2010 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship
Vermont vs. Notre Dame
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Purcell Pavilion - Notre Dame, Ind.
Today's game marked the first-ever meeting between Vermont and Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish improved to 27-15 (.643) all-time in NCAA play (17th appearance) and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the eighth time in program history (all under head coach Muffet McGraw) and the second time in three seasons (now 8-5 all-time in second round contests). Notre Dame is 2-5 in regional semifinal games but subsequently advanced to the Final Four after both wins (1997, 2001), bringing home the national championship trophy in 2001.
The Irish overcame a double-digit deficit for the fourth time this season (Vermont's largest lead was 20-10 at 11:37 of the first half). Notre Dame erased a 10-point deficit to defeat Purdue in West Lafayette (Jan. 4), came back from 12 down to win at Louisville (Jan. 19), and wiped out a 13-point second half margin to down West Virginia (Jan. 24).
Vermont fell to 1-6 all-time in NCAA Tournament play but advanced to the second round for the first time in school history. The Catamounts also made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since they went dancing three straight seasons from 1992-94.
Diggins' 31 points were the most for an Irish player since Charel Allen dropped 35 on Oklahoma in the second round almost exactly two years ago (79-75 OT victory).
Vermont fell for just the fourth time away from home this season (18-4); the 18 away and neutral wins currently stand as the most in Division I. Only Princeton (14-1) and Stanford (13-1) have more true road wins than Vermont's 12 on the season.
The second-round contest for Vermont was just the fourth for any America East women's team. No America East team has ever advanced to the Sweet 16.
Vermont is now 2-20 all-time versus ranked opponents; the wins came against #22 Boston College (56-48) in 2007 and on #21 Hartford's home court in this year's America East title game (55-50).
The America East finished the season 2-14 against BIG EAST foes. Hartford defeated Louisville on November 17 and Vermont took down Providence on December 21 for the only two wins.
With seven rebounds, senior Courtnay Pilypaitis passed Karalyn Church (904 boards from 1996-2000) to finish her career in third place on Vermont's all-time rebounding list with 905. She finished with 54 rebounds in her final five games (an average of 10.8).
In the tournament opener against Wisconsin , Pilypaitis did not score until the 8:45 mark of the first half but still managed to put up 25 points. Against Notre Dame, Pilypaitis did not crack the scoring column until the 9:25 mark. This time, Notre Dame held her in check, as she finished with just 11 points.
Pilypaitis finished with seven steals in the game (tying her career high), 97 on the season, and 279 for her career (second in Vermont history).
Senior Alissa Sheftic finished with 14 points on the night, giving her 115 points in her final 10 games (the center averaged 6.3 points per game for the year). She collected seven of her nine double-figure scoring games on the season during that stretch.
Freshman Kendra Seto tied her career-high for three-pointers made in the game: she went 3-for-5 from distance on the night. Her other game with three treys came against Albany (3/5/10).
Vermont committed a season-high 25 turnovers (previous high was 22 on two occasions).
Vermont allowed 65+ points for the first time since Jan. 18 (73-64 loss to Boston U.), a span of 16 games.
The eight Sweet 16 appearances have all come in the past 14 seasons, making Notre Dame one of 10 schools to make at least eight such appearances during that span (UConn 14, Tennessee 13, Duke 12, LSU 9, North Carolina 9, Georgia 9, Purdue 8, Rutgers 8, Stanford 8).
Notre Dame moves to 8-2 in NCAA Tournament play at Purcell Pavilion.
The Irish also improve to 85-7 (.924) in their last 92 non-BIG EAST home games (dating back to the 1994-95 season).
Notre Dame extended its home court-winning streak against non-BIG EAST foes to 15 games (last loss versus Minnesota in the first round of last season's NCAA Tournament).
Notre Dame improved to 21-1 versus first-time opponents since the start of the 2000-01 season and have now won 16 straight. The last first-time opponent to defeat the Fighting Irish was Colorado State on 11/21/01 (72-66).
Skylar Diggins (474 points) passed Alicia Ratay (447 points in 1999-2000) to become the third-highest scoring freshman in school history, trailing only Shari Matvey (529 in 1979-80) and Beth Morgan (518 in 1993-94).
Diggins also set career-highs in field goals (13) and attempts (21). (This comes one game after she had season lows in both categories [1-for-4] against Cleveland State.) Her seven steals were also a career-best.
Diggins also dished out six assists to pass Mollie Peirick (106 assists in 1994-95) for the third-highest assist total (108) by a freshman in Irish history.
Diggins and cracked the top ten in steals in Notre Dame single-season history: Diggins is now sixth with 84.
Barlow (one steal) has now gone 29 straight games with at least one theft; she has been held without a steal in just 12 of 129 career contests.
Diggins notched her eighth consecutive game with at least two steals.
Barlow also has now attempted the 10th-most three-pointers in a season in Irish history (52-for-144).
Senior Melissa Lechlitner passed Le'Tania Severe (384 assists from 2000-04) for eighth place on Notre Dame's career assists chart after a three-assist night (now 385 career helpers).
Notre Dame extended its streak of 5+-steal games (19 against Vermont) to 53 and its streak of consecutive games forcing at least 10 turnovers (25 turnovers for Vermont) to 40.
Lechlitner (7-for-8 from the line) has now converted 31 of her last 33 free throws (.939); she has missed just the two free throws in the last 22 games. Throw in Barlow's 2-for-2 night, and the pair have combined to go 36-for-39 (.923) from the stripe in the last 13 games and 66-for-72 (.917) in the past 18.
Vermont entered the NCAA Tournament ranking 10th in the nation in fewest turnovers per game (13.9 entering today's game), yet the Irish forced the America East tourney champs into 25 giveaways (the 23th 20-turnover game and 11th 25-turnover game for Irish opponents this season). Notre Dame finished the home season forcing 25.1 turnovers per game at Purcell Pavilion.
The Irish improved their records on the season to 20-0 when outrebounding their opponent, 26-0 when leading or tied at the half, and 25-0 when making the same number or more free throws than their opponent.
Senior Lindsay Schrader (1410 points, 820 rebounds) became the fourth player in Notre Dame history to eclipse 1400 career points and 800 rebounds, joining Katryna Gaither (2126 pts, 986 reb; 1993-97), Ruth Riley (2072 pts, 1007 reb; 1997-01), and Jacqueline Batteast (1874 pts, 965 reb; 2001-05).
Schrader's double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds) was her sixth of the season and the 17th of her career, extending her record for career double-doubles as a guard in ND history. She also holds the season record of seven (last season).