GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Notre Dame's romp through its new league is nearly complete. One more win, and the No. 2 Fighting Irish will have an Atlantic Coast Conference championship trophy to go with their still-perfect record.
Jewell Loyd scored 16 points to help Notre Dame beat No. 14 North Carolina State 83-48 in Saturday's ACC tournament semifinals.
Kayla McBride was among four in double figures with 10 points for the top-seeded Fighting Irish (31-0), who had no trouble putting away the injury-depleted Wolfpack. Notre Dame scored the first 12 points, led by 28 at halftime and by 37 from there to continue their dominating run through the ACC.
"I thought actually we had a little bit of a slow start and initially missed a couple of shots early," coach Muffet McGraw said, "but then I thought we really got comfortable."
The Fighting Irish, who shot 60 percent in a 26-point win against Florida State in Friday's quarterfinals, shot 52 percent in the first half on the way to their second lopsided win against the fourth-seeded Wolfpack (25-7) in a week.
That sent Notre Dame to Sunday's championship game, where the Irish will try to become the first team to go 19-0 through ACC regular-season and tournament play since Duke in 2001-02 and 2002-03. Notre Dame will face No. 10 Duke, the tournament's No. 2 seed that lost the two regular-season meetings to the Irish by a combined 32 points.
And the Irish will be rested. No starter played more than 30 minutes against FSU, then none played more than 24 against the Wolfpack.
Notre Dame got 41 points from its bench, with 10 each from Michaela Mabrey and Madison Cable. McGraw said it's "the best bench we've ever had."
"It's great to be able to rest the starters and be confident in your bench," she said.
Loyd had 17 points in 30 minutes against FSU, then followed with 16 points and six rebounds in 21 minutes against N.C. State. The sophomore heads into Sunday's final a basket shy of reaching 1,000 career points.
"Personally I was just taking what the defense gave me," Loyd said. "I wasn't trying to force anything and just really trying to have fun with it."
Freshman Miah Spencer scored 11 points to lead the Wolfpack, who played without top scorer and rebounder Markeisha Gatling. The 6-foot-5 senior left Friday's quarterfinal win against Syracuse midway through the second half with a left knee injury.
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