TALLAHASSEE (AP) — Natalie Achonwa was called for a technical foul 19 seconds into the second half with No. 2 Notre Dame clinging to a three-point lead after being up by 14 in the first half.
Achonwa and the Fighting Irish regrouped, and took out their frustrations on Florida State the rest of the way.
Achonwa finished with 24 points and Jewell Loyd added 18 Thursday night to lead Notre Dame to an 81-60 victory over Florida State night that kept the Fighting Irish unbeaten.
“A technical is never a good thing, but the team responded well to it,” Achonwa said. “I think I just lost my poise for a minute and tried to gather it afterward and make sure I’m focusing on my team and doing what we need to get back in the game.
“From there we took the momentum and ran with it.”
Kayla McBride chipped in 14 points for Notre Dame (22-0, 9-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Cheetah Delgado scored a career-high 18 points and Natasha Howard finished with 11 points and eight rebounds for Florida State (15-7, 3-6). Delgado entered the game averaging 7.5 points per game.
The Fighting Irish used a zone to pack the paint and hold Howard seven points below her season average. A 24-5 run in the second half allowed Notre Dame to run away after the Seminoles cut it to 34-33 shortly after the technical foul.
“We can score,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “I don’t want us to just be a team that tries to outscore people. I want us to be a team that really likes to defend.”
Notre Dame jumped out to a 27-13 lead thanks to a 15-2 run sparked by Achonwa, who scored 15 first-half points on 6-for-7 shooting from the field. The Fighting Irish zone forced the Seminoles into shooting perimeter jump shots. Florida State adjusted and was able to work the ball to Howard from the wings as the Seminoles closed the half with a 16-5 run. Howard scored eight consecutive points during the spurt.
“We came out and had too many mental errors in the second half,” Florida State coach Sue Semrau said. “This is a young team and we have a choice to make whether or not we grow up and stop worrying about the things that go wrong and were not perfect, or we’re just going to continue and be a mediocre basketball team.
“We’ve challenged them with that and going forward we’ll see the result.”
The Seminoles trailed 32-29 at halftime after Delgado hit a runner with 6 seconds remaining. A jumper by Delgado brought Florida State within one point early in the second half, but the Fighting Irish ran away with a heavy dose Loyd, who scored 14 of her 18 after the break. The 24-5 run that put the Seminoles away was highlighted by an alley-oop from Michaela Mabrey to Loyd.
“I was just trying to have fun and get something going,” Loyd said. “We like to run in transition and we have really good passers, so they see me and they trust that I can finish.”
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