GREENSBORO, N.C. – The top-seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish made easy work of beating the ninth-seeded Florida State Seminoles 83-57 in quarter-final play in the 2014 ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on Friday.
Guard Jewell Loyd scored 17 points and helped to power a Fighting Irish offense that shot 60 percent from field in their ACC Tournament debut.
Fellow guard Kayla McBride added 12 points for Notre (30-0) and helped to post 21 straight points in the first half to turn the quarterfinal matchup with the ninth-seeded Seminoles (20-11) into a complete one-sided showcase.
Michaela Mabrey (12 points) hit consecutive 3-pointers to start the sizable run while Natalie Achonwa (11 points, 4 rebounds) contributed a three-point play of her own soon after.
Notre Dame shot 65 percent before halftime to build a 22-point lead (45-23) at the break and never looked back.
Natasha Howard followed up her big second-round performance with 29 points to lead Florida State, which led 12-11 at the 10:56 mark before Notre Dame took over.
Howard tallied 30 points and 16 rebounds in Thursday’s overtime win against Miami and eventually finished at 14 for 22 from the field with five rebounds and two blocks in 36 minutes played.
However, Howard’s teammates couldn’t give her much support offensively as Notre Dame’s defensive play worked to create opportunities to score 23 points off turnovers while shooting 7 for 14 from 3-point range.
After starting the game shooting 0 for 6, Notre Dame converted 17 of 20 shots from the field and never risked relinquishing the lead past the 10-minute mark of the opening half.
“It was good for us to get our people off their feet, the starters especially,” Notre Dame head coach Muffett McGraw said of eventually being able to sit her starters.
“You need those good contributions from the bench to do that. Because the three days – coming off we
had a two-day break – we just really thought they needed to play a little bit more together. So now we’ll hopefully be fresher for tomorrow.
The Seminoles got as close as 15 points on four different occasions during the second half, the last coming on Howard’s layup with 6:18 left coming to put the score at 66-51.
They’re undefeated for a reason,” Florida State head coach Sue Semrau said.
“They know what they want to do and they do it. And they expose you when you’re not as confident in who you are.”
Notre Dame advanced to Saturday’s semifinal to face the fourth-seeded N.C. State Wolfpack at 5 p.m.