Nov. 3, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Junior guard Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) scored a game-high 21 points, including nine in a game-opening 17-0 run as the No. 12 Notre Dame women's basketball team charged past Michigan Tech, 102-30, in the exhibition debut for both teams on Wednesday night before an enthusiastic crowd of 7,464 at Purcell Pavilion.
Novosel connected on 8-of-11 shots from the field while adding a game-best six steals and five rebounds, all in just 18 minutes of action. She also led five Fighting Irish players in double figures, with freshman guard Kayla McBride (Erie, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) coming off the bench to chip in 14 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Senior forward/co-captain Becca Bruszewski (Valparaiso, Ind./Wheeler) collected 13 points, six rebounds and four assists, while sophomore guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) piled up 12 points, six rebounds and three assists (with only one turnover).
Junior guard Fraderica Miller (Atlanta, Ga./The Marist School) rounded out the double-digit scoring parade for Notre Dame with 10 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting, and freshman forward Natalie Achonwa (Guelph, Ontario/St. Mary's Catholic) posted game highs of nine rebounds and three blocks.
The Fighting Irish shot 54.3 percent (38-of-70) in their first action of the season, and outrebounded the Huskies, 53-18 (including 25 offensive rebounds), leading to a 26-0 edge in second-chance points. Notre Dame also forced 33 turnovers, with 25 of those coming on steals, and limited MTU to a .211 field goal percentage (8-of-38) for the game.
No player scored in double figures for Michigan Tech, which is trying to replace the graduation of all five starters from last year's 31-3 squad that won its second consecutive NCAA Division II Midwest Regional title and returned to the NCAA Elite Eight. Lindsey Lindstrom and Paige Albi shared team-high scoring honors for the Huskies with six points apiece.
Notre Dame wasted little time in taking control on Wednesday, scoring the first 17 points of the contest in the opening 4:38 of play. In addition to Novosel's nine points in the run, the Fighting Irish also forced Michigan Tech to commit six turnovers on its first seven possessions, with five of those giveaways coming via Notre Dame steals. Lindstrom finally broke the ice for the Huskies by connecting on a three-pointer from the left side exactly five minutes into the game.
MTU seemed to stop the bleeding for the next four minutes, but then the Fighting Irish put together a 13-2 run right up to the eight-minute media timeout that hiked their lead to 37-7. Senior guard/co-captain Brittany Mallory (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh School) tallied five points and Achonwa added four markers in the surge.
The Huskies again righted themselves temporarily, but Notre Dame then closed the half on a 15-3 run covering the final 6:08 of the period. Six different Fighting Irish players scored during that spree, led by Diggins' five points, as Notre Dame took a 52-14 lead to the locker room.
Defense continued to be the story for the Fighting Irish in the second half, as Notre Dame held Michigan Tech without a single field goal for 11:35 during the middle portion of the stanza. All 12 Fighting Irish players in uniform would eventually find their way into the scorebook, including their two walk-ons -- senior forward Mary Forr (Altoona, Pa./Bishop Guilfoyle) and junior guard Veronica Badway (Pittsburgh, Pa./Fox Chapel Area) -- who each scored in the final two minutes.
Notre Dame now will turn its attention to the regular season opener, slated for 4 p.m. (ET) on Nov. 12, when the Fighting Irish play host to New Hampshire at Purcell Pavilion. That game also will see Notre Dame celebrate the 10th anniversary of its 2001 NCAA national championship, with the members of that team set to return to campus for a variety of events, including a pre-game autograph session (2:45-3:45 p.m. ET in Heritage Hall at Purcell Pavilion) and a special halftime ceremony.
Season and single-game tickets for the 2010-11 Notre Dame women's basketball campaign are available by contacting the Murnane Family Ticket Office by phone (574-631-7356) or in person (Gate 9 in the Rosenthal Atrium at Purcell Pavilion) from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) weekdays. Fans also can purchase tickets on-line through the official Notre Dame athletics ticketing web page (www.UND.com/tickets).
For more information on the Notre Dame women's basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women's basketball Twitter pages (www.twitter.com/ndwbbsid or www.twitter.com/notredamewbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the sidebar on the women's basketball page at UND.com.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame posts its largest margin of victory ever in an exhibition game (72 points), eclipsing the old record of 66 points set in a 2008 preseason win over Gannon (Pa.), 96-30 ... the Fighting Irish also tied the record for fewest points allowed in an exhibition, which had been set in that 2008 game against Gannon (and would have been broken on Wednesday had Michigan Tech's Angela Guisfredi not banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer) ... Notre Dame topped the 100-point mark in exhibition play for the first time since 1998, when the Fighting Irish downed the Visby Ladies (a Swedish club), 111-82 ... Wednesday's 102 points were the fourth-most points ever scored by Notre Dame in the preseason ... the Fighting Irish have scored at least 90 points in their last five exhibitions, averaging 96.2 points per game in that stretch, and winning those five contests by an average of 53.2 points per night ... Notre Dame has forced a combined 115 turnovers in their last three exhibition games (an average of 38.3 per game) ... the Fighting Irish improve to 31-1 in exhibition games since 1993-94, while extending their current winning streak in preseason play to 26 consecutive games ... Notre Dame is 10-0 all-time against NCAA Division II teams in exhibition games, including a 5-0 record against teams from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) ... had it been a regular-season contest, Novosel's 21 points would have been a career high, surpassing her current personal best of 19 points scored against Rutgers on Jan. 27, 2009 ... the only player on the roster who didn't see action on Wednesday was freshman forward Ariel Braker (Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich./Grosse Pointe North), who is working her way back to action from a preseason injury ... the popular "Big Mac" promotion returned to Purcell Pavilion for the fourth consecutive season, with fans in attendance receiving coupons for a free McDonald's Big Mac any time the Fighting Irish score 88 points in a game -- ironically, it was Notre Dame's most recent McDonald's All-American (McBride) who did the honors with the season's first "Big Mac Basket", knocking down a mid-range jumper on the left side with four minutes to play ... Wednesday's attendance of 7,464 was the second-largest crowd ever for a Notre Dame women's basketball exhibition, topped only by last year's audience of 7,508 for a 97-53 win over Indianapolis at Purcell Pavilion.