TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The last time Notre Dame faced a Top 10 team on the road, it had its worst game since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013.
The fifth-ranked Fighting Irish’s game against No. 8 Florida State on Sunday was a complete reversal.
Notre Dame had a double-digit lead eight minutes into the game and didn’t let up en route to a 100-69 victory over the Seminoles. Since their 100-67 loss at Louisville on Jan. 11, the Fighting Irish have won their last five games by an average margin of 32.2 points, including four by 29 or more.
“It was a great game for us from start to finish,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “We shot the ball well and were able to go inside.”
The Fighting Irish (20-2, 8-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) shot 56.8 percent from the field (42 of 74) and dominated the paint, outscoring the Seminoles 66-24. Six of the nine Notre Dame players who saw action scored in double figures, led by Kathryn Westbeld’s 21 points and 12 rebounds.
“We learned from the Louisville game but we have moved on. We were really focused in this game on setting the tone,” said Westbeld, who had her second double-double of the season and sixth of her career. “The start to the game really got us going. This is the first game where we really have played four good quarters.”
With the exception of an Imani Wright 3-pointer, which gave the Seminoles a 3-2 lead for 19 seconds, Notre Dame led throughout. It was up 29-14 at the end of the first period after shooting 14 of 22 from the field and forcing five turnovers. Florida State shot 23.8 percent from the field (5 of 21) the first 10 minutes and was 25 of 75 for the game.
Arike Ogunbowale and Jessica Shepard each scored 19 points for the Fighting Irish, who led 48-29 at halftime and were up by as many as 34 (91-57) late in the fourth quarter.
After a one-point win at Louisville on Jan. 21, Florida State was looking for its second straight win over a Top 5 program. Instead, it allowed 100 points for the first time since Jan. 27, 2002, when it lost to Duke (102-80).
“It was a disappointing effort for us, especially on the defensive end,” coach Sue Semrau said. “They are a great offensive team and we didn’t do a good job of passing. It is always tough to come back after a week off. We showed we were not mature enough to handle it.”
Imani Wright led Florida State (18-3, 6-2) with 23 points, including five 3-pointers and Chatrice White added 14 points.
Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish remain tied with Louisville and Virginia atop the conference. It is 70-3 since joining the league in 2013-14.
Florida State: The Seminoles drew a school-record crowd of 9,498, surpassing the old mark by nearly 3,000. “I feel disappointed we were not able to play better,” Semrau said. “That is not the team we have been.”
Notre Dame is likely to remain ranked fifth when the new Top 25 poll is released on Monday afternoon. Florida State, which moved up four spots to eighth after the win at Louisville, will drop out of the Top 10 after Sunday’s loss
Florida State’s Shakayla Thomas, who had posted a double-double in two straight games, had one of her worst games of the season. She had eight points and 10 rebounds, but was 3 of 18 from the field.
The senior forward, who came into the game averaging 18.5 points, missed her first 11 shots and didn’t get her first points until making a free throw with 3:10 remaining in the second quarter.
Notre Dame: Hosts North Carolina on Thursday.
Florida State: Travel to North Carolina State on Thursday.
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