Jan. 15, 2013
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Notre Dame's tough defense and good free-throw shooting were too much for Georgetown.
The second-ranked Fighting Irish held the Hoyas' Sugar Rodgers, the nation's leading scorer, to a season-low 14 points and scored 35 points from the free-throw line to overcome a season-high 28 turnovers and beat Georgetown 79-64 Tuesday night for their 10th straight victory.
"We played really well early," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "We ran our press well, got some easy baskets, but then the turnovers really hurt us."
Kayla McBride scored 17 points, Skylar Diggins had 15 points, nine assists and six steals and Jewell Loyd added 14 and defended Rodgers for most of the game. Natalie Achonwa added 12 points and 10 rebounds for Notre Dame (15-1, 4-0 BIG EAST).
Jasmine Jackson led Georgetown with 15 points. Rodgers was 1-of-6 shooting in the first half with just four points and finished 6 of 18 from the floor, including 0 of 7 from 3-point range as Georgetown (10-7, 1-3) lost its third straight. Rodgers said she injured her right hand when a Notre Dame player fell on it in the first half.
"But I think it's OK now," she said.
Brown said it was an off night for Rodgers, but also credited the Notre Dame defense.
"When we tried to run our pick and rolls, he said. "They trapped the pick. I thought they did a good job."
McGraw was pleased with Loyd's defense.
"She is very quick and very strong. That is a great combination for a defender," she said.
Notre Dame quickly took control, opening a 15-2 lead in the first five minutes as the Irish forced six turnovers and held the Hoyas to 1-of-7 shooting. The lead could have been even bigger, but the Irish had five turnovers of their own by the time Georgetown scored its second basket seven minutes in.
The Irish repeatedly passed their way inside for baskets. Whitney Holloway threw a pass from the top of the key to Achonwa, who flicked it instantly on the other side of the basket to Ariel Braker for an easy basket. Two possessions later, Braker set up Achonwa with a bounce pass for a basket. The next time down, Diggins drove inside, then kicked it out for a 3-pointer by Loyd to make it 31-18.
"I think our rotation was bad in the middle. I think sometimes they're so young that we forget what we're supposed to do," Brown said.
McBride said the Irish were able to get the Hoyas off balance.
"We were able to get the defense moving and get layups and short jumpshots," she said.
Diggins and Braker then each made two free throws, extending the lead to 35-11, as the Irish made their first 17 free throws before Diggins finally missed two in a row before the Hoyas attempted their first free throw.
Brown complained that the Irish were getting too many calls, yelling to the officials: "I know this is South Bend, but they can't play that perfect."
A jumper by Andrea White sparked a 13-2 run for the Hoyas. Rodgers scored her first basket during the run to cut the lead to 35-20. A layup by Katie McCormick cut the 39-24.
Georgetown center Vanessa Moore was called for a technical foul after elbowing Madison Cable midway through the first half and was ejected late in the half for saying something after she and Achonwa got tangled up under the basket. Brown said afterward that he didn't think the second technical would have been called in a men's game.
After trailing 44-29 at halftime, the Hoyas narrowed the lead to 46-33 on a 3-pointer by White, but Diggins answered with a 3-pointer and the Irish eventually stretched the lead to 23 again. The Hoyas used a 10-2 run to cut the lead to 62-47 on jumper by Rodgers midway through the second half. But the Irish responded with a 9-0 run to put the game away.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame stretches its current winning streak to 10 games, marking the third time in four years (and 13th time in school history) the Fighting Irish have put together a double-digit win streak ... the Fighting Irish are off to a 15-1 start for the third time in four seasons (2009-10, 2011-12, 2012-13), matching the second-best 16-game debut in school history, topped only by the 2000-01 national championship team that opened with a school-record 23 consecutive victories ... Notre Dame is off to a 4-0 start in BIG EAST play for the second consecutive season and the sixth time since joining the conference in 1995-96 ... Notre Dame's 35 free throws made were third-most in a single game in school history, and second-most in Purcell Pavilion history -- the school record for any location is 43 at Mercer on Dec. 30, 2011, while the arena mark is 37 against Wake Forest on Nov. 27, 2010 ... the Fighting Irish also attempted a season-high 38 foul shots, their highest total since last year's win at Mercer, when they tried a school-record 52 free throws ... in the past two games against Georgetown, Notre Dame is a combined 63-of-70 (.900) at the free throw line ... the Fighting Irish shot better than 90 percent from the stripe for the second game in a row and third time this season (they hit a season-best .933 of their charity tosses in Sunday's win over Rutgers) ... Notre Dame improves to 26-3 all-time against Georgetown (14-0 at home), with the 26 series wins ranking second among all Fighting Irish opponents behind only Marquette, which the Fighting Irish have defeated 31 times ... Notre Dame has held Georgetown to fewer than 70 points in 21 of its 24 BIG EAST Conference series games against Georgetown, going 21-0 in those contests ... the Fighting Irish are 5-0 this season and 33-9 (.786) in the past five seasons (2008-09 to present) when playing on one day's rest or less ... Notre Dame had four players score in double figures for the 13th time this season (13-0 record), rising to 65-4 (.942) since the starting of the 2009-10 season when it has at least four double-digit scorers, including an active 35-game winning streak ... the Fighting Irish came into the game averaging less than 16 turnovers per game, but gave up the ball 28 times, their highest total since Feb. 22, 2011, at West Virginia, when they had 30 turnovers, but still defeated the No. 19/18 Mountaineers, 72-60 ... with Tuesday's win, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw moved into sole possession of 13th place on the NCAA Division I all-time wins list with 694 victories, passing her former college coach, Rene Portland, who had 693 wins at Saint Joseph's (Pa.) (1976-78), Colorado (1978-80) and Penn State (1980-2007) -- McGraw played her final two seasons at SJU (1976-77 and 1977-78) for Portland ... junior forward Natalie Achonwa tallied her BIG EAST-leading ninth double-double of the season, and second in four conference games to date ... senior guard/co-captain Skylar Diggins scored in double figures for the 101st time in her career, tying for third place on the Notre Dame all-time list with Katryna Gaither (1993-97) and Jacqueline Batteast (2001-05) ... Diggins finished one assist shy of her second double-double of the season and third double-digit assist outing, while also ending up one steal away from her career high (7 vs. Vermont on March 23, 2010, at Purcell Pavilion) ... freshman guard Hannah Huffman scored a season-high six points ... sophomore guard Madison Cable was one rebound off her career high (done twice before) ... junior forward Ariel Braker blocked at least two shots for the fifth consecutive game ... Notre Dame drew its sixth sellout crowd in eight home games this season, giving the Fighting Irish 31 sellouts in program history, including 25 in the past four seasons alone (2009-10 to present) ... with Tuesday's sellout, the Fighting Irish raise their season attendance average to 8,948 fans per game, nearly 98 percent of Purcell Pavilion's capacity (9,149).