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

University.

”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

a junior.

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

Burt said.

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.”