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Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024
The Observer

Irish use strong second half to surge past Miami

The No. 2 Irish recovered from a rocky first half to rout Miami, 79-52, on Thursday in the Purcell Pavilion.

Irish senior forward Natalie Achonwa prepares to take a free throw during Notre Dame's 79-52 victory over Miami on Thursday. Achonwa finished the game with 23 points and nine rebounds.
Emmet Farnan
Irish senior forward Natalie Achonwa prepares to take a free throw during Notre Dame's 79-52 victory over Miami on Thursday. Achonwa finished the game with 23 points and nine rebounds.

Irish coach Muffet McGraw praised her players’ ability to collect themselves and change the game after a sloppy first half.

“I think we have a lot of resolve, a lot of resilience and I felt we came out at halftime and made a nice run and got up 20, and then everyone relaxed and then we just started to play better,” McGraw said.

Notre Dame (18-0, 5-0 ACC) didn’t quite execute the fundamentals early in the first half, but the Irish charged out of the gates to start the second half with a 10-0 tear that made the score 41-26.

The Irish outscored the Hurricanes (11-8, 3-3) 44-26 in the second half.

Notre Dame started to turn things around near the end of the first half. The Irish finally pulled away on a three-pointer from freshman guard Lindsay Allen with just under four minutes to play in the first half that put them up 28-20. Notre Dame led 35-26 at the half and rode its momentum back out of the locker room after halftime.

Allen, who scored a season-high 16 points, played a big role in Notre Dame’s victory, McGraw said.

“I thought the bright spot of the day was definitely Lindsay,” McGraw said. “I thought she played her normal game and then some.”

The Irish played without regular starting sophomore guard Jewell Loyd, who was out with a sprained knee. Sophomore guard Michaela Mabrey made her first career start in place of Loyd and scored 10 points, including a three-pointer that extended Notre Dame’s lead to 59-34 in the second half.

Junior guard Madison Cable added 10 points off the bench.

McGraw said she appreciated the performances of both Mabrey and Cable but thought Mabrey could have played an even stronger game.

“They both got double-figure points, which was great, but I wanted a little bit more from Michaela as a starter,” McGraw said. “Madison, I thought, had a pretty good game overall.”

Before Notre Dame could find an offensive rhythm, however, Miami jumped to an early 13-7 lead. Senior forward Jassany Williams and freshman guard Adrienne Motley led the Hurricanes with 10 points apiece.

The Irish could not capitalize on free-throw opportunities, as they shot 12-for-20 from the line in the first half, compared to Miami’s perfect 7-for-7 mark. Irish senior forward Natalie Achnowa shot only 5-for-11 from the line.

The Hurricanes played physical defense and forced 10 Irish turnovers in the first half and 18 for the game.

“I was really disappointed in the turnovers,” McGraw said. “I thought that was a lack of focus and that was really disappointing, but overall, second half, I felt we did some good things offensively.”

Miami forced turnovers and off-balance passes in the first half until Achonwa propelled Notre Dame to a 6-0 run with three consecutive layups that evened the score at 13-13. Achonwa almost achieved a double-double by scoring 23 points on the night to go with nine rebounds. As a team, the Irish outrebounded the Hurricanes 53-35.

Achonwa said that although Notre Dame is a great second-half team, she hopes the Irish can start putting the pieces together earlier in the game.

“The part that would be great is if we could do it in the first half and that we could do it without having to be down, having to be in a close game, that we could just come out with that mentality,” Achonwa said.

Next, the Irish travel to College Park, Md., for a game Monday against No. 6 Maryland at 7 p.m.

Contact Samantha Zuba at