Feb. 02, 2014
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - Notre Dame has made itself right at home - both in the ACC and especially at hostile Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The second-ranked Fighting Irish turned the realigned league's game of the year into yet another blowout, routing third-ranked Duke 88-67 on Sunday while giving the Blue Devils their first ACC loss at home since 2008.
"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 night's opponent) by the time we get off the plane."
Tricia Liston scored 23 points and single-handedly prevented Duke (21-2, 8-1) from being blown out by halftime.
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.
Achonwa's free throw with 12:18 left gave Notre Dame its largest lead to that point, 62-46.
"We never got the stops we needed," McCallie said. "Ever."
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."
Jackson and Alexis Jones added 16 points each for Duke, which fell to 46-3 in home conference games under McCallie and have lost 11 straight games to teams ranked either No. 1 or No. 2.
Center Elizabeth Williams, plagued all day by foul trouble, finished with two points on 0-for-4 shooting and failed to block a shot - ending her ACC-record streak of 91 straight games with at least one rejection.
"I'm sure I'll see a combination of passes missed into her and, at times, her being taken out by (Achonwa) when it comes down to watching film," McCallie said.
This marquee matchup in the new-look ACC matched the nation's top two shooting teams and the highest-scoring teams in the conference. Notre Dame entered shooting 51.4 percent and averaging 87.3 points while Duke shoots 51.1 percent and scores 84.4 points per game.
The Irish continued to shoot that well in this one.
The Blue Devils didn't.
McBride, who had 14 points at halftime, was called "the best guard in the country" by McGraw.
She helped Notre Dame lead by 14 in the first half after forcing Duke to miss 19 of its first 29 shots and reeling off 11 straight points to push its lead into double figures for the first time.
Allen capped that burst with a layup that made it 37-23 with just under 5 minutes before the break.
Liston hit six shots in the half - or, one fewer than the rest of her teammates combined.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame defeats its third top-10 opponent on the road this season, all within the past 13 days and all in consecutive road games -- it's the first time in program history the Fighting Irish have earned three road wins over top-10 teams in the same regular season, let alone in such a short span of time during the regular season ... Notre Dame is 6-0 against ranked opponents this season (4-0 against top-10 foes) and is 33-5 (.868) against Top 25 teams since the start of the 2011-12 season (13-2 on the road, including an active eight-game road winning streak against ranked teams) ... Notre Dame continues the second-best start in program history to 21-0, second only to the 2000-01 Fighting Irish team (23-0) ... the Fighting Irish extend their current winning streak to 21 games, matching the third-longest run in school history (set in 2011-12) ... Notre Dame has won a school-record 44 consecutive regular season games, as well as a school-record 31 consecutive regular season road games (38 of its last 43 overall) ... the Fighting Irish have won 28 consecutive regular season conference games, including 20 in a row on the road ... Notre Dame has won its last five games against Duke and improves to 7-1 all-time against the Blue Devils, including a 2-1 record on the road ... the Fighting Irish earn their first win at Cameron Indoor Stadium since Feb. 6, 1988 (a 78-66 decision) ... Notre Dame scored a series-high 88 points on Sunday ... the Fighting Irish registered their largest margin of victory over Duke since Nov. 21, 1998 (an 84-57 victory at Purcell Pavilion) ... the Fighting Irish are 7-1 all-time when playing in the state of North Carolina ... Notre Dame rises to 107-28 (.793) in the month of February since 1995-96, as well as 155-43 (.783) in February games during the 27-year Muffet McGraw era ... the Fighting Irish had at least four double-figure scorers for the 16th time this season and are 91-5 (.948) in such games since the start of the 2009-10 season, including wins in 61 of their last 62 outings ... Notre Dame shot better than 60 percent from the field for the sixth time this season, and topped the 50-percent mark for the 13th time ... Notre Dame shot better than 55 percent in both halves for the first time since Jan. 16, when it topped the 60-percent threshold in both periods at Pittsburgh (.611 and .600) ... the Fighting Irish scored at least 80 points for the 14th time this year and are 76-2 (.974) in such games during the past five years ... senior guard/tri-captain Kayla McBride logged her first double-double of the season and fourth of her career with 23 points, a season-high 11 rebounds and five assists (it also was McBride's sixth "5-5-5" game of the year) ... McBride moved into a tie for 10th place on the Notre Dame career scoring list with 1,566 points, matching Charel Allen's total from 2004-08 ... sophomore guard Jewell Loyd scored in double figures for the 26th consecutive game (dating back to last season), the third-longest run in school history and longest since Natalie Novosel's 27-game string from 2011-12 ... Loyd tied her career high with four steals on Sunday ... senior forward/tri-captain Natalie Achonwa moved into 20th place on the Notre Dame career scoring list with 1,300 points, passing Megan Duffy (1,290 points from 2002-06) ... Achonwa rose to sixth place on the Fighting Irish all-time rebounding list with 860 boards, passing Mary Beth Schueth (853 rebounds from 1981-85) ... Achonwa played in her 130th career game on Sunday, tying for ninth place on the Notre Dame career list with three other players (most recently Ashley Barlow from 2006-10) ... Achonwa finished with nine rebounds, marking the fifth time this season she has ended up one rebound shy of a double-double (she has five double-doubles to her credit this year) ... freshman guard Lindsay Allen scored in double figures for the eighth time this season, finishing one point off her season high (set vs. Miami on Jan. 23).