No. 2 Notre Dame 81, Akron 61

Akron coach Jodi Kest knew the Zips were going to be in trouble

against No. 2 Notre Dame if they couldn’t take care of the


Little did she know that the Zips would commit 46 turnovers in

their 81-61 loss to the Irish in the opening round of the Preseason

WNIT on Friday night.

Kest was able to take a lot of positives from the game as her

team outrebounded Notre Dame 44-38 and forced 27 turnovers of their


”I think our kids worked hard,” Kest said. ”I think we

battled. We told them before the game that there were a lot of

things we can’t control but there were a few things we can. We knew

we were undersized, but rebounding is all about position and heart.

We got 17 offensive rebounds against a team that is more athletic

than us.”

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw was not pleased with her team’s

offensive effort.

”First win usually comes with some first game jitters,” Notre

Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. ”That was a little unexpected with

our veteran team. I though we did some good things. We forced a lot

of turnovers which was one of our goals, but I was disappointed in

our rebounding.:

Skylar Diggins scored 21 points to lead Notre Dame. Kayla

McBride added 15 points and Natalie Novosel had 13 for the


”I was concerned at halftime about our offensive efficiency

because we had forced 26 turnovers and we were only ahead by 14,”

McGraw said. ”I think there were times we looked too hard to find

the open man. There were times when we just should have gone ahead

and shot the ball.”

Rachel Tecca had 13 points and Carly Young added 10 for the


”We knew coming in that to stay in the game, we would have to

play an almost perfect game,” Kest said. ”Obviously, 46 turnovers

is not close to that. It’s very hard to simulate the Notre Dame

pressure in practice. They are so long, and so quick. There is a

reason why they are No. 2 and when they get the rest of their

players back, they could really be a great team.”

Notre Dame forced five turnovers on the first six Zip trips down

the floor but some lackadaisical play allowed Akron to stay in the

game early. The Irish kept the pressure on the experienced Zips, a

team that returned 10 letter winners and four starters from last

year, and forced 11 turnovers in the first eight minutes to

establish an Irish 17-12 edge at the 11:46 mark. The turnovers

continued and the Irish ran off a 12-1 run over the next five

minutes for a 29-13 edge with seven minutes remaining in the first


Akron closed back to within nine, 35-26 on two free throws by

Natasha Williams with 3:15 remaining but the Irish tightened up the

defense and led at halftime, 44-30. Diggins led all scorers with 14

while Williams led the Zips with seven. Akron led in rebounds at

halftime, 22-14.

It was more of the same in the second half. A 3-pointer by Kayla

McBride was followed by a layup by Brittany Mallory to set the

score at 53-34 with 15:54 remaining and Notre Dame held on from

there. They established their largest lead, 25, twice midway

through the second half. The Zips closed the gap to 16, 65-49 with

seven minutes to go but were unable to mount a serious challenge

after that.