2:00 PM ET, December 1, 2013
MATTAMY ATHLETIC CENTRE, Toronto, Ontario
TORONTO -- Natalie Achonwa joked that her Notre Dame teammates say she is from the whole country of Canada, not just from her hometown of Guelph or the province of Ontario.
The Canadian-born senior had 11 points and 10 rebounds to help No. 5 Notre Dame rout Duquesne 100-61 on Sunday at Ryerson University.
"Playing the national anthems for both countries was really an emotional moment," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "I thought that was a great thing, and I'm really glad we were able to come and bring Natalie home."
Achonwa, who has played on the Canadian national team and grew up in the area, was thrilled to share Notre Dame basketball with family and friends.
The energy level in the gym was audibly different when she took an elbow to the eye at 5:52 of the second half and limped off the court. Achonwa returned to cheers from the crowd after the gash was treated to record her 21st career double-double.
The Olympian hoped young players with NCAA ambitions were among the sellout crowd of 933 at Mattamy Athletic Centre.
"It makes me really happy," Achonwa said of basketball's growth in Canada. "When I was going through the recruiting process, I didn't get to see other Canadians firsthand who had gone to the NCAA and had been successful."
Achonwa is the first international player in the Notre Dame program's 37-year history. She reached the 1,000-point milestone as a junior.
Kayla McBride scored 13 of her 22 points in the first half to help the Irish take a 47-22 lead at the break. She and Jewell Loyd combined for 11 points during a 17-4 run to open the second half that put the game away. McBride credited work in the gym for Notre Dame's aggressive attack. The team was 42 for 69 and held a 43-29 edge in rebounds.
"It's very obvious to see that (Notre Dame) is just so physical with you. I was hoping to keep the rebound totals close because they do rebound the ball so exceptionally well," Dukes coach Dan Burt said.
The teams met for the first time in two decades, last playing a pair of games in 1993. The Irish are 3-0 in the renewed series.
"When we scheduled this game over two years ago, we wanted to challenge our program and see where our program was," Burt said. "I'm disappointed in our showing today, but I still believe we have a very good basketball team."
Forward Wumi Agunbiade, an Ontario native, led the Dukes with 23 points. She had 14 of the team's 22 points in the first half. She is one of four Canadians on the Duquesne roster with Oditte Odisho, Jose-Ann Johnson and Brianna Thomas.
"It's so rare for the international kid to get that opportunity to go home and play in front of their family and friends," Burt said. "As a senior at Duquesne University, you can count on being able to go back to your hometown to play."
Fellow senior Orsi Szecsi scored 20 with seven rebounds, but the rest of the Dukes were largely unproductive. Duquesne's reserved added just five points.
"(Wumi's) a very good basketball player. Unfortunately we didn't have the crew around her to give her some support."
Burt would like to return to Toronto for Johnson and Odisho's final season in 2014.
As the court was stripped of its NCAA markings, McGraw again praised her class of seniors.
"We'll see at the end of the year it's the best in school history," she said.
From the other end of the podium, McBride whispered to Achonwa: "Yes, it is."
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||19-55 (.345)||42-69 (.609)|
|3P Made-Attempted||1-9 (.111)||5-9 (.556)|
|FT Made-Attempted||22-29 (.759)||11-17 (.647)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||18 (0/0)||26 (0/0)|