SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Jewell Loyd scored 20 points and freshman Mychal Johnson added 17 to lead No. 3 Notre Dame to an 88-53 win over Chattanooga.
Loyd finished 7 of 9 from the field, while Johnson made 5 of 6 shots from 3-point range on her 19th birthday.
“We encourage her to shoot it regularly,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said Johnson. “Be fearless, take your shot, don’t worry about misses. Just keep shooting, and she’s done that well.”
The Mocs (2-2) played the Irish close early, leading 16-13 with 11:50 to play in the first half. Chelsey Shumpert led Chattanooga with 12 points, including nine points in the first half.
The Irish (3-0) went on a 19-2 run over a 6:36 span, pushing the lead to 35-18, prompting another timeout from Chattanooga coach Jim Foster. During the run, the Irish scored most of those points under the basket, with six points coming from Taya Reimer, who finished with 10.
Notre Dame led 46-21 at the half. The Irish picked up where they left off, using a 15-9 run in the first 5:41 of the second half.
“I was really pleased with the game,” McGraw said. “I thought we started off slowly… couldn’t figure out why that was happening, but we worked it out. Johnson coming off the bench gave us a huge lift.”
Johnson said she understands her role with the Irish.
“Like coach said, whenever I come in the game, they tell me I have the green light,” Johnson said. “I hear it from my teammates, too.”
Chattanooga’s 6-2 forward Jasmine Joyner picked up her second foul just six minutes into the game and went to the bench. She finished with a school-record eight blocks and six points in 26 minutes.
“We can’t afford to have her on the bench for that period of time,” Foster said. “She obviously means a lot to our basketball team. But our young players have to understand how you compete at this level.”
Lindsay Allen added 11 points on 5 of 5 shooting for the Irish.
CHATTANOOGA: The Mocs, who started the season ranked fourth in the Mid-Major Top 25, face three teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25: No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 4 Tennessee and No. 6 Stanford.
“That’s just learning experiences for us,” Shumpert said.
NOTRE DAME: On Friday, the Irish began a stretch of four home games in five days, all against first-time opponents.
Chattanooga’s Joyner blocked a record eight shot attempts by the Irish. The entire Notre Dame team blocked only four shots. Joyner moved up to fifth on Chattanooga’s all-time list for blocks.
Foster said it’s too early in the season to assess Notre Dame. “I’m not like these knuckleheads on television that have an opinion three games into the season,” he said. “You have to grow as a team, you have to play in different situations, you have to see who wants the ball at crunch time. Everybody knows how good a player Jewell Loyd is. The Allen kid has to score a little more than she did last year. The week after next, you’ll probably start to find out some stuff.”
Chattanooga will host Austin Peay on Monday.
Notre Dame will host Holy Cross on Sunday.
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