DURHAM, N.C. – Notre Dame women have made themselves right at home – both in the ACC and especially at hostile Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The second-ranked Irish turned the realigned league’s game of the year into another blowout, routing third-ranked Duke 88-67 on Sunday while giving the Blue Devils their first ACC loss at home since 2008.
Kayla McBride had 23 points and 11 rebounds, Jewell Loyd scored 17 points and Lindsay Allen and Natalie Achonwa had 15 apiece.
We’re going to have some tough games like that going down the road, McBride said. We’re in a new conference, new environments. I just think it’s a good challenge for us.
This one wasn’t much of a challenge at all.
Notre Dame (21-0, 8-0) made it look easy in its first visit to Cameron as an ACC member: The Irish never trailed, shot nearly 62 percent and held Duke to a season-worst 39 percent shooting and claimed sole possession of first place by bringing a decisive end to the Blue Devils’ 42-game winning streak in home conference games.
It’s a good win for us in February, coach Muffet McGraw said. We’ve got a tough stretch in front of us, and we’re not the type of team that likes to rest. We’re ready for Florida State (Thursday’s opponent) by the time we get off the plane.
Tricia Liston scored 23 points for Duke (21-2, 8-1).
Notre Dame became the first ACC team to beat the Blue Devils at Cameron since Maryland did it in seventh-year coach Joanne P. McCallie’s first season.
From our standpoint, we didn’t shoot the ball well, McCallie said. 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 a little bit better offense.
The Blue Devils threatened to get back in the game early in the second half, pulling to 49-44 on Richa Jackson’s putback with 15 1/2 minutes left.
That’s when Notre Dame got hot, scoring on six straight trips downcourt.
With Loyd hitting twice from close range and Michaela Mabrey making two outside jumpers, the Irish reeled off nine straight points during a 13-2 run.
In winning this rematch of a 2013 NCAA tournament regional final, the Irish extended their school-record road winning streak to 31 and joined No. 1 Connecticut as the only teams to beat the Blue Devils at Cameron since 2008. They moved two wins from the best start in program history.
You have three seniors who have been to Final Fours, back to back to back, and they have great leadership, Loyd said. And then you go to the bench and you have a Hall of Fame coach. It helps a lot when you have that combo.