SOUTH BEND – Kayla McBride scored 17 of her 19 points in the first half as No. 2 Notre Dame jumped to an early 23-point lead and beat Cincinnati 64-42 on Saturday for its 15th straight victory.
The winning streak matches the fourth-longest in school history, also accomplished in 2009-10 and 1990-91. The victory also was the 699th career win in 31 seasons for coach Muffet McGraw, 26 coaching Notre Dame (20-1, 8-0 Big East). Cincinnati (8-13, 0-8) fell to 0-9 all-time against the Irish.
Kayla Cook led the Bearcats with 12 points. Dayeesha Hollins, the Bearcats leading scorer at 15.4 points game, was held to a season-low six points.
Kaila Turner added 11 points for the Irish, who outshot Cincinnati 50 percent to 35 percent and had a 38-24 rebounding advantage.
McBride had been in a shooting slump, making just 4 of 18 shots against Tennessee on Monday and missing all five shots the previous game against Providence, but she got going early against Cincinnati. She made the game’s first basket a minute in on a jumper and twice made three straight baskets for the Irish. The first time came as the Bearcats missed their first nine shots, falling behind 10-0 when McBride scored on a rebound and then hit a 17-foot jumper.
Lesha Dunn finally ended Cincinnati’s scoreless streak with a jumper, but McBride answered quickly with a backdoor layup on a pass from Skylar Diggins. After the Bearcats cut the lead to 14-8 on a pair of free throws by Dayeesha Hollins, McBride hit three straight jumpers to spark a 17-2 run. McBride capped the run with a three-pointer that gave the Irish a 31-10 lead.
The Irish later extended the lead to 35-12 on a free throw by Jewell Loyd with 2:15 left in the first and led 37-15 at halftime.
The Bearcats opened the second half on an 8-2 run, cutting the lead to 39-23 on a baseline jumper by Dunn. But Kayla Turner hit a three-pointer to get the Irish going again, sparking a 14-0 run. The Irish scored the last six from the free throw line. Cincinnati used a 12-2 run to close to 55-35 on a basket inside by Hollins with 4:10 left. But the Bearcats couldn’t get any closer.
The Irish wore uniforms with pink trim, socks and shoes as part of the Pink Zone initiative, a program aimed at raising awareness of breast cancer. Notre Dame had a sellout crowd of 9,149 for the seventh straight game and the ninth time this season, a record for the Irish.