Notre Dame offense impressive in rout of Duke

CURT RALLO
South Bend Tribune

DURHAM, N.C.- Duke’s Blue Devils have won the last four Atlantic Coast Conference crowns in women’s basketball.

By the time the Blue Devils walked off the court on Sunday, they found themselves in second place in the ACC standings — and the drop from first was a hard landing.

Kayla McBride scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and No. 2 Notre Dame ended Duke’s 42-game home court conference winning streak by whipping the No. 3 Blue Devils, 88-67, at Duke’s fabled Cameron Indoor Stadium.

McBride also had five assists. Notre Dame’s Jewell Loyd had 17 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Natalie Achonwa contributed 15 points and nine rebounds to the Irish victory, and Lindsay Allen scored 15 points.

Led by McBride’s 9-of-15 shooting, Notre Dame shot 62 percent (34-of-55) and held Duke to a season-low 39.1 percent shooting (25-of-64). The Blue Devils entered the game ranked No. 2 in the nation in shooting (51.1 percent). Notre Dame leads the nation in shooting (51.4).

Tricia Liston scored 23 for Duke.

Notre Dame (21-0 overall) takes over sole possession of first place in the ACC with an 8-0 record. The Irish face their fourth consecutive road game at a ranked opponent when they play at No. 23 Florida State on Thursday (7 p.m. EST).

Duke is 21-2 overall and 8-1 in the ACC. The Blue Devils’ only other loss was an 81-63 setback to No. 1 Connecticut. The Blue Devils get a shot at payback on Feb. 23, when they visit Notre Dame.

“It’s a good win for us in early February,” McGraw said. “We’ve got a tough stretch ahead. We’re not the type of team that likes to rest. We’re ready for Florida State by the time we get off the plane.”

Trailing 44-34 at halftime, Duke twice cut the Irish lead to five points.

But Notre Dame used a 5-0 run to regain its 10-point edge quickly after Duke opened the second half with a 5-0 run. When Duke closed to five points again, 49-44, the Irish fought back. Notre Dame went on a 9-0 run that expanded to a 13-2 run, giving the Irish a 16-point lead, 62-46, with 12:18 left in the game.

Maintaining the upperhand from there, the Irish led by as many as 23 at 80-57 with 4:51 left.

“I thought we played really well offensively,’’ McGraw said. “We had a nice spurt of steals and breakaway baskets that really stretched the lead.

“I thought we just really played well offensively. We shot the ball well. Sixty-one percent from the field ... that’s pretty amazing against a team as good as Duke, and as good defensively as they are.”

Duke entered the game allowing opponents to hit only 35.7 percent of their shots.

Notre Dame hit seven of its first 10 shots, while Duke hit just two of its first 10.

McBride ignited the Irish quick start, hitting 7-of-10 in the first half for 14 points.

“You know, it’s fun,” McBride said of connecting early in hostile territory. “I’m just trying to take advantage of the opportunity to go out and play the game that I love.

“We ended up coming out and hitting shots at the beginning of the game. It’s just a great environment, a great game and great for women’s basketball.”

Duke never led in the first half, and trailed by three points, 26-23, when the Irish slugged went on an 11-0 run for a 37-23 lead with 4:55 left in the first half. Jewell Loyd hit a pair of 3s and Lindsay Allen drilled another 3 to give the Irish a 9-0 run in just 1:34. The run stretched to 11-0 on a steal, drive and hoop by Allen.

Duke was burned by Notre Dame’s transition. The Irish outscored the Blue Devils 27-12 in fastbreak points.

“I thought Notre Dame was great,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “They’re very consistent. Their seniors are very consistent, particularly (McBride) and (Achonwa), in terms of the confidence they give their team.

“From our standpoint, we didn’t shoot the ball well, we didn’t really move the ball. Everybody tried to do a little too much on their own, and that’s not a good recipe for executing and having better offense.”

NOTRE DAME (21-0): Natalie Achonwa 6-9 3-4 15, Ariel Braker 0-0 0-0 0, Lindsay Allen 5-8 4-5 15, Kayla McBride 9-15 5-7 23, Jewell Loyd 7-11 1-1 17, Whitney Holloway 1-1 0-0 2, Kristina Nelson 0-0 1-2 1, Taya Reimer 2-4 1-4 5, Madison Cable 0-0 0-0 0, Michaela Mabrey 3-6 0-0 8, Hannah Huffman 0-0 0-0 0, Markisha Wright 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 34-55 15-23 88.

DUKE (21-2): Liston 8-16 5-7 23, Peters 3-7 0-1 7, Williams 0-4 2-4 2, Jones 7-22 1-2 16, Jackson 6-11 4-7 16, Johnson 0-2 0-0 0, McCravey-Cooper 0-0 0-0 0, Chidom 1-2 1-4 3, Henson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-64 13-25 67.

Halftime — Notre Dame 44-34. 3-Point Goals — Notre Dame 5-11 (Loyd 2-3, Mabrey 2-5, Allen 1-2, McBride 0-1), Duke 4-12 (Liston 2-5, Peters 1-2, Jones 1-5). Fouled Out — None. Rebounds — Notre Dame 41 (McBride 11), Duke 30 (Williams 7). Assists — Notre Dame 19 (Loyd, McBride 5), Duke 9 (Jones 5). Total Fouls — Notre Dame 19, Duke 18. A — 7,018.

Notre Dame's Natalie Achonwa (11) and Duke's Oderah Chidom chase the ball during the first half of Sunday's game in Durham, N.C. (AP Photo/GERRY BROOME)