March 6, 2011
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - When Devereaux Peters is on the court, Notre Dame is a very tough team to beat.
Peters had 19 points, nine rebounds, and tied her career high with six blocks to help the No. 7 Fighting Irish top Louisville 63-53 on Sunday night in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST tournament.
"She's a big key for us," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "I only sat her for 5 minutes and they really went off on runs when she wasn't in the game. Her on the floor makes us a very different team."
The Irish (25-6) will play DePaul on Monday night (8 p.m. ET, ESPNU) in the semifinals. It will be a rematch of last Monday night's game in which the Blue Demons scored with about 6 seconds left to edge the Irish by one point. That win earned DePaul the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
"It's a good redemption opportunity for us," said Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins, who finished with 14 points. "DePaul's a great team and we know that from their record. We know we're going to have a great game and hopefully it will be a great matchup again."
With top-seeded UConn and fourth seed Rutgers advancing it will be only the third time in the past decade that the top four seeds advanced to the semifinals.
Leading 26-24 with 2 minutes left in the first half, Peters keyed a 22-5 spurt over the next 8 minutes to help the Irish take control.
Louisville could only get within six the rest of the game.
Shoni Schimmel scored 12 to lead the Cardinals (20-12).
Peters was all over the court for the Irish. She scored 13 points during the game-changing run, including eight straight at one point. With Notre Dame leading 40-29, she had a block on one end of the floor and then a three-point play on the other side.
The senior forward's effort impressed Cardinals coach Jeff Walz.
"She played fantastic," he said. "I'm pretty good friends with their staff and I've told them the entire time when Devereaux comes to play they're as good a basketball team as there is. She's such an impact player."
Diggins followed with a 3-pointer and Peters another layup to give the Irish a 19-point advantage.
"I thought she carried us through a large stretch of the game," McGraw said.
Louisville wasn't done, rallying over the next 6 minutes with Peters on the bench. Schimmel's pull-up in the lane started a 16-4 spurt. Charmaine Tay followed with a three-point play and Schimmel's 3-pointer with 8:12 left made it 52-45.
"Charmaine Tay played her heart out," Schimmel said. "She got everyone going and feeding off it. We went out there and kept going as a team."
Peters was on the bench during the Cardinals' run and McGraw put her back in to restore order.
Diggins hit a 3 to make it a 10-point game and had a key steal late in the game that she converted into a basket.
Louisville cut it to six with 2:32 left on Monique Reid's lay-in, but the Irish scored the next five points to seal the win.
Reid, who leads the Cardinals in scoring, was held to just six points.
The Cardinals advanced to the quarterfinals with a 69-47 victory over Villanova. After Saturday's win coach Walz quipped that it wouldn't be too hard to adjust from Villanova's slow plodding style to Notre Dame's fast-paced offense.
Louisville hung around for the first 20 minutes despite shooting 38 percent and committing 13 turnovers. The Cardinals finished the game at the same shooting clip, but made just two of their 18 3-pointers and were outshot 25-7 at the free throw line.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame advances to the BIG EAST Championship semifinals for the ninth time in its 16 appearances at the tournament since joining the conference in 1995-96 ... the Fighting Irish improve to 9-6 (.600) all-time in BIG EAST quarterfinal games and 14-7 (.667) in the first three rounds of the tournament (first round through quarterfinals), as well as 18-15 (.545) all-time in the BIG EAST Championship ... this marked the 13th time in Notre Dame's last 17 BIG EAST tournament games that the margin was 11 points or fewer (18 of 33 all-time tournament games also have fallen within that spread) ... Notre Dame earns its 25th victory of the season, the second consecutive year and third time in four years the Fighting Irish have posted a 25-win season, as well as the eighth time in school history ...the only other time in the program's 34-year history that Notre Dame recorded back-to-back 25-win seasons was 1998-99 through 2000-01, when the Fighting Irish turned in records of 26-5, 27-5 and 34-2 ... the current Notre Dame senior class becomes the fourth group in school history to contribute to three 25-win seasons during their careers, joining the senior classes of 1999-2000 (Danielle Green and Julie Henderson), 2000-01 (Imani Dunbar, current assistant coach Niele Ivey, Meaghan Leahy, Ruth Riley and Kelley Siemon) and 2001-02 (Ericka Haney) ... for just the second time in Notre Dame athletics history, both Notre Dame basketball teams have recorded 25 wins in a season (men are currently 25-5) -- the first time that happened was in 2007-08, when each squad collected exactly 25 wins (men 25-8, women 25-9) ... the Fighting Irish rise to 6-11 (.353) all-time at Hartford's XL Center, including a 6-7 (.462) record in the BIG EAST Championship and 6-5 (.545) mark against other teams besides Connecticut (which uses the facility as one of its home arenas during the regular season) ... Notre Dame rises to 7-4 (.636) all-time against Louisville, including a 6-2 (.750) mark since the Cardinals joined the BIG EAST in 2005-06 (2-0 in the conference tournament) ... this was the eighth time in 11 series games that the margin was 15 points or fewer ... Notre Dame improves to 24-0 this season when leading at halftime and now has won 49 consecutive games when it is ahead at the break ... the Fighting Irish were outrebounded for just the fourth time all season, and first since Dec. 8, when Providence held a 37-35 edge on the glass, but Notre Dame earned a 79-43 road win ... the minus-5 rebounding margin matches Notre Dame's largest of the season, first set by No. 2/3 Baylor on Dec. 1 (the Lady Bears outrebounded the Fighting Irish, 43-38) ... Notre Dame logged double-digit steals for the 23rd time this season, and shot better than 45 percent from the field for the 25th time this year ... senior forward Devereaux Peters not only tied her career high with six blocks (first set on Feb. 16, 2010, at St. John's), but also registered her sixth career "5-5-5" game ("5" or more in three of five major statistical categories), and third this season ... senior forward Becca Bruszewski notched her third double-digit rebounding night of the season, and first since Jan. 29, when she also had 10 rebounds in a win at Villanova.