Notre Dame women's basketball: Irish to give Knights an early Big East test
Coach Muffet McGraw's Irish, 10-1 and ranked No. 3 in the country, hope to pull the welcome mat from underneath the Knights. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. EST.
"They're going to join the Big East, so we're excited to play them and get a little preview of what's to come," McGraw said of getting a look at Central Florida's style of play. "They're coming off of a big win over Virginia Tech. Aisha Patrick is playing really well. They have good perimeter play and good post play. Erika Jones is really strong and active around the basket. They play a lot of zone, which we haven't seen in a while."
Patrick leads the Knights in scoring, averaging 15.3 points a game. Erika Jones averages 8.6 points and 10.6 rebounds a game.
Notre Dame enters the match off of Sunday's 92-83 victory against No. 8 Kentucky.
"Coming off of a big win like that, it gives our players more motivation to keep playing well," McGraw said. "We just want to keep playing. We were playing really well before exams, and then to come back off of that and pick up right where we left off, was really good. They're excited to get back on the floor."
Notre Dame enters the game with four players in double figures for scoring and another close by. Natalie Novosel averages 16.8 a game, followed by Skylar Diggins (16.6), Kayla McBride (12.5), Devereaux Peters (10.4) and Natalie Achonwa (8.4).
War of words
Peters and Kentucky's Samarie Walker appeared to get into a heated discussion after Peters hammer-blocked a shot by Walker. Peters scored 13 points and had 13 rebounds and three blocks in the game.
"She played with a lot of passion today, as she always does," McGraw said of Peters. "She really wanted to win that game. There were some things that were said, and she wanted to respond to it. She did with a double-double."
Peters said she wasn't jawing with Walker, a Connecticut transfer who was playing in her first game for Kentucky.
"I didn't say anything to her the whole game," Peters said. "She was talking to me, and we don't take too kindly to that. She said some disrespectful things to the paper. I thought we were very respectful when talking about their team, so our team wasn't happy about that."
Walker said earlier in the week that she wished Kentucky would blow out Notre Dame by 20 points, and had plenty to say during the game.
"She didn't keep her emotions in check there in the second half," Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. "It got heated down there, and she was talking. I don't want that happening on our team. No matter what's going on, you don't need to lose your focus."
Notre Dame senior guard Natalie Novosel earned Big East Player of the Week honors for her efforts against No. 8 Kentucky. It is Novosel's first Big East Player of the Week honor. She was named Freshman of the Week twice in 2008-09.
Novosel, a preseason all-Big East selection and a nominee for the State Farm Wade Trophy, John R. Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy, scored 23 points to power the Irish past Kentucky. She ranks sixth in the Big East, averaging 16.8 points a game.
Notre Dame's victory against Kentucky was especially sweet for Novosel, who grew up in Lexington, Ky.
"This win meant a little more, Novosel said. I wanted to beat Kentucky."
McGraw was pleased that Novosel earned recognition for her efforts.
"That's exciting for her and great to finally get one," McGraw said of Novosel's Player of the Week award. "I think Skylar may have been Player of the Week once this season. It's great for Natalie, and to beat Kentucky. That's a big game for her."
Staff writer Curt Rallo: