Published November 23, 2012
LOS ANGELES – Freshman Jewell Loyd had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists, Kayla McBride scored 18 points, and No. 5 Notre Dame overcame a sub-par performance by All-American Skylar Diggins to beat No. 19 UCLA 76-64 on Friday.
Diggins had 12 points, six rebounds and five assists, but shot 5 of 17 and committed four turnovers.
Natalie Achonwa had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Fighting Irish (4-0), who shot 29 of 60 (48.3 percent) to UCLA's 24 of 61 (39.3 percent).
Loyd, who shot 8 of 12 including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, made three straight baskets midway through the first half to cap a 15-2 run that put the Irish ahead for good.
Markel Walker had 21 points and nine rebounds, and Alyssia Brewer scored 10 points for the Bruins (2-1), who played without junior point guard, Thea Lemberger, sidelined by a sprained left knee. Lemberger, listed as day-to-day, had 18 points and no turnovers in 35 minutes to lead the Bruins to an 86-80 victory at then-No. 11 Oklahoma on Nov. 14.
Achonwa scored four points during an 8-2 run to start the second half, giving the Irish a 44-31 lead. UCLA drew within eight on two straight baskets by Walker, but that was as close as the Bruins would get. Notre Dame then went on another 8-2 spurt for a 57-43 lead with 10 1/2 minutes left and wasn't threatened after that.
UCLA took a 6-0 lead and extended it to 10-3, prompting a Notre Dame timeout. The Irish responded by scoring the next seven points to forge a tie.
Notre Dame's 15-2 run gave the Irish a 25-17 lead, and a 3-pointer by McBride and a layup by Diggins made it 36-25 before the Bruins scored the last four points of the first half to draw within seven.
The Irish went 35-4 last season, but became just the third team to lose back-to-back NCAA championship games when Baylor beat them 80-61 to win the title.
UCLA entered with a 5-1 record over Notre Dame at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins, 9-6 overall in the series, beat the Irish 86-83 in double overtime two years ago in South Bend, Ind.
Many in the announced crowd of 3,046 at Pauley Pavilion wore green in supporting the Irish. The top-ranked Notre Dame football team (11-0) also is in town to face Southern California on Saturday. A victory will put the Irish in the BCS title game in January.