No. 3 Notre Dame wins 74-39 over cold-shooting Toledo
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw went with a new defensive wrinkle against Toledo, which had no answer.
Up by just four points midway through the second quarter, the No. 3 Irish switched to a 1-2-2 zone defense and held the Rockets to just 23.7 percent shooting in a 74-39 win on Wednesday night.
Toledo went nearly 12 minutes between the second and third quarters without a field goal and committed eight turnovers in that stretch. By then, the Irish had built their lead to 27 points.
''I thought the way we played (the zone) was just really smart,'' McGraw said. ''We hadn't shown it before and we didn't play much of it last year, so I think (Toledo was) expecting a little more man-to-man.''
Kathryn Westbeld scored 13 points for the Irish (2-0), who also got 10 points and nine assists from Lindsay Allen and 11 points from Madison Cable.
''We try to play good defense, which leads to offense,'' said Cable, who had a team-high three steals.
Brenae Harris, Mikaela Boyd and Sophie Reecher each finished with eight points for Toledo (0-2).
Notre Dame broke it open with a 17-0 third-quarter run, capped by a Brianna Turner layup off a lob with 2:46 left in the period. Turner finished with just five points but had seven rebounds and five blocks.
Forward Taya Reimer came off the bench to score eight points after missing the first game due to injury.
''That was a huge boost to get (Reimer) back in the lineup,'' McGraw said. ''Everything that she does, she makes us a little bit more confident.''
Both teams struggled shooting early, but the Irish got hot just before the half. Notre Dame used a 10-2 run over the final three minutes of the second quarter to take a 29-17 lead into halftime after Westbeld's layup on an Allen feed with two seconds left.
''It was just being in the right spot at the right time,'' Westbeld said. ''Defense leading into offense really helped.''
The Rockets shot just 22 percent in the first half (6-for-27) and missed all seven of their 3-point attempts, while committing 11 turnovers.
''The zone really gave us fits,'' said Toledo coach Tricia Cullop. ''We really, really struggled. It just shut us down entirely.''
The Irish weren't much better, shooting just 2-for-9 from 3 and adding 10 giveaways, but they hit four of their last five shots from the field to close out the half.
Freshman Arike Ogunbowale provided a boost off the bench for Notre Dame with four rebounds and two assists as she drove the lane aggressively when the Irish were searching for a spark on offense. She finished with nine points.
Before the game, Notre Dame players Taya Reimer, Ali Patberg and Arike Ogunbowale, and athletic trainer Anne Marquez received plaques for their contributions to USA Basketball in the Pan Am Games over the summer.
Notre Dame has won 22 consecutive games against current MAC members, a streak that dates to 1995.
Toledo fields a young roster consisting of five sophomores and five freshmen, and just four upperclassmen (two seniors and two juniors).
Notre Dame travels to South Dakota State on Saturday.
Toledo heads to Rhode Island to face Albany in the first round of the URI Tip-Off Classic on Sunday.