Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2014 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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SECOND HELPINGS Sophomores Jewell Loyd and Michaela Mabrey have elevated their play in year two I BY LOU SOMOGYI f there is such a thing as a "sophomore jinx," Jewell Loyd pleads ignorance. Last year 's USBWA National Freshman of The Year is playing at a level that is making her a bona fide All-America candidate for the No. 2-ranked and 10-0 Fighting Irish. During back-to-back victories at Michigan Dec. 14 (86-64) and home Dec. 22 versus Central Michigan (10672), Loyd converted 10 of 14 and 12 of 15 field goals, respectively. Alleyoops, full-court drives, three-pointers, coming off ball screens, low-post moves, crossovers, fade-aways, dribble penetration … you name it, the 5-10 guard will score it, averaging a team-high 18.5 points per game in a well-balanced attack that has seniors Kayla McBride (14.4) and Natalie Achonwa (12.4), sophomore Michaela Mabrey (11.1) and freshman forward Taya Reimer (10.2) also in double digits, with freshman guard Lindsay Allen (8.9) not far behind. Loyd's exceptional leaping skills and instincts also have made her second in rebounding with 7.1 per game — plus she is the team's best defender. "Simply amazing," Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said after the win over the Chippewas in which Loyd tallied a career-high 30 points to go with 11 boards. "… You can't really guard her one-on-one. When she gets the ball and a head of steam going down the floor, she's pretty much unstoppable." Graduated three-time All-American Skylar Diggins groomed Loyd to become the next Irish mega-star, and the sophomore is seizing the opportunity. "It definitely helps when you have teammates telling you to shoot," Loyd said. "… You have to stay confident on the floor. You're going to miss shots, but you just keep shooting, and [when] you have the belief of your coaches and team on your side, it helps a lot." Better shot selection and more strength underneath have combined to make Loyd a threat along the pe-

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