UPDATE: Notre Dame women’s basketball: Reserves come up big for Irish

Curt Rallo
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND -- Taya Reimer showed it on a fastbreak layup as she was fouled.

Michaela Mabrey showed it on a rainbow 3-pointer from the right wing.

Madison Cable showed it on a rebound and drive in traffic to the hoop for an Irish basket.

Notre Dame’s reserves showed Boston College early that they have the firepower the Irish will need for a long run in March.

Reimer, Mabrey and Cable combined for 39 points to power the No. 2-ranked Irish to a 95-53 victory over Boston College on Thursday night at Purcell Pavilion. The Irish bench outscored Boston College’s entire team with a season-high 55 points.

Notre Dame (14-0, 2-0 ACC) starts a three-game road swing on Sunday at Virginia. The Cavaliers (8-7, 1-1) tuned up for the Irish with a come-from-behind 67-60 victory at Virginia Tech on Thursday. Tip is set for 2 p.m. EST.

The road doesn’t get any easier for Boston College (10-6, 1-1), which plays at No. 3 Duke on Sunday.

Kayla McBride led the Irish with 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting (including 2-of-2 from 3-point range). Another Irish starter, Jewell Loyd, hit double figures for the Irish with 14 points. Irish post Natalie Achonwa scored four points and dished out a career-high eight assists.

Mabrey broke out of an 0-for-12 slump her last two games to score 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting (including 5-of-6 3-pointers).

Reimer contributed 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting.

Cable scored six points.

Kristen Doherty scored 13 points to lead Boston College.

In Sunday’s 71-51 victory against Clemson, Reimer, Mabrey and Cable managed to combine for just four points on 0-of-4 shooting.

By halftime, Reimer, Mabrey and Cable combined for 20 points to lead the Irish to a 49-21 lead. Reimer, a 6-foot-3 freshman post, led the first-half power surge with 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting.

“I felt like I subbed them out too quickly, and I thought they needed to get a little more comfortable,” McGraw said about the limited bench performance in the Clemson game. “Michaela responded well. When you hit your first shot, I think that bodes well for the rest of the game, and most of them did hit their first shot when they came in the game.

“... I thought Taya had an outstanding game. I thought she was really aggressive offensively, which is something she’s really been working toward. This was a great game for her, and I think the beginning of some great games coming up. I thought everybody who came into the game played well. The bench was ready. There was a lot of good stuff.”

Reimer’s ability to punch through the Boston College zone for point-blank shots jump-started the Irish attack.

“That is what we work on in practice,” Reimer said. “Whenever we work on zone offense, we get it to the high post and the middle and then look for the short corner diving and then look inside. That is what we always work on. It just worked for us, and that is what we do.”

Notre Dame finished the game shooting 62 percent (37-of-60), including 8-of-12 on 3-pointers.

McBride’s 9-of-12 shooting came on a variety of shots, ranging from fastbreak drives, to pull-up jumpers near the free-throw line, to deep 3s.

“Kayla has such deep range,” McGraw said. “It’s like a dagger to the zone. They are playing zone to give us jumpers, and she starts nailing 3s from way outside. She was beyond an NBA 3 on a couple of those. It’s fun to watch. It energized the crowd and gets everybody excited. It helps give us more energy going back on defense.”

McBride scored six of Notre Dame’s first 13 points in the first half, and scored eight of Notre Dame’s first 10 points in the second half to ignite the Irish.

“I was just trying to find the gaps in the zone to begin with, as we were trying to go inside first, and then bring it outside,” McBride said. “Jewell Loyd, Madison Cable and Michaela Mabrey were hitting them. It was a good all-around game for us.”

Boston College entered the match with a seven-game winning streak, but it couldn’t slow down the Irish. Notre Dame’s 95 points were the most the Eagles have allowed since a 102-93 loss to Florida State on Jan. 27, 2011.

“I just told the team that we got exposed with a lot of things,” said Boston College coach Erik Johnson. “I thought that I, from a coaching standpoint, got exposed by coach McGraw and her staff. They did a better job attacking our zone defense, which has been really, really effective the last bunch of games against some really good teams.

“They attacked us in ways that we had not seen yet that we should have been prepared for a little more. She had a great game plan. Halftime could not come quick enough. We needed to make some adjustments. I thought we were able to make some adjustments, and then they readjusted against. We forced them to shoot perimeter shots, and they hit eight out of 12 3s.”

BOSTON COLLEGE (10-6): Katie Zenevitch 5-10 0-0 11, Nicole Boudreau 2-8 0-1 5, Lauren Engeln 5-9 0-0 10, Kristen Doherty 5-11 2-2 13, Kat Cooper 2-4 2-3 6, Alexa Coulombe 0-0 0-0 0, Emilee Daley 1-1 0-0 3, Kelly Hughes 1-9 2-2 5, Kami Mickens 0-1 0-0 0, Karima Gabriel 0-2 0-0 0, Victoria Lesko 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 21-57 6-8 53.

NOTRE DAME (14-0): Natalie Achonwa 2-3 0-0 4, Ariel Braker 1-2 0-0 2, Lindsay Allen 0-2 0-0 0, Kayla McBride 9-12 0-0 20, Jewell Loyd 4-7 5-6 14, Whitney Holloway 2-3 0-3 4, Kristina Nelson 3-8 0-0 6, Taya Reimer 5-6 5-7 15, Madison Cable 3-5 0-1 6, Michaela Mabrey 6-9 1-2 18, Hannah Huffman 0-1 0-0 0, Markisha Wright 2-2 2-3 6, Diamond Thompson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 37-60 13-22 95.

Halftime — Notre Dame 49-21. 3-Point Goals — Boston College 5-16 (Doherty 1-1, Daley 1-1, Zenevitch 1-3, Boudreau 1-4, Hughes 1-5, K. Cooper 0-2), Notre Dame 8-12 (Mabrey 5-6, McBride 2-2, Loyd 1-3, Cable 0-1). Fouled Out — Engeln. Rebounds — Boston College 33 (Zenevitch 7), Notre Dame 34 (McBride 8). Assists — Boston College 10 (Doherty 5), Notre Dame 24 (Achonwa 8). Total Fouls — Boston College 22, Notre Dame 14. A — 8,474.


Notre Dame guard Lindsay Allen (15) smothers Boston College's Nicole Boudreau (11) during Thursday night's game at Notre Dame. (SBT Photo/JAMES BROSHER)