Notre Dame women's basketball: Loyd dazzles as Irish rout Central Michigan

Curt Rallo
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND -- She scored on dazzling spin moves to the hoop for fastbreak layups.

She scored on deep 3-pointers that gently swished through the net. She scored on putbacks, pushed and hacked as she muscled to get off a shot in traffic.

Notre Dame sophomore guard Jewell Loyd scored in a variety of ways to torch Central Michigan for a career-high 30 points and lead the No. 4 Irish to a 106-72 rout of the Chippewas on Sunday.

In the process, Notre Dame became the 27th women’s program to reach the 800-victory plateau.

Notre Dame (10-0) gets a holiday break before traveling to Oregon State for a contest next Sunday. The Irish will likely move up to No. 2 behind Connecticut, after No. 2 Duke and No. 3 Tennessee suffered losses this past week.

Central Michigan, which gave the Irish all kind of trouble last season in a 72-63 loss, is now 4-6.

Loyd’s torrid performance resulted in 12-of-15 shooting, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, and 4-of-7 free throws. She also had 11 rebounds to earn her third career double-double. Her previous career high was a 27-point effort last season against Tennessee-Martin in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

“It definitely helps when you have teammates telling you to shoot and you practice how you play, and I just think the momentum from yesterday's practice carried over to the game,” Loyd said. “And when you have the belief of your coaches and team, it helps a lot.”

Loyd ignited a dominating effort in the first half as the Irish rolled to a 51-28 halftime lead. The 5-foot-10 All-America candidate scored 19 points in the half on 7-of-8 shooting (including one 3-pointer).  She also scrapped for seven rebounds in the first 20 minutes.

“I thought Jewell Loyd was amazing,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. “Some of the shots she made she got out in transition and was very effective doing so. She played just like she did in practice, and I was very happy to see that, because her effort was tremendous and her efficiency was outstanding. It was just a fabulous game for her.

“You can't really guard (Loyd) one-on-one. She is pretty much unstoppable. She can score in transition and coming off ball screens; she was really deadly today. I thought her shot selection was excellent. ... When you go 12-for-15, you can't really complain. It was a fabulous display.”

Kayla McBride scored 18 points, fought for eight rebounds and had four assists for Notre Dame. Irish sharpshooter Michaela Mabrey also tormented the Chippewas with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range.

Mabrey, who contributed six assists, has hit 8 of 13 3-pointers in her last two games and is 20-of-47 (43 percent) for the season.

"They both (Michigan and Central Michigan) played zone, so that helps,” Mabrey said of her recent red-hot shooting. “I think I've been getting to the gym more, especially last week leading up to finals, I didn't really have that much to do, so I got in and got a lot of shots. I think it's just getting shots up and reaching the point where I'm really confident to shoot the ball.”

Lindsay Allen scored 11 points and had six assists for Notre Dame. Crystal Bradford scored 30 points to lead Central Michigan.

Notre Dame’s perimeter defense handcuffed the Chippewas, who entered the game averaging 9.7 3-pointers (fourth in the nation) and hit a total of 52 in their previous four games.

Central Michigan, which had hit 37 percent of its 3-point attempts this season, was 0-of-7 before finally connecting at the 5:36 mark of the first half. The Chippewas finished 6-of-24 from 3-point range (25 percent), while the Irish were 8-of-14 (57 percent).

Last season, Central Michigan was within four points of Notre Dame in the 38th minute of the game. On Sunday, the Chippewas wouldn’t be within four points of the Irish after the sixth minute.

“Notre Dame is at another level,” said Central Michigan coach Sue Guevara. “They're at another level than where we are right now, and they have a lot of weapons. Their transition is really good offensively.

“We knew stopping them in transition and hopefully being able to keep them off the boards would be our only chance to maybe hang in, and they just took it down our throats. We had three people back and they just took it down our throats.”

CENTRAL MICHIGAN (4-6): Jas’Mine Bracey 1-6 1-5 3, Jessica Green 2-10 1-2 5, Kerby Tamm 1-3 0-0 2, Crystal Bradford 12-28 4-6 30, Niki DiGuilio 2-9 0-0 5, Da’Jourie Turner 2-3 0-2 4, Jewel Cotton 1-2 0-0 2, Jordan LaDuke 1-1 1-2 3, Jacqueline Simpson 0-0 0-0 0, Taylor Johnson 7-11 1-2 18. Totals 29-73 8-19 72.

NOTRE DAME (10-0): Natalie Achonwa 2-4 0-0 4, Ariel Braker 1-2 0-0 2, Lindsay Allen 3-4 4-6 11, Kayla McBride 8-17 1-1 18, Jewell Loyd 12-154-7 30, Whitney Holloway 2-2 0-0 4, Kristina Nelson 3-4 0-0 6, TayaReimer 1-3 2-4 4, Madison Cable 1-4 2-2 4, Michaela Mabrey 6-8 1-2 17, Hannah Huffman 0-1 0-0 0, Markisha Wright 3-3 0-0 6, Diamond Thompson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 42-68 14-22 106.

Halftime — Notre Dame 51-28. 3-Point Goals — Cent. Michigan 6-24 (Johnson 3-6, Bradford 2-8, DiGuilio 1-7, Green 0-1, Tamm 0-2), Notre Dame 8-14 (Mabrey 4-5, Loyd 2-3, Allen 1-2, McBride 1-2, Cable 0-2). Fouled Out — None. Rebounds — Cent. Michigan 39 (Bradford 13), Notre Dame 38 (Loyd 11). Assists — Cent. Michigan 13 (Tamm 6), Notre Dame 30 (Allen, Mabrey 6). Total Fouls — Cent. Michigan 20, Notre Dame 21. A — 8,775.

CRallo@SBTinfo.com

South Bend Tribune/ MIKE HARTMAN Notre Dame's Michaela Mabrey(23) and Central Michigan's Taylor Johnson(44)) battle for the ball during their game Sunday, December 22, 2013. at The Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.