Loyd scores 20 to lead No. 4 Irish women past FSU
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame extended its Atlantic Coast Conference winning streak to 17 games Friday night, though it wasn't easy against a physical Florida State team.
The fourth-ranked Irish struggled with their shooting early and trailed by nine points in the second half before clawing their way back in, and they couldn't have done it without Lindsay Allen.
Allen scored 18 points, added a career-high eight assists, and made all the tough plays down the stretch to help the Irish beat Seminoles 74-68.
''I thought Lindsay Allen was spectacular,'' said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. ''She saved us a number of times and kind of bailed us out.''
Allen's buzzer-beating half-court heave got the Irish within one point after a tough first half. Her pull-up jumper with 1:10 to play put the Irish up by seven and she added three free throws down the stretch, while guiding the offense as the primary ball-handler against an aggressive FSU defense.
''I'm just so confident with her with the ball in her hands late in the game,'' McGraw said.
Jewell Loyd led the Irish with 20 points. Brianna Turner scored 12 of her 14 in the second half, to go with five blocked shots, to help Notre Dame (13-1) win its ACC opener and extend its winning streak to 37 straight conference games dating back to 2012 when the Irish were in the Big East.
Shakayla Thomas scored 18 points to lead Florida State (13-2), which snapped a nine-game winning streak.
Down nine, the Irish went on an 11-0 run and took their first lead of the game on Madison Cable's steal and layup with 12:46 left.
''It was disappointing to have the lead for 26 minutes and come out on the short end,'' said Florida State coach Sue Semrau. ''They're a championship team and they know about winning.''
Kansas State transfer Leticia Romero scored 15 points and Morgan Jones finished with 14 for the Seminoles.
Jones knocked down consecutive jumpers to tie it, but Turner's bucket in the paint and Taya Reimer's steal and layup got the Irish advantage back up to four with 4:45 left.
Despite getting beat on the boards, 38-30, Notre Dame got a key three-point play by Loyd on an offensive putback to get the lead back to four with 1:58 to go.
''They were really physical,'' Loyd said. ''Any time you ran through the lane, they were bumping. In the second half, we got a little tougher.''
Romero played in her second game for Florida State after being granted eligibility by the NCAA on Dec. 23. The sophomore guard scored 12 in the first half, and her 3-pointer with 7:40 left in the half gave FSU a 20-8 lead.
Notre Dame hit just 3 of its first 14 shots, but responded with an 11-2 run over the next 3 minutes.
Romero hit a fallaway jumper with 5 seconds left before halftime, but Allen's halfcourt heave at the buzzer cut Florida State's lead to 29-28 at halftime.
Notre Dame: Forward Brianna Turner was named both ACC and national freshman of the week last week.
Florida State: The Seminoles have beaten a Top 25 team in 10 of the past 11 seasons. Notre Dame was Florida State's first ranked opponent this season.
McGraw expressed her shock afterward that Florida State came in unranked.
''I don't know who's on the Top 25 poll, but they're missing something here,'' McGraw said. ''I think they're a Top 15 team. I don't know why they're not ranked.''
Notre Dame: At Syracuse on Sunday.
Florida State: At Clemson on Thursday.