by Mike Potter
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Super Sunday starts a little early for Triangle women’s basketball with a much-anticipated rematch.
The last meeting came in last season’s regional final in Norfolk, with the Irish winning 87-76 to end the Blue Devils’ season in the NCAA Elite Eight for the fourth year in a row.
Notre Dame’s superstar from last season, point guard Skylar Diggins, is now in the WNBA. Duke is playing short in the backcourt, with Chloe Wells missing her fifth straight game with a bruised shin.
Today it doesn’t go well at all for the Blue Devils, as the Irish lead from wire-to-wire and win 88-67. Notre Dame wins its third straight road game against a Top 10 team for the first time in school history. And Duke’s 42-game home-court conference win streak is over.
Duke’s last chance to tie was following a Liston layup to make it 24-21 with 8:14 left in the first half.
The largest Notre Dame lead was 83-60 on a Lindsay Allen free-throw shot with 3:16 to go.
Kayla McBride led the Irish with 23 points and 11 rebounds, her first double-double of the season. Jewell Loyd added 17 points followed by Natalie Achonwa and Lindsay Allen with 15 each.
Liston led Duke with 23 points, followed by Alexis Jones with 16 points and 10 steals and Richa Jackson also with 16 points.
The Irish shot 61.8 percent from the floor to Duke’s 39.1 and won the rebound battle 41-30, but committed 22 turnovers to Duke’s 16.
They said it …
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “It was obviously a very poor game for us and a very good game for Notre Dame. When you give up more than 40 points in transition offense, that’s a bit of a problem. That’s a very good lesson for us as a team, to try to be more immediate in transition … I thought Notre Dame played great. They’re very consistent, particularly (McBride) and (Achonwa).”
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw: “I was really pleased with the game. I thought we played really well offensively. … I thought Liston played well. We did a much better job on her in the second half, but Kayla McBride is the best point guard in the country in my opinion. (With) Jewell Loyd, I mean our backcourt has got to be number one in the country. I thought they both played extremely well.”
McBride: “This is just good news for our team. I think we’re going to have some tough games like that going down the road — we’re in a new conference, different environments. I just think it’s a good challenge for us going down the road.”
What does it all mean?
That Notre Dame is clearly at least the No. 2 team in the country, while the Blue Devils are going to have to play well through a really tough stretch to hold at No. 3.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Achonwa’s layup from Loyd to make it 26-21 with 7:29 left in the half.
Duke: Lost 1.
Notre Dame: Won 21.
Notre Dame leads 7-1.
Duke at Clemson, Thursday, 7 p.m.
Notre Dame at Florida State, Thursday, 7 p.m.