Dec. 12, 2009
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Notre Dame got off to a fast start. Brittany Mallory made sure the third-ranked Fighting Irish didn't let up.
The Irish were ahead 13-2 when Mallory came off the bench five minutes into the game. She made her first five baskets, scoring 13 points in just over four minutes to help the Irish extend the lead to 31-10 with a 3-pointer midway through the first half. She finished with a career-high 22 points in 20 minutes of play to lead the Irish to an 88-47 win over Valparaiso.
"Brittany's been playing her role extremely well," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "She's playing great basketball. She has such great poise when she's on the floor. She's working hard defensively. She's doing a lot of little things. I'm really pleased with the way she's playing."
Mallory, whose previous career high was 19 points against Georgia Southern last season, said she focuses on making sure there is no letdown when she enters the game.
"I've just got to come in and do what I can," she said. "It's just a matter of keeping the intensity that my team's already started."
The Crusaders (3-5), who lost their fifth straight, went on a 10-2 run to close to 33-20 on a three-point play by Raegan Moore with 6:12 left before intermission. But Valparaiso missed its last nine shots of the half and trailed 45-22 at halftime.
The Irish pulled away throughout the second half. Valparaiso coach Keith Freeman was disappointed in his team's passive play. Betsy Adams, Valparaiso's leading scorer at 17.1 points a game, was held scoreless on 0-for-8 shooting.
"I think it just points to the fact that they're bigger, stronger, faster," Freeman said. "They overpowered her. They overpowered us in pretty much every position. How many times did we get knocked to the floor and how many times did they get knocked to the floor? That's the difference in the game."
Valparaiso shot 29 percent and had 29 turnovers and just six assists.
Moore led the Crusaders with 16 points and Lauren Kenney had 12 points. Becca Bruszewski had 11 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes of play for the Irish, Ashley Barlow had 11 points and Natalie Novosel added 12 points off the bench.
McGraw said she's just happy the Irish head into finals week undefeated, especially after seeing some upsets the past week.
"We really wanted to make sure we took care of business," she said.
POST GAME QUOTES:
Notre Dame Women's Basketball
Notre Dame vs. Valparaiso
December 12, 2009 Purcell Pavilion, Notre Dame, Ind.
Notre Dame Quotes
Muffet McGraw Head Coach
On tonight's game and the fast start...
"We came out strong defensively and got the press going and forced some turnovers that led to some baskets. I was extremely happy with the way the game was going."
On Brittany Mallory and overall team defensive effort on Adams...
"Mallory had a great game, career high for her today and she shot the ball really well. A lot of people chipped in. We got good performances from a lot of different people. I was particularly pleased with the good defense on Adams because she was coming in averaging 17 points a game, and we held her without a field goal."
Becca Bruszewski Junior Forward
On opponents focusing on our guards...
"We don't look like a big time threat inside because we are not 6'4 and 250. I mean we are quick and agile and that's what people take for granted."
On building on fast start and putting teams away...
"It's important to get that jump and keep the lead. I know we come out strong and they come back. We do not do a good job of putting them away, but today we did."
Ashley Barlow Senior Guard
On shutting down Adams...
"It was a team effort tonight. We worked on that a couple days this week. We tried to focus on where their best shooters where, and knowing where she was each time she came down the court."
Brittany Mallory Junior Guard
On her performance and coming off the bench...
"I think the shots were just there. I come off the bench and I don't want to lose any intensity my team started. I just come in and just do what I can. I got confidence coming off the bench and hitting my first couple of shots."
Keith Freeman Head Coach
On Notre Dame's quickness and how that caused problems...
"They're a good team. I was really disappointed with how we handled the situation. It just felt like we were unaggressive. We did not attack. They have good players. They have multi-dimensional players. I'm looking from our standpoint at how we attacked the game and it was vast chasm from the way we attacked them when we played them last year at our place. It's just very disappointing."
On the defensive play against Betsy Adams...
"They're bigger, stronger, and faster and we need to continue to work at getting stronger. She's a sophomore who needs to continue to spend time in the weight room. They overpowered her. They overpowered us at pretty much every position. How many times did we get knocked to the floor and how many times did they get knocked to the floor? That's a difference in the game. They're being aggressive and we're not being aggressive. We have to get on balance and be tougher-minded. We have to be able to handle the basketball to control tempo. We can't do that. If you aren't as strong as the other team, you have to be able to handle the ball and finesse; play a finesse game. We can't do that, because we can't hold onto the ball long enough."
On Ashley Varner's role in the game and changes between this year and last year...
"I certainly don't want to define her by today's game, because Ashley Varner is an example of everything that's good about student athletes. She is a 3.78 student. She is a hard worker in the classroom. I would hire her in a heartbeat if I was ever looking for somebody to work at my company; she's a winner."
Ashley Varner Junior Forward
On being back and playing in front of some old friends...
"It's definitely a good feeling. I saw a lot of people and being able to play with Skylar [Diggins]. It was just sort of bittersweet, because I felt like we could have played and kept up with them if we had played like we know how to play."
Raegan Moore Freshman Guard
On her game and what see was able to do tonight...
"I was just trying to step up for my team and give them what they need, give them a boost, get the energy going, and get everyone psyched to finish that game like we know how to play it."
On takeaways from the game and playing the 3rd-ranked team in the country...
"I have definitely realized that I have the capability of doing some things where I have to get stronger. Like coach said, get in the weight room and mentally come in prepared for the game and not psych myself out so much."
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame continues the second-best start in school history, while its current nine-game winning streak is its longest since a 10-game run from Nov. 20, 2007-Jan. 2, 2008 ... the Fighting Irish improve to 23-0 all-time against Valparaiso (11-0 at home), with Saturday's 41-point margin being the largest in South Bend since Dec. 17, 1995 (90-44 ND win) in a series that dates back to the inaugural Notre Dame women's basketball game (a 48-41 Fighting Irish win on Dec. 3, 1977 at Purcell Pavilion) ... the Fighting Irish also have held the Crusaders to fewer than 60 points in 21 of 23 series meetings, while topping that 60-point mark themselves in 16 of 23 series contests ... Notre Dame now is 116-21 (.784) all-time against in-state opponents, with a 57-11 (.838) home record and active 11-game winning streak (seven in a row at home) ... the Fighting Irish are 104-14 (.881) all-time against current Horizon League members, with a 53-5 (.914) record at Purcell Pavilion ... Notre Dame has held six of its nine opponents to 60 points or fewer, with Saturday's 47 points allowed coming two points shy of its season-best defensive effort (45 by Iona on Nov. 22) ... the Fighting Irish ties a school record with their fourth 35-point win of the season, matching last year's mark ... Notre Dame has forced at least 20 turnovers in all nine games this season, while the Fighting Irish have come up with at least 29 takeaways in four of five home games thus far ... after allowing IPFW to make 11-of-22 three-pointers on Tuesday night, Notre Dame clamped down at the three-point line on Saturday, holding Valparaiso to 2-of-10 from beyond the arc ... the Fighting Irish also held the Horizon League's top scorer, Valparaiso's Betsy Adams (17.1 ppg. at tipoff), scoreless in 30 minutes of action (0-8 FG, 0-3 3FG) ... Notre Dame limited the Crusaders to an opponent season-low 22 points in the first half (previous: 24 by Iona on Nov. 22) ... the Fighting Irish held Valparaiso to an opponent season-low .293 field goal percentage (previous: .309 by Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Nov. 15) ... Notre Dame tied its season high with eight three-pointers, having also reached that total against Iona (Nov. 22) and Oklahoma (Nov. 28) ... the Fighting Irish set new season bests for free throws made (previous: 19 at #21 Michigan State on Nov. 19) and attempted (previous: 32 vs. #23/24 San Diego State on Nov. 26) ... junior guard Brittany Mallory becomes the sixth different player to lead the Fighting Irish in scoring this season, and the second to do so off the bench; freshman guard Skylar Diggins scored a season-high 21 points (then the most by a Notre Dame player this year) as a reserve in an 84-79 win over #23/24 San Diego State on Nov. 26 at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands ... Mallory not only set a new career high in scoring (previous: 19 vs. Georgia Southern on Nov. 25, 2008), but she also tied a personal best for field goals made (also vs. Georgia Southern), set a new career high for field goal attempts (previous: 12, twice, most recently vs. Oklahoma on Nov. 28, 2009), and logged her first career "point-a-minute" game ... Mallory is the second Notre Dame player this season with a "point-a-minute" effort, following junior forward Becca Bruszewski's 11 points in 11 minutes vs. South Carolina on Nov. 27 ... sophomore guard Natalie Novosel scored a season-high 12 points, after notching 10 points on two occasions (most recently in her previous outing on Tuesday night vs. IPFW) ... sophomore guard Fraderica Miller nabbed a career-high five steals, two more than her previous best that she set twice (most recently on Nov. 22, 2009 vs. Iona) ... for the third time this year, senior guard/tri-captain Melissa Lechlitner dished out a season-high six assists ... senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow moved up another rung on the Notre Dame all-time scoring ladder into 17th place with 1,207 points, passing Heidi Bunek (1,202 from 1985-89) ... Barlow also rose into a tie for fifth place on the Fighting Irish career steals chart with 226 thefts, matching Krissi Davis' total from 1987-91 ... fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader took over sole possession of 20th place on the school's career scoring list with 1,159 points, easing by former teammate Courtney LaVere (1,150 from 2002-06) ... Schrader made her 100th career start on Saturday, becoming the 12th player in school history to reach that milestone (and the first since Jacqueline Batteast in 2004-05).