Jan. 16, 2014
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw wanted a better defensive performance, and the Fighting Irish delivered - for a half, at least.
Notre Dame shot 61 percent (40 for 66) from the field and held Pitt to 37.1 percent shooting. The Panthers had only nine field goals on 28.1 percent shooting in the first half.
"I thought the first half was very good," McGraw said. "I thought late in the game we weren't as interested defensively as we could have been."
The Irish (16-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) were coming off a 79-72 victory at Virginia on Sunday that included 47.1 percent shooting for the Cavaliers in the first half.
"We felt we gave up too many points," McGraw said. "Monday, we had a completely defensive practice, no offense whatsoever."
It was a vastly different performance against the Panthers.
The Irish grabbed control with a tiebreaking 12-0 run early in the first half and led 54-25 at the break. The advantage ballooned to as many as 45 points in the second half.
"We were just sharing the ball, just making the extra pass," McBride said. "There's a good shot, but we can probably find a better one and we were hitting tonight."
The Irish had 25 assists on their 40 field goals. They finished with nine turnovers.
"I think we're starting to know each other a lot better on the court," Loyd said. "We were just trying to be patient and make the right decisions."
Brianna Kiesel led the Panthers with 20 points on 5-of-12 shooting. The junior guard made all eight of her free-throw attempts and converted 2 of 3 attempts from beyond the arc.
Marquel Davis added 10 points for Pitt (9-9, 1-3).
Kiesel, who had played over 100 consecutive minutes, rested for the final 12 minutes. The Irish played the final nine minutes without a single starter on the floor.
The Irish were dominant inside, outscoring Pitt 46-18 in the paint and outrebounding the Panthers 35-31.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame extends the second-best start in school history to 16-0, topped only by the 2000-01 national championship team that began its season at 23-0 ... at 16 games, the Fighting Irish have lengthened the fifth-longest winning streak in program history (third consecutive season with a string of at least 16 consecutive wins) ... Notre Dame has won a school-record 39 consecutive regular season games, as well as a school-record 28 consecutive regular season road contests (as well as 35 of their last 40 road games overall) ... the Fighting Irish have won 24 consecutive regular season conference games, along with 18 consecutive regular season road contests in league play ... Notre Dame registered its second-highest single-game point total ever in a road game (largest since a school-record 128-42 win at Mercer on Dec. 30, 2011), and largest ever in a conference road game (surpassing a 104-86 win at BIG EAST foe Georgetown on Jan. 19, 2008) ... the Fighting Irish scored in triple digits for the third time this season, and the eighth time in the past three seasons ... Notre Dame's .750 three-point percentage (9-of-12) tied for the 10th-best in a single game in program history (with a minimum of five attempts) and best since Nov. 23, 2008, when it went 7-for-8 (.875) at Boston College ... the Fighting Irish shot better than 60 percent from the field for the fifth time this season (better than 50 percent for the ninth time) ... Notre Dame topped 90 percent from the foul line for the second time this year ... the Fighting Irish finished with single-digit turnovers for the third time this season ... Notre Dame had at least 21 assists in a game for the 12th time this year ... the Fighting Irish had a season-high five double-figure scorers for the third time this season, and improve to 12-0 this year when they have at least FOUR reach double digits (87-5, .946, in the past five seasons, including wins in 57 of their last 58 such outings) ... Notre Dame posted a season-high nine blocks, its best total since Jan. 8, 2013, at South Florida (12 blocks in a 75-71 overtime win) ... the Fighting Irish move to 22-3 (.880) all-time against Pittsburgh, including a 11-2 series record on the road (5-2 at the Petersen Events Center), and earn their fifth consecutive win over the Panthers (the past four by at least 25 points) ... Notre Dame has scored at least 100 points in two of the past three meetings with Pittsburgh (it earned a 120-44 win on Jan. 17, 2012, at Purcell Pavilion) ... Thursday's 43-point margin of victory was the largest for the Fighting Irish in 13 all-time visits to Pittsburgh, exceeding the 89-51 win over the Panthers on Notre Dame's first series trip to the Steel City on Feb. 17, 1996 ... the Fighting Irish have scored at least 65 points in all but two of their 25 series matchups with Pittsburgh ... Notre Dame finishes 4-0 against teams from the state of Pennsylvania this year, winning all four away from home (at Penn on Nov. 23; neutral vs. Duquesne on Dec. 1; at Penn State on Dec. 4; at Pittsburgh on Thursday) ... senior guard/tri-captain Kayla McBride logged her third consecutive 20-point game (fifth of the season) and moved into 12th place on the Notre Dame all-time scoring list with 1,468 points, passing Sandy Botham (1,460 points from 1984-88) ... senior forward/tri-captain Natalie Achonwa moved into 22nd place on the Fighting Irish career scoring list with 1,230 points, passing Letitia Bowen (1,219 points from 1991-95) ... Achonwa also jumped into eighth place on the Notre Dame career rebounding chart with 827 boards, passing Margaret Nowlin (826 from 1988-92) and pulling within one of seventh-place holder Lindsay Schrader (828 from 2005-10) ... freshman forward Taya Reimer made her fourth start of the season (first since Nov. 16 vs. Valparaiso) and tied her personal best with four blocks (set in that Valpo game), while scoring in double figures for the seventh time this year ... sophomore guard Jewell Loyd registered her fifth 20-point game of the season (tying McBride for team-high honors) ... Loyd scored in double figures for the 22nd consecutive game, dating back to last year, and tying for the fourth-longest streak of double-digit point games in school history (Botham had a 22-game run from 1987-88, and Ruth Riley matched that from 2000-01), as well as the longest since Natalie Novosel's 27-game stretch from 2011-12 ... what's more, Loyd tied her career high with four steals (set in that same Valparaiso game earlier this year) ... sophomore guard Michaela Mabrey knocked down four three-pointers in a game for the fourth time this season, and scored in double figures for the eighth time this year (she had three double-digit games as a rookie last season).