With Skylar Diggins gone to graduation and forward Natalie Achonwa out at least a month with a torn meniscus, Notre Dame entered Saturday's season opener with some uncertainty.
That quickly disappeared as they jumped out to a 19-7 lead over the first seven minutes en route to a 99-50 blowout of UNC Wilmington. Notre Dame dominated the undersized Seahawks on the boards, outrebounding them 52-24 and outscoring them 58-24 in the paint and 16-0 off fastbreaks.
Jewell Loyd and reserve Michaela Mabrey led the Irish with 19 points each, followed by 17 points from Kayla McBride, who left the game early because of the lopsided margin. Notre Dame was never threatened by UNC Wilmington.
"We did shoot the ball well," said McGraw of her team's 63 percent shooting. "We got a lot of lay-ups, but I thought Michaela and Jewell shot it pretty well. I thought offensively we executed really well. We got good shots and we were able to make them.
It was a career-high scoring performance for Mabrey.
"She seems to be playing with more confidence," said Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw. "She's looking to score more and we're encouraging her to shoot it more. She's always been a really good passer."
McGraw added that she was impressed with Loyd and McBride. "I thought they looked in mid-season form. I thought the freshman Lindsay Allen came out and played extremely well the first game of her career. She shot the ball well and did a nice job defensively."
Indiana St 82, Ball St 73: Dawon Cummings sank a half dozen 3-pointers to lead Indiana State to a win over Ball State.
Cummings, who was 7 of 10 for 21 points, also grabbed two steals and a rebound.
The Sycamores extended their series streak to three over Ball State with 56 percent shooting from the field and 85 percent from the free throw line. Three more Sycamores joined Cummings in double digits: Jake Odum with 17 points, Manny Arop with 14, and Justin Gant with 11 and five rebounds.
Ball State, looking to give new coach James Whitford a season opening win, trailed the entire game. Jesse Berry scored 23 points, with two steals and a rebound, while Zavier Turner went 6 of 13 for 17 points.
Dayton 81, IPFW 80: Jordan Sibert hit the buzzer-beating 3-pointer to become the hero in his first game in a Dayton uniform. Sibert became eligible after transferring from Ohio State and sitting out a year.
Pierre Bland led IPFW with 18 points, and Steve Forbes had 17.
DePaul 96, Grambling State 58: Freshman Tommy Hamilton IV scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in his college debut to help the DePaul Blue Demons to a victory over Grambling State in their season opener at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
Senior Cleveland Melvin added a team-high 17 points for the Blue Demons, knocking down all five of his 3-point attempts.
A'Torri Shine had a game-high 21 points for Grambling State, which dropped its 29th straight game.
Chicago St 77, Urbana 52: Quinton Pippen scored 16 points, and Clarke Rosenberg added 11 to lead Chicago State (1-1) past Division-II Urbana.
News and notes
Crusaders host North Park today: Valparaiso looks to make it two consecutive home wins to open the season as it hosts North Park at 1:35 p.m. today.
The game is the last home contest before Valpo goes on the road for its next three games.
Valpo and North Park have met just once before, a game the Crusaders won 78-47 Dec. 30, 2008, in Valpo.
Indiana State alum Bird honored with statue: Indiana State University officials unveiled a bronze statue of, what they call, the school's most famous alum.
The statue of former Sycamores basketball star Larry Bird stands just over 17-feet tall. The statue of Bird, wearing a Sycamores jersey, is in the middle of a jump shot, reminding fans of the greatest years in Sycamores basketball.
Members of Indiana State's 1979 NCAA national runner-up team along with several of Bird's Boston Celtics teammates attended a dedication ceremony Saturday morning outside the Hulman Center, where Indiana State plays its home basketball games and where the statue will greet fans before each game.
Indiana State students organized fundraising efforts for the statue and founded the Larry Legend Foundation. They created a scholarship in Bird's honor, which raised nearly $400,000 at a fundraising dinner on Friday.