Notre Dame's McBride earns national honors

CURT RALLO
South Bend Tribune

When the Associated Press released its preseason women’s basketball All-America list, Notre Dame’s Kayla McBride’s name wasn’t found on the first team. Or the second team. Or the third team.

McBride was listed as honorable mention.

It won’t take that long to find McBride’s name on the postseason list.

McBride, a 5-foot-11 senior guard who is averaging 17.2 points, was named first-team All-America by the Associated Press on Tuesday. Jewell Loyd, a 5-10 sophomore guard who averages 18.8 points for Notre Dame, was named second-team All-America, and 6-3 senior post Natalie Achonwa, who averaged 14.9 points, was named to the third team. Achonwa’s career ended when she suffered a torn ACL in her left knee Monday night.

McBride has helped Notre Dame fashion a 36-0 record this season and earn a fourth consecutive trip to the Final Four. The Erie, Pa., native played a critical role by sharing point guard duties with freshman Lindsay Allen, and has a team-high 142 assists. At her best against the toughest competition, McBride has averaged 19.4 points against teams in the Top 25.

“Kayla’s poise sets her apart; the poise to take the big shot, the poise to make the big play,” McGraw said. “She has such a competitive spirit.”

McGraw said that McBride’s passion has been a key reason for her success. A prolific scorer (1,827 career points), McBride dramatically improved her ball-handling skills to emerge as a key passer.

“I don’t think I could have anticipated Kayla being as good a ballhandler as she was this season,” McGraw said. “It was a big change for a scorer.”

McBride told the Associated Press that she was glad that the top three Irish players were honored.

“It truly is an honor to be part of this group,” McBride said. “It’s great that Jewell and Natalie also were recognized, because they’ve been such a huge part of our success.”

Mechelle Voepel of espnW said earlier that McBride was clearly a first-team All-America choice for her.

“I think Kayla really impacts everything Notre Dame does, offensively and defensively,” Voepel said. “She may not have always the biggest numbers compared to some All-American candidates, but I feel that she is the heart and soul of that Notre Dame team.”

McGraw said that Loyd could have deserved some consideration for first-team All-America.

“Jewell has played so well all year,” McGraw said. “She can take over a game.”

In addition to posting the program’s first unbeaten regular season record, Notre Dame won the ACC regular season and tournament titles in its first season in the league.

Joining McBride on the first team are Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike, Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart, Baylor’s Odyssey Sims and Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas.

Loyd is on the second team with Connecticut’s Brianna Hartley and Stefanie Dolson, Louisville’s Shoni Schimmel and Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper.

Achonwa, South Carolina’s Tiffany Mitchell, Penn State’s Maggie Lucas and Duke’s Tricia Liston and Elizabeth Williams are on the third team.

Ivey candidate?

Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune is reporting that Notre Dame assistant coach Niele Ivey is one of three candidates in line to replace Pam Borton as the head coach at Minnesota.

Ivey, Wichita State coach Jody Adams, and South Dakota State coach Aaron Johnston were named as candidates in an article published online Tuesday night.

Borton was fired at Minnesota after 12 seasons.

Ivey has been a member of McGraw’s staff since 2007. She was a member of the 1997 Final Four team, although she suffered a knee injury five games into the season. Ivey played a key role in leading Notre Dame to the national championship in 2001, and she has been an assistant coach during Notre Dame’s run of four consecutive Final Fours. She also played in the WNBA for five seasons.

Notre Dame’s Kayla McBride (21) takes a shot during the NCAA Sweet Sixteen game against Oklahoma State March 29. McBride was named a first-team All-American Monday. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)