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Rachel Terlep
Rachel Terlep
Notre Dame beat writer Rachel Terlep offers scribbles and stories about Fighting Irish sports.



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Notre Dame continues to ace tests from All-American opponents

From Odyssey Sims to Alyssa Taylor, Notre Dame has had an answer for every All-America player it's faced this season.

Posted on April 7, 2014 at 2:44 p.m.

In a battle of unbeatens, Notre Dame and Connecticut meet with three Associated Press All-America selections on their respective rosters.

The Irish field All-America selections Kayla McBride and Jewell Loyd (Natalie Achonwa was named to the AP All-America third team but is out with a torn ACL). UConn boasts Bria Hartley, Stefanie Dolson and AP Player of the Year Breanna Stewart.

The Irish (37-0) and Huskies (39-0) will be the first unbeaten teams to ever play for a national championship at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, in Nashville.

How has Notre Dame fared when faced with other top players in the country?

Of the 16 players honored by the AP All-America list, Notre Dame has played six of them, including AP Freshman of the Year Diamond DeShields (North Carolina).

Odyssey Sims, Baylor
AP All-American (First team)

Without a doubt the best player Notre Dame has faced all year, Sims nearly single-handily stumped the Irish for the fifth straight time in the Elite Eight March 31.

Sims finished with 33 of Baylor's 69 points and rallied the Bears to within five points in the second half. But Loyd fired back with 30 points of her own, and Achonwa chipped in 15 before going down with the ACL injury. MpcBride and Loyd knew they couldn't stop Sims, but they certainly could match her. The Irish won 88-69.

Alyssa Thomas, Maryland
AP All-American (First team)

The Irish played Maryland twice this year. In the first meeting Jan. 27, Thomas opened 1-of-8 from the field before rallying the Terrapins to a one-point lead with 10 minutes left in the game. Thomas finished with 29 points and 12 rebounds in Notre Dame's 87-83 win.

But Notre Dame got the better of Thomas the second time around, in a furious Final Four match up the Irish took 87-61. It was Notre Dame's first game following Achonwa's ACL tear, and a smothering double-team defense held Thomas to a modest 14 points and six rebounds.

Maggie Lucas, Penn State
AP All-American (Third team)

During the Dec. 4 game against Penn State, Loyd and McBride held Lucas, a senior guard who averages 21 points per game, to just 1-of-8 from the field for seven points total. Notre Dame won 77-67.

Tricia Liston and Elizabeth Williams, Duke
AP All-Americans (Both third team)

Notre Dame played Duke three times this year, dispatching the Blue Devils with double-digit wins each time. Though Liston and Williams had their big moments against the Irish, the two could never be on the same page at the same time.

In the first meeting, Liston (18 points per game) posted 23 points. Loyd swarmed her in the subsequent two games, holding Liston to seven points in the next meeting and 2-of-11 from the field for four total points in the ACC championship game.

Williams, on the other hand, left the first game 0-of-4 from the field for two total points. She posted 20 and 17 points, respectively, in the next two games.

Diamond DeShields, North Carolina
AP Freshman of the Year

DeShields posted 17 points in the 100-75 barnburner that went to Notre Dame Feb. 27. DeShields shot 8-of-18 from the field but couldn't find an answer for McBride and Loyd, who finished with a combined total of 40 points for the Irish.




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