Notre Dame 76, UCLA 64

Skylar Diggins drives up the court in the second half.

Jewell Loyd prepares to make a pass. The freshman finished with a team-high 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.

UCLA came to play today.

They began with suffocating defense and jumped out to a 6-0 lead before Notre Dame could return the favor. It wasn’t until late in the first half that the Irish seemed to wake up, and a 15-2 run finally put them ahead. They lead 36-29 at halftime.

Notre Dame began the second period on an 8-2 run, stretching the lead to 13. They maintained a comfortable cushion throughout the rest of the contest, despite tough play from the Bruins, who were missing key player Thea Lemberger.

Markel Walker lead UCLA with 21 points, nine rebounds, three assists and four steals. Freshman Jewell Loyd headed up the Irish efforts wtih 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Box score.

My full photo gallery, including the two pictures above.

Game notes:

– UCLA senior guard Mariah Williams did a great job defending Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins. Coaches of both teams acknowledged the effort to the Associated Press.
– Jewell Loyd made a big impression on me in the WBCA High School All-Star Game at the Final Four last April. She impressed me again today when she started, and was the top point-getter for the Irish. She is a complete player – does it all.
– The Bruins are a tough team. If they keep working and stay healthy, they could get to the NCAA tourney.
– The Irish are learning to cope with being a shorter team. They don’t have Devereaux Peters, and are noticeably shorter. But players are stepping up to fill the gap.
– The game was well-attended, including lots of green-clad Notre Dame fans. They were very polite.
– Musical artist/rapper Common was in the house to see Diggins and Notre Dame (see photo gallery). While he was waiting for the Irish to come out of the locker room post-game, fans were hitting him up for pictures and autographs. It was a humorous scene.
– Notre Dame is reportedly staying in town through tomorrow night so they can see their school’s football team play.