Jewell Loyd knows shots will fall for Notre Dame

John Fineran
Tribune Correspondent

On the day after one of her poorest shooting performances of her career -- a 4-for-15 effort in a 75-54 Notre Dame women's basketball victory over Virginia, that would have sent most players to their neighborhood sports psychiatrist -- Jewell Loyd was reminded of coach Muffet McGraw's comments from the previous night.

"She'll probably be in the gym shortly," McGraw kidded.

Loyd smiled and chuckled.

Notre Dame's 5-foot-10 junior All-American, the midseason player of the year in the eyes of ESPNW, may have gotten to the practice floor, where she's usually the first player anyway, a little earlier Friday. But no, she didn't go work on her shot after Thursday's game, in which she produced 14 points, three rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot while also guarding Virginia's top scorer, Faith Randolph.

It's Loyd's faith in her abilities as a basketball player that makes the Chicagoland native such an extraordinary one. And it's her ability to realize that there are other areas in which she can help when the shot's not falling.

"You miss a shot, you forget about it," Loyd said. "Short-term memory."

Expect Loyd to demonstrate that Sunday when the fourth-ranked Irish (22-2 overall, 9-1 ACC) visit Boston College (10-12, 2-7) at 1 p.m.

"I know I'm capable of making a high percentage of my shots," said Loyd, who is shooting 48 percent from the field and averaging 21 points. "You're going to miss shots. It happens. Kobe (Bryant), Diana Taurasi (the former Connecticut All-American) and my brother (Jarryd, who played collegiately at Valparaiso) have that kind of (short-term memory) mentality."

So does she. In fact, the last time the Irish lost a basketball game, when Loyd hit just nine of 20 shots while scoring 27 points in a 78-63 loss at Miami on Jan. 8, she came back with a 5-of-9 shooting effort for 11 points with four assists in 21 minutes as Notre Dame overwhelmed Boston College, 104-58, on Jan. 11. Earlier this season, Loyd followed a 2-for-14, 11-point effort in a 97-43 victory over Harvard, with an 8-for-12, 23-point effort in a 112-52 triumph against Quinnipiac.

And, of course, on a day when lesser competitors under the weather would have sat out the game, Loyd played with a bad head cold and managed just eight points with 4-of-11 shooting, ending her 60-game string of double-digit scoring games, but not before she contributed six assists, three rebounds, two blocks and three steals in Notre Dame's 89-79 victory at North Carolina. Four days later, she scored 34 points with the help of 13-for-23 shooting, had five rebounds and four assists to help Notre Dame knocked off No. 4 Tennessee, 88-77.

"She's smart enough to know that she can contribute in other ways," McGraw said.

Notre Dame freshman forward Brianna Turner may lead the nation in field-goal shooting at 68.4 percent, but Notre Dame's best pure shooter is Loyd, because of her willingness to work on her craft before and after practice. Friday she was even trying to find her touch on buzzer-beating, half-court shots.

You know, just in case, because if it comes down to a final shot, Jewell Loyd intends to take it and make it.

WORTH NOTING: This is the second meeting between the two teams this season. Notre Dame's current eight-game winning streak (the Irish began the season 8-0) started with a 104-58 victory over Boston College on Sunday, Jan. 11 in South Bend. Six players finished in double figures for Notre Dame, led by Brianna Turner's 21 and Kathryn Westbeld's 15, and two other players were within a bucket of joining the six. Emilee Daley scored 12 to lead the Eagles... Notre Dame leads the overall series 15-5... Turner had her sixth double-double of the season with 26 points and 13 rebounds as Notre Dame downed Virginia, 75-54, Thursday... Despite playing without leader scorer and rebounder Kelly Hughes, and leading shot-blocker Karima Gabriel, Boston College still had five players in double figures in beating Clemson, 68-63, Thursday. Ashley Kelsick, Katie Quandt and Martina Mosetti each had 14 points...Notre Dame's next victory will make it the 26th program in NCAA Division I history to amass 850 victories... Following the game, Notre Dame is off until a Big Monday game Feb 16 at Purcell Pavilion against Duke that will be televised at 9 p.m. on ESPN2... In the latest NCAA RPI rankings, Notre Dame is No. 2 and Boston College is No. 105... Statistically, the Irish are ranked in the Top 25 in eight different categories: Second in field-goal shooting percentage (50.1), third in points per game (84.7), fifth in margin of victory (+23.9), sixth in assists per game (18.8), 13th in 3-point shooting percentage (37.8) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.25), 14th in rebounding margin (+9.3) and 23rd in free-throwing shooting (75.0)... Jewell Loyd is 17th nationally in scoring at 21.0 points and Lindsay Allen is 40th in assists at 5.0.

WORTH QUOTING: "This is the time of the year for upsets, where you have to be careful, so hopefully our veterans will make sure that the underclassmen are ready." Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw.

Notre Dame’s Jewell Loyd (32) waits to get into the game in the first half Thursday, February 5, 2015, during the Virginia-Notre Dame women's basketball game at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend. SBT Photo/GREG SWIERCZ

WHO: No. 4/4 Notre Dame (22-2, 9-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) vs. Boston College (10-12, 2-7 ACC)

WHERE: Conte Forum (8,606), Chestnut Hill, Mass.

WHEN: Sunday at 1 p.m.

TICKETS: Available.

TV: Live streaming on the internet at bceagles.com.

Live stats: bceagles.com.

RADIO: WHPZ-FM (96.9), WHPD-FM (92.1), watchnd.tv