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    Notre Dame Cruises Past Liberty, 74-43

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    One down. Five to go.

    On Sunday afternoon at Purcell Pavilion, the Notre Dame women's basketball team moved one step closer to its championship dream with a 74-43 victory over #16 seed Liberty in a first round NCAA tournament game.

    The crowd was a bit smaller than at some regular season games, but the lime green faithful made up for it in volume, as head coach Muffet McGraw's team rolled to its 31st win of the season.

    The Fighting Irish dominated the Lady Flames from the start, jumping out to a 20-8 lead at the first media timeout and forcing 17 turnovers in the first half.

    Sophomore guard Kayla McBride led the Irish offense with 15 points, while senior Natalie Novosel added 12 and fifth-year forward Devereaux Peters scored 10. The Purcell Pavilion crowd erupted when 5-foot-4 freshman Whitney Holloway's layup with nine seconds left made her the tenth Notre Dame player to score in the game.

    Liberty's +16.4 rebound margin ranks the Lady Flames first in the nation in that category, but Notre Dame controlled the game on the boards, 38-29, led by Skylar Diggins' nine rebounds. The Fighting Irish also dominated the game down low, scoring 44 points in the paint.

    Notre Dame got win #31 with relative ease, but will not be satisfied until victory #36. The Irish will meet eighth-seeded California in second round action on Tuesday evening at 7 pm ET, after the Golden Bears defeated Iowa in an exciting first game of the afternoon, 84-74.

    Catch the game on ESPN2 as Notre Dame looks to book its ticket to Raleigh and the Sweet 16.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

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