Irish Cruise

Notre Dame broke open a close game late in the first half and never looked back in defeating Tennessee-Martin, 97-64, Sunday afternoon in Iowa City.

Iowa CITY, Iowa - Freshman Jewell Loyd showed no signs of jitters in his first NCAA Tournament game Sunday afternoon. The Notre Dame guard notched a team-high 27 points in leading top-seeded Notre Dame to a 97-64 blowout of No. 16 Tennessee Martin.

Loyd converted on 10 of 15 field goal attempts and all six of her free throw tries to go with six rebounds. Junior Kayla McBride contributed 22 points and 10 rebounds to the winning effort.

"We are a very unselfish team and we move the ball really well and we find the open person," Loyd said. "I moved and I cut and we had great passers. They found me right under the basket and my shots would just fall in."

The Skyhawks (19-15) hung with the Irish (32-1) for much of the first half, trailing just 32-26 with 5:47 left before the break. Things fell apart for the underdogs from that point forward.

Notre Dame finished the opening period with a 17-5 run to lead 49-31 at the intermission. The Irish came out of the locker room with a 11-2 spurt to put the game away.

Junior Natalie Achonwa chipped in with 16 points and eight rebounds for Notre Dame as she surpassed the 1,000-point scoring mark for her career. All-American Skylar Diggins had 10 points and six assists for the winners.

UT-Martin's Heather Butler put on a show in a losing effort. The 5-foot-5 junior tallied 37 points.

"I thought Butler probably the best individual game anybody's had against us all year long," Irish Coach Muffet McGraw said.

Notre Dame held an incredible, 49-14, advantage in rebounds Sunday. It also shot 56.7 percent from the floor.

The Irish return to action Tuesday night in Iowa City against the winner of the Iowa-Miami contest.

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