No. 3 Notre Dame routs Saint Joseph's 91-55
PHILADELPHIA (AP) As soon as Muffet McGraw walked through the doors of Saint Joseph's gym, she knew she was home.
Notre Dame's coach starred for the Hawks in the late 1970s before becoming an assistant coach at the school.
She was thrilled at the chance to bring her third-ranked Irish to Philadelphia on Monday night to play the Hawks there for the first time since 1990.
''A lot of people said `Welcome home' when I came through the doors,'' McGraw said.
McGraw's team didn't disappoint the mostly pro-Irish crowd that included her mother, sisters and former Saint Joseph's teammates. There were even a few of the nuns who taught McGraw when she was a youngster growing up in the area in the stands.
Lindsay Allen had 16 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to help Notre Dame to a 91-55 victory.
''It was such a blessing to be where I am,'' McGraw said. ''This is where I got my start.''
McGraw wasn't the only Irish member coming home. Sisters Michaela and Marina Mabrey hail from the Jersey shore, about an hour away. They had a huge fan base in attendance as well.
Marina Mabrey scored 18 points while Kathryn Westbeld added 16 to lead the Irish (10-1).
''It's great,'' Michaela Mabrey said. ''We had a bunch of buses come down from my high school. My high school coaches were there.''
The game also marked the return of sophomore Brianna Turner, who missed six straight games with a separated right shoulder. She scored the game's first basket on a lob - her only points. She got in foul trouble and played just 8 minutes.
''It's great to be playing again,'' Turner said. ''It felt great.''
Ciara Andrews scored 13 points to lead Saint Joseph's (4-6).
''We played 20 minutes of pretty good basketball,'' Hawks coach Cindy Griffin said. ''We weren't able to put a complete game together against a team that was so talented. Every mistake we made in the second half they capitalized on.''
Saint Joseph's wasn't intimidated playing the No. 3 team in the country. The Hawks were down one point before the Irish went on an 11-2 run to take a 31-21 lead midway through the second quarter. Westbeld had six points during the spurt. That's as big a lead as the Irish could get in the first 20 minutes as the Hawks answered each hoop with one of their own after that burst.
Trailing 39-32, Andrews hit a fallaway jumper just before the halftime buzzer to get the Hawks within five.
''I hit that shot at end of the quarter and we had momentum,'' Andrews said. ''We were hoping to get that (to continue), but we didn't come out strong in the start of the second half.''
Allen and the Irish took over in the third quarter. They used an 18-4 burst early in the period to blow the game open. Allen had six points during the game-changing run. Madison Cable and Michaela Mabrey got the spurt started with consecutive 3-pointers and Hannah Huffman capped it with a layup off a nifty touch pass from Allen that made it 59-39.
Notre Dame: This was the Irish's 213th victory over the past seven seasons. They are second on that list behind only UConn. ... Notre Dame shot 59 percent from the field (36-for-61).
Saint Joseph's: The Irish are the highest-ranked team to play at Hagan Arena since No. 2 Tennessee came to visit in 1999. Top-ranked Connecticut played the Hawks at the Palestra in 2003.
After playing 10 games in the first month of the season, Notre Dame has just three games between Dec. 13 and the New Year. Between exams and Christmas, the Irish haven't had much time on the court.
''Our schedule has been difficult as we played twice a week all through the semester,'' McGraw said. ''We haven't had the week off to just practice.''
McGraw is three victories short of becoming the 10th coach to reach 800 wins.
Notre Dame hosts No. 11 Oregon State on Dec. 28
Saint Joseph's plays UMBC on Dec. 28