Kayla McBride got comfortable early and No. 2 Notre Dame jumped out fast.
The Irish led by double digits less than 5 minutes into their game against South Dakota State and hit 17 of their first 21 shots on the way to a 94-51 rout of the Jackrabbits on Thursday night.
McBride scored 18 points on 8-for-8 shooting from the field and 2 for 2 on free throws, and also had four steals.
"My teammates were finding me in open areas and I was just hitting shots," said McBride, who went 9 for 23 in Notre Dame's last game, a 70-58 win at Oregon State. "It was definitely good to be home."
Natalie Achonwa added 13 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high six assists for the Irish (12-0) and Jewell Loyd had 14 points in Notre Dame's final nonconference matchup before making its Atlantic Coast Conference debut.
Gabby Boever scored nine points to lead the Jackrabbits (9-7), who were facing their highest-ranked opponent in program history.
The Irish used a 12-0 run to take a 19-4 lead on Taya Reimer's layup 5½ minutes into the game. Madison Cable hit two 3-pointers during another 12-0 run that pushed the lead to 57-21 in the final minute of the first half.
McBride grabbed a steal and took it the other way for an easy layup less than five minutes into the second half, then watched the rest of the game from the bench soon after that.
Loyd's layup with just under 15 minutes remaining made it 69-29, and Notre Dame's largest lead was 45 points with 9:18 to play.
McBride knocked down both of her 3-point tries as well, but the rest of her stat line was less impressive to Irish coach Muffet McGraw.
"Didn't get to the line and didn't rebound and turned it over too much, but she did shoot it well," McGraw said with a laugh.
South Dakota State came in with one win over a ranked team this season, an 83-79 upset of then-No. 12 Penn State on Dec. 11, but this one was over early.
Three Jackrabbits starters were on the bench less than 4 minutes into the game — Boever and Mariah Clarin with two fouls each, and Steph Paluch with a bloody nose. At that point, South Dakota State had more fouls (7) than points (4).
"We just got a little bit rattled early in the game," said South Dakota State coach Aaron Johnson. "We gave up too many easy baskets and then they were off and going."
The Irish took control quickly with a 20-2 run, and the Jackrabbits didn't break double digits on the scoreboard until nearly 10 minutes had passed. By then, Notre Dame was already up by 23.
Cable finished with 13 points.
"I was really pleased with the tone that we set early on," McGraw said.
Notre Dame scored a season-high 59 points in the first half on 20 of 41 shooting (63.4 percent) and amassed 20 of their 28 assists, mostly on backdoor cuts and extra passes in the paint.
"I thought we worked the backdoor really well tonight," McGraw said. "I thought we got a lot of easy shots around the basket. (Loyd) and (McBride) in particular were getting easy shots."
McBride, Loyd, Achonwa, and Cable all had double digits by the break.
The win, Notre Dame's 35th straight regular season victory, kicked off a three-game homestand for the Irish, who make their ACC debut Sunday against Clemson.
Author: STEVE LOWE, Associated Press