<
>

Irish wear 'I Can't Breathe' shirts

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame's women basketball players came out for pregame warmups Saturday wearing "I Can't Breathe" shirts.

The Irish joined a growing list of teams wearing similar shirts in support of the family of Eric Garner, who died in July after a New York police officer placed him in a chokehold while trying to arrest him.

Forward Taya Reimer said the team came up with the idea after Notre Dame students conducted a die-in protest on campus this week. The players got the OK from their coach and the university to wear the shirts.

"A few of us talked about it and we thought wearing these shirts for the game would be a cool way to show our support and give our condolences to families that have lost someone," she said.

The players wore the shirts while warming up before their 70-50 win over Michigan. Starters took them off for the pregame introductions while the reserves kept them on.

Reimer said the players decided to wear the shirts because "it's an issue we're all passionate about."

"It's not an anti-law enforcement, anti-anything message," she said. "It's just showing condolence for the family, just supporting them."

Coach Muffet McGraw was pleased the players took a stand, saying her staff dressed in black to show their support.

"I was really proud of our team, especially Taya, to publicly stand for something you believe in," she said. "I think one of the things I try to teach them is you've got to fight. You've got to fight for playing time. You've got to fight to win a national championship. You have to be willing to stand up and fight and you have to be accountable."

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said he was proud of the players.

"They are students first and you want students at a university to be passionate about things, to be engaged in conversations about social issues," he said. "If there's anything I worry it's that our kids get too focused on the athletic side of it and don't do enough of the other things."

He said the university checked with the NCAA to make sure wearing the shirts, which the players had made and paid for themselves, didn't violate any rules.

McGraw has a photo hanging in her office of the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, the former school president, standing with Martin Luther King Jr. during a 1964 civil rights rally in Chicago.

"I want to have strong, confident women who are not afraid to use their voice and take a stand," she said.

Lindsay Allen scored a career-high 17 points and Jewell Loyd added 14 to lead No. 5 Notre Dame.

The Irish (10-1), coming off a loss to No. 2 Connecticut and an overtime victory at No. 25 DePaul, shot 52 percent against the Wolverines and held Michigan to 35 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.