Notre Dame women's basketball: Irish spoil showdown
No. 3 ND saps drama out of Purdue rivalry
No. 3-ranked Notre Dame hammered No. 12 Purdue, 66-38, Saturday
afternoon in women’s college basketball action.
Senior guard Natalie Novosel led the Irish with 17 points in what
turned out to be the most lopsided final margin in the rivalry’s 25
Devereaux Peters scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Natalie
Achonwa scored 11 points and had six rebounds. Skylar Diggins scored
nine points and had seven assists and six rebounds.
“I think we were really ready for the game,” Notre Dame head coach
Muffet McGraw understated. “I think we’ve been playing well. I think
our intensity has been good.
“This win, it’s a great win for us over a ranked team on the road.
It’s big for the NCAA Tournament (seeding). They’re coming off a big
win over Texas A&M, a team we were happy to see lose here. We wanted
to make a statement about that, too.”
The Irish (9-1) will spend the upcoming week hitting the books before
they hit the court next Sunday, Dec. 18, to play No. 10 Kentucky at
Purcell Pavilion (1 p.m., ESPNU).
Purdue, coached by former Mishawaka High School great Sharon Versyp,
has to shake off the loss to the Irish in a hurry. The Boilermakers
(7-2) host Central Michigan on Sunday, less than 24 hours after the
thumping by Notre Dame.
Notre Dame won its sixth game in a row against the Boilermakers,
cutting Purdue’s lead in the series down to 14-11.
It was also only the third time the Irish have walked off the Mackey
Arena court with a victory, with Purdue winning the other eight
meetings in West Lafayette.
Notre Dame’s defense held Purdue to its lowest point total in the
series. The previous Boilermaker low against the Irish came in a 61-48
loss in 2007.
McGraw saw her Irish impose their will quickly. Notre Dame hit the
Boilermakers with a 17-0 run in the first half, zooming from an 8-5
lead to a 25-5 command. The Irish led 36-17 at halftime, and kept up
the pressure. Notre Dame tore into Purdue for a 20-4 run early in the
second half in forging a 33-point lead, 56-23.
In limiting Purdue to 17 points in the first half and 21 points in the
second half, Notre Dame continued an impressive defensive run. The
Irish have limited opponents to 23 or fewer points in eight of their
last nine halves.
Diggins set the tone early. She had eight points, two assists and one
block as the Irish stormed to a 16-5 lead. Diggins also helped the
Irish set the tone defensively.
Notre Dame forced 24 turnovers, and harassed Purdue into 24 percent
shooting (13-of-54). Subtract Courtney Moses’ 5-of-13 shooting, and
the other four Purdue starters were a combined 2-of-19.
“We really tried to put pressure on them early,” Diggins said of
attacking Purdue. “We know that they have really quick guards. We were
trying to get early traps when we were rotating and make them take
some time off the clock.”
Notre Dame scored 30 points in the paint compared to Purdue’s 12. Led
by Peters’ 11 boards, the Irish outrebounded Purdue, 47-32.
“We moved the ball around a lot on the outside, and we worked the high
low,” Peters said. “We were getting open shots inside after that. That
open shot inside helps the guards as well. We went inside early. We
missed a few right off the bat, but the guards kept looking for us
Versyp said that she was disappointed in her team’s performance,
especially during Notre Dame’s 17-0 first-half run in which the
Boilermakers went 7:32 in the first half. The Boilers went 7:52 in the
second half without a field goal.
“We missed four wide open layups with a little contact,” Versyp said
of the first-half drought. “You’ve got to finish. That’s what they
did. We’re a team that will feed off one another. If we’re bad, we’ll
continue to be bad.
“If we end up doing well, then we feed off one another. But we had
some wide-open shots and didn’t knock them down. At home, you should
be able to do that. That pretty much took it away. We were just flat.
There was no energy, no communication by anybody up here who was
sitting next to me.”
Notre Dame reached a pair of program benchmarks Saturday. It was ND’s
largest margin of victory against a Top 25 team on the road, battering
an 83-56 win at No. 19 Wisconsin on Nov. 22, 2000. It was also the
fewest points allowed against a Top 25 team on the road. The old
record came in a 54-47 win at No. 25 Boston College on Feb. 15, 2005.
Staff writer Curt Rallo: email@example.com 574-235-6152