Notre Dame clinches regular-season ACC title with win over Duke

Senior guard Kayla McBride posted a career-high 31 points in Notre Dame's win over Duke.

Posted on Feb. 23, 2014 at 6:08 p.m.

NOTRE DAME — Skylar Diggins called it three hours before it happened.

"Kmac might get 30 today...best player in the country," she Tweeted before No. 2 Notre Dame hosted No. 7 Duke on Sunday, Feb. 23.

Kayla McBride, who has assumed the majority of the team's scoring responsibilities since Diggins' departure, had to one-up the Notre Dame icon.

Sshe posted 31 points, a career-high, in Notre Dame's 81-70 win over the Blue Devils. The win moved the Irish to 27-0 and gave them the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference title in Notre Dame's inaugural year.

After the game, Diggins, who was watching from the crowd, wrapped McBride up in a proud hug.

"I told you," she told her former teammate. "That's how you do it."

McBride's career day got off to a hot start as she threw up seven points in Notre Dame's quick 13-0 start. By the time the Blue Devils (24-3, 11-2) finally caught their breath, the Irish held a 20-2 lead.

"We had a lot of energy," McBride said. "You could feel it in the locker room. We were coming out and hitting shots, doing things in transition, we were just having a lot of fun."

Duke barked back to close out the half. It scored six points in seven seconds, including a half-court shot at the buzzer. The Blue Devils harassed the Irish throughout the second half, slicing Notre Dame's one-time 20-point lead to seven.

It was then ND coach Muffet McGraw made the appropriate adjustments, putting a four-guard set on the court and dropping McBride down low to rule the post. McBride continued her scoring spree, lifting the Irish lead back up to double-digits.

"She's so versatile and can do so many things," McGraw said of McBride. "She's so incredibly coachable. It's fun to be around her."

McBride's final points came off a 3-pointer with two-and-a-half minutes left in the game. The score gave Notre Dame an 18-point lead and kept the Duke rallies at bay.

Notre Dame has now knocked off reigning ACC champion Duke twice in three weeks. The Irish move to 13-0 in the ACC, continuing its sweep of a conference it joined this year. The regular-season title gives Notre Dame a double-bye and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

"It's good for us to have a trophy now," McGraw said. "To know that we accomplished something so far. We keep looking at the next game as the most important thing for us. So to come in our first year in the league and win it is really gratifying."

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