GREENSBORO, N.C. – Jewell Loyd scored 16 points to help No. 2 Notre Dame beat No. 14 North Carolina State 83-48 in Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinals.
Kayla McBride was among four in double figures with 10 points for the top-seeded Irish (31-0), who had no trouble putting away the injury-depleted Wolfpack. Notre Dame scored the first 12 points, led by 28 at halftime and by 37 from there to continue their dominating run in their new league.
The Irish, who shot 60 percent in a 26-point win against Florida State in Friday’s quarterfinals, shot 52 percent in the first half on the way to their second lopsided win against the fourth-seeded Wolfpack (25-7) in a week.
That sent Notre Dame to Sunday’s championship game, where the Irish will try to become the first team to go 19-0 through ACC regular-season and tournament play since Duke in 2001-02 and 2002-03.
Freshman Miah Spencer scored 11 points to lead the Wolfpack, who played without top scorer and rebounder Markeisha Gatling. The 6-foot-5 senior left Friday’s quarterfinal win against Syracuse midway through the second half with a left knee injury.
X-rays revealed no fracture and an MRI showed no structural damage, but first-year coach Wes Moore held her out with N.C. State preparing for its first NCAA tournament trip since 2010.
Gatling dressed out and stood under the basket while rebounding for her teammates during pregame warm-ups, but that was the extent of her activity Saturday.
Gatling’s absence was a tough blow for a team that was already down two seniors, guard Myisha Goodwin-Coleman and forward Lakeesa Daniel, due to season-ending knee injuries suffered on consecutive days in mid-February.
And with Gatling gone, N.C. State lacked the focal point of its offense – a player averaging 18 points and seven rebounds while shooting a national-best 67.6 percent.
Second-leading scorer Kody Burke managed just four points on 1-for-8 shooting as N.C. State shot 31 percent for the game, including 4 for 20 from 3-point range as it searched for a new flow.
As for Notre Dame, the Irish got a jumper from Lindsay Allen to cap its 12-0 run in the opening 5-plus minutes, then ran off an 11-0 burst midway through the opening half to blow the game open and take a 42-15 lead on Taya Reimer’s layup at the 1:50 mark on the way to a 46-18 halftime lead.
N.C. State, which lost to Notre Dame by 24 at home last weekend, got no closer than 27 points in the second half.