GREENSBORO, N.C. — The top-seeded and defending ACC-champion Notre Dame Fighting Irish held off the fourth-seeded Duke Blue Devils to earn a 55-49 semifinal victory in the 2015 ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament played at Greensboro Coliseum on Saturday.
With the win Notre Dame moved on to face second-seeded Florida State on Sunday in the ACC championship game.
With the loss, Duke now awaits an at-large bid into NCAA Tournament.
What they said:
“It was a great basketball game,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
“We ran out of time. We needed a longer game. We gave the first half away. They played well, we did not. Then we spent the whole second half getting ourselves in a position to try to get after the game. I’m extremely proud of our team’s fight in the second half. That reflects the kind of fight have you to have in this world. Very physical game, some really tough shots going down and some great team play. Some incredible defensive stops. We had some very, very good defense throughout the day in a lot of areas and one guard made the difference. Jewell Loyd is a great player, she’s very, very good. I think she’s the best in the country. And she was the difference in the game.”
“I thought Jewell Loyd took over the game,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said.
“Five baskets in a row. Had some amazing offensive production. Then the offensive rebound off the missed free throw I thought was just huge to really seal the win. But she was, she was just simply amazing. Which she has been all year long, but I thought in that stretch, definitely the best player in the country. But really pleased with our freshmen, Brianna and Kathryn really came out and gave us great minutes inside. We were able to out rebound them, which is a really great accomplishment, because that’s great rebounding team. I think Elizabeth Williams is a phenomenal player. Just really hard to guard and did a nice job inside. But I was really happy with the way we defended Greenwell today.”
In 27 league tournament appearances starting in 1989, Notre Dame has now reached the championship game 14 times, winning seven titles (MCC – 5, BIG EAST – 1, ACC – 1).
With the win, the Fighting Irish moved to 9-1 against Top 25 teams to date.
Notre Dame is now 11-1 against Duke, including an active nine-game winning streak.
The Fighting Irish improves to 27-2 all-time against North Carolina schools.
Including regular season and postseason play, the Fighting Irish have now won 37 of their 38 games against ACC conference foes (31-1 regular season, 6-0 postseason).
First-Team All-ACC guard Jewell Loyd poured in 21 points on 9-of-19 shooting while adding 8 rebounds.
The Blue Devils fell to 1-8 all-time against No. 1 seeds in the ACC Tournament.
Over the last three games against Notre Dame, Duke has now gone 3-for-30 from three-point land (0-12 on Feb. 16, 0-5 on Mar. 9 and 3-13 Saturday).
Elizabeth Williams, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, registered 15 points and 8 rebounds. With one block, she has a total of 33, second all-time in ACC Tournament history.
Along with Williams, Ka’lia Johnson (12) and Azura Stevens (11) also scored in double figures for the Blue Devils.