University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes prepare for another powerhouse in No. 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

University of Miami women’s basketball coach Katie Meier already had a tough task, having to prepare for Atlantic Coast Conference rivals and perennial powers Duke, North Carolina and Maryland every year.

Now, there’s another heavy hitter in the conference — No. 2 Notre Dame (17-0, 4-0 ACC), which the Hurricanes (11-7, 3-2) play on the road Thursday night.

“It’s really amazing how many great teams are in this league,” Meier said Wednesday as the team prepared to fly to South Bend. “We’ve got seven teams in the Top 25, and four in the Top 10. It’s really exciting. I happen to have a ton of respect for the Notre Dame program, and love how they play.”

The Irish are coming off an 86-70 road win against No. 11 Tennessee in which five Notre Dame players scored in double figures. Leading the way was Kayla McBride with 22 points and seven assists. The Irish combined for 23 assists and turned the ball over only 12 times.

Notre Dame is off to its second-best start in program history, topped only by the 2000-01 Fighting Irish team that began its season at 23-0.

The Irish are 4-0 against ranked opponents this season and 31-5 against Top 25 teams since the start of the 2011-12 season. They have won 40 consecutive regular season games.

The key to their success, said Meier, is offensive efficiency.

“They can change their personality in the course of two time outs, going from an athletic, fast, slashing team to a thick, strong, spot-up shooting team,” Meier said. “If you’re not on your game, it can get really, really tough to beat them. It’s so hard to keep them even in the 70s, definitely our toughest defensive assignment of the season.”

Meier hopes for another big scoring night from Krystal Saunders, who had a career-high 22 in an 80-71 win over No. 20 North Carolina State, and Maria Brown and Suriya McGuire, who have found their form in recent weeks.