SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- When the shots weren't falling in the first half, Jewell Loyd and No. 2 Notre Dame picked it up on the defensive end.
Up by just four points at halftime on Clemson, the Irish used a 17-4 run out of the break to take control in their ACC debut, a 71-51 win over the Tigers on Sunday.
Clemson hit just one of its first eight shots in the second half, and Loyd had a three-point play and a 3-pointer during the decisive Irish run.
"I was just trying to get it done on defense," said Loyd, who scored 12 of her 16 points in the second half. "We just weren't making shots. Maybe we were just trying to force it, but we'll make those shots with our eyes closed tomorrow."
After shooting just 28 percent in the first half, Notre Dame shot it at a 63 percent clip in the second half.
Natalie Achonwa had 15 points and 13 rebounds and Kayla McBride added 16 points for the Irish (13-0, 1-0 ACC) to extend their regular-season winning streak to 36 games, and home winning streak to 19.
When the Irish needed a basket, they looked to Achonwa down low. Notre Dame finished with 42 points in the paint.
"I thought (Achonwa) really came ready to play," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "She was the only one that I thought had a lot of energy and was really on her game."
Kelly Gramlich led Clemson with 13 points. The Tigers (8-7, 0-1) lost for the fourth time in their last six games after winning five straight. They also learned they would have to spend an extra day in South Bend due to cancelled travel plans caused by heavy snow in the area.
Nikki Dixon averaged 19.7 points in Clemson's last three games, but she picked up her fourth foul on a Loyd offensive putback early in the second half and sat for nearly eight minutes. Dixon then fouled out with 5:36 to play and finished with just five points.
That fifth foul led to a McBride three-point play that pushed Notre Dame's lead to 16 points.
Due to a combination of injuries and roster attrition, Clemson only dressed eight players and tried to slow down the high-scoring Irish by running the shot clock under 10 on most possessions.
"The game plan going in was to slow the ball, take some air out of the basketball and slow them down in transition," said Clemson coach Audra Smith. "I felt our foul trouble really hurt because they started executing better offensively."
The deliberate pace seemed to affect Notre Dame, which came in leading the nation in field goal percentage at 51.4 percent, but missed a number of point-blank layups and looked out of sync for much of the first 20 minutes.
"I think we really just got sucked into their pace," McGraw said.
Lindsay Allen's steal and layup with two minutes left before halftime put the Irish up 27-23. McBride and Loyd, Notre Dame's top two scorers, were just 3 of 14 combined.
"Halftime was frustrating," McGraw said. "You looked at the stats and saw a lot of one-for-something on the shooting column."
McGraw decided against a fiery halftime pep talk, choosing instead to try and ease her tight team, but she admitted that wasn't easy.
"When you miss a lot of shots, I think you get a little tense, so I was trying not to make it more tense than it was," McGraw said. "There was a lot of deep breaths to get to that point."
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