Dec. 14, 2013
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) – This was the type of game Jewell Loyd was looking for after an extended break for No. 4 Notre Dame.
Loyd scored 20 points, Natalie Achonwa had 18 points and nine rebounds and the Fighting Irish cruised to an 86-64 victory over Michigan on Saturday night.
“I wanted to come out here and be aggressive,” Loyd said. “I haven’t been shooting the ball well at all recently, so it was good for me to come out here and get a good feel.”
Loyd was 10 for 14 from the field and also had four rebounds and three assists in a team-high 34 minutes. Michaela Mabrey added 14 points in the Irish’s first game since a 90-48 victory over UCLA on Dec. 7.
Notre Dame (9-0) put this one away early, carrying a 47-23 lead into the break. The Irish shot 59 percent from the floor and forced 19 turnovers, including 13 in the decisive first half.
“We really got the transition game going,” coach Muffet McGraw said. “I was happy with the offense and the defense, really. I thought we played really well.”
Reserve guard Shannon Smith scored 23 points for Michigan (7-4), which had won six of seven. Cyesha Goree had 15 points and seven rebounds, and Siera Thompson finished with 10 points.
“For us, one of the takeaways is we played well in the second half,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “So I was very encouraged by that. We talked a lot about it at halftime, fighting back and all those things we did a lot better job in the second half. I think we were surprised in the first half, but we responded and I was happy about that.”
Notre Dame grabbed control by scoring 23 of the final 32 points in the first half. The Irish made 22 of their first 32 shots, compared to an 8-for-25 start for the Wolverines before the break.
Smith, who has been nursing a back injury, was 7 for 12 from the field and 8 for 9 at the free-throw line.
“We let Smith get loose a little bit more than I wanted to and tried to trap her off the ball screen but were ineffective,” McGraw said. “I thought she scored more 1-on-1s. But I think we did a lot of good things.”
Notre Dame had 48 points in the paint on 24-of-34 shooting.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame earns the 799th win in program history, with the Fighting Irish now on the verge of becoming the 27th NCAA Division I women’s basketball program to record 800 all-time wins (currently at 799-316, .717, in 37 seasons of varsity competition) … at 9-0, Notre Dame continues the third-best start to a season in program history, exceeded only by the 2009-10 team (15-0) and the 2000-01 national championship squad (23-0) … the Fighting Irish have won 32 consecutive regular season games, dating back to Dec. 5, 2012 (a 73-61 loss at home to third-ranked Baylor) … Notre Dame have won a school-record 25 consecutive regular season road games (and 32 of its last 37 overall) since a 94-81 loss at top-ranked Baylor on Nov. 20, 2011, in the Preseason WNIT championship game … the Fighting Irish improve to 10-7 all-time against Michigan, including a 3-5 record in Ann Arbor, where Notre Dame has won on two of its last three visits (the one loss coming in overtime, 63-59 in the team’s most recent meeting on Dec. 10, 2008) … the Fighting Irish scored 86 points on Saturday, the largest output by either team in the series since March 19, 2001, when Notre Dame earned an 88-54 win over the Wolverines at Purcell Pavilion in the second round of the NCAA Championship (this also was the most points the Fighting Irish have ever scored against Michigan in a regular season game, surpassing a 77-46 Notre Dame win on Dec. 2, 2007 at Purcell Pavilion) … Saturday’s win evens the Fighting Irish all-time record against the Big Ten Conference at 49-49, including a 19-26 (.422) record on the rod and a 42-34 (.553) mark in the 27-year Muffet McGraw era … Notre Dame has won 10 consecutive games against Big Ten teams (including all three this season — at home vs. #19/18 Michigan State, and at #10/11 Penn State and Michigan) and 21 of its last 27 games against that conference … the Fighting Irish have won their last six road games at Big Ten opponents … Notre Dame jumps to 57-20 (.740) all-time against Michigan schools including a 37-8 (.822) record in the McGraw era … the Fighting Irish have won 14 of their last 15 games against Michigan teams, dating back to the 2005-06 season … this marked the fifth time this season Notre Dame has led by at least 20 points at halftime … the Fighting Irish have scored at least 40 points in the first half of seven games this season (and at least 34 in all nine outings) … Notre Dame shot better than 55 percent from the field for the second consecutive game (.563 vs. UCLA on Dec. 7), the first time it’s done that since Nov. 13-17, 2011 in Preseason WNIT home games vs. Indiana State (.581) and Hartford (.561) … the Fighting Irish shot a season-high .688 in the first half on Saturday, their best opening-half field goal percentage since Feb. 5, 2012, when they connected at a .719 clip (23-of-32) in a 90-70 win over #RV/23 DePaul at Purcell Pavilion … Notre Dame collected at least 21 assists for the eighth time in nine games this season (the lone exception being a 17-assist night on Dec. 4 at #10/11 Penn State) … while the Fighting Irish were held to a season-low 29 rebounds (due in no small part to their strong shooting night), Notre Dame did hold its opponent to fewer than 30 rebounds for the fifth time this year … for the third game in a row, the Fighting Irish posted a season-best free throw percentage, making 92.9 percent (13-of-14) of their foul shots on Saturday (the lone miss coming on their final attempt with 1:41 to play) — it was Notre Dame’s best performance at the line since March 24, 2013, when it made 19-of-20 free throws (.950) in a 97-64 win over Tennessee-Martin in the first round of the NCAA Championship in Iowa City, Iowa … Loyd posted her third 20-point game of the season (fifth of her career) and tied her career high with 10 made field goals (first set in last year’s NCAA opener vs. UT-Martin) … Mabrey scored in double figures for the fifth time this season (after having three double-digit games all of last year), and set new career highs with four three-pointers (previous best was three at Connecticut on Jan. 5, 2013) and two blocked shots (she had one swat on five occasions, most recently on Dec. 1 against Duquesne in Toronto).