Feb. 10, 2008
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Tulyah Gaines scored 13 points, and 16th-ranked Notre Dame held No. 15 Pittsburgh to 31 percent shooting in an 81-66 victory Sunday. Lindsay Schrader added 12 points for the Fighting Irish, who had a 13-point advantage on free-throw points despite taking just five more shots.
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, who has been critical of her team's ability to defend shots most of the year, said except for being outrebounded 56-42 it was the best defense her team had played all season.
"A lot of pressure," she said. "We got aggressive with it."
Pittsburgh coach Agnus Berenato said the Panthers missed too many easy shots.
"They made layups and made free throws and Pitt missed layups and missed free throws. That was the game," she said. "Bottom line, you have to make layup and free throws."
The Panthers were just 14-of-27 from the free throw line.
The Irish (18-5, 6-3 BIG EAST) improved to 17-1 all-time against the Panthers (18-5, 8-2), with the lone loss coming last season at Pittsburgh. The victory was Notre Dame's first against a ranked opponent in five tries this season. It was the first loss in five Big East road games for the Panthers.
The Irish improved to 7-0 this season when they have five players in double figures. They managed that despite its two leading scorers, Charel Allen and Ashley Barlow, being held to six points each because of foul trouble.
"That's what so great about this team. We're so balanced," said Melissa Lechlitner, who finished with 12 points.
Tulyah Gaines led the Irish with 13 points, making 9-of-10 free throws.
Lindsay Schrader added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Irish. Devereaux Peters was leading the Irish with 11 points when she left the game with 13:44 left with an injured left knee. Becca Bruszewski added 10 points each for the Irish.
McGraw said the Irish won't know the extent of the injury to Peters until after she undergoes an MRI exam on Monday.
Marcedes Walker, who missed Pitt's last game with an ankle injury, had 18 points and 14 rebounds. Shavonte Zellous added 16 points and nine rebounds and Xenia Stewart had 16 points.
Walker twice had chances to give Pitt the lead early in the second half, but both times she failed to convert a free throw for three-point plays. The Irish opened a 38-33 lead when Peters made a free throw for a three-point play. She extended the lead to 45-35 moments later when she converted on another three-point play.
McGraw said the victory was important for the Irish, who play three more ranked opponents in the next four games.
"This was just a critical win for us. We absolutely had to have this game to help us in the BIG EAST standings, to help us overall down the road, for our confidence," she said. "We haven't done a good job of protecting our home court, so we really needed this one."
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame wins for the first time in five tries this season against AP Top 25 opponents ... the Irish improve to 17-1 all-time against Pittsburgh, including an 8-0 record at the Joyce Center ... Notre Dame posts its highest point total in the series since Feb. 27, 2001, when the Irish won at Pitt, 82-63 to clinch a share of their first-ever BIG EAST regular-season title ... in each of their 17 wins over the Panthers, the Irish have scored at least 65 points each time ... Notre Dame scores at least 80 points for the 13th time this season (12-1 record) ... the Irish have five double-digit scorers for the seventh time this season (7-0 record) ... Notre Dame moves to 73-19 (.793) in the month of February since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, including a 42-4 (.913) home record in February during that 13-season span ... the Irish bench has now outscored its opponents' reserves in all 23 games this season, posting a gaudy 38-5 spread against Pitt ... Notre Dame's nine turnovers are its second-lowest total of the season, topped only by a school-record three giveaways at No. 3 Maryland on Nov. 16 ... senior guard Tulyah Gaines becomes the sixth different player to lead the Irish in scoring this season, with those six players representing all five floor positions (point guard through center) ... Gaines now has scored in double figures in each of her last three games ... freshman forward Becca Bruszewski logged her fourth double-digit scoring day of the season and first since the Georgetown game on Jan. 19 ... sophomore guard Melissa Lechlitner tossed in 12 points, one off her season-high set in that same Georgetown contest ... junior guard Lindsay Schrader collected her 13th double-figure scoring game of the year and tied her career high with three steals (done four times before, most recently at IUPUI on Dec. 21, 2007) ... freshman forward Devereaux Peters scored in double digits for the fourth consecutive game with 11 points in 13 minutes before departing with a knee injury at the 13:44 mark of the second half ... as part of Sunday's national "Think Pink" initiative to promote breast cancer awareness, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw agreed to donate $10 for every Irish rebound against Pitt, with her $420 total donation to be divided evenly between the Kay Yow/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Cancer Fund and the Susan G. Komen For The Cure foundation ... Sunday's crowd of 8,831 is the 12th-largest in school history and the 19th crowd of 8,000 fans or more in school history (fourth this season).