No. 5 Notre Dame women beat Duquesne 100-61
Natalie Achonwa joked that her Notre Dame teammates say she is
from the whole country of Canada, not just from her hometown of
Guelph or the province of Ontario.
The Canadian-born senior had 11 points and 10 rebounds to help
No. 5 Notre Dame rout Duquesne 100-61 on Sunday at Ryerson
”Playing the national anthems for both countries was really an
emotional moment,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. ”I thought
that was a great thing, and I’m really glad we were able to come
and bring Natalie home.”
Achonwa, who has played on the Canadian national team and grew
up in the area, was thrilled to share Notre Dame basketball with
family and friends.
The energy level in the gym was audibly different when she took
an elbow to the eye at 5:52 of the second half and limped off the
court. Achonwa returned to cheers from the crowd after the gash was
treated to record her 21st career double-double.
The Olympian hoped young players with NCAA ambitions were among
the sellout crowd of 933 at Mattamy Athletic Centre.
”It makes me really happy,” Achonwa said of basketball’s
growth in Canada. ”When I was going through the recruiting
process, I didn’t get to see other Canadians firsthand who had gone
to the NCAA and had been successful.”
Achonwa is the first international player in the Notre Dame
program’s 37-year history. She reached the 1,000-point milestone as
Kayla McBride scored 13 of her 22 points in the first half to
help the Irish take a 47-22 lead at the break. She and Jewell Loyd
combined for 11 points during a 17-4 run to open the second half
that put the game away. McBride credited work in the gym for Notre
Dame’s aggressive attack. The team was 42 for 69 and held a 43-29
edge in rebounds.
”It’s very obvious to see that (Notre Dame) is just so physical
with you. I was hoping to keep the rebound totals close because
they do rebound the ball so exceptionally well,” Dukes coach Dan
The teams met for the first time in two decades, last playing a
pair of games in 1993. The Irish are 3-0 in the renewed series.
”When we scheduled this game over two years ago, we wanted to
challenge our program and see where our program was,” Burt said.
”I’m disappointed in our showing today, but I still believe we
have a very good basketball team.”
Forward Wumi Agunbiade, an Ontario native, led the Dukes with 23
points. She had 14 of the team’s 22 points in the first half. She
is one of four Canadians on the Duquesne roster with Oditte Odisho,
Jose-Ann Johnson and Brianna Thomas.
”It’s so rare for the international kid to get that opportunity
to go home and play in front of their family and friends,” Burt
said. ”As a senior at Duquesne University, you can count on being
able to go back to your hometown to play.”
Fellow senior Orsi Szecsi scored 20 with seven rebounds, but the
rest of the Dukes were largely unproductive. Duquesne’s reserved
added just five points.
”(Wumi’s) a very good basketball player. Unfortunately we
didn’t have the crew around her to give her some support.”
Burt would like to return to Toronto for Johnson and Odisho’s
final season in 2014.
As the court was stripped of its NCAA markings, McGraw again
praised her class of seniors.
”We’ll see at the end of the year it’s the best in school
history,” she said.
From the other end of the podium, McBride whispered to Achonwa:
”Yes, it is.”