Feb. 06, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Natalie Achonwa scored 24 points and Jewell Loyd added 18 to lead No. 2 Notre Dame to an 81-60 victory over Florida State on Thursday night that kept the Fighting Irish unbeaten.
Kayla McBride chipped in 14 points for Notre Dame (22-0, 9-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Cheetah Delgado scored a career-high 18 points and Natasha Howard finished with 11 points and eight rebounds for Florida State (15-7, 3-6). Delgado entered the game averaging 7.5 points per game.
"We can score," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "I don't want us to just be a team that tries to outscore people. I want us to be a team that really likes to defend."
The Fighting Irish used a zone to pack the paint and hold Howard seven points below her season average. A 24-5 run in the second half allowed Notre Dame to run away after the Seminoles cut it to 34-33 shortly after halftime.
Notre Dame jumped out to a 27-13 lead thanks to a 15-2 run sparked by Achonwa, who scored 15 first-half points on 6-for-7 shooting from the field. The Fighting Irish zone clogged the middle and left the Seminoles shooting perimeter jump shots. Florida State adjusted and was able to work the ball to Howard from the wings as the Seminoles closed the half with a 16-5 run. Howard scored eight consecutive points during the spurt.
The Seminoles trailed 32-29 at halftime after Delgado hit a runner with 6 seconds remaining. A jumper by Delgado brought Florida State within one point early in the second half, but the Fighting Irish ran away with a heavy dose of Loyd, who scored 14 of her 18 after the break. The 24-5 run that put the Seminoles away was highlighted by an alley-oop from Michaela Mabrey to Loyd.
"We practice that stuff all the time," Loyd said. "I love that. I think it's good for women's sports."
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame continues the second-best start in program history, trailing only the 2000-01 Fighting Irish squad (23-0) ... Notre Dame's 22-game winning streak also is the third-longest in program history, behind only the 2000-01 season-opening run and a school-record 30-game streak last season ... the Fighting Irish have won a school-record 45 consecutive regular season games, as well as a school-record 32 consecutive regular season road games (as well as 39 of their last 44 road games overall) ... Notre Dame has won 29 consecutive regular season conference games, as well as 21 consecutive regular season league road games ... the Fighting Irish have won 17 consecutive games against first-time opponents (including all five this season) and are 41-3 (.932) against new foes in this century (2000-01 to present) ... Notre Dame is 30-5 (.857) all-time against teams from the state of Florida and have won their last 10 games against Sunshine State schools ... the Fighting Irish also are 15-2 (.882) all-time on the road against Florida teams, and have won their last five games played in the Sunshine State ... Notre Dame shot better than 50 percent from the field for the 14th time this season ... the Fighting Irish had four double-figure scorers for the 17th time this year and are 92-5 (.948) since the start of the 2009-10 season when they have four players score in double figures ... Notre Dame scored at least 80 points for the 15th time this season and is 77-2 (.975) in the past five years when reaching that mark ... senior forward/tri-captain Natalie Achonwa posted her fourth 20-point game of the season (11th of her career) ... Achonwa tied her career high with 10 made field goals (also vs. Utah State on Dec. 8, 2012, at Purcell Pavilion) ... Achonwa moved into 18th place on the Notre Dame career scoring list with 1,324 points, passing both Margaret Nowlin (1,312 from 1988-92) and former All-America teammate/current WNBA champion Devereaux Peters (1,319 from 2007-12) ... senior guard/tri-captain Kayla McBride also moved up one spot on the Fighting Irish career scoring list into ninth place with 1,580 points, passing former All-America teammate Natalie Novosel (1,569 points from 2008-12) ... sophomore guard Jewell Loyd scored in double figures for the 27th consecutive game, tying the second-longest streak in school history (set by Novosel from March 8, 2011-Jan. 21, 2012) ... freshman forward Taya Reimer scored in double figures for the ninth time this season, giving Notre Dame at least one double-digit scorer off the bench in 17 of 22 games this year ... Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw earned her 736th career win, putting her one behind former North Carolina State head coach, the late Kay Yow, for 11th place on the NCAA Division I all-time wins list ... Sunday's Fighting Irish home game vs. Syracuse (3 p.m. ET at Purcell Pavilion) will be this year's Notre Dame Pink Zone (aka Play4Kay) game, designed to raise money for cancer research (proceeds divided between the national Kay Yow Cancer Fund and the local Foundation for St. Joseph Regional Medical Center) -- both teams will wear special pink-accented uniforms and other attire, and numerous fund-raising activities will take place in and around Sunday's game (visit the official Pink Zone web site at UND.com/pinkzone for more details).