katie Zenevitch had 11 points and seven rebounds and Lauren Engeln had 10.
The Irish pulled away for most of the game as the Eagles weren’t able to put up much of a challenge.
Johnson called it humbling to see the Irish pick apart his squad.
“Notre Dame is the best passing team we have seen by far,” he said.
McBride agrees with McGraw that the depth of the Irish is key to their success.
“We are going to be able to tire teams out offensively and in transition,” she said. “I think we have to bring that focus every game.”
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame moves to 14-0, extending the third-best start to a season in school history and best since 2009-10 (15-0) … the Fighting Irish have now won 20 consecutive home games, which ties for the third-longest home winning streak in school history … Notre Dame is 393-90 (.814) all-time at Purcell Pavilion, including a 70-5 (.933) record since the start of the 2009-10 season … Notre Dame registered its 37th consecutive regular season win … the Fighting Irish are undefeated in their last 22 conference games including 11 conference home victories in a row … Notre Dame earns its third consecutive series win against BC and 10th in the past 12 meetings, rising to 13-5 (.722) all-time against the Eagles, including wins in all nine matchups at Purcell Pavilion … Notre Dame also has held BC to fewer than 60 points in six of the last seven series games … the Fighting Irish improve to 8-0 this year and 286-15 (.950) since the start of the 1995-96 season when they hold opponents to fewer than 60 points … this marked the fourth consecutive game Notre Dame held the opponent to fewer than 60 points, its best defensive stretch since since a six-game span from Jan. 14-31, 2012 … on the offensive end, the Fighting Irish jumped to 10-0 this year and 195-6 (.970) since 1995-96 when they score 80 or more points (including a 72-2 record in such games during the past five seasons) … Notre Dame posted its fifth 40-point win of the season (plus a sixth decided by 39 points) … with a 49-21 lead at the half, the Fighting Irish moved their record when leading at half to 13-0 this year and 291-19 (.291) this century (2000-01 to present), including a mark of 128-2 (.985) since 2009-10 … Notre Dame had four double-digit scorers for the 11th time this year and rises to 86-5 (.945) since 2009-10, including wins in 56 of their last 57 outings when four or more players score in double figures … Notre Dame shot a remarkable 66.7% (8-for-12) from the three-point line, which was the highest single-game percentage for the Fighting Irish (with a minimum of five attempts) since their last game against Boston College (.875, 7-for-8 on Nov. 23, 2008, at BC) … Notre Dame shot better than 60 percent from the field for the fourth time this season and topped the 50-percent mark for the eighth time … despite a season-low four points against Clemson on Sunday, the Fighting Irish bench entered Thursday’s game against BC averaging 29 points a game, and wound up scoring a season-high 55 against the Eagles, outscoring the Notre Dame starters by 15 points and the entire Boston College team by two points … sophomore guard Michaela Mabrey broke her career high with five three-pointers, tying junior guard Madison Cable for season-high honors (Cable was 5-for-6 vs. UCLA on Dec. 7) and also coming one made three-pointer shy of the arena record … Mabrey also finished one point away from her career high of 19 points, set in this year’s season opener (Nov. 9 vs. UNC Wilmington) … senior forward Natalie Achonwa dished out a career-high eight assists without a turnover, the second time in three games she has set a personal best in assists (she had six vs. South Dakota State on Jan. 2) … freshman guard Lindsay Allen tied her season high with five rebounds … senior guard/tri-captain Kayla McBride posted her third 20-point game of the season and 11th of her career … freshman forward Taya Reimer scored in double figures for the seventh time and the first since Dec. 4 at Penn State … sophomore guard Jewell Loyd has scored in double figures in 20 consecutive games, dating back to last season … Mabrey’s fifth three-pointer of the night with 2:36 left pushed the Fighting Irish over 88 points, thus assuring all fans of a coupon for a free Big Mac at South Bend-area McDonald’s restaurants (it was Mabrey’s third “Big Mac Basket” of her career and Notre Dame’s eighth Big Mac game in 10 tries this season, counting the exhibition win over California (Pa.)) … with Thursday’s attendance of 8,474 fans at Purcell Pavilion, the Fighting Irish attracted their 42nd consecutive crowd of better than 8,000 fans.