Ang in Toledo: Irish women crush Robert Morris in NCAA Opener

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Michaela Mabrey scored 11 of her 16 points in the first half, and top-seeded Notre Dame breezed to a 93-42 victory Saturday in its NCAA tournament opener against 16th-seeded Robert Morris Saturday in Toledo.

"That was pretty much text book ideal for us," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said.

"Everyone knew you lose and you are done," Irish senior Ariel Braker, who scored 10 points, said. "That allowed us to come out with a real purpose to the game."

The 51-point margin of victory is the largest for the Irish ever in the NCAA Tournament, surpassing the 49-point margin in 2001 also in the 1st round against Alcorn State. Notre Dame went on to win the national title that season so perhaps ND's great start is a sign of things to come.

"This is our last go around--this my last chance--I lose and I'm done," explained senior Kayla McBride. "Just coming out here you can tell we had a sense of urgency--a little bit of motivation. We know what we are here to do. We have five games left to get to our ultimate goal."

Notre Dame had no trouble jumping out to an incredible start, leading 18-4 out of the gate. All five starters scored with the first five minutes of the game for ND. The Irish had no issues bouncing back from a 13 day lay off.

"We expected a little rust early on," McGraw said, impressed with her team's start. "We practiced of course all week, I thought we would be ready eventually but I was really pleased with the ability to get off to such a great start."

Notre Dame held Robert Morris to just 15 1st half points, the lowest output by an opposing Irish team this season as Notre Dame led 50-15 at halftime.

Jewell Loyd and Natalie Achonwa added 15 points each for the unbeaten Fighting Irish, who are trying for their fourth straight Final Four appearance. Notre Dame (33-0) is a No. 1 seed for the third straight season.

Notre Dame had a home court advantage just two and a half hours down the toll road from South Bend. The crowd Saturday afternoon was very pro Notre Dame in numbers and loudness.

"That was one of the reason we were super excited to be in Toledo the fact that it is close to home and close to Notre Dame," Achonwa said. "We have a lot of fans wherever we grow and were thankful to have a lot of green in the stands and their support."

The Irish will take on ninth-seeded Arizona State in the second round Monday at 6:30 at Savage Arena in Toledo. A win and the Irish return to South Bend to host the Sweet 16 next Saturday.

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