Jan. 23, 2013
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Notre Dame turned up its defense in the second half and turned away Pittsburgh.
Kayla McBride scored 19 points to help the No. 2 Irish beat Pittsburgh 73-47 on Wednesday night for their 12th-straight win.
The Irish held Pitt to just 1-of-10 shooting to open the second half and just 23.1 percent overall (6-of-26) in the half.
"We played defense," Skylar Diggins said of the difference between the first and second halves. "We stepped up our intensity. I think we were passive in the first half, especially when I got in foul trouble. But we picked up the pressure and rebounded and got out in transition."
With the game tied at 29, Notre Dame scored the final six points before break. The Irish continued the spurt in the second half, scoring 25 of the first 28 points.
Notre Dame (17-1, 6-0 BIG EAST) led 60-32 with 10 minutes left and coasted from there. The Irish have won their last 11 BIG EAST regular season road games, their best streak since joining the conference 18 seasons ago. With Villanova's loss to Providence, Notre Dame is now the only unbeaten team in BIG EAST play.
"We started out okay then Skylar (Diggins) got the two fouls and we didn't respond," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "I was disappointed with that, but we came out in the second half strong with a 32-6 run. I think we played well in stretches, but, overall a good defensive effort."
Brianna Kiesel scored 12 points to lead Pitt (9-9, 0-5), which was without leading scorer Asia Logan (15.5 points per game). Logan is day-to-day with a shoulder injury. The Panthers haven't won a BIG EAST game since Feb. 15, 2011.
It was the first meeting between the two teams since Notre Dame dealt Pittsburgh its worst loss in program history, a 120-44 defeat on Jan. 17, 2012.
Notre Dame jumped out to a 5-0 lead and coach Agnus Berenato called a timeout less than a minute into the game.
Trailing 16-5, the Panthers went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to four with 12:38 remaining in the first half. Notre Dame went back ahead by eight on a layup by Pittsburgh native Madison Cable and another layup by Loyd, but the Panthers answered back with a 9-2 run and McGraw called timeout with her team ahead just 22-21 with 8:43 remaining.
Coming out of the timeout, Marquel Davis hit a layup and Cora McManus a 3-pointer to give Pittsburgh its first lead of the game, 25-22.
Diggins' 3-pointer tied the score and the Panthers missed their next six shots as Notre Dame went back ahead by four. Pittsburgh would tie it once more at 29 with 3:07 remaining in the half before Notre Dame closed with its 6-0 run.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame's 12-game winning streak ties for the sixth-longest in school history ... at 17-1, the Fighting Irish continue to match the second-best start in program history, duplicating the marks set in 2009-10 and 2011-12, and one game behind the school-record 18-0 start in 2000-01 ... at 6-0, Notre Dame has equaled its fifth-best start in BIG EAST Conference play since joining the league 18 seasons ago ... the Fighting Irish extend their regular-season road winning streak to 16 games, and their regular-season BIG EAST road winning streak to 11 games, both school records (the latter is for BIG EAST play only -- the Notre Dame record for consecutive regular-season road wins in any conference is 15 from 1989-91 as a member of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, now known as the Horizon League) ... the Fighting Irish are 21-3 all-time against Pittsburgh, including a 10-2 record in the Steel City, and they have won their last four games against the Panthers ... Notre Dame has scored at least 65 points in all but two of the 24 series meetings with Pittsburgh, going 21-1 in those games ... the Fighting Irish shot a season-best .941 (16-of-17) at the free throw line, the sixth-best single-game mark in school history and best since Feb. 20, 2012, when they connected at a .944 clip (17-of-18) in a win at Louisville ... Notre Dame has shot better than 90 percent from the foul line in three of the past four games, and four times total this season ... senior guard/co-captain Skylar Diggins scored 13 points, putting her one away from becoming the fourth Fighting Irish women's basketball player to score 2,000 career points (and first since Ruth Riley on March 26, 2001, vs. Vanderbilt in the NCAA Midwest Regional final at the Pepsi Center in Denver) ... Diggins earned her 125th career start on Wednesday, taking sole possession of second place on Notre Dame's all-time list ahead of Riley (124 from 1997-2001) and Lindsay Schrader (124 from 2005-10), and trailing only Alicia Ratay (129 from 1999-2003) ... junior guard Kayla McBride set a new career high by going 9-for-10 from the foul line, while her seven rebounds tied her season best ... junior forward Natalie Achonwa tied her career high with five assists and registered her first career "5-5-5" game (notching five or more in at least three of the five major statistical categories -- points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals) ... sophomore guard Madison Cable tied her career high with seven rebounds ... Wednesday's victory was No. 696 in the legendary career of Notre Dame's Hall of Fame head coach Muffet McGraw (now 696-257, .730, in 31 seasons, including a 608-216, .738, record in 26 seasons at Notre Dame).