- Associated Press - Thursday, January 30, 2014

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Second-ranked Notre Dame couldn’t get going against Virginia Tech until a 15-1 run to end the first half broke the game open.

Six Irish players scored during the spurt to turn the game into a 74-48 rout, with Kayla McBride, who led the Irish with 18 points, sparking the run with a jumper.

“They went to the 2-3 toward the end of the first half and we started getting it inside and getting easy looks and started getting some steals and turnovers that allowed us to get into transition,” McBride said. “And we just started hitting shots.”

The Irish opened the second half with an 8-2 spurt to quickly extend the lead to 24 points and eventually led by 30.

The Irish (20-0, 7-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) are off to their second best start, three victories shy of matching the 2000-01 start en route to a national championship. It was the most lopsided loss of the season for the Hokies (10-10, 0-7), who have lost eight straight.

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said facing the struggling Hokies was difficult sandwiched between games against No. 8 Maryland, whom the Irish beat on Monday, and No. 3 Duke, whom the Irish face Sunday.

“You could tell when we came out. We were just flat. We just didn’t have it,” she said.

One of the highlights for the Irish was an alley-oop layup by Jewell Loyd, who made a steal, passed to Lindsay Allen and Allen passed it back for one of her season-high eight assists. It was the third straight basket for Loyd, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds and three steals.

“It brought us energy,” McGraw said. “We just needed something to get the crowd going.”

Virginia Tech coach Dennis Wolff said he thinks his team fell asleep on the possession, something they couldn’t afford to do against the Irish.

“They have really good players. They make good plays. They are smart, they’re well coached and they’re tough. So there is a reason why they are 20-0,” he said.

The Irish outscored the Hokies 32-12 in the paint and had a 41-34 advantage in rebounds. The Irish led 37-19 at intermission, the fewest points allowed by the Irish in the first half this season, and the Hokies were held to their lowest point total this season. Virginia Tech was held to 27.4 percent shooting, matching their season-low.

Wolff said the key was Notre Dame’s run at the end of the first half.

“It is difficult for us to make up that ground against this kind of team,” he said.

Taya Reimer had 15 points for the Irish and Natalie Achonwa added 10 points. Madison Cable had 13 rebounds.

Vanessa Panousis led the Hokies with 12 points. Uju Ugoka, who averages 20.2 points, was held to 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting as the Irish frequently double-teamed her.

“Their wing players are as big as Uju, so that changes everybody’s perspective on the whole thing,” Wolff said.

McBride said she believes the Irish showed their mental toughness by taking control after a slow start.

“We came out a little flat, but we got it done,” she said.

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