Georgia Tech forward Zaire O'Neil (21) reacts after scoring in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame in Atlanta, Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)
Todd Kirkland
February 19, 2015

ATLANTA (AP) Notre Dame leaned on its star to extend its winning streak and protect its hold on first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Jewell Loyd scored 31 points, including 23 in the second half, and No. 4 Notre Dame survived a scare to beat Georgia Tech 71-61 for its 11th straight win on Thursday night.

The Irish (25-2, 12-1) trailed 34-33 at halftime. Loyd shot 6 for 13 from the field and 10 of 11 from the line, and played the entire second half.

''I think Jewell Loyd showed why she is the best player in the country and the best player in the conference,'' Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. ''What a phenomenal performance.''

The final margin was the only double-digit lead of the game. The score was tied at 51 with 11 minutes remaining and Notre Dame led only 58-56 before a basket by Lindsay Allen and a 3-pointer from Loyd stretched the advantage to seven.

''I think the 3 she hit late was probably the dagger,'' McGraw said. ''It really stretched the lead for us and we were really able to settle in defensively.''

Loyd said she talked with Allen before the second half ''and said we had to get things going.''

''In the second half we were more aggressive,'' Loyd said. ''We didn't want to take no for an answer.''

Georgia Tech (14-13, 4-9) has lost four straight and five of six.

The game featured two of the ACC's top three scorers. Loyd leads the conference with 20.7 points per game.

Zaire O'Neil led Georgia Tech with 20 points. Kaela Davis, third in the ACC with 20.2 points per game, added 19 points.

Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said Loyd ''took over the game in the second half and made shots when her team needed her to.''

A late 3-pointer by Katarina Vuckovic gave Georgia Tech the halftime lead.

Loyd was Notre Dame's only scorer in double figures. Madison Cable had nine points, and Turner and Taya Reimer each had eight.

TIP INS

Notre Dame: The Irish visited Atlanta for the first time since a 76-69 win on Nov. 30, 1996. ... Notre Dame's last loss - and only ACC loss - was on Jan. 8 at Miami. ... Loyd had 29 points in Notre Dame's 89-76 home win over Georgia Tech on Jan. 22.

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets wore pink uniforms and shoes in support of the Play 4Kay initiative, which supports the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. ... Georgia Tech fell to 0-8 against Top 25 teams. It hasn't won against a top five team since beating No. 2 North Carolina on Jan. 22, 2009. ... Roddreka Rogers had 12 points and 14 rebounds.

30 FOR LOYD

Loyd, a junior, had her fourth 30-point game of the season and seventh of her career. Each total is a school record. She had a career-high 41 points in an overtime win at DePaul on Dec. 10.

FATIGUE A FACTOR

Georgia Tech has been short-handed since losing senior starting guard Sydney Wallace to a season-ending knee injury on Dec. 29. Each starter played at least 30 minutes, making it difficult for the Yellow Jackets to match their strong first half.

''It's hard to sustain that for two halves with seven people,'' Joseph said.

Georgia Tech shot 45.5 percent (15 of 33) from the field in the first half and 28.1 percent (9 of 32) in the second half.

''Yeah, we were tired, but we kept playing,'' Rogers said.

UP NEXT

Notre Dame: Hosts No. 8 Louisville on Monday.

Georgia Tech: At Clemson on Sunday

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