Feb. 5, 2012
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Notre Dame was nearly perfect on offense for a 16-minute stretch against DePaul.
Yet after the game, coach Muffet McGraw was more concerned about the team's defense in the second-ranked Irish's 90-70 win over the Blue Demons on Sunday.
"I was really disappointed with our defense," she said. "I thought we had some really good spurts (on offense), had a nice spurt to start the second half, and then I subbed too early and we went flat. That was disappointing. But the posts were not ready to play and that was the most disappointing."
Irish senior guard Brittany Mallory backed up her coach's assessment.
"We love to win," she said. "But there is always places for improvement. We gave up 70 points and that's not what we are most proud of. We are looking to get better."
The offense couldn't get much better during that 16-minute stretch. Notre Dame didn't miss many shots during its 56-point first half. The Irish shot a blistering 72 percent from the field. From the 13:54 mark of the first half to the 17:18 mark in the second half, they hit 22 of their 24 shots to build a 34-point lead.
McGraw started subbing liberally and the Blue Demons rallied behind Jasmine Perry's 24 points and Katherine Harry's 20.
"Katherine Harry played a great game (matched her career high in scoring with 20) and I'm sure that (Jasmine) Penny had a career high (24 points). Those two really gave us trouble inside and it was disappointing that our posts were not able to defend."
The win was the 20th straight for Notre Dame (23-1, 10-0 BIG EAST) matching the second longest streak in school history. Notre Dame is just three victories short of the school record set by the 2000-01 team that won the school's lone national championship and shared the Big East title.
The Irish matched the 2000 squad that won 20 in a row.
DePaul (17-7, 5-5) was coming off a rout of No. 14 Louisville on Tuesday night. The Blue Demons, who are down to only seven healthy players because of injuries, had a much tougher time against Notre Dame.
"Notre Dame has five players that I will probably vote for All-BIG EAST," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "And I think they are one of the four teams that have a chance to win the national championship."
The five Notre Dame players Bruno mentioned all contributed. Natalie Novosel scored 17 of her 21 points in the first half. Skylar Diggins had a double-double (11 points, 10 assists), Mallory contributed a season-high 14, Devereaux Peters 11, and Kayla McBride added seven points. Reserve Natalie Achonwa added 16.
"Mallory and McBride are underrated," Bruno said.
The game was tied at 12 before Notre Dame went on a 17-2 run led by Novosel to take control of the game. She had 11 points and two assists during the burst that left the Irish up 29-14 with 9:37 left in the half.
Notre Dame continued its offensive onslaught building a 56-31 halftime lead. Achonwa had 12 of her points in the first half, making all five of her shots.
The Irish opened the second half with an 11-2 run to put the score at 67-33 before McGraw started subbing.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame's 20-game winning streak ties for the second-longest in school history -- the 1999-2000 Fighting Irish also had a 20-game run, while the 2000-01 club opened on a school-record 23-game winning streak ... Notre Dame also logged its 20th consecutive home victory, its longest since a 25-game Purcell Pavilion winning streak from 2003-04 ... the Fighting Irish match the best 24-game record in school history, duplicating the mark first set by the 2000-01 team that won its first 23 before losing at Rutgers (54-53) in game No. 24 ... for the 16th time in its 17 seasons as a BIG EAST member (1995-96 to present), Notre Dame has posted double-digit wins in conference play (lone exception was 8-8 record in 2005-06) ... it's also the 22nd time in head coach Muffet McGraw's 25-year tenure that the Fighting Irish have posted double-digit league wins, covering their memberships in the North Star Conference in 1987-88 and Midwestern Collegiate Conference/Horizon League from 1988-95 (other exceptions were 7-3 North Star record in 1987-88 and 8-4 MCC record in 1991-92) ... Notre Dame's current 10-game BIG EAST win streak is its longest since 2000-01, when the Fighting Irish won their first 12 conference games before the aforementioned loss at Rutgers ... Notre Dame is 8-1 against ranked opponents this season (DePaul was No. 23 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll at tipoff), including a 4-0 record at home ... five of those eight Fighting Irish wins over Top 25 opponents have come by 20 points or more, while this was the 19th overall 20-point victory for Notre Dame this season ... the Fighting Irish reach the 90-point mark for a school-record ninth time this year, topping the previous standard set last season ... Notre Dame rises to 94-27 (.777) in the month of February since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, including a 54-5 (.915) record at home -- the Fighting Irish also are 142-42 (.772) in February games during the McGraw era (1987-88 to present), including a 76-11 (.874) home record ... DePaul still leads the all-time series with Notre Dame, 19-17, although the Fighting Irish have won six of the past seven in the series -- they also are 10-6 against the Blue Demons at Purcell Pavilion (where they have won seven of their last eight matchups) ... this was just the third time in the last nine meetings (and fifth in 13 series games) that the Notre Dame-DePaul contest was decided by double digits ... the Fighting Irish tallied at least 25 assists for the sixth time this year, forced at least 20 opponent turnovers for the 16th time and logged double-digit steals for the 18th time ... Notre Dame had five double-figure scorers for the seventh time this year, and improves to 47-4 (.922) with at least four double-figure scorers during the past three seasons (2009-10 to present) ... the Fighting Irish chalked up 56 first-half points, their third-highest output in the opening 20 minutes this season, topped only by a school-record 72 points at Mercer on Dec. 30 and 58 points against Indiana State on Nov. 13 at Purcell Pavilion ... Notre Dame shot better than 55 percent from the field for the seventh time this season ... conversely, DePaul's .452 field goal percentage was second-highest by a Fighting Irish opponent this year, with only No. 1 Baylor (.470) shooting better against the Notre Dame defense ... the 70 points were the most allowed by Notre Dame since Dec. 18, when the Fighting Irish defeated No. 8/7 Kentucky, 92-83 at Purcell Pavilion ... Notre Dame shot a season-high 60 percent from the three-point line, and tied its season best with nine three-pointers made -- the last time the Fighting Irish shot 60 percent from deep (minimum five made) was Dec. 29, 2010, when they went 6-for-10 (.600) in a win over Gonzaga at the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic in Seattle ... junior guard Skylar Diggins registered her third double-double of the season, and fifth of her career, with 11 points and 10 assists ... Diggins also chalked up her fourth double-digit assist game of the season, the most by a Fighting Irish player in one year since 2004-05, when Megan Duffy also had four 10-assist outings ... Diggins took over sole possession of 10th place on Notre Dame's all-time scoring list with 1,471 points, pulling free from Sandy Botham (1,460 from 1984-88) ... fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Brittany Mallory tied a school record with her 136th game played, matching her former teammate and fellow 2010-11 captain, Becca Bruszewski (2007-11) ... Mallory had a season-high 14 points and tied her season best with four three-pointers made ... Mallory moved into a tie for sixth place in school history with 139 career three-pointers, drawing even with former teammate Ashley Barlow (139 from 2006-10) ... senior guard/tri-captain Natalie Novosel logged her seventh 20-point game of the season, and 14th of her career ... Novosel also moved into a tie for 10th place on Notre Dame's career games played list with 129, equaling the totals by Ericka Haney (1998-2002) and Charel Allen (2004-08) ... fifth-year senior forward/tri-captain Devereaux Peters jumped to a tie for eighth place in program history with 774 career rebounds, drawing even with Botham in that category ... McGraw recorded her 579th win at Notre Dame (579-212 in 25 seasons), tying the late longtime Fighting Irish men's tennis/wrestling coach Tom Fallon (579-268-4 combined record in those two sports from 1957-87) for the second-most wins by any coach in the 125-year history of Notre Dame athletics -- legendary former men's/women's fencing head coach Michael DeCicco holds the record with a 774-80 combined record from 1962-95 ... Notre Dame drew its sixth sellout of the season (9,149), tying the school record for sellouts in one year first set in 2009-10 -- it's also the 17th sellout for the Fighting Irish in the past three seasons and 23rd in program history.