Apr 1, 2014, 1:59 PM EDT
Rachel Murphy, an official 2013-14 basketball beat writer for the In The Paint blog, is currently a sophomore at St. Mary’s College. Over the course of the year Rachel will bring you insight from within the student section, interviews with Fighting Irish players and stories from inside the team circle. You can follow Rachel (and the rest of the Notre Dame student beat writing staff) on twitter at @JrNDBloggers.
Notre Dame women’s basketball was business as usual last night with their win against #5/6 Baylor. The Irish stayed undefeated and sealed their fourth straight trip to the Final Four, becoming the sixth school to do so along with UConn, LSU, Stanford, Louisiana Tech and Tennessee.
Jewell Loyd dropped 30 points, her third 30-point game on the year, as the Irish fought it out against a tough Baylor team—the girl couldn’t be stopped.
“Jewell felt like she could score whenever she wanted,” said coach Muffet McGraw. “We were running things for her and she delivered on every possession.”
Senior Natalie Achonwa followed with 19 points and 15 rebounds before injuring her left knee with just under five minutes left in the game. Before heading to the locker room, Achonwa limped to the bench and riled the team and the crowd up one final time, telling the girls to go win it.
“It sucked the air right out of the room,” McGraw said of the injury, “I don’t know what (the injury) is yet … You hate to see a player go down like that.”
According to McGraw, Achonwa will have her MRI Tuesday to see whether or not she will play against the winner of Tuesday’s Maryland-Louisville game.
With senior Kayla McBride (K-Mac) on the bench with early foul trouble in the first half, Achonwa and Loyd took control and brought the Irish back ahead of the Bears.
In the second half Achonwa made a layup that started an Irish 14-0 run. Loyd scored the next eight points, including a Sports Center Top 10-worthy three point play that exhilarated the crowd.
Perhaps more impressive than the ladies’ performance was the energy inside Purcell Pavilion—the sixth man was most definitely in the building. In a word, the sellout crowd was absolutely electric. Irish fans meant business, on their feet for most of the game, they could’ve given Seahawks fans (loudest stadium record holders) a run for their money.
Among those fans was Irish alum and WNBA superstar Skylar Diggins. She took to playing cheerleader, looking to the crowd and motioning for them to get on their feet. She, along with K-Mac and Achonwa, pumped the crowd up throughout the night, keeping the place on their feet.
The passion in Purcell was indescribable, it was almost as if the fans were a part of the win.
“To win it at home, to celebrate with our fans is special,” said McGraw, “I couldn’t be prouder of this team.”
As has been the theme of the season, the unbeaten Irish are hungry for more. 36 down, two to go, the Irish are #NotDoneYet.
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