On a frigid Monday night, as the temperature was dipping below zero outside, Notre Dame finally heated up after a three-game losing streak to rout visiting Central Catholic 60-36 in Three Rivers Athletic Conference girls basketball.
Freshman guard Mariah Copeland hit all five of her 3-pointers — part of her game-high 19 points — as the Eagles jumped out to a 20-4 lead after one quarter and never looked back.
PHOTO GALLERY: Eagles defeat Lady Irish
“I was just happy my teammates found me and we were able to get good shots off of it,” Copeland said. “It’s good to win after three losses. We were kind of down, but today we picked it back up.
“My teammates and my coaches tell me there’s no pressure on me, and to just let it fly.”
The Eagles (10-3, 7-1 TRAC) also got 13 points and 17 rebounds from junior center Kaayla McIntyre and 11 points from junior guard-forward Tierra Floyd.
“That was the first time this group has lost three games in a row, and it was great to see them bounce back,” said Eagles coach Travis Galloway, whose team has reached the Division I state semifinals the past two seasons. “They did a tremendous job. They stayed focused the whole game, and they came out with the victory. They came in Friday [to practice after the Whitmer loss] as loose as can be, and ready to get better. They knew they had to get better.”
Notre Dame had opened the season 9-0 overall, but had lost two games at the Classic in the Country Invitational — to top-ranked Mason and third-ranked, defending Division I state champion Kettering Fairmont — over the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday weekend.
The Eagles then absorbed their first TRAC loss in three seasons, after 34 consecutive conference wins, last Thursday night at Whitmer.
“I was at a loss for words trying to keep their confidence up,” Galloway said. “So, I’ll give the kids credit, they never wavered from each other. They got even closer, and tonight they came out on top.”
Still playing without senior team leader Jayda Worthy, the Eagles pounced on the Irish (10-4, 5-3) from the outset, sparked by the early penetration of junior point guard Christiana Jefferson (eight points).
Notre Dame hit nine of its 16 first-quarter shots, with Copeland notching 10 of the Eagles’ 20 points.
The Eagles then settled in to more of an inside focus offensively as the game progressed, and Central had no answer for McIntyre in the paint.
“I know my team needs me to rebound, and when I crash [the boards], that opens up more for my teammates,” McIntyre said. “It feels good to get a win. We had been working in the gym after those losses, and we had to put it behind us.
“Tonight was a good win, and we have to keep getting better. Losing to Whitmer kind of woke us up.”
ND led by as many as 21 points in the second quarter before going to halftime up 33-16.
“We got outplayed, outhustled, and outtoughed,” Central coach Marty McGurk said.
With Copeland hitting a 3-pointer for her final points of the night just before the third-quarter buzzer, the Eagles took a 48-29 lead to the fourth, then cruised down the stretch.
Notre Dame was 24 of 55 (44 percent) from the field, 7 of 12 from the foul line, and dominated Central 45-29 in rebounding. The cold-shooting Irish were 12 of 50 (24 percent) from the field, 11 of 17 from the line, and committed 12 turnovers while forcing 11.
Byrdy Galernik topped the Irish with 10 points, and sub Kiana McClendon was next with seven points for Central.
Fostoria St. Wendelin 47, Cardinal Stritch 27
FOSTORIA — Kamryn Troike scored 20 points to lead the Mohawks (10-4), while Allie Rutter added 10.
For the Cardinals (6-9), Kama Hardy, Kali Hardy and CeCe Gozdowski each had six points.