Feb. 14, 2010
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP)--Becca Bruszewski wouldn't let fourth-ranked Notre Dame miss a beat when Lindsay Schrader went down with a sprained left ankle.
Bruszewski scored 19 of her career-high 25 points as the Irish dominated the second half, beating DePaul 90-66 on Sunday. The Blue Demons shot 47 percent to keep the game close through much of the first half, but shot just 31 percent in the second half and finished with 25 turnovers.
"Their pressure got to us," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "That's the challenge you have when you're coaching a big lineup is you don't have enough guard play to handle the pressure."
The Irish usually depend on Schrader, a 6-foot guard, to get their inside game going. But with Schrader watching from the sidelines in the second half after injuring her ankle when she stepped on a teammate's foot, the 6-1 Bruszewski took over. She was 7-of-9 shooting against DePaul's zone in the second half.
"She's just so crafty. She was able to get behind the zone, hide behind them a little bit," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "She pretty much scored from everywhere today. She had the drive, she had the short-corner jumper, she was really playing well."
Bruszewski said she knew she needed to step up when Schrader went down.
"Because me and Lindsay are the same position, the same plays so I was concentrating on staying inside, getting easy buckets, putbacks, boxing out, stuff like that," Bruszewski said.
Skylar Diggins added 18 points and helped force DePaul's Sam Quigley into 10 turnovers.
"She really just bothered her," McGraw said. "I thought she made her really uncomfortable that was good."
With the game tied late in the first half, Diggins scored eight points during a 12-2 run, including a jumper at the buzzer to give the Irish (23-1, 10-1 BIG EAST) a 42-32 halftime lead.
"It was a huge shift," McGraw said. "We were just a little out of sync, I though, missing some shots. Defensively, we really had trouble guarding them in the post. ... But Skylar was able to get going."
Bruno said that hurt the Blue Demons.
"Whenever a run like that happens it's usually a collection of little things," Bruno said. "We had a collection of little things go south for us, little things like taking a quick shot against their pressure that turned into a layup."
DePaul (16-10, 5-7) cut its deficit to 43-36 early in the second half on a jumper by Quigley. But Bruszewski scored inside to spark a 9-2 spurt as Notre Dame went ahead 56-39 and the Irish continued to pull away.
Keisha Hampton led DePaul with a career-high 28 points and eight rebounds. Felicia Chester added 15 points and Quigley had 12.
Both teams wore pink as part of the Pink Zone initiative, a program aimed at raising awareness of breast cancer. Both teams wore pink T-shirts during pregame warm-ups and during the game both teams had uniforms with pink highlights and wore pink shoes. Notre Dame raised more than $70,000 for cancer research.
McGraw said she's not sure how long Schrader will be out.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame earns its fourth consecutive win over DePaul, extending its series-long winning streak against the Blue Demons (the Fighting Irish had won three in a row vs. DePaul from 1985-86) ... DePaul still leads the all-time series with Notre Dame, 18-15, although the Fighting Irish have a 9-6 edge at Purcell Pavilion ... Notre Dame's 90 points are the most they have scored against the Blue Demons in the 33-game series, topping the old mark of 87 points set on Jan. 16, 1995, in a 96-87 DePaul victory in Chicago ... in 12 of the past 14 series games, the winning team has scored at least 75 points ... Notre Dame matches the 2000-01 team for the best 24-game start in school history (that club opened at 23-0 before losing its 24th game, 54-53 at Rutgers) ... the Fighting Irish continue their tradition of February success, moving to 85-23 (.794) overall, and 48-5 (.906) at home, in the final full month of the regular season since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96 ... Notre Dame forces at least 20 opponent turnovers for the 20th time in 24 games this season, tallying at least 25 takeaways for the 10th time overall (and eighth time in 13 home games) ... the Fighting Irish log double-digit steals for the 17th time this season, topping the 15-steal threshhold for the ninth time ... Notre Dame harrassed an opposing player (DePaul's Sam Quigley) into double-digit turnovers for the first time since Feb. 22, 2004, when #21/19 Miami (Fla.) had two players with at least 10 giveaways -- Chanivia Broussard (13) and Yalonda McCormick (10) -- in a 93-58 Fighting Irish win at Purcell Pavilion ... Notre Dame now has held its last 70 opponents below 50 percent shooting, dating back to Jan. 22, 2008, when DePaul shot 60 percent (30-50) in an 81-80 Blue Demon win at Purcell Pavilion ... junior forward Becca Bruszewski posted new career highs in scoring (25 points; previous was 20, set twice and most recently on Feb. 24, 2009 vs. Syracuse at Purcell Pavilion), field goals made (10; previous was nine at Boston College on Nov. 23, 2008) and field goal attempts (17; previous was 15 vs. Tennessee on March 30, 2008, in the NCAA Oklahoma City Regional semifinals at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Okla.) ... Bruszewski is the fourth Fighting Irish player to score 20 points in a game this season, joining freshman guard Skylar Diggins (four times) senior guard/tri-captain Melissa Lechlitner and junior guard Brittany Mallory (once each) ... senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow dished out a career-high eight assists, one more than her previous best, set on Jan. 24, 2010 against #16/11 West Virginia (a 74-66 win at Purcell Pavilion) ... Barlow and Mallory both registered "5-5-5" games on Sunday with at least 5 tallies in three-or-more statistical categories; it's the second time this season two Notre Dame players have had "5-5-5" outings in the same game, with Diggins and Mallory pulling off that feat in the season opener on Nov. 15 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Purcell Pavilion ... it was Barlow's third "5-5-5" outing of the season (and the first "5-5-5-5" by a Notre Dame player this year), while Mallory ties Diggins for team-high honors with her fourth "5-5-5" performance (Mallory was one assist away from joining Barlow as a "5-5-5-5" player) ... Barlow also moved up another rung on the Fighting Irish all-time scoring list, rising to 12th place with 1,381 points, supplanting Shari Matvey (1,373 points from 1979-83) ... senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader made her 115th career start, moving past current Notre Dame assistant coach Niele Ivey (114 from 1996-2001) and tying with Beth Morgan (1993-97) for sixth in school history ... what's more, Schrader made her 73rd consecutive start, also putting her sixth in program annals (Le'Tania Severe is fifth with 74 consecutive starts from 2002-04) ... Notre Dame attracted its school-record fourth sellout (9,149) of the season, as well as the 10th capacity crowd in program history ... for the sixth time this season, Notre Dame topped the 88-point mark at home, meaning the sellout crowd received coupons for free Big Macs from South Bend-area McDonald's restaurants; Bruszewski hit the "Big Mac basket" on a free throw with 46 seconds left, the second time this season Bruszewski has fed the crowd (she also hit a foul shot to reach the mark on Nov. 15 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff) ... Notre Dame played on Valentine's Day for the seventh time, improving to 6-1 on Feb. 14 (first Valentine's game since 2004, an 81-51 home win over Providence) ... the Fighting Irish designated Sunday's game as its "Pink Zone" contest, tailored to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research -- Notre Dame raised more than $40,000 in advance of the game, then added another $30,000 on game day, putting its current Pink Zone fundraising total at $70,243 (far exceeding last year's mark of $48,000, as well as this year's goal of $55,000), with additional donations still to be counted in the coming weeks; the funds raised by Notre Dame at this year's Pink Zone game will be split between the Kay Yow/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Cancer Fund, and three local charities associated with the Foundation of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center (Women's Task Force, Young Survivors Group and Secret Sisters Society).