Pitt Panthers coach Suzie McConnell-Serio opened her press conference following her team’s 109-66 Thursday loss to Notre Dame expressing an emotion the 2,768 in attendance probably felt as well.
“Wow,” she said.
Five players scored in double figures for Notre Dame (16-0, 4-0 ACC), led by both Kayla McBride and Jewell Loyd who had 20 apiece. Natalie Achonwa (14), Michaela Mabrey (13) and Taya Reimer (10) rounded out the Irish five.
Brianna Kiesel had 20 points for Pitt (9-9, 1-3 ACC) before leaving the game in the second half with an injury.
The offense started instantly. The Irish won the tip scoring a couple of seconds into the game thanks to a McBride jumper. Notre Dame made its first three shots from the field and by the first media timeout led 13-6.
The Irish continued to build their lead and proved to be successful in many aspects. Notre Dame had 25 assists and nine turnovers. It scored 46 points in the paint, had a 15-point advantage in points off turnover, and its bench outscored the Panthers by 21 points.
“I think we were just really patient and stuck to the game plan,” Loyd said. “I think we’re starting to know each other a lot better on the court, and we just tried to make the right decisions.”
Notre Dame shot 61.1 percent in the first half while holding Pitt to a 28.1 percent shooting clip.
By halftime, Notre Dame had a 54-25 lead. After the first media timeout, the Irish went on a 21-10 run to push the lead over 30 points by the two minute mark.
In the second half, Notre Dame brought its starting five back onto the court and built the lead up to 40 points. The Irish were 9 for 12 from the 3-point line and Mabrey had four 3s. The team also shot 20-22 from the free throw line.
“We really worked to try to go inside,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “I think that was our game plan from the start. We had a big mismatch in terms of size, started inside and then wanted to go outside, we got some things to open up on the perimeter, and then it was just a matter of picking our spots.”
McGraw gave many of her bench players significant minutes including Mount Lebanon, Pa., native Madison Cable. Cable scored nine points in 23 minutes and netted Notre Dame’s 100th point of the game. Markisha Wright had six points in 14 minutes.
Pitt could not get much going offensively. Marquel Davis had 10 points and five assists; however, she also had seven of the Panthers’ 18 turnovers. Chelsea Welch, Asia Logan and Loliya Briggs each had nine points. While the Panthers shot an improved 46.7 percent from the field in the second half, they were still outscored by 14.
“You hope a team is not as good as they are on film, and this team was better,” McConnell-Serio said. “They find ways to exploit mismatches, they execute, they see the next play before the ball is in their hands. They put on a clinic, no doubt about it.”
Pitt will next play Sunday at home against Syracuse. Tip-off is 2 p.m.