Jan. 13, 2008
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - Meg Bulger scored 17 points and Yinka Sanni added 15 as No. 16 West Virginia held off No. 14 Notre Dame 56-50 Sunday.
The Mountaineers led 31-11 at the half, holding the Irish to a school-record low in first-half scoring.
It was West Virginia's second win over Notre Dame in 17 games. The Irish (13-3, 1-1 BIG EAST) lost to a ranked foe for the third time in as many games this season, accounting for all of its losses.
WVU (12-3, 2-1) also snapped Notre Dame's six-game road winning streak, its longest since its national championship season in 2001.
West Virginia led by 12 with four minutes left when Notre Dame made its run. Mallory made two 3-pointers and Allen added another, and the Irish made two free throws to trail 46-45 with 1:22 remaining.
But in the final 80 seconds, Bulger started a scoring spree with two free throws. The Irish never got any closer than two points.
West Virginia's defense helped force 18 turnovers, 11 in the first eight minutes, for an early 17-4 lead.
The Irish missed 23 of the first 29 shots, often attempting off-balance and fade away shots as the clock ran down. That changed in the second half, when they began to drive to the basket.
Notre Dame finished 13 of 53 from the field (24.5 percent), its worst shooting performance of the season. The Irish had shot better than 50 percent in six of its 15 games.
POST GAME NOTES: All three of Notre Dame's losses have come at the hands of Top 25 opponents, including two on the road (at #3 Maryland, vs. #3 Tennessee, at #16 West Virginia) ... the Irish also saw their six-game road winning streak snapped, losing away from the Joyce Center for only the second time in eight games this season ... for the second time in three seasons, Notre Dame nearly pulled off the biggest comeback in school history, challenging the mark of 16 points, set against Connecticut on March 30, 2001 in the NCAA Final Four at St. Louis; on Feb. 7, 2006, Notre Dame erased a 21-point deficit vs. Villanova, forcing overtime at the Joyce Center before losing, 69-65 ... the Irish were held to their lowest point total and field goal percentage since Jan. 27, 2007, when they shot 24.2 percent from the field (16-of-66) in a 64-47 loss at #7/5 Connecticut ... Notre Dame had an 18-game winning streak snapped when holding opponents to fewer than 60 points (first loss since Dec. 3, 2006, a 54-51 setback at home to Indiana) ... for the first time all season, the Irish had just one double-figure scorer (they had at least three in 13 of the previous 15 games) ... Notre Dame's 11 first-half points were one fewer than the old program record of 12, set in the opening half against #17 Virginia on Feb. 22, 1981 (a 68-40 Cavalier win on a neutral court in Chicago) ... West Virginia earns its second series in 17 games vs. the Irish, with both victories coming in Morgantown (also a 64-51 win on Jan. 17, 2004) ... both teams recorded their lowest point totals in the series ... it was the closest game between the Irish and Mountaineers since a 69-64 Notre Dame win on Feb. 1, 2003 at the Joyce Center (the closest game in the series) ... Notre Dame held WVU within a 10-point scoring window of 54-64 points for the 11th time in their last 12 meetings (only last year's 77-67 Irish win fell outside that window) ... Notre Dame forced at least 20 turnovers and collected at least 10 steals for the 12th time this season ... the Irish bench continues to have the upper hand on its opponents in every game this season, outscoring the WVU reserves, 21-7 ... freshman guard Brittany Mallory canned a season-high three three-pointers, after hitting a pair of treys in five different games earlier this year (most recently on Dec. 5 at Bowling Green) ... freshman forward Devereaux Peters matched her season-high steal total for the sixth time this year, collecting three thefts at WVU (she most recently had three steals on Jan. 2 at Richmond) ... sophomore center Erica Williamson returned to the lineup after starting the first four games of the season (her first career starts).