Dec. 10, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For the second time in three weeks, Notre Dame freshman guard Jewell Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) has been selected as the BIG EAST Conference Freshman of the Week, it was announced Monday afternoon by the conference office. Loyd becomes the seventh Fighting Irish women's basketball player to earn multiple BIG EAST Freshman of the Week citations in her career, and the first since current senior guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) was a four-time rookie choice in 2009-10.
In addition, this marks the 78th time a Fighting Irish women's basketball player has earned a BIG EAST weekly award (44 Players of the Week, 34 Freshmen of the Week), the second-most selections in conference history despite the fact Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST in 1995-96, a full 14 seasons after the league began sponsoring women's basketball (1982-83).
Also on Monday, junior forward Natalie Achonwa (Guelph, Ontario/St. Mary's Catholic) was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll, becoming the third Notre Dame player this season to earn that distinction. Junior guard Kayla McBride (Erie, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) made the BIG EAST Honor Roll on Nov. 19, and Diggins was the most recent Fighting Irish selection, receiving the accolade on Dec. 3. In addition, it's the second career weekly conference honor for Achonwa, who was named the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week on Dec. 13, 2010.
Loyd made a splash on the national scene last week, averaging 19.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game with a .481 field goal percentage (13-of-27) and .556 three-point percentage (5-of-9), as Notre Dame went toe-to-toe with No. 3 Baylor before falling, 73-61 on Dec. 5, then rolling past Utah State, 109-70 on Dec. 8, with both games at Purcell Pavilion.
Loyd scored a career-high 24 points (including a career-best 4-of-5 from three-point range, making her first four tries) and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds in last week's game against Baylor, with three of her triples coming in the first half when Notre Dame jumped out to a nine-point lead. The Fighting Irish rookie then canned her fourth trey midway through the second half, when the Fighting Irish charged back to take a 50-49 lead with eight minutes remaining before BU pulled clear in the closing minutes.
Three days against Utah State, Loyd chalked up 15 points (5-10 FG), four rebounds and three steals as Notre Dame won a high-scoring shootout with the Aggies, posting the fifth-largest single-game scoring output in school history, including the second-highest scoring first half (66 points) in Notre Dame women's basketball annals, and the highest-scoring opening 20 minutes in Purcell Pavilion history.
Achonwa nearly averaged a double-double last week at 17.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, along with 3.5 assists per game and a stellar .714 field goal percentage (15-of-21). Battling Baylor's 6-foot-8 All-America center Brittney Griner, Achonwa more than held her own in last week's matchup, finishing with 11 points (5-8 FG), a team-high seven rebounds and four assists in a career high-tying 35 minutes. On Dec. 8 against USU, Achonwa scored a career-high 23 points (career-best 10-13 FG) and added 12 rebounds (one off her career high) in just 21 minutes for her BIG EAST-leading fifth double-double of the season.
Holding steady at No. 5 in the Associated Press poll for the fourth consecutive week, Notre Dame (6-1) is in the midst of an 11-day break for final exams. The Fighting Irish return to action at 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT) Dec. 19 when they square off with Alabama A&M in the opening round of the World Vision Classic at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas. The game can be heard live on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) in South Bend, as well as around the world on the official Notre Dame athletics web site, UND.com.
For more information on the Notre Dame women's basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women's basketball Twitter pages (@ndwbbsid or @ndwbb), like the program on Facebook (facebook.com/ndwbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the "Fan Center" pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.