Nov. 16, 2013
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Prior to Saturday's game against Valparaiso, the Notre Dame women's basketball program honored former star Skylar Diggins by inducting her into the school's Ring of Honor.
For the first few minutes, the sixth-ranked Irish played like they could have used the services of the former All-American, who graduated last Spring and now plays for the Tulsa Shock of the WNBA.
"No more emotional pregames," said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, whose team did not score its first basket until 2:21 had elapsed. "We got off to such a slow start, I thought the emotion of the day was what the problem was."
From there, though, it was all Irish as they stomped the Crusaders 96-46.
Jewell Loyd led four Irish in double figures with 22 points as Notre Dame improved to 3-0. Valparaiso dropped to 0-3.
Freshman Lindsay Allen chipped in 15 points as the Irish won for the 20th consecutive time over an in-state opponent, the last loss coming to Indiana in 2006.
"(Allen) and Jewell were really kind of the sparks offensively," McGraw said of her backcourt duo. "Really pleased with both of them."
Leading by 10 late in the first half, the Irish closed the half with a 19-5 run that put them in control. If there was any doubt, Notre Dame erased it by scoring the first 12 points of the second half.
"I thought they were super aggressive on defense. I thought they did a great job of jumping in passing lanes," said Valparaiso coach Tracey Dorow, whose team committed 24 turnovers and was out-rebounded 49-22. "Give them a ton of credit. I just felt like they really attacked every facet of the game."
Loyd hit 9 of 14 from the field and all four of her free throws to pace the Irish. The Irish shot 53 percent (41 of 76) from the field while limiting Valparaiso to 28 percent (13 of 45). The play of Loyd stood out to Dorow.
"I think she's going to present a lot of matchup problems for everybody," Dorow said. "She's just so quick and she's explosive. She rebounds the ball hard. She could play anywhere she wants to play. She's a great player, there's no doubt about it. She's going to have a really nice year."
Notre Dame owned a 34-8 advantage in points off turnovers and outscored the Crusaders 16-0 on the fast break.
"I thought that's the best our transition game has looked," McGraw said. "We really were running the floor well. I thought we rebounded pretty well, got the ball, threw it ahead and some good things were happening for us."
Liz Horton was the only Valparaiso player in double figures with 11 points.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame has a 26-game regular season win streak and 14-game home winning streak, both dating back to last season (73-61 loss to Baylor on Dec. 5, 2012) ... the Fighting Irish have won 20 consecutive games against in-state opponents since a 54-51 loss to Indiana on Dec. 3, 2006 ... Notre Dame is 125-32 (.796) all-time against other Indiana schools, including a 63-11 (.851) record at home ... the Fighting Irish win their 43rd consecutive game against a Horizon League team (since 69-65 loss at Green Bay on Dec. 4, 1987, in head coach Muffet McGraw's third game of her 27-year Notre Dame career) and improve to 68-5 (.932) all-time against the current Horizon League membership (35-1 at home; 33 consecutive home wins vs. present Horizon League teams since 78-61 loss to Illinois-Chicago on Jan. 18, 1981) ... Notre Dame moves to 25-0 all-time against Valparaiso, the most victories without a loss for the Fighting Irish against one opponent in school history (and fourth-most against any opponent all-time, trailing only Marquette-32, Georgetown-26 and Syracuse-26) ... sophomore guard Jewell Loyd has scored 63 points in her first three games this year, the most by a Fighting Irish player in her opening three games of a season since Nov. 14-21, 1998, when Danielle Green combined for 66 points in wins over UCLA (23 points), Butler (23) and Duke (20) ... Notre Dame came one rebound shy of its third consecutive 50-rebound game, something the Fighting Irish have not done since Jan. 15-29, 1992, when they pulled off that feat in wins over Louisville (56 rebounds) and Butler (50) and a loss to Detroit (54) ... Notre Dame improves to 79-14 (.849) in November games since 1995-96, and has won 16 of its last 17 games in the month of November ... Notre Dame registered its first 50-point win since Dec. 31, 2012, when it defeated Saint Francis (Pa.), 128-55 at Purcell Pavilion ... that Saint Francis game also was the last time the Fighting Irish had more steals than Saturday's season-high 18 thefts (they had 21 against SFU last year) ... Valparaiso's 46 points were the fewest allowed by the Fighting Irish in a game since Feb. 2, 2012, when they defeated Cincinnati, 64-42 at Purcell Pavilion ... Loyd added a career-high four steals to her game-high 22 points ... freshman guard Lindsay Allen scored a season-high 15 points ... freshman forward Taya Reimer set season highs with six assists, four blocks and two steals ... sophomore guard Hannah Huffman tied her career high with five rebounds ... freshman center Diamond Thompson made her college debut on Saturday, collecting two points, three rebounds and a blocked shot in seven minutes ... sophomore guard Michaela Mabrey scored in double figures for the second time this season (fifth time in her career), and also sank the "Big Mac Basket" that put Notre Dame over 88 points and gave free Big Macs to the crowd, canning a three-pointer with 2:48 remaining ... in a strange near-coincidence, Valparaiso head coach Tracey Dorow almost coached her team to the exact same final score in her second all-time meeting against Notre Dame -- as Ferris State's coach on Nov. 10, 2005, she was at the helm when the Fighting Irish defeated the Bulldogs in an exhibition game, 96-45 at Purcell Pavilion ... prior to Saturday's game, Notre Dame inducted four-time All-America point guard Skylar Diggins ('13) into its Ring of Honor, raising a banner with her No. 4 jersey to the rafters at Purcell Pavilion -- Diggins is the second women's basketball player (and fifth player overall) to go into the Ring, following Ruth Riley, as well as men's players Austin Carr, Adrian Dantley and Luke Harangody (former Fighting Irish men's coach Digger Phelps will be inducted on Jan. 19, 2014).