No. 5 Notre Dame women beat Penn 76-54



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PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Kayla McBride scored 15 points and Taya Reimer added 14 to lead a balanced offense in No. 5 Notre Dame's 76-54 win over Penn on Saturday.

This was believed to be the first time a top five women's team had played at the Palestra since Connecticut faced Saint Joseph's a decade ago. It also was the Irish's first game at the historic arena in 32 years.

The game marked the return of Notre Dame forward Natalie Achonwa, who missed the first three games while recovering from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in her right knee. The senior was supposed to miss at least a month, but returned in just three weeks.

She started for the Irish (4-0) and had four points in 14 minutes.

Katy Allen and Sydney Stipanovich each scored 11 to lead Penn (0-2).

The contest was Notre Dame's first road game of the season, although it served as a homecoming for Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, who starred a few miles away at Saint Joseph's in the late 1970s.

The Irish hadn't regressed without their star forward, winning their first three games by an average of nearly 40 points. More impressively, they were averaging 50 rebounds.

Achonwa looked rusty at the beginning and Notre Dame got off to a slow start before building a 19-8 advantage midway through the first half. Just as it looked as the Irish were going to blow the game open, the Quakers rallied. Melanie Lockett's foul-line jumper with 7:33 left capped a 9-2 burst and brought Penn within 21-17.

Notre Dame led 25-20 before closing the half with nine of the final 11 points, capped by a nifty pass from Lindsay Allen to Reimer for a lay-in just before the break.

Penn cut the deficit to nine early in the second half before Notre Dame put the game away with a 15-4 run.

McGraw had many family members, friends and former teammates in the stands. The last time she was in the Philadelphia area, McGraw won her 700th career game at Villanova last season.

This was the first time that the Irish had played at the Palestra since the 1981-82 season. After the morning shootaround, the team walked the hallowed halls of the basketball cathedral and checked out the history of Philadelphia basketball. Nestled among photos of Kobe Bryant and Wilt Chamberlain, the players found the plaque commemorating McGraw's induction into the Big Five Hall of Fame in 1990.

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(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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DOUG FEINBERG

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