Notre Dame (37-0) will continue its pursuit of perfection, thanks in large part to Kayla McBride, against the Connecticut Huskie (39-0) on April 8. The All-American senior guard had one of the most impressive games of her career as she tossed 28 points on 12-of-21 shooting. She also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out two assists.
Jewell Loyd also had a terrific game for the Fighting Irish contributing 16 points, on 6-of-11 shooting, and nine rebounds. Markeisha Wright added 12 points and nine caroms off the bench.
Notre Dame head coach Muffett McGraw was concerned that Maryland’s height advantage upfront would hurt the Fighting Irish, who were playing without 6-3 senior Natalie Achonwa (torn ACL). It proved to be no problem for the Irish, who dominated the Terrapins (28-7) on the boards.
Notre Dame outrebounded the Maryland 50-21, including a 19-4 advantage on the offensive end. The Fighting Irish also mixed up their defense, confusing the Terrapins and forcing them and into turnovers and poor shots.
Notre Dame frustrated Maryland star Alyssa Thomas into a 5-of-13 shooting performance by consistently double-teaming her and not allowing any good looks. Thomas, the school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder, scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds. Brionna Jones led the Terrapins, who were making their first Final Four appearance since 2006, with 17 points while Lexi Brown and Laurin Mincy each contributed 11 points, apiece.
Maryland kept the game close in the early with some hot shooting. The Terrapins made 9-of-their first-17 shots and got within 22-21 with 7:56 remaining, on a Laurin Mincy layup.
Notre Dame answered with a 10-0 run with McBride scoring five of those points. The teams then traded baskets over the next 3:14, making the score 39-27 at the 2:48 mark. Notre Dame closed out the half on a 9-4 spurt with a three-pointer by Madison Cable just before halftime.
Maryland trailed by 22-points in the team’s earlier meeting this year but there was no such luck this time around and McBride made sure of it.
She scored five straight points, including a 3-pointer and a pull-up jumper that made it 59-37 with 15:46 left. The Terrapins could only get really any closer the rest of the way.