BOSTON (AP) - It was clear almost from the start that Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw wasn’t thrilled with the way her No. 5 Fighting Irish were playing Sunday.
Fortunately for McGraw and her team, there was still plenty to get the job done against Boston College.
“I didn’t think we came out ready,” McGraw said after the Irish shook off a sluggish start and cruised to their 10th straight victory, an 89-55 rout of Boston College. “I was really frustrated with our approach to the game today.”
Notre Dame won for the 18th time in its past 19 games to go to 25-2, 13-1 in the ACC. The Irish trailed 6-4 over four minutes into the game. But the Irish then used a 10-0 run over a 2:27 span to take the lead for good.
Up nine at the half, the Fighting Irish blew the game open after the break, the 34-point final margin the biggest lead of the game.
“We can’t come out and have a start like we did today - even just (play) the whole game like we did today,” said Jessica Shepard, who had 18 points and five rebounds.
Jackie Young also scored 18 points and had eight rebounds and five assists, Kristina Nelson came off the bench to have 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, Arike Ogunbowale had 15 points, Marina Mabrey 11 and Kathryn Westbeld eight rebounds for ND.
Taylor Ortlepp came off the bench and led the Eagles (7-20, 2-12) with a career-high 24 points. She scored 15 on 5-for-9 from 3-point range in the first half, but faced tougher defense after the break and was able to take only five shots in the second half - after McGraw told her players to challenge No. 4.
“That was the message when she came in at halftime,” Shepard said.
Katie Quandt had a career-high nine rebounds and seven points and Georgia Pineau nine points and five rebounds in the loss, as the Irish spoiled the Eagles’ senior day with their second win of the season over BC.
“It’s Senior (Day) here at Conte Forum and Notre Dame came in and they played actually a really, really solid basketball game,” BC coach Erik Johnson said.
“They absolutely imposed their will on us in the paint, they used their size advantage at multiple positions and I thought our kids fought hard, I really did.”
ND built its first-half lead to 13 but three straight 3-pointers by Ortlepp got the Eagles as close as six. It was 39-30 at the break. The lead grew to 21 six minutes into the second half and ND was never in trouble.
It was 61-42 at the end of three and the Irish opened the fourth on a 12-2 spurt, six of the points by Ogunbowale.
Despite a spate of injuries, Notre Dame, in its 208th straight week in the AP poll, is cruising toward its 23rd straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Fighting Irish, who haven’t lost since Jan. 11, have finished the road portion of their regular season. They have two games remaining before the ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C.
The Irish, tied for second in the country with 14 road wins (No. 1 Connecticut has 15), would clinch a share of the conference regular-season title if they win their last two.
They came in Sunday tied with No. 4 Louisville and would lose the tiebreaker because of their 100-67 loss to the Cardinals.
With all the injuries her team has suffered this season, McGraw is trying to get it done with a seven-player rotation.
And the schedule is winding down, leaving players - and coaches - a bit weary.
“Two games left and we truly have to take it one at a time when you only have seven,” McGraw said. “I mean, anything can happen, so we’re hoping we can get seven healthy players through the ACC tournament.”
Boston College seniors were honored before the game. But Johnson, keeping with his tradition, also presented flowers to the Notre Dame seniors as they lined up for the national anthem before the game.
Notre Dame hosts Virginia Tech on Thursday night.
Boston College finishes with two on the road and is at Florida State on Thursday.
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