Dec. 12, 2007
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Ashley Barlow scored 15 of her 19 points in the first half and No. 17 Notre Dame forced 27 turnovers en route to its seventh straight victory, 94-56 over Valparaiso on Wednesday night.
The Irish (9-1) have won all but one of their six home games this season by at least 30 points. The seven-game winning streak is the Irish's longest since they won 10 straight during the 2004-05 season. Valparaiso (3-6) fell to 0-21 against the Irish, who won by the third-most lopsided score against the Crusaders.
A year ago the Irish needed a last-second free throw to beat Valparaiso. On Wednesday, though, the game was over early as the Crusaders couldn't handle Notre Dame's pressing defense. Notre Dame forced 16 turnovers in the first half, leading to 19 Irish points.
Back-to-back plays summed up the kind of night it was for the two teams. Agnieszka Kulaga, Valparaiso's leading scorer, took a 10-foot jumper that rolled twice around the rim and appeared as though it would fall in, but spun out instead. The Irish took the ball down the other end and Melissa Lechlitner took a 14-foot baseline jumper that bounced hard off the back of the rim, off the front of the rim and fell in. The basket was part of a 14-2 run that gave the Irish a 23-8 lead.
The Irish followed that moments later with a 15-2 run to move ahead 40-15. Notre Dame shot 58 percent in the first half and led 47-22 at intermission.
The Irish defense forced two shot-clock violations and numerous other rushed shots, including an air ball.
POST GAME NOTES: The Irish are off to a 9-1 start (or better) for the third time in four seasons and the fifth time in school history; the only time Notre Dame began a season better than the current one was 2000-01, when the Irish opened with 23 consecutive victories en route to the program's first No. 1 national ranking and eventually the NCAA national championship ... Notre Dame posts its sixth 30-point win of the season (all at home) and tops the 90-point mark for the fourth time this year ... both of those figures are the most for the Irish since the 2000-01 national championship season, when they had a school-record 10 30-point victories (four in the first 10 games) and also had four 90-point games ... in addition, during the six seasons following that '00-01 campaign (2001-02 through 2006-07), the Irish had a total of four 90-point games ... Notre Dame's current seven-game winning streak is its longest since a 10-game success string from Jan. 16-Feb. 15, 2005 ... in its six home wins this year, Notre Dame has not trailed by more than three points at any juncture (5-2 vs. Michigan with 18:10 left in the first half on Dec. 2) ... besides improving to 21-0 all-time against Valparaiso, the Irish scored the most points against the Crusaders in series history (previous: 93-60 on Dec. 19, 1987 at the Joyce Center) and posted their largest margin of victory over Valparaiso since Dec. 17, 1995 (90-44, also at home) ... Notre Dame moves to 101-14 (.878) all-time against the current Horizon League alignment, including a 51-5 (.911) record at the Joyce Center ... the Irish have won five in a row against in-state opponents since a 54-51 home loss to Indiana on Dec. 3, 2006 ... Notre Dame had at least four double-digit scorers for the seventh time this year (7-0 record) ... the Irish saw all 11 players score for the fourth time this season ... Notre Dame shot at least 50 percent from the field for the fifth time in 10 games this year ... the Irish forced at least 25 turnovers for the fourth time this year ... Valparaiso's 22 rebounds are the fewest by a Notre Dame opponent since Jan. 4, 2006, when St. John's had only 21 boards in a 66-63 upset win over the Irish in Queens, N.Y. ... coupling her second half at Purdue with the first half vs. Valparaiso, sophomore guard Ashley Barlow scored 34 points on 11-of-15 (.733) shooting with a .750 three-point percentage (6-of-8) ... senior guard Charel Allen rallied from an 0-for-4 shooting start by making her final seven shots of the night ... freshman forward Devereaux Peters not only tallied her fifth double-figure scoring game of the year (fourth in five games), but also blocked at least three shots for the fifth time this season ... freshman guard Brittany Mallory registered her fourth double-digit scoring night of the season and added a season-high four steals for good measure (previous: three steals on three occasions, most recently at Purdue on Dec. 8) ... the Irish topped the 88-point mark at home for the sixth time this year (counting exhibitions), earning free Big Macs for all fans in attendance; for the fourth time in those six games (and third in the past three opportunities), Mallory sank the "Big Mac basket," putting Notre Dame over the top against Valparaiso on a pair of free throws with 1:35 remaining.