Duke falls short in 81-70 loss to No. 2 Irish

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 23, 2014 at 4:18 pm •  Published: February 23, 2014
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie believes the seventh-ranked Blue Devils can take encouragement from rallying back from an 18-point deficit early against No. 2 Notre Dame to at least make a game out of it in the second half before losing 81-70 on Sunday.

"I think the team has that resolve. I think it's a reflection of our leadership. They were definitely mad and frustrated. But we definitely have some folks who fight and wanted to fight," she said. "I wish everyone could have ended the game in a healthy way. I wish a lot of things about today."

Her biggest wish following the game was that a left knee injury to point guard Alexis Jones isn't any more serious than the original diagnosis of a sprain. Jones injured the knee driving to the basket for a layup that cut the lead to seven points for the first of three times, but the Blue Devils couldn't get any closer.

McCallie was particularly bothered by Duke's 23 turnovers, including 14 in the first half.

"That's just too many first-half turnovers," she said. "We need to be better with the ball."

Kayla McBride got Notre Dame going early by hitting her first four shots and stopped seventh-ranked Duke's rally late by hitting back-to-back baskets. In between, McBride did a lot of little things right, such as grabbing seven rebounds, handing out four assists and jumping out of the way when Haley Peters, trapped in the corner, tried to get out of trouble by bouncing the ball off of McBride out of bounds, forcing another Duke turnover.

McBride finished with a career-high 31 points to help the Fighting Irish win the Atlantic Coast Conference title in its inaugural season in the league.

"We definitely enjoyed that," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said of beating the defending conference champion Blue Devils.

McBride is a huge reason why the Irish (27-0, 14-0 ACC) are still unbeaten.