March 31, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — For the fifth consecutive year, three University of Notre Dame women’s basketball players have earned All-America honors from at least one major outlet, with junior guard Jewell Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) unanimously receiving first-team All-America accolades from the Associated Press, United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) and the John R. Wooden Award, while sophomore guard Lindsay Allen (Mitchellville, Md./St. John’s College) and freshman forward Brianna Turner (Pearland, Texas/Manvel) received honorable mention All-America plaudits from the Associated Press.
All three outlets announced their All-America teams within the past 24 hours, with Loyd all but securing consensus All-America honors for the second consecutive season, while Allen and Turner earned All-America status for the first time in their respective careers. Notre Dame now has fielded 18 players who have earned All-America citations (top three teams or honorable mention) during the program’s 38-year history, including 12 multiple-time All-America selections.
Loyd, who was an Associated Press second-team All-America pick last year, becomes the 10th Notre Dame player to be a two-time AP All-America choice, and the fourth to make the media group’s top three teams on two occasions, as well as the first unanimous choice since Skylar Diggins in 2013. This also marks the fifth consecutive season Notre Dame has placed at least one player on the top three squads of the AP All-America Team, following in the footsteps of Diggins (2011 – third team; 2012 and 2013 – first team), Kayla McBride (2013 – third team; 2014 – first team) and Natalie Achonwa (2014 – third team).
Loyd returns to the USBWA All-America Team this year and is one of four Fighting Irish players who have earned USBWA All-America recognition, as well as the third to make the 10-player team twice (the others being Ruth Riley in 2000 and 2001, and Diggins in 2012 and 2013). What’s more, this is the fourth consecutive season Notre Dame has produced a USBWA All-America honoree, with McBride joining Loyd on last year’s squad following Diggins’ back-to-back selections the previous two campaigns.
Loyd also repeats as a finalist for the USBWA Ann Meyers Drysdale Award as the national player of the year, which will be presented at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, shortly before the tipoff of this year’s NCAA Women’s Final Four national semifinal games.
This year represents Loyd’s first appearance on the Wooden Award All-America Team, and the fourth year in a row Notre Dame has fielded a Wooden Award All-America pick and the resulting distinction as a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award, which is presented by the Los Angeles Athletic Club to the nation’s top player. Diggins took Wooden All-America honors in 2012 and 2013, followed by McBride last season.
Loyd’s selection coincided with Fighting Irish men’s basketball player Jerian Grant garnering similar accolades, making Notre Dame the only school in the country to produce a Wooden Award finalist on both the men’s and women’s sides.
Loyd and Turner could add further All-America certificates to their resume on Saturday when the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Coaches’ All-America Team is announced at 1:10 p.m. (ET) Saturday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, during Super Saturday events surrounding the NCAA Women’s Final Four.
Tuesday’s announcement continues a flurry of late-season awards for both Loyd and Turner, who were WBCA all-region selections and were tabbed the ACC Player and Freshman of the Year earlier this month. Loyd also was chosen as the espnW National Player of the Year, and she is a finalist for numerous other national player-of-the-year awards, including the WBCA Wade Trophy, Naismith Trophy and Dawn Staley Award.
Along with taking the ACC’s top individual awards, Loyd and Turner garnered first-team all-ACC and All-ACC Defensive Team honors, while Turner was selected to the All-ACC Freshman Team. In addition, for the second year in a row, Loyd was named the Most Valuable Player of the ACC Championship, becoming the seventh two-time ACC Championship MVP in conference history and the second Notre Dame player to be a two-time conference tournament MVP after Krissi Davis at the 1989 and 1991 Midwestern Collegiate Conference Tournaments.
Loyd was a four-time ACC Player of the Week this season, tying Jacqueline Batteast’s 2004-05 program record for conference player-of-the-week selections in one year (Batteast did so while playing in BIG EAST), while being the first ACC player to pull off that feat since 2011-12, when Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas was a four-time honoree.
Loyd has started all 37 games this season, averaging career highs of 19.9 points and 3.1 assists per game, plus 5.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game with two double-doubles. She also leads the ACC with 19 20-point games this season (second-most in school history), while her school-record four 30-point games likewise has set the ACC standard this year.
A consensus preseason first-team All-America pick, Loyd ranks among the top 15 in the ACC in four statistical categories — scoring (2nd – also 25th in nation), free-throw percentage (7th – career-best .821), assists (12th) and assist/turnover ratio (12th – career-high 1.20). In conference play, she finished fourth in the ACC in scoring (19.0 ppg.) and free-throw percentage (.829), as well as 10th in assist/turnover ratio (1.16), 11th in assists (3.1 apg.) and 15th in steals (1.6 spg.).
Loyd, who ranks second on Notre Dame’s single-season scoring list with 738 points and has scored in double figures in 79 of her last 80 games (36 of 37 this season), has been at her best when the stakes have been highest, averaging 23.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.8 steals in 13 games against Top 25 teams this season. In those 13 contests, she has scored at least 20 points 10 times, including three 30-point outings — career-high and school record-tying 41 points at No. 25 DePaul on Dec. 10, 34 points vs. No. 5/6 Tennessee on Jan. 19 at Purcell Pavilion, and 31 points against No. 3 Connecticut on Dec. 6, also at Purcell Pavilion.
Turner joined Loyd on the midseason watch lists for the Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy. The Pearland, Texas, native has been one of the nation’s top freshmen all season long, tying a school record with six ACC Freshman of the Week honors (a mark first set by Alicia Ratay in 1999-2000 and duplicated by Batteast in 2001-02, both in the BIG EAST), while also earning two USBWA National Freshman of the Week citations, the first Fighting Irish player ever to be so honored.
In addition, Turner became the first player in school history and only the sixth in ACC history to earn conference player-of-the-week and freshman-of-the-week accolades on the same day, doing so on Jan. 19 after registering career highs of 29 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocks four days earlier in a win at No. 12/10 North Carolina. With that performance, Turner joined Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris as just the second NCAA Division I player since 1999-2000 to post those numbers in a single game (Paris registered 30 points, 20 rebounds and seven blocks in an overtime loss to Missouri on March 11, 2008, in the first round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament in Kansas City).
Turner has started 33 of the 34 games she has played this season, missing three games in mid-December with a separated shoulder and coming off the bench for a Feb. 26 Senior Night win over Pittsburgh at Purcell Pavilion. She is averaging 13.7 points per game and leads the team with 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game, plus a .656 field-goal percentage. She also has nine double-doubles (tied for third all-time among Notre Dame freshmen) and six 20-point games to her credit this year.
Turner has been a fixture among the national and ACC statistical leaders all season, currently leading the country in field-goal percentage and ranking 29th in blocked shots. Should it hold up, her field-goal percentage would be second-highest in school history and best ever by a freshman (Ruth Riley shot .683 from the field as a sophomore in 1998-99), while Turner’s 85 blocked shots are tied for fourth on the Notre Dame single-season list and second-most by a Fighting Irish freshman (Shari Matvey had 94 blocks in 1979-80).
On the conference level, Turner ranks in the top 20 in the ACC in four categories — field-goal percentage (1st), blocks (5th), rebounding (9th) and scoring (17th).
During the ACC regular-season slate, Turner led the conference in field-goal percentage (.686) and ranked second in blocks (2.9 bpg.), while also finishing seventh in rebounding (8.6 rpg.) and 16th in scoring (14.4 ppg.).
Like Loyd, Turner has been exceptional when the lights have shone brightest this season. In 10 full games against ranked opponents (not counting her injury-shortened four-minute stretch against No. 15/10 Maryland on Dec. 3, plus ensuing missed games against No. 3 Connecticut and No. 25 DePaul), Turner is averaging 14.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per game with four double-doubles and a .626 field-goal percentage.
One of five finalists for this year’s Nancy Lieberman Award as the country’s top point guard, Allen has charged into the national spotlight in the past week, most notably as the Most Outstanding Player at the NCAA Oklahoma City Regional, won by Notre Dame on Sunday night with a 77-68 win over No. 5/6 Baylor at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Allen averaged 25.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists during the two-game regional, including a career-high 28 points in an 81-60 semifinal win over No. 14/17 Stanford, and 23 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals in the victory of Baylor. Allen came into last weekend’s action with two career 20-point games, both earlier this season, including a (then) career-best 24 points at No. 12/10 North Carolina on Jan. 15.
For the season, Allen is averaging career highs of 10.8 points, 5.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game with a .543 field-goal percentage, .400 three-point percentage and .851 free-throw percentage. She leads the ACC in assists and assist/turnover ratio (2.19, just off last year’s personal best of 2.24) and ranks second in the conference in free-throw percentage and fifth in field-goal percentage, the only guard in the ACC to rank in the top five in each category.
Allen also has 195 assists this year, putting her in position to become only the fourth Notre Dame player to record a 200-assist season, joining Mary Gavin (three times), Diggins (twice) and current Fighting Irish assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Niele Ivey (school-record 247 in 2000-01) in that elite club.
During ACC play, Allen led the conference in assists (6.3 apg.) and assist/turnover ratio (2.17), while ranking fifth in field-goal percentage (.504) and eighth in free-throw percentage (.821) — no other guard ranked among the top eight in the ACC in those four categories.
Allen also has sparkled against top competition, averaging 12.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game with a 2.03 assist/turnover ratio and a .480 field-goal percentage in 13 games against Top 25 teams this season, highlighted by last weekend’s performance at the NCAA Oklahoma City Regional.
No. 2 Notre Dame (35-2) will make its fifth consecutive NCAA Women’s Final Four appearance, and seventh in program history, when it plays No. 3/4 South Carolina (champions of the Greensboro Regional) in the NCAA Women’s Final Four national semifinals at 6:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday at Amalie Arena in Tampa. All NCAA Women’s Final Four games will be televised live on ESPN, as well as ESPN3/WatchESPN (blackout rules may apply). In addition, radio coverage will be available in South Bend on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1), nationally on the Westwood One/NCAA Radio Network (check local listings for availability) and free of charge worldwide online through the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND (watchnd.tv).
Notre Dame season ticket holders may purchase NCAA Women’s Final Four tickets through the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office by calling (574) 631-7356 or visiting the Gate 9 ticket windows at Purcell Pavilion weekdays from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET). No online Final Four ticket sales will take place through the Notre Dame athletics ticketing web site, while any remaining Final Four tickets in the Notre Dame allotment will be made available to the general public on Wednesday.
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