Big runs fuel No. 3 Irish romp over Holy Cross
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) She didn't get a dunk on Sunday, but it may only be a matter of time for Notre Dame's Brianna Turner.
That was the lone highlight the 6-foot-3 freshman forward didn't manage in an otherwise dominant performance against Holy Cross. Turner had 19 points, seven rebounds and three steals in just 17 minutes for No. 3 Notre Dame, which used a 39-2 run in the second half to blow out Holy Cross, 104-29 in the first round of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Challenge.
Twice in the second half, Turner stole the ball near half court and drove down for layups, tantalizing the crowd and drawing high praise from coach Muffet McGraw.
''We were hoping for the dunk but didn't get it tonight,'' McGraw said. ''She's an amazing defender when she can get out on the perimeter and get some steals.''
With McGraw sitting next to her, Turner went with a humble response when asked if a dunk was on her mind.
''I was not thinking about it, I was thinking about getting the layup and getting back on defense,'' Turner said with a grin, drawing a laugh from McGraw.
Jewell Loyd added 17 points, six rebounds and five assists for Notre Dame (4-0), which opened up a double-digit lead less than four minutes in, pushing the tempo as high as possible. That advantage reached 20 points after a Loyd coast-to-coast drive and layup at the 7:40 mark, and was up to 30 by halftime.
Kate Gillespie came in averaging 15.7 points, but scored just six, one of three Crusaders with that total. Holy Cross (0-4) shot just 18.6 percent from the field (11 of 59) and was outrebounded 64-32.
''I was disappointed that we didn't compete,'' said Holy Cross coach Bill Gibbons, who went to a zone defense to clog the middle against Turner and fellow Irish forward Taya Reimer. ''My worst nightmare came about when they started knocking down 3s. The game plan went out the window early.''
Already cruising after the first half, the Irish hit another level to open the second half, scoring 21 straight out of the locker room. The Crusaders hit just one of 23 field goal attempts in the second half before Raquel Scott finally converted a layup with 7:06 to play.
''We talked about our intensity and how we needed to keep it up and stay focused,'' McGraw said. ''I thought our transition game was in high gear.''
The Irish used two separate 9-0 runs and another 11-1 burst to break it open quickly. Turner scored six straight in the first run, and Michaela Mabrey's second of three 3-pointers in the first half capped the second run.
Mabrey finished with 11 points and a team-high seven assists. Reserve Kathryn Westbeld added a career-high 15 points for the Irish.
Led by their two dominant post players, Turner and Reimer, the Irish outscored Holy Cross in the paint, 64-4.
Notre Dame's 75-point win was the fifth-highest margin of victory, and its 64 rebounds were seventh most in program history.
Notre Dame will also host rounds two and three of the Hall of Fame Challenge over the next two days, with the final round next Sunday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The Irish have the longest active home winning streak, now at 31 games. Their last home loss came against Baylor on Dec. 5, 2012.
Holy Cross, facing Notre Dame for the first time, ran out a shuffled starting lineup with starting center Molly Hourigan a last minute scratch due to the flu. The Crusaders were dominated on the offensive glass by the Irish, 24-10.
Notre Dame hosts Harvard
Holy Cross faces Quinnipiac at Notre Dame's Purcell Pavilion