SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Prior to Saturday’s game against Valparaiso, the Notre Dame women’s basketball program honored former star Skylar Diggins by inducting her into the school’s Ring of Honor.
For the first few minutes, the sixth-ranked Irish played like they could have used the services of the former All-American, who graduated last Spring and now plays for the Tulsa Shock of the WNBA.
“No more emotional pregames,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, whose team did not score its first basket until 2:21 had elapsed. “We got off to such a slow start, I thought the emotion of the day was what the problem was.”
From there, though, it was all Irish as they stomped the Crusaders 96-46.
Jewell Loyd led four Irish in double figures with 22 points as Notre Dame improved to 3-0. Valparaiso dropped to 0-3.
Freshman Lindsay Allen chipped in 15 points as the Irish won for the 20th consecutive time over an in-state opponent, the last loss coming to Indiana in 2006.
“(Allen) and Jewell were really kind of the sparks offensively,” McGraw said of her backcourt duo. “Really pleased with both of them.”
Leading by 10 late in the first half, the Irish closed the half with a 19-5 run that put them in control. If there was any doubt, Notre Dame erased it by scoring the first 12 points of the second half.
“I thought they were super aggressive on defense. I thought they did a great job of jumping in passing lanes,” said Valparaiso coach Tracey Dorow, whose team committed 24 turnovers and was out-rebounded 49-22. “Give them a ton of credit. I just felt like they really attacked every facet of the game.”
Loyd hit 9 of 14 from the field and all four of her free throws to pace the Irish. The Irish shot 53 percent (41 of 76) from the field while limiting Valparaiso to 28 percent (13 of 45). The play of Loyd stood out to Dorow.
“I think she’s going to present a lot of matchup problems for everybody,” Dorow said. “She’s just so quick and she’s explosive. She rebounds the ball hard. She could play anywhere she wants to play. She’s a great player, there’s no doubt about it. She’s going to have a really nice year.”
Notre Dame owned a 34-8 advantage in points off turnovers and outscored the Crusaders 16-0 on the fast break.