No. 5 Irish beat St. Joseph's 64-50
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame freshman Brianna Turner didn't want to rush her return to the lineup, but Irish coach Muffet McGraw was elated to have her back.
Turner responded with 19 points in 31 minutes Sunday for No. 5 Notre Dame in a 64-50 win over Saint Joseph's.
After missing three games with a shoulder injury suffered Dec. 3 against Maryland, Turner missed just one field goal attempt (7 of 8) and blocked five shots.
''She definitely changes the game for us,'' McGraw said. ''We've really missed that over the last few games.''
Playing with a black brace on her right shoulder, Turner said she wasn't bothered by it and quickly got into the flow of the game.
''It feels great,'' Turner said. ''I just tried to be good defensively and let my offense come as the game went on.''
Jewell Loyd added 16 points for the Irish (11-1). After falling behind by seven points halfway through the first half, the Irish picked it up defensively and outscored the Hawks 26-7 to take a 12-point lead into halftime. They scored eight straight after the break to take a 20-point lead.
Natasha Cloud scored 16 points and Ciara Andrews had 15 for Saint Joseph's (3-7).
The Hawks have lost four of their last five, and it also was their seventh straight on the road dating back to last season - the longest skid in program history.
The Hawks tried to shorten the game with long offensive possessions, but committed six shot clock violations and had 16 turnovers. The Irish scored 25 points off those turnovers.
''We get really excited about our stops and we're able to run in transition,'' Turner said.
Saint Joseph's opened the second half with a shot clock violation and a Turner block on its first two possessions. The Irish used a 12-2 run to go up 22 points with 13:26 to play.
Notre Dame outscored the Hawks 44-10 in the paint.
''We thought we'd get a little more out of our back-to-the-basket kids today,'' said Saint Joseph's coach Cindy Griffin. ''(Notre Dame is) long and they're lanky. They have a lot of wing span, especially with (Turner) and (Taya Reimer).''
Notre Dame's lead was down to 10 with 4:58 to go after Cloud's 15-footer capped a 15-3 Saint Joseph's run. But the Irish got two buckets by Reimer in the post and Lindsay Allen's layup to provide breathing room. Reimer finished with 10 points.
''Our game plan was to go inside,'' McGraw said. ''We were trying to run a lot of stuff that would get us inside touches. We thought we had an advantage in the post.''
After falling behind 8-0 in the first three minutes, Saint Joseph's went on a 12-1 run. Kathlee Fitzpatrick hit two 3-pointers early and Andrews' bucket with 10:02 left put the Hawks up 20-13.
''I was mildly concerned,'' McGraw said. ''Their pace really threw us.''
Turner's four blocked shots helped Notre Dame finish the first half strongly and take a 12-point lead into the halftime. Turner scored 10 points and was perfect from the field (3 of 3) and the free throw line (4 of 4) in the first half.
MOMENT OF SILENCE
Prior to the game, Notre Dame observed a moment of silence for three police officers killed over the last 48 hours around the country. Members of local law enforcement agencies stood side by side with the Irish players during the moment of silence and the National Anthem.
Prior to their home game Dec. 13 against Michigan, the fifth-ranked Irish warmed up wearing ''I Can't Breathe'' shirts in support of the family of Eric Garner, who died in July after a New York police officer placed him in a chokehold while trying to arrest him.
Notre Dame: McGraw played for Saint Joseph's from 1973-77 and graduated with a record of 60-11. She began her coaching career there as an assistant in 1980.
Saint Joseph's: This was the Hawks' first game in 11 days following a road loss at Penn on Dec. 9.
Notre Dame travels to UCLA next Sunday.
Saint Joseph's returns home to face Quinnipiac next Sunday.