S. Dakota State routed 94-51 by No. 2 Notre Dame
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP)
A bad start got worse very quickly for South Dakota State.
It began with three fouls on No. 2 Notre Dame's first possession of the game. Less than 3 minutes in, three Jackrabbits starters were on the bench. Two minutes later, they were down by double digits, and would not recover in a 94-51 rout Thursday night.
''That was definitely a body blow there,'' South Dakota State coach Aaron Johnson said of his team's early struggles. ''They've got a lot of good players. If you give an inch, they can take a mile in a hurry.''
Gabby Boever scored nine points to lead the Jackrabbits (9-7) who were facing their highest-ranked opponent in program history.
Mariah Clarin added eight points and a team-high seven rebounds, but South Dakota State was hammered on the boards, 53-28.
''Sometimes against really good teams, we fold over,'' Clarin said.
Kayla McBride scored 18 points on 8-for-8 shooting from the field and 2 for 2 on free throws, and also had four steals, to lead Notre Dame.
''My teammates were finding me in open areas and I was just hitting shots,'' said McBride, who went 9 for 23 in Notre Dame's last game, a 70-58 win at Oregon State. ''It was definitely good to be home.''
Natalie Achonwa added 13 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high six assists for the Irish (12-0) and Jewell Loyd had 14 points in Notre Dame's final nonconference matchup before making its Atlantic Coast Conference debut.
The Irish, who hit 17 of their first 21 shots, used a 12-0 run to take a 19-4 lead on Taya Reimer's layup 5 1/2 minutes into the game. Madison Cable hit two 3-pointers during another 12-0 run that pushed the lead to 57-21 in the final minute of the first half.
McBride grabbed a steal and took it the other way for an easy layup less than five minutes into the second half, then watched the rest of the game from the bench soon after that.
Loyd's layup with just under 15 minutes remaining made it 69-29, and Notre Dame's largest lead was 45 points with 9:18 to play.
McBride knocked down both of her 3-point tries as well, but the rest of her stat line was less impressive to Irish coach Muffet McGraw.
''Didn't get to the line and didn't rebound and turned it over too much, but she did shoot it well,'' McGraw said with a laugh.
South Dakota State came in with one win over a ranked team this season, an 83-79 upset of then-No. 12 Penn State on Dec. 11, but this one was over early.
Three Jackrabbits starters were on the bench less than 4 minutes into the game - Boever and Mariah Clarin with two fouls each, and Steph Paluch with a bloody nose. At that point, South Dakota State had more fouls (7) than points (4).
''We just got a little bit rattled early in the game,'' Johnson said. ''We gave up too many easy baskets and then they were off and going.''
The Irish took control quickly with a 20-2 run, and the Jackrabbits didn't break double digits on the scoreboard until nearly 10 minutes had passed. By then, Notre Dame was already up by 23.
Cable finished with 13 points.
''I was really pleased with the tone that we set early on,'' McGraw said.