March 22, 2011
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Notre Dame had the impressive NCAA tourney resume.
With a dominating inside game Monday night, the Fighting Irish just padded it some more.
Their 77-64 victory over Temple advanced the Irish to the regional semifinals for the ninth time, and second in a row.
It wasn't exactly easy as Temple refused to quit, pulling within five points early in the second half and within nine late thanks to a defense that forced 19 turnovers. But when they needed a play, the Irish got it.
"We have played in games like this before and prepared for games like this so we didn't panic," said Natalie Novosel, who had 17 points, and made all three 3-pointers and 6 of 8 free throws. "That was the key. We executed on offense and we shut them down on defense."
The Irish, who will play the winner of Oklahoma and Miami, won this one with their inside game. Big East Defensive Player of the Year Devereaux Peters, who had her ninth career double-double, led the charge.
Peters finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks, and Notre Dame had a 44-20 advantage in the paint.
"Devereaux with a double-double came up big for us in a big game," said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw.
Shey Peddy led the Owls with 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting, and Kristen McCarthy added 16 points.
But the Owls didn't give them much help.
"(At one point) we were only getting points from one guy - Shey," Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said. "We win with balanced scoring. At the end, she was exhausted and she couldn't make the plays because she wasn't getting help earlier."
Still, the Owls made a game of it, pulling within 52-47 on a 3-pointer by McCarthy wth 13:19 left.
"When we got within five, we felt it was our game, our opportunity," said Peddy, who added to her Temple single-season steals record with three Monday.
But the Owls were outscored 10-0 over the next 3 minutes to make it a 15-point game. They got no closer than nine the rest of the way.
"The girls said in the huddle, 'They look tired, we need to keep running,"' McGraw said. "Our transition got going and I thought we did wear them down."
Cardoza said the game plan was to make Notre Dame take jump shots so they could protect the paint. "But we forgot our game plan," she said.
Temple (24-9) has lost all five of its second-round games.
That was the key. We executed on offense and we shut them down on defense.
Notre Dame got an unexpected boost from Achonwa.
"She was really amazing," McGraw said. "She was going down the lane and finishing with contact. She did a great job and made big shots and grabbed eight rebounds. She didn't look nervous in a tournament game as a freshman."
Notre Dame led 41-29 at halftime and now is 26-0 when taking a lead into the locker room.
The Irish dominated in just about every category in the first half. They held an edge in shooting (59.3 percent to 33.3 percent), in rebounding (18-16) and points in the paint (22-8).
Peddy kept Temple within striking distance in the first half by hitting 3 of 4 from beyond the arc (and 4 of 7 overall). Her teammates, meanwhile, were a combined 7 of 26 in the first half.
The Owls took a 14-13 lead on a 3-pointer by Qwedia Wallace and were within 27-24 on a 3-pointer by Peddy. But Diggins and Peters proved a powerful 1-2 punch, combining for Notre Dame's final 14 points of the half as the Irish outscored BYU 14-5.
"We were finding people on the 3-point line in the first half and finding open players," McGraw said. "Our shot selection was good and we shot it well. Then we got it going in transition and got to the basket more and got to the foul line. With the lead, we wanted to attack rather than settle for 3s."
Both teams shot 25 free throws, but the Owls made just 12. Sophomore Natasha Thames, who came off the bench to finish with a double-double for Temple (12 points and 14 rebounds), made just 4 of 11 free throws.
It would proved costly down the stretch.
"Going against one of the top 10 teams in the country, we knew we had our work cut out for us," Cardoza said. "But we never backed down and fought to the end."
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame has advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the ninth time in program history, all in the past 15 seasons (1996-97 to present), as well as the third time in four years ... the Fighting Irish are one of six teams in the country with at least nine Sweet 16 berths in the past 15 years, joining Tennessee (14), Duke (13), North Carolina (10), LSU (9), and Stanford (9) -- Connecticut (currently with 14), Georgia (9), Purdue (8) and Rutgers (8) can join that list depending on their results Tuesday night (Connecticut plays host to Purdue) ... Notre Dame's senior class has helped the program to three Sweet 16 appearances in their four-year careers, a feat duplicated by only four other senior classes in school history (1999-2000, 2000-01, 2002-03 and 2003-04) ... the Fighting Irish improve to 9-5 (.643) all-time in NCAA Championship second-round games ... Notre Dame is 29-16 (.644) all-time in the NCAA Championship ... the Fighting Irish are 6-2 (.750) all-time as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Championship ... Notre Dame is 18-5 (.783) all-time in NCAA Championship play as a higher seed ... Notre Dame recorded its 28th victory of the season, and combined with the 27 victories by the Fighting Irish men's basketball team, it gives Notre Dame more combined basketball wins in one season (55) than any other campaign in school history (the previous record was 54, set in 2000-01 when the Fighting Irish women went 34-2 and won their first national title, while the men posted a 20-10 record and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship) ... Notre Dame shot better than 50 percent from the floor on Monday, the third time in the past five NCAA tournament games the Fighting Irish have topped the 50-percent mark ... it's also the 17th time this season Notre Dame has shot 50 percent or better from the field ... the Fighting Irish dished out 21 assists, tying for the fourth-most helpers by a Notre Dame squad in an NCAA Championship contest and most in exactly one year (25 vs. Cleveland State on March 21, 2010, at Purcell Pavilion) ... Notre Dame had five double-digit scorers for the fifth time this season (5-0 record) and pulled off that feat in an NCAA tournament game for the first time since March 30, 2001, when all five Fighting Irish starters cracked double figures in a 90-75 win over Connecticut at the NCAA Women's Final Four (national semifinal) at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis ... with nine steals on Monday, Notre Dame set a new school record with 454 steals this season, topping last year's mark of 450 thefts ... the Fighting Irish also moved up to fifth on the program's single-season assist chart (609) and tied for seventh in blocks for one season (160) ... Notre Dame handed out at least 20 assists for the 14th time this season ... with her 15 points on Tuesday, sophomore guard Skylar Diggins now has 504 points this season, joining junior guard Natalie Novosel (520 points) in the 500-point club and giving the Fighting Irish two 500-point scorers in the same season for just the third time in program history and first since 1996-97, when All-Americans Katryna Gaither (776) and Beth Morgan (696) reached that milestone ... Diggins also now has 988 career points, putting her in position to become just the second Fighting Irish player to score 1,000 points before the end of her sophomore season (Morgan had exactly 1,000 points from 1993-95) ... Novosel tied a Notre Dame NCAA Championship record by going 3-for-3 from the three-point line, a feat first managed by Charel Allen, who also was perfect on three tries from distance against Oklahoma on March 25, 2008, in an NCAA Oklahoma City Region second round game at West Lafayette, Ind. ... Novosel is 169-for-216 (.782) at the free throw line this year, ranking second on the Notre Dame single-season charts in both categories behind the performance by consensus national player of the year Ruth Riley in 2000-01 (182-for-237) ... senior forward Becca Bruszewski went a perfect 8-for-8 at the foul line, tying the third-best free throw shooting performance in Notre Dame's NCAA tournament history, with Allen the last to do better from the charity stripe (12-for-12 from Oklahoma in 2008) ... senior forward Devereaux Peters recorded her first double-double in NCAA Championship play, and posted the first double-double by a Fighting Irish player in the NCAA tournament since last year's second-round win over Vermont, when Lindsay Schrader had 14 points and 11 rebounds on March 23, 2010, at Purcell Pavilion ... Peters' 12 rebounds are the most by a Notre Dame player in an NCAA Championship game since March 23, 2008, when Ashley Barlow also had 12 boards in an NCAA Oklahoma City Region first-round win over SMU in West Lafayette, Ind. ... freshman forward Natalie Achonwa had eight rebounds against Temple, the most for a Notre Dame rookie in the NCAA tournament since March 18, 2007, when Barlow grabbed 10 rebounds in an NCAA Dallas Region first-round game vs. California in Pittsburgh, Pa. ... the Fighting Irish move to 3-2 all-time against Temple, having won the past three series games against the Owls (this was first played at a neutral site) ... Notre Dame now has won 14 consecutive games against Atlantic 10 Conference opponents and rises to 69-18 (.793) all-time against the current A-10 alignment, including a 37-10 (.787) mark away from South Bend ... the Fighting Irish are 3-0 all-time against A-10 teams in the NCAA Championship, having previously defeated George Washington in 1997 (62-52 in East Regional final in Columbia, S.C.) and 2000 (95-60 in Mideast Region second round game at Purcell Pavilion) ... Notre Dame is 5-1 (.833) all-time when wearing its alternate white/green uniforms in the NCAA Championship.