Notre Dame senior guard Mallory is used to big challenges in women's basketball
Those free throws allowed the underdog Utes to close to within 49-43 of the No. 2 seed Fighting Irish.
Those free throws would also be Rodrigues' last points.
Irish coach Muffet McGraw switched senior guard Brittany Mallory onto Rodrigues, and it switched off the Utes' offense. Rodrigues would get only one more shot in the final 10:06 as Notre Dame wrapped up a 67-54 victory to earn its way into a second-round game against Temple.
"I take it personally," Mallory said of playing tenacious defense. "I don't like getting scored on. I need to do whatever I can to help my team. If that means going out on the defensive end and giving all I've got … I always do whatever for the team."
Mallory, a 5-foot-10 senior who is expected to return for a red-shirt year next season, has been Notre Dame's defensive ace, taking on everyone from 6-4 posts to speedy sharpshooters.
"I don't want to let my team down," Mallory said. "I don't want to let whoever I'm guarding to get 25 points. I watch film and learn their tendencies and then just go out and play."
Irish associate head coach Jonathan Tsipis said Mallory's athletic background in lacrosse has enabled her to emerge as a defensive specialist.
"I think the lacrosse mentality has always helped her, because she's fearless," Tsipis said. "She didn't have to be a defensive stopper. I think playing behind Ashley Barlow helped her see things. I think one of the things that Brittany's really realized is that you don't have to be the fastest, strongest, quickest player to be a really good defender. She's really smart. I think she anticipates and she uses her strength.''
Notre Dame sophomore Skylar Diggins, a former South Bend Washington High School star, needs only 27 points to reach the 1,000-point mark in her career.
She's been heating it up offensively as of late. The 5-foot-9 point guard averages 14.4 points a game, but has averaged 16.6 points in her last nine contests.
If Diggins hits the 1,000-point mark, she will be the second Irish sophomore to reach that coveted milestone. Beth Morgan, the program's all-time leading scorer, had exactly 1,000 points when her sophomore season ended.
Notre Dame post Devereaux Peters has been the Sultan of Swat for the Irish this season, sending 62 opponents' shots in reverse.
She put the brakes on Utah's offense with four blocked shots, all in the second half.
"Devereaux saves a lot of us," Irish guard Skylar Diggins said. "Her rotation has gotten better and better. She's a great timer. She knows how to time her shots.
"... She gets her hands on a lot of basketballs. That really affects the offense and helps us get into transition faster. She's tapping them, and now she's tapping them and catching them, instead of knocking them out of bounds. So that really helps us in being able to get out and go in transition."
Staff writer Curt Rallo: