Jewell Loyd’s 18 points led four players in double figures as defending champion and top-seeded Notre Dame eased by Florida State 71-58 in the championship game of the ACC women’s basketball tournament at Greensboro Coliseum.
Taya Reimer added 16 points for the Irish, and Madison Cable chipped in 13 and Brianna Turner 10. Loyd was named MVP with Turner joining her on the all-tournament first team. Reimer and Cable made the second team.
Notre Dame (31-2), which had won its regular-season meeting 74-68 on Jan. 2 in South Bend, earned the conference’s automatic bid and will have a No. 1 seed and play at home in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m really proud of this team for where we came from to win this,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “To go through the league with just one loss was a remarkable accomplishment. We had so many new pieces to fit together, and I think with Jewell’s leadership we were able to get a little bit better in every game. This was the best game we’ve played all year.”
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Second-seeded FSU (29-4), which was playing in the ACC final for the first time, also will have an NCAA bid with two games on its home court.
Maegan Conwright had 14 points, Leticia Romero 13 and Adut Bulgak 10 for the Seminoles. Shakayla Thomas made the first team for FSU, and Romero was on the second.
“Notre Dame is a tough, tough basketball team,” Florida State coach Sue Semrau said. “I thought they played extremely well. They put us in tough positions defensively and made big plays. This experience will be a great teacher for us.”
Notre Dame shot 51.7 percent from the floor to FSU’s 36.8, won the rebound battle 39-27 and each team committed 16 turnovers.
“Maddie is the real MVP,” said Loyd, who was also the ACC’s regular-season MVP. “She’s dedicated, she risks her body and she always brings energy no matter what. She’s tough.”
Sunday’s final was the second since the event moved to Greensboro in 2000 (Maryland vs. Georgia Tech in 2012) in which no North Carolina school was involved. The only previous final that did not include a charter member of the ACC had Virginia playing Georgia Tech in 1992 in Rock Hill, S.C.
Others named first-team all-tournament were Duke’s Elizabeth Williams and Wake Forest’s Dearica Hamby. Also named to the second team were North Carolina’s Stephanie Mavunga and Virginia Tech’s Vanessa Panousis.
The ACC will get multiple bids to the NCAA Tournament as usual. Duke and UNC are locks for the field and seem likely to host first- and second- round games. Louisville and Syracuse will be comfortably in the field, and Pittsburgh and Miami are highly probable participants. N.C. State is bound for the WNIT. The complete field for the NCAA Tournament will be announced March 16.