Notre Dame women's basketball: ND capitalizes on strong bench to rout UCLA

South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND - Bench depth? More like bench domination.

Notre Dame’s bench outscored UCLA’s reserves 46-0, much of it at critical points in the game, and the No. 4-ranked Fighting Irish romped to a 90-48 victory over UCLA Saturday afternoon in college women’s basketball.

Madison Cable led the bench showing with a career-high 21 points.

UCLA’s 42-point loss was its worst since a 47-point loss, 89-42, on Dec. 1, 2001, against Utah. The 42-point victory was its largest Irish margin of victory in the series, topping a 17-point victory (99-82) in 1998. UCLA leads the series 9-6, but Notre Dame has won four of the last five meetings.

Notre Dame (8-0) next travels to Ann Arbor on Dec. 14 for a battle against Michigan (6-3). UCLA dropped to 3-5.

Cable, a 5-foot-11 junior guard, scored her 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including 5-of-6 from 3-point range.

"What a great day for Madison Cable. That was so fun to watch," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "What a fantastic offensive showing. She played really well, also, on the defensive side and got some rebounds, no turnovers."

At one point in the second half, Cable had the near-capacity Purcell Pavilion crowd roaring when she hit five consecutive 3-pointers.

“I was able to knock down some shots because my teammates found me and made good passes,” Cable said. “I was looking for other people. I’m not one of those people who shoots it every time. I want to make sure everyone is involved and throw it where it’s open. That’s what we try to do.

“It was fun. It felt good, I’ll just say that. We called some plays that we knew I might be open. It was just working.”

Irish senior leader Kayla McBride was thrilled to see Cable have a career day on the heels of a rough game at Penn State. Cable didn’t score in Wednesday’s game, and played only five minutes.

"I’m really proud of how she played today and hitting those big shots,” McBride said. “It doesn't really surprise me, because when you see her in practice she doesn't miss. But just for Maddie to get that confidence, because we're going to need her in big games, it was great for her to go out there and hit those shots.”

Jewell Loyd scored 15 points and had six rebounds for the Irish. Natalie Achonwa scored 12 points and had nine rebounds, and Kayla McBride had 12 points, six assists and five rebounds.

Michaela Mabrey scored eight points off the bench. Taya Reimer subbed in and had six points, seven rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals.

"We have high expectations for them,” McGraw said of her bench. “We really think they can score. When we're playing them late in the game, it's like a starter for some teams. We definitely have great depth. We're taking advantage of it."

A 14-2 run in the first half allowed the Irish to shake off a sluggish start in which the Irish were 2-of-9 shooting. Reimer and Mabrey played key roles in the run as the Irish zoomed from an 8-6 deficit to a 20-10 lead at the 11:15 mark of the first half. The run expanded to 29-6, allowing the Irish to pull ahead by 21 points, 35-14, with 3:38 left in the first half. UCLA was 2-of-18 (with two free throws) and had four turnovers during the 29-6 Irish run.

By halftime, the Irish had carved out a 24-point lead, 44-20. The Irish hit 16 of their last 28 shots in the half, and 4-of-8 from 3-point range. Notre Dame started the second half with a 6-0 run as the Bruins missed their first eight shots.

Notre Dame finished shooting 56 percent (36-of-64), including 67 percent in the second half (18-of-27). Notre Dame was 10-of-17 from 3-point range. The 10 3-pointers is the most in a game by the Irish since they hit 10 at Syracuse on Jan. 30, 2010, in a 74-73 victory.

Atonye Nyingifa scored 19 points to lead UCLA.

“At halftime, we were very similar in terms of our shots on the goal,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “We told (the players), we had to get several more shots on the goal than Notre Dame to win. They’re such a good shooting team. If it was even, we knew we’d be in trouble. As they got more and more opportunities and capitalized on those, we missed 16 layups the first half. I thought that was tough. We were getting all these opportunities and taking advantage of them. That’s where we have to grow in our toughness and efficiency.”

UCLA (3-5): Atonye Nyingifa 8-25 3-4 19, Luiana Livulo 0-5 0-0 0, Thea Lemberger 7-19 0-0 17, Lauren Holiday 3-7 0-0 6, Nirra Fields 3-14 0-0 6, Dominque Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Rhema Gardner 0-2 0-0 0, Madeline Brooks 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 21-75 3-4 48.

NOTRE DAME (8-0): Natalie Achonwa 6-10 0-0 12, Ariel Braker 1-3 0-0 2, Lindsay Allen 1-3 0-0 3, Kayla McBride 5-9 2-2 12, Jewell Loyd 6-13 2-2 15, Whitney Holloway 1-1 0-0 3, Kristina Nelson 2-2 0-0 4, Taya Reimer 3-6 0-0 6, Madisaon Cable 7-8 2-3 21, Michaela Mabrey 3-8 0-0 8, Hannah Huffman 0-0 0-0 0, Markisha Wright 1-1 2-2 4, Diamond Thompson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 36-64 8-9 90.

Halftime — Notre Dame 44-20. 3-Point Goals — UCLA 3-14 (Lemberger 3-6, Nyingifa 0-1, Brooks 0-3, Fields 0-4), Notre Dame 10-17 (Cable 5-6, Mabrey 2-6, Holloway 1-1, Allen 1-2, Loyd 1-2). Fouled Out — Livulo. Rebounds — UCLA 35 (Nyingifa 10), Notre Dame 48 (Achonwa 9). Assists — UCLA 11 (Lemberger 5), Notre Dame 31 (Mabrey 7). Total Fouls — UCLA 13, Notre Dame 10. A — 8,581.

Notre Dame's Lindsay Allen (15) and Taya Reimer (12) start a fast break against UCLA Saturday in a basketball game at Purcell Pavilion. SBT Photo/GREG SWIERCZ