No. 2 ND stays perfect, tops No. 13 'Pack 84-60
No. 2 Notre Dame women cap perfect regular season by routing No. 13 NC State, 84-60
RALEIGH, N.C.— Natalie Achonwa scored 19 points and No. 2 Notre Dame polished off a perfect regular season by beating No. 13 North Carolina State 84-60 on Sunday.
Jewell Loyd added 18 points for the Fighting Irish (29-0, 16-0).
They shot 56 percent and led by 30 after an overwhelming second-half run helped them cap the first undefeated regular season for an Atlantic Coast Conference school since the 2006-07 Duke team.
Freshman Miah Spencer had a season-high 18 points for the Wolfpack (24-6, 11-5).
N.C. State missed 10 consecutive shots and went scoreless for 7½ minutes while the Irish turned a tight game into yet another blowout.
Kayla McBride added 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting for Notre Dame, which in an 11-day span beat each of the four of the North Carolina-based ACC schools by double figures — and three were in the top 15 at the time.
Now the Irish hope to keep rolling through Tobacco Road: They’re the top seed in the ACC tournament that starts Wednesday in Greensboro, and with a victory in the quarterfinals they will match a school record with their 30th straight victory.
Ariel Braker added 12 points for Notre Dame, which also became the ACC’s first team to go unbeaten in league play since North Carolina in 2007-08, and the first team with 16 ACC wins since Duke in 2002-03.
The Irish finally gave themselves some separation late in the first half, then really broke it open early in the second by reeling off 17 straight points during the 23-4 run that effectively ended it.
Each of the Irish’s key players got involved: They led by 10 before Loyd scored on back-to-back drives. Achonwa hit a layup before Loyd hit the first of her two 3-pointers during the burst.
McBride hit consecutive shots, and after Loyd’s second 3, Achonwa converted a three-point play to make it 65-34 with 8½ minutes left.
Kody Burke finished with 15 points and Markeisha Gatling added 12 for the Wolfpack, the No. 4 seed in the ACC tournament.
After Burke’s jumper with 17 minutes left, N.C. State missed 10 straight shots before Spencer finally ended the drought with a jump shot.
That cold spell undid a strong first half for the Wolfpack, who were denied their biggest victory since they knocked off then-No. 1 and undefeated Duke in the 2007 ACC tournament semifinals during their remarkable Kay Yow-led postseason run.
N.C. State gave Notre Dame fits up until the final moments of the first half.
With 90 seconds left before the break, the Irish were up just 32-28. They pushed their lead to 36-28 at halftime — just the third time in the past month that their opponent was within single digits of them at the break.