Jan. 26, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – During the first 10 weeks of the 2014-15 Atlantic Coast Conference women’s basketball season, University of Notre Dame junior guard Jewell Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) and freshman forward Brianna Turner (Pearland, Texas/Manvel) took turns earning weekly accolades from the conference, with one garnering either ACC Player or Freshman of the Week honors in seven of those 10 weeks.
On Monday, Loyd and Turner synchronized their awards, with Loyd receiving her third ACC Player of the Week honor of the season (fourth of her career), and Turner tying the Notre Dame record with her sixth ACC Freshman of the Week citation this season. Both honors were chosen by the conference’s Blue Ribbon Panel that is comprised of the ACC’s 15 head coaches, local and national media members and the women’s basketball media relations directors for each school.
This marks the second consecutive week Notre Dame has swept the ACC Player and Freshman of the Week honors, with Turner copping both accolades last week (the sixth freshman in conference history to pull off that feat and second in as many seasons, following North Carolina’s Diamond DeShields). Monday’s twin citations represents the first time two different Fighting Irish players have garnered conference player and freshman honors in the same week since Feb. 25, 2002, when Alicia Ratay was chosen as BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week, while Katy Flecky took home the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week award.
Loyd is the sixth Notre Dame player to be named a three-time conference player-of-the-week honoree in one season, and the first since Skylar Diggins collected three awards during the 2012-13 season while the Fighting Irish were members of the BIG EAST. The only Notre Dame player with more conference player-of-the-week certificates in one season than Loyd, Diggins (also 2011-12) and fellow three-time recipients Katryna Gaither (1996-97), Niele Ivey (1998-99) and Ruth Riley (1998-99 and 2000-01) is Jacqueline Batteast, who was a four-time BIG EAST Player of the Week in 2004-05.
Meanwhile, Turner has collected more than half of the conference’s 11 Freshman of the Week awards this season, with no other player earning that distinction more than once (and no school doing so more than twice) in the 2014-15 campaign. She is the 12th ACC rookie to earn six Freshman of the Week honors in one season, and the first since North Carolina’s Xylina McDaniel took six awards in 2012-13.
In addition, Turner is the third Notre Dame player in program history to earn a school-record six conference freshman-of-the-week accolades in one season, and the first since Batteast copped six BIG EAST weekly rookie awards in 2001-02 — Ratay also collected six BIG EAST freshman accolades in 1999-2000.
Loyd is one of the leading candidates for every major national player of the year honor, including the Wade Trophy, Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy, and a unanimous choice as the espnW Midseason Player of the Year that also was announced Monday.
Loyd set the pace in all three Notre Dame wins last week, averaging 26.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game with a .617 field-goal percentage and .364 three-point percentage as the Fighting Irish led virtually wire-to-wire in all three victories, including a route-going effort in a win over No. 5/6 Tennessee.
Loyd led Notre Dame in scoring in all three games, starting with 34 points on 13 of 23 shooting, along with five rebounds and four assists against Tennessee on ESPN2’s Big Monday (Jan. 19), posting her third 30-point night of the season (all against ranked opponents) and sixth of her career (both tying Notre Dame records). Loyd’s 34 points also were two shy of the Purcell Pavilion arena scoring record by a Fighting Irish player and most since Feb. 22, 2000, when Ruth Riley scored 36 against Miami. Loyd then delivered a game-high 29 points (career-high 9-9 FT), career high-tying seven assists, five rebounds and three steals in a home win over Georgia Tech on Jan. 22. She capped the week by scoring a game-high 17 points (going six of seven from the field and making her final five shots) and grabbing eight rebounds in 24 minutes of the Jan. 24 road win at Clemson.
Loyd currently leads the ACC in scoring (21.6 points per game), ranks fifth in free-throw percentage (.846), ninth in steals (1.7 steals per game), tied for 11th in assist/turnover ratio (1.43) and tied for 12th in assists (3.3 assists per game). She also ranks 13th in the nation in scoring while leading the ACC with 13 20-point games and three 30-point games this season, the latter tying the school record for one campaign.
This season, Loyd is registering career-high averages in scoring, assists, steals, assist/turnover ratio and free-throw percentage, and she has elevated her game when the stakes are highest. She is averaging 27.7 points per game in seven outings against ranked opponents, including 30-point outings against No. 3 Connecticut (31 points), No. 25 DePaul (career-high and school record-tying 41 points) and No. 5/6 Tennessee (34 points).
Turner averaged 14.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game with a double-double and a .680 field-goal percentage in three games last week. Turner opened with 13 points and a game-high five blocks against No. 5/6 Tennessee. She then turned in a near-perfect shooting night against Georgia Tech, making six of seven shots and two of three free throws to collect 14 points in the victory. Turner ended her week by recording her fifth double-double of the season at Clemson with 15 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, helping hold the Tigers to just 36 points, the fewest points Notre Dame has allowed in a conference game since joining the ACC prior to last season.
A two-time United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Week (the only multiple-time recipient of the honor this year), Turner leads the nation in field-goal percentage (675), while ranking third in the ACC in blocks (2.8 blocks per game; also 22nd in the nation), eighth in scoring (15.7 ppg.) and 11th in rebounding (7.3 rebounds per game) — no other ACC freshman ranks among the top 11 in more than two of these categories and no other ACC player ranks among the top 11 in more than three.
Like Loyd, Turner has been sharp against top competition — in four full games against ranked teams (not counting an injury-shortened four-minute stretch against No. 15/10 Maryland on Dec. 3), Turner is averaging 19.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 5.8 blocks per game with two double-doubles and a .682 field-goal percentage.
No. 4/5 Notre Dame (19-2, 6-1 ACC) reaches the midpoint of its 2014-15 ACC season on Thursday when it travels to Blacksburg, Virginia, for a 7 p.m. (ET) matchup with Virginia Tech at Cassell Coliseum. The game will be televised live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app, while radio coverage will be available in South Bend on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) and free of charge worldwide online through the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND (watchnd.tv).
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women’s basketball Twitter pages (@NDsidMasters 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