SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Duke jumped out to a great start against Notre Dame but couldn't sustain it against the dominant Irish.
The No. 10 Blue Devils scored 14 of the first 19 points before losing to the fourth-ranked Irish 63-50 on Monday night.
Duke outrebounded Notre Dame 45-37 and held the Irish well below their season average of 84.9 points.
"I think at times we were strong and dominant, but at other times I think it waned a bit," said Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie.
She credited Notre Dame for rallying when they needed to, especially pointing to the play of Jewell Loyd, who led all scorers with 21 points.
"She made some big shots," McCallie said. "Without her big shots, the game could have gone either way. She's terrific and she probably could play in the (WNBA) right now. Not that she should, but she has that capability. She was the difference in the game."
Loyd also played stellar defense on Rebecca Greenwell. Duke's star freshman came into the game averaging 14.2 points. She only had four against the Irish thanks to Loyd's defense.
"I thought her defensive intensity and focus was phenomenal," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said of Loyd. "She did not let her touch the ball. She face-guarded her, fought through screens."
Loyd said she has worked on becoming a more vocal leader this year.
"I'm more passionate," Loyd said. "I want it more. When I get out on the floor I just want to have fun. I want to compete every single night. I think I told our team after their first run, that's it, that's all they're getting."
Duke missed all 12 of their 3-point attempts, the first time this season they've gone scoreless from beyond the arc.
"Always time for a first, I guess," McCallie said. "Horrible. Terrible. They need to smarten up, get the ball inside."
Duke (19-7, 10-3) came out strong, building a 14-5 lead over the first 5:31. The nation's rebounding margin leaders asserted themselves early on the offensive glass, grabbing the game's first six rebounds.
Notre Dame went on a 14-5 run over the final 10:17 of the first half to take a 34-24 lead into the break. During that stretch, Duke hit just two of nine attempts from the field.
A 6-0 Duke run to start the second half trimmed the lead to 34-30 but an 11-0 Irish spurt over a 4:02 span gave Notre Dame their largest lead at 19 with 11:05 left.
Elizabeth Williams scored 18 points to lead Duke, which is in a stretch of four road contests in its final five games before the ACC tournament. Williams said it's important for the Blue Devils to finish strong in February.
"Games on the road are preparation for the NCAA tournament for us because we are going to be on the road most of the time," said Williams. "Obviously we did not do some of the things we wanted to do today but the next couple of games will be very important for us."
TIP-INS: Duke: The Blue Devils entered the game ranked fifth nationally in field goal percentage defense, at 33.7 percent. Notre Dame shot 40 percent on the game.
Notre Dame: Former player Karen Robinson Keyes and her husband Kevin have donated $5 million to endow the position of women's basketball coach, making it the first endowed coaching position at the school. Keyes played for the Irish under coach McGraw from 1987-91, leading Notre Dame to its first top-20 ranking her senior year.