Michigan women lose 86-64 to No. 4 Notre Dame
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP)
Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico was pleased with how her team finished Saturday's game against No. 4 Notre Dame.
Unfortunately for Barnes Arico and the Wolverines, the slow start was just too much to overcome.
Shannon Smith scored 23 points, but Michigan shot 32 percent in the first half of an 86-64 loss to the Fighting Irish.
''For us, one of the takeaways is we played well in the second half,'' Barnes Arico said. ''So I was very encouraged by that. We talked a lot about it at halftime, fighting back and all those things we did a lot better job in the second half. I think we were surprised in the first half, but we responded and I was happy about that.''
Smith, who has been nursing a back injury, was 7 for 12 from the field and 8 for 9 at the free-throw line. Cyesha Goree had 15 points and seven rebounds, and Siera Thompson finished with 10 points.
''Shannon's doing really well with her recovery from her injury,'' Goree said. ''Whether she's starting or coming off the bench she's huge for us and that's something that we love about her.''
Jewell Loyd scored 20 points for Notre Dame. She also had four rebounds and three assists in a team-high 34 minutes.
''I wanted to come out here and be aggressive,'' Loyd said. ''I haven't been shooting the ball well at all recently, so it was good for me to come out here and get a good feel.''
Natalie Achonwa had 18 points and nine rebounds, and Michaela Mabrey scored 14 in the Irish's first game since a 90-48 victory over UCLA on Dec. 7.
Notre Dame (9-0) put this one away early, carrying a 47-23 lead into the break. The Irish shot 59 percent from the floor and forced 19 turnovers, including 13 in the decisive first half.
''We really got the transition game going,'' coach Muffet McGraw said. ''I was happy with the offense and the defense, really. I thought we played really well.''
Notre Dame grabbed control by scoring 23 of the final 32 points in the first half. The Irish made 22 of their first 32 shots.
''We don't have the experience like Notre Dame has and their athleticism really hurt us initially,'' Barnes Arico said. ''But I thought we did a better job of countering that in the second half. By getting back on defense, by taking charges, by playing zone. We kind of took them out of what they wanted to do.''
The Wolverines outscored Notre Dame 41-39 in the second half and only committed six turnovers.