Feb. 9, 2010
CINCINNATI (AP)--The crowd was small, the mood was subdued, the snow was falling outside. Fourth-ranked Notre Dame didn't feel a whole lot of energy at the opening tip.
Lindsay Schrader and the Irish defense eventually provided it.
Schrader scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half Tuesday, and Notre Dame intensified its full-court pressure, building a 20-point lead and holding on for a 66-50 win over Cincinnati.
The Irish (22-1, 9-1 BIG EAST) have won seven straight since their loss to No. 1 Connecticut on Jan. 16, a streak set up by offensive balance and unrelenting defensive pressure. Schrader led the way against Cincinnati (10-12, 3-7), shaking off a 1-for-7 shooting performance in a first half that lacked energy.
Only 472 fans showed up for a game played as the city was digging out from another major snowstorm.
"It was kind of dead," said Schrader, who missed only one of her seven shots in the second half. "We had to create our own energy. I don't think we were up for that, either. So it was kind of a dull game.
"I don't like to play like that. I like to play with a lot of emotion and a loud crowd and stuff like that, but it was just one of those games you have to get through, and we did."
The senior guard got the Irish revved by making three consecutive baskets early in the second half, pushing the lead to 20. When Cincinnati got the lead down to nine, Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw called a timeout and called a play designed to get the ball inside to Schrader.
She caught the pass, made a layup, was fouled and completed a three-point play that ended Cincinnati's comeback.
"That's generally the play when we need a basket--we go to her," McGraw said. "She came on in the second half. You know she's going to, it's just a question of when. We called her number quite a few times and she was able to score."
Becca Bruszewski added 14 points and eight rebounds, helping the Irish get through a night when they started very slowly.
"We probably missed 10 layups in the first half," McGraw said. "We were lethargic. I think we let the atmosphere get to us. It was dead. It's snowing and we're worried about getting home. They're a veteran team. They need to put that behind them and come out and play hard."
Kahla Roudebush had 17 points for Cincinnati, which is 0-4 against ranked teams this season.
The Bearcats couldn't take advantage of Notre Dame's ragged first half. The Irish led only 19-16 with 7:35 left in the half. That's when Notre Dame's pressure and dominance inside let the Irish take control.
The Bearcats went 1 of 8 with four turnovers the rest of the half, allowing Notre Dame to pull ahead 32-18. The Irish had 12 offensive rebounds in the half, setting up 14 points.
Junior guard Brittany Mallory had a career-high eight rebounds in the first half alone. In one sequence during the late first-half run, the Irish got four offensive rebounds on one possession and finally scored on Devereaux Peters' putback.
Notre Dame opened the second half with an 8-2 run that featured three straight baskets by Schrader and pushed the lead to 40-20.
The Irish force an average of 24 turnovers per game with their trapping, full-court pressure. It got the Bearcats' offense out of sync and forced sloppy moments that left coach Jamelle Elliott pointing at her head. Cincinnati had an over-and-back violation, a shot clock violation, and threw the ball out of bounds on consecutive possessions.
Cincinnati finished with 23 turnovers, setting up 21 Irish points.
"The thing throughout the game that upset me the most was the unforced turnovers," Elliott said. "They're going to make you turn the ball over X-number of times in a game. One of the things we tried to do in preparation for this game was to stay solid and not have unforced turnovers. We'd throw the ball away, make passes we knew wouldn't be completed."
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame improves to 6-0 all-time against Cincinnati, with the Bearcats and Providence (18-0) remaining the two BIG EAST Conference teams the Fighting Irish have never lost to; in a strange twist, the final score was the same as last year's result at Purcell Pavilion ... Notre Dame is now 71-16 (.816) against Ohio schools, stretching its current winning streak against the Buckeye State to 16 games (dating back to March 1993) while going to 31-7 (,816) on the road against the state of Ohio, and 16-2 (.889) all-time in the city of Cincinnati ... the Fighting Irish rise to 3-0 in the month of February and 84-23 (.785) in February games since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96 (132-38, .776 in the 23-year Muffet McGraw era) ... Notre Dame forced at least 20 opponent turnovers for the 19th time in 23 games this season ... the Fighting Irish logged double-digit steals for the 16th time this season ... Notre Dame now is 27-10 (.730) on the road since the start of the 2007-08 campaign ... Cincinnati's five assists were the second-fewest by a Notre Dame opponent this year, with Charlotte having four handouts in a 90-31 Fighting Irish win on Dec. 20 at Purcell Pavilion ... Notre Dame posted its second-best defensive outing of the BIG EAST season, allowing only 50 points (it yielded just 46 points to Villanova in the 81-46 conference opener on Jan. 9 at Purcell Pavilion) ... Cincinnati's 18 first-half points were the fewest allowed by Notre Dame in the opening 20 minutes since that Dec. 20 win over Charlotte, when the Fighting Irish gave up just 14 first-half points to the 49ers ... fifth-year senior guard Lindsay Schrader jumped up one spot on both the school's scoring and rebounding charts -- she now is 14th all-time with 1,327 points (passing Margaret Nowlin, who had 1,312 points from 1988-92) and seventh all-time with 776 rebounds (passing Sandy Botham, who grabbed 774 boards from 1984-88) ... Schrader also made her 114th career start on Tuesday, tying current Fighting Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey for seventh in school history (Ivey made 114 starts from 1996-2001) ... junior guard Brittany Mallory snared a career-high eight rebounds on Tuesday night, one more than her previous best that she had set three times previously (the last coming on Nov. 28, 2009, vs. #20/17 Oklahoma at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands) ... Tuesday's weather-depleted crowd of 472 was the smallest to see a Notre Dame game (home, away or neutral) this season -- the previous low had been 506 for the Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 26) 84-79 win over #23/24 San Diego State in the Paradise Jam, marking McGraw's 500th coaching victory at Notre Dame.