WBB: McBride's 'Green Light' Stops Iowa's Season
By Michael Bonner, Reporter
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Kayla McBride witnessed it first-hand Sunday. The Notre Dame junior chased Tennessee-Martin's Heather Butler for most of the first half, as the 5-foot-5 guard poured in 23 points.
McBride laughed last.
The Erie, Penn., native not only saw her team win Sunday, she led the Irish to 74-57 win on Tuesday against Iowa. To top it off, McBride finished with 28 points, a new career high, 24 of which came in the first half – one more than Butler.
"I just think it was just my teammates finding me," McBride said. "We're a very unselfish team and I was just finding open spots. They were finding me thankfully."
McBride's previous career high came earlier this year when the Irish hosted No. 3 Connecticut. McBride scored 24 against the Huskies. She finished just shy of that total eight days later when the two teams met again in the Big East Championship, scoring 23.
Overall the Fighting Irish's second leading scorer eclipsed the 20-point plateau seven times this season, five of those games came against ranked opponents or in a postseason tournament.
"She's been playing so well for us lately. She's just got a lot of confidence," Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. "She's got the green light, and she took advantage of it tonight."
McBride's green light, flashed a red light to a number of Iowa first-half runs. The first came subtly as she capped off a 8-0 Irish run with a 3-pointer that pushed her team's lead up to 13.
Notre Dame's cushion sunk below double digits three times after that. Each time McBride buried a 3-pointer on the following possession, killing any life within Carver Hawkeye Arena.
"It's a good feeling, but we knew they were going to come out with a lot of energy," McBride said. "(We wanted) to take the crowd out early. We knew they were going to stick around. They're a tough team. We knew they weren't going to go down that easy. We just had to have an answer for every run they had."
The Hawkeyes limited McBride to four points in the second half, but the damage was done. The guard's 8 for 13 shooting performance for 24 points in the first 20 minutes gave Notre Dame the lead it needed to run away with the game in the final 20.
"She wasn't shooting that great from 3-point range coming into this game," Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. "But we proved to everybody that she certainly is somebody that needs to be reckoned with outside."
McBride leaves Iowa City having scored 50 points in the first and second round of the NCAA Tournament. The production came on 20 of 33 shooting including 5 of 9 from beyond the arc. She didn't miss a free throw going a perfect 6 of 6.
She now has finished with at least 20 points in three straight and six of the last eight, proving when the stakes rise, so does McBride's game.
"They NCAA Tournament, you always feel good being here," McBride said. "We knew it's a big game, everybody is one and done. Everyone has to have their best game every night. And everybody is going to bring their best game every night. So you just have to come out there and play my game."
Notre Dame 74, Iowa 57
Game Ball: Kayla McBride -- The Notre Dame junior finished with a career high 28 points, including 24 in the first half. She had an answer every time Iowa tried to make a run in the first. Twice she buried 3s to end an Iowa run and return the crowd to its seats.
Lame Ball: Melissa Dixon -- The Iowa sophomore couldn't rekindle the shooting streak she had against Miami. She finished with 3 points on 1 of 10 shooting and 0 for 6 from 3.
Light the Victory Cigar: 5:29 2nd -- Skylar Diggins cuts back door and convert a layup while drawing the foul. The All-American makes the free throw and put Notre Dame up 20.
Watercooler Stat: Notre Dame went a stretch of 5:30 in the middle of the second half without recording a field goal. During that stretch Iowa only managed to slice six points of its deficit.
Big Number: 0 -- Number of 3s the Hawkeyes made. The team went 0 for 11 overall.