Feb. 13, 2014
BOSTON (AP) - Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw really wasn't surprised her team was a bit sluggish after beating Boston College so easily last month.
"It really is," she said when asked if it's hard facing a team you've dominated. "No matter how many times you tell yourself, `we've got to be ready and play hard,' you just don't have the same feel to it."
After rolling to a 95-53 win in South Bend, Ind. in the first meeting on Jan 9, she was bothered her team wasn't sharp in the first half.
"I was really disappointed," she said. "I was disappointed with the energy we came out with, just the lethargic pace. I thought we picked up it a little bit in the second half when we came up and pressed them."
Notre Dame (24-0 11-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) remains one of just two unbeaten teams in the country along with top-ranked Connecticut. The start surpasses the season-opening 23 straight wins by the 2000-01 team that went on to win the school's first national championship.
"It definitely feels good," said McBride, a senior. "It's an accomplishment. It's great to come out here for these coaches that put so much time in for us."
But how does this team rank against the 2001 national champions?
"Time will tell," McGraw said.
Kat Cooper led Boston College (12-13, 3-9) with 13 points, and Katie Zenevitch had 12 with eight rebounds. The Eagles have lost seven of eight.
BC coach Erik Johnson thought his team learned a lot from the first meeting against the Fighting Irish.
"I thought we clearly took a step forward tonight," he said. "I think we want to get better, learn from it and embrace it. We're going to get one of these sometime. How often do you have the No. 2 team in the country coming into your place with a chance to upset them?"
BC's leading scorer Kristen Doherty was out for precautionary reasons with concussion symptoms.
Notre Dame is ranked second - behind UConn - in the Top 25 for the eighth consecutive week.
"There's a reason that they're 24-0," Johnson said. "I think clearly along with UConn they're the best team in the country."
The Fighting Irish led 41-26 at halftime and used a 12-0 run early in the second half to move ahead by 28 points.
Similar to the first time the teams met this season, Notre Dame opened a double-digit lead in the opening minutes of the game, 21-10, but BC whittled it back into single digits a few times over the next 3 1-2 minutes before the Fighting Irish went on a game-breaking 14-0 run late in the half. Michaela Mabrey had a pair of 3s and McBride scored four points in the spree.
Notre Dame's tight man-to-man defense gave BC fits on a number of occasions in the opening half, forcing the Eagles deep into the shot clock. The Irish overplayed the 3-point shooters, leading to some late contested long-range shots.
In front of a usually small crowd that was likely reduced by a midday snowstorm that blanketed the area, some of the loudest noise could be heard from BC's bench when it needed to count down the shot clock during offensive possessions.
The Fighting Irish, who entered leading the nation in field goal and three-point percentage, missed their initial three shots from the floor before nailing their next four en route to a 15-6 edge in the opening 5 1-2 minutes.
Notre Dame pushed its advantage to 20 points for the first time (49-29) on Loyd's jumper from the right wing 3:14 into the second half, coming early a 12-0 spree. McBride capped the run with a conventional 3-point play when she was fouled on a fastbreak and converted the free throw.
Coming off a school-record fourth 100-point game in a win against Syracuse on Sunday, Notre Dame rested most of its starters for the final minutes.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame is off to the best start in program history (24-0), surpassing the 2000-01 Fighting Irish squad that began its season at 23-0 ... Notre Dame's 24-game winning streak is the second-longest in program history, behind only the school-record 30-game streak last season ... the Fighting Irish have won a school-record 47 consecutive regular season games ... Notre Dame has won a school-record 33 consecutive regular season road games, as well as 24 road games in a row overall (the fifth-longest streak in NCAA Division I history) and 40 of their last 45 road games overall ... Notre Dame has won 31 consecutive regular season conference games, as well as 22 consecutive regular season league road games ... the Fighting Irish improve to 14-5 all-time against Boston College, including a 5-4 series record on the road (where they have won on four of their last five visits to Chestnut Hill) ... Notre Dame has won four in a row against BC, matching the longest winning streak by either side in the series (the Fighting Irish previously defeated the Eagles four consecutive times from 1999-2002) ... Notre Dame is 12-3 all-time against Boston College during regular season conference play, including both teams' prior membership in the BIG EAST ... the Fighting Irish have scored at least 80 points in their last four games against BC after topping that mark just three times in the first 15 games of the series ... Notre Dame shot at least 50 percent from the field for the 16th time this season ... the Fighting Irish scored at least 80 points for the 17th time this year ... Notre Dame was held to season lows of two three-pointers (tied on two prior occasions) and 28 rebounds (29 at Michigan on Dec. 14) ... BC is the first Fighting Irish opponent to shoot better than 50 percent from the field since Dec. 21, 2012, when Texas A&M shot .582 in an 83-74 Notre Dame win at the World Vision Classic in Las Vegas ... conversely, the Eagles (who entered the game leading the ACC with nearly eight three-pointers per game) were held to a .188 three-point percentage, the sixth time this year a Notre Dame opponent has shot worse than 20 percent from beyond the arc (and just the second time BC has been held to that figure from distance, following a 2-for-20 effort vs. Wake Forest on Jan. 26) ... the Fighting Irish bench outscored its counterpart for the 18th time this year ... senior guard/tri-captain Kayla McBride, who is seventh on the Notre Dame all-time scoring list, went over 1,600 career points on Thursday (now at 1,617) and scored in double figures for the 87th time in her career (also seventh in school history) ... sophomore guard Jewell Loyd scored in double figures for the 29th consecutive game, extending the second-longest streak of that kind in school history ... head coach Muffet McGraw registered her 738th career win, taking over sole possession of 11th place on the NCAA Division I all-time coaching victories list and passing the late Kay Yow, who had 737 wins while coaching at Elon College and North Carolina State from 1971-72 to 2008-09 -- McGraw is now one win shy of tying another legendary former ACC coach, Virginia's Debbie Ryan for 10th place on the Division I career wins chart ... McGraw also earned her 650th career win at Notre Dame on Thursday ... the Notre Dame senior class of McBride and forwards Natalie Achonwa and Ariel Braker (which will be honored along with student managers Megan Golden and Kelly Harmon in a ceremony prior to Monday night's game vs. Georgia Tech) picked up its 125th career win, second only to last year's senior class (Skylar Diggins and Kaila Turner) that recorded 130 all-time wins ... fans wishing to view Monday's Senior Night ceremony are asked to be in their seats at Purcell Pavilion by 6:30 p.m. (ET), with the game vs. Georgia Tech set to tip off at 7 p.m. (ET).