SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Second-ranked Notre Dame is making a habit of overcoming slow starts.
Three days after coming back from 12 points down to beat Tennessee by 16, the Irish started 1 for 13 from the field against Miami and fell behind by six before coming back to beat the Hurricanes 79-52 Thursday night.
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said the slow start snowballed after the Irish missed their first three shots in the opening 23 seconds.
"I think everybody got a little tight then and we needed our veterans to step up and relax and make shots," McGraw said.
The veterans actually were the ones struggling the most early as Natalie Achonwa was 1 for 5 from the floor with three turnovers in the first 5 minutes and Kayla McBride missed her first seven shots. But Achonwa finished with 23 points and nine rebounds, Lindsay Allen added a season-high 16 points and McBride had 15 as the Irish got their 21st straight home victory.
Miami coach Katie Meier was disappointed the Hurricanes couldn't take advantage of Notre Dame's struggles.
"We need to be a lot more opportunistic than that if we want to make some noise in this conference this year," she said. "I think it was an opportunity lost there a little bit in the first half."
Achonwa blamed her slow start on indecision, saying she was shooting "half floaters, half finger rolls" so she started using the backboard more.
"I think I just tried to get a better angle to the basket," she said.
Achonwa also struggled at the free throw line, going 5 for 11 in the first half and finishing 9 of 15.
"I missed the first two and then I thought about it too much," she said.
McGraw was pleased with the way her team overcame the slow start.