Duke up next for second-ranked ND women in ACC Tourney

John Fineran
Tribune Correspondent

GREENSBORO, N.C. — One of the two teams to beat Notre Dame's second-ranked women's basketball team this season decided to chose its poison in its rematch against the Irish Friday in the quarterfinals of the 38th Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

The problem for Miami was it had no antidote for what coach Muffet McGraw and her team had been concocting since that Jan. 8 upset in south Florida.

With five players scoring in double figures, with dominance inside they have rarely shown this season and flashing perhaps their strongest defensive effort of the season, the top-seeded Irish moved into the ACC Tournament semifinals with a 77-61 victory over the eighth-seeded Hurricanes, avenging a 78-63 loss that is now 15 consecutive victories in Notre Dame's rearview mirror.

Next up for Notre Dame (29-2) at noon Saturday is a rematch with fourth-seeded Duke (21-9), a 77-68 winner Friday over Wake Forest. The Irish already own a 63-50 victory over the Blue Devils back on Big Monday night, Feb. 16, at the Purcell Pavilion.

“I think any time you lose a game, that's the team that you want to play again,” said McGraw, whose team's only other loss (76-58) came on Dec. 6 at home against now top-ranked Connecticut. If given the chance, the Irish hope they can avenge that loss sometime during the upcoming NCAA tournament. The Huskies have ended Notre Dame's last two seasons with victories in the Women's Final Four.

“Just a great team effort offensively,” McGraw added Friday. “I thought we rebounded better (on Jan. 8 the Irish had a 42-39 edge; Friday it was 42-29), and I was really pleased with our defense (on Jan. 8, Miami shot 52.7 percent; Friday it shot 38.7).”

Junior ACC Player of the Year Jewell Loyd scored 16 points, while teammates Brianna Turner, Taya Reimer and Madison Cable each had 13 points. Kathryn Westbeld added 10 points and point guard Lindsay Allen just missed the scoring party with nine as the Irish hit 28 of 57 shots for 49.1 percent or 13.2 percent better than they did in Coral Gables – their worst shooting effort of the season.

“We just came together and we wanted to fight for each other and fight for Notre Dame,” said Loyd, who actually had 18 points but had two made free throws erased in the first half when officials determined she shouldn't have been at the free-throw line for a foul committed by Miami's Necole Sterling on Reimer with 8:31 remaining.

Reimer then missed the front end of the bonus but Loyd corralled the rebound, one of her eight in the game to go with two assists and two steals.

Loyd's offensive output was the 91st double-figure scoring effort of her career and her 30th in 31 games this season. It left her with 1,774 points, seventh on Notre Dame's all-time scoring list.

The 6-foot-3 Turner hit six of nine shots and led the Irish with 10 rebounds for her seventh double-double of the season. Cable and Westbeld both came off the bench to have some impressive numbers. Cable, a senior, hit all eight of her free throws, had seven rebounds, an assist and a steal in 24 minutes of action. Westbeld, a freshman, added four rebounds and two assists in 22 minutes. Allen, the ACC leader with 157 assists coming in but was somehow not recognized as one of the top 15 players when the all-conference teams were announced Tuesday, added four more Friday while running the Irish offense.

But perhaps the strongest performance belonged to the 6-foot-3 Reimer, who didn't travel to Miami for the first game because of personal reasons, had perhaps her most complete game of the season – the 13 points came on 6-of-12 shooting and she added five rebounds and a team-high three blocked shots in 29 minutes, the third most played behind Loyd (35) and Allen (34). She has now scored in double figures the last four games.

“We knew that this was a big game coming in,” Reimer said. “Miami is a great team but we definitely wanted to get them back. We all were really motivated for this game and just wanted to attack them and get the W.”

Notre Dame's all-around effort was very evident to Miami coach Katie Meier, whose team fell to 19-12 and now awaits its NCAA tournament fate.

“I thought Notre Dame was very, very focused with its offensive game plan and defensive game plan,” said Meier who reminded everyone she is one of only two coaches to beat Notre Dame this season. “They had us pretty confused in the first half, switching up their defenses and that didn't allow us to get out in transition and get our flow going.

“It wasn't just Reimer, it was Westbeld hitting the 3,” Meier continued. “You've got to choose somebody to give the catch-and-shoots do and we chose those two kids and they made them. I believe they had 20 points in the first half from that position – Reimer, Westbeld (and) Cable – and I looked up and said, 'Dang, they got 20 points off what we were giving them.' They are very hard to defend.”

Which is the way McGraw likes it. “I thought we shared the ball really well,” she said.Notre Dame had all its bases covered this time against Miami.

• NOTRE DAME 77, MIAMI, FLA. 61

At Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum

MIAMI (61): Jassany Williams 7-14 2-2 16, Jessica Thomas 9-14 3-3 24, Michelle Woods 1-6 2-2 4, Adrienne Motley 2-8 1-2 5, Suriya McGuire 0-6 0-0 0, Nigia Greene 1-2 0-0 2, Necole Sterling 3-8 0-0 7, Khaila Prather 1-1 0-1 2, Erykah Davenport 0-3 1-2 1, TOTALS 24-62 9-12 61.

NOTRE DAME (77): Brianna Turner 6-9 1-1 13, Taya Reimer 6-12 1-4 13, Lindsay Allen 4-8 1-2 9, Michaela Mabrey 1-1 0-0 3, Jewell Loyd 5-14 4-6 16, Madison Cable 2-6 8-8 13, Kathryn Westbeld 4-6 1-1 10, Markisha Wright 0-0 0-0 0, Hannah Huffman 0-1 0-0 0, Whitney Holloway 0-0 0-0 0, TOTALS 28-57 16-22 77.Halftime: Notre Dame 37, Miami 25.

Shooting: Miami 24 of 62 for 38.7 percent; Notre Dame 28 for 57 for 49.1 percent. 3-point shooting: Miami 4 of 12 (Thomas 3-5, Sterling 1-3, McGuire 0-1, Greene 0-1, Motley 0-2) for 33.3 percent; Notre Dame 5-7 (Loyd 2-2, Cable 1-1, Westbeld 1-1, Mabrey 1-1, Allen 0-2). Free-throw shooting: Miami 9 of 12 for 75.0 percent; Notre Dame 16 of 22 for 72.7 percent. Rebounds: Miami 29 (Williams 6, Sterling 4, Thomas 3, Woods 3, Prather 3, Davenport 3); Notre Dame 42 (Turner 10, Loyd 8, Cable 7, Reimer 5, Westbeld 4, Allen 2). Assists: Miami 6 (Motley 2); Notre Dame 12 (Allen 4, Loyd 2, Westbeld 2). Turnovers: Miami 9 (Woods 2, Prather 2, Davenport 2); Notre Dame 10 (Reimer 3, Loyd 3). Blocked shots: Miami 5 (McGuire 2); Notre Dame 3 (Reimer 3). Steals: Miami 4 (Williams 1, Thomas 1, Motley 1, Davenport 1); Notre Dame 3 (Loyd 2, Cable 1). Total fouls (fouled out): Miami 19 (none); Notre Dame 14 (none). Technicals: none.

Officials: Eric Brewton, Billy Smith, Jennifer Rezac. Records: Miami 19-12, Notre Dame 29-2. A—4,019.

Miami's Michelle Woods (10) shoots past Notre Dame's Brianna Turner (11) during the first half of ND's 77-61 ACC Tournament win over Miami, Friday in Greensboro, N.C. (AP Photo/CHUCK BURTON)

WHO: No. 2 Notre Dame (29-2) vs. No. 16 Duke (21-9)

WHAT: 38th Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament semifinal game.

WHERE: Greensboro Coliseum (13,000), Greensboro, N.C.

WHEN: Saturday at 12 p.m.

TICKETS: Available.

TV: ESPNU and ESPN3.com with WatchESPN app.

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

SERIES: Notre Dame leads 10-1.