March 6, 2011
BIG EAST Conference Championship -- Semifinal
#7/8 [#3 seed] Notre Dame Fighting Irish (25-6 / 13-3 BIG EAST) vs. #12/13 [#2 seed] DePaul Blue Demons (27-5 / 13-3 BIG EAST)
DATE: March 7, 2010
TIME: 8 p.m. ET
AT: Hartford, Conn. - XL Center (16,294)
SERIES: DPU leads 19-15
1ST MTG: DPU 82-53 (1/30/79)
LAST MTG: DPU 70-69 (2/28/11)
TV: ESPNU (live) (Beth Mowins, p-b-p / Brooke Weisbrod, color / Allison Williams, sideline)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) / UND.com (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: UND.com / bigeast.org
#7/8 Notre Dame Meets #12/13 DePaul Monday In BIG EAST Semifinal
Just one week after the two teams met in arguably one of the top games in the BIG EAST Conference, if not the nation, this season, No. 7/8 Notre Dame and No. 12/13 DePaul will find out if things are better the second time around when they square off in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship at 8 p.m. (ET) Monday at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. The game, which will be televised live to a national cable audience on ESPNU, will feature the two second-place teams in this year's conference standings, with the Blue Demons garnering the two seed by virtue of their last-second 70-69 win over the Fighting Irish on Feb. 28 in Chicago.
Notre Dame (25-6) booked its place in this year's conference tournament semifinals with a 63-53 victory over Louisville on Sunday night in Hartford. The Fighting Irish used a 22-5 run crossing over halftime to take control of the contest, with Notre Dame holding off a late Cardinal comeback that drew the No. 6 seed within six points in the final 2:30.
Senior forward Devereaux Peters paced the Fighting Irish with a stellar all-around effort, chalking up a game-high 19 points, nine rebounds and a career-high-tying six blocks. Sophomore guard Skylar Diggins added 14 points, while senior forward Becca Bruszewski chipped in with eight points and a team-high 10 rebounds for Notre Dame, which shot 46.5 percent from the floor in the victory.
The Notre Dame-DePaul Series
Arguably the Midwest's premier women's basketball rivalry, Notre Dame and DePaul will square off for the 35th time on Monday, with the Blue Demons holding a 19-15 edge in the all-time series. DePaul also is 2-0 against the Fighting Irish on neutral courts, with those two games marking the only prior postseason matchups between the programs (77-69 in the old National Women's Invitation Tournament on March 24, 1989, in Amarillo, Texas; 76-71 on March 3, 2007, in a BIG EAST Championship first-round game in Hartford).
DePaul snapped a four-game series losing streak to Notre Dame in the teams' lone meeting to date this year, winning 70-69 on Feb. 28 in the regular season finale for both teams in Chicago.
The Last Time Notre Dame and DePaul Met
Felicia Chester took Taylor Pikes' pass and put in a layup with 5.9 seconds left and No. 12 DePaul stunned visiting No. 7 Notre Dame 70-69 on Feb. 28 at McGrath-Phillips Arena in Chicago.
Even after Chester's layup, Notre Dame (24-6, 13-3) wasn't quite finished. Skylar Diggins, who had a team-high 18 points, drove the lane for her own game-winning try, only to have the ball stripped away as time expired.
Chester scored 16 of her game-high 20 points in the second half as DePaul rallied from a nine-point deficit for a lead with 1:57 to play following Keisha Hampton's layup.
Diggins hit two free throws with 1:49 to go, and Natalie Novosel followed with a three-pointer as Notre Dame pulled to 66-65. Pikes restored a three-point lead with 59 seconds to play, but Diggins' layup closed the gap to 68-67 just 13 seconds later.
DePaul outscored Notre Dame 18-11 off turnovers on the way to a 32-26 halftime lead.
The Fighting Irish turned the tables early in the second half with a 9-2 run. DePaul's third turnover of the second half allowed Notre Dame to take its first lead since the opening minutes on Becca Bruszewski's hook shot at 18:02.
DePaul retook the lead at 36-35 on Chester's hook shot with 16:27 left, but Diggins gave Notre Dame the lead again seconds later with a bank off the glass.
Hampton added 17 points for the Blue Demons while Novosel also had 17 for Notre Dame.
The Last Time Notre Dame and DePaul Met In The BIG EAST Championship
Notre Dame put together a stirring comeback from an 11-point second-half deficit to tie its BIG EAST Championship first-round game with DePaul, but the Fighting Irish couldn't quite finish off matters, as the 10th-seeded Blue Demons held off No. 7 seed Notre Dame, 76-71 on March 3, 2007, at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. Breona Gray got a good look at a game-tying three-pointer for Notre Dame from the right corner with nine seconds to play, but her attempt rattled out and DePaul iced the game with two foul shots.
Charel Allen lived up to her billing as a first-team all-conference selection, tallying 18 points, six rebounds and five assists. Gray added 17 points, going 7-of-13 from the field for Notre Dame, which connected on 41.4 percent of its shots and held the Blue Demons to a .403 field goal percentage. DePaul also went just 4-of-11 from three-point range, a far cry from its 11-for-22 effort against the Fighting Irish five days earlier.
The difference came at the foul line, where the Blue Demons were nearly flawless, making 22-of-23 free throws (95.7 percent). Notre Dame, which came into the contest as the BIG EAST's top free throw shooting team at .763, was 76.9 percent (20-of-26) from the stripe.
In what was a recurring theme during each of their three games during the 2006-07 season (all of which took place in a 20-day span at the end of the year), the Fighting Irish and DePaul played to a virtual stalemate in the first half. There were five ties and four lead changes in the period, with Notre Dame jumping out to a five-point lead on two occasions, the last on two free throws by Erica Williamson that made it 16-11 at the 13:40 mark. However, those foul shots came as the Irish were beginning a six-minute drought from the floor, while the Blue Demons went on a 15-4 run, ending with Jenna Rubino's layup with nine minutes to go in the frame.
Gray halved the deficit on her third triple of the night a minute later, and Notre Dame basically kept it at a one-possession game through the final media timeout of the first half. Allen hit a pair of jumpers around two Sam Quigley free throws to tie the game twice and Melissa Lechlitner then put the Fighting Irish back in front on a jumper with 2:49 remaining. China Threatt responded with a bucket for DePaul, but Crystal Erwin put Notre Dame on top, 36-34 at halftime on a layup off a Lechlitner assist with 33 seconds left in the period.
The Fighting Irish kept their momentum going with eight of the first 12 points in the second half, taking a 44-38 lead on two Allen free throws with three minutes gone. Notre Dame then endured another rough shooting spell, as DePaul went on a 19-2 run and held the Irish without a field goal for nearly seven minutes. Threatt scored seven points in the run, while Allie Quigley boosted the Blue Demon lead to 57-46 on two foul shots with 10:38 to play.
Allen ended the Notre Dame offensive drought with a long jumper 18 seconds later, but the Irish wound up trading baskets for the next four minutes and still faced a 66-56 deficit when Caprice Smith hit a jumper with 6:09 left. That's when Notre Dame called upon the resiliency it has shown all season, ripping off 10 unanswered points in 2:25, with Ashley Barlow accounting for seven points in the surge. Allen capped the rally by making the first of two free throws that tied the game at 66-66 with 3:44 remaining. Yet, she missed the second foul shot, and Rubino put DePaul back on top to stay with a baseline floater as the shot clock was about to expire with 2:46 left. Allen was fouled again on the ensuing Fighting Irish possession, but again made one of two free throws, leaving her team down by one.
Allie Quigley then took over for the Blue Demons by scoring her team's final eight points on a jumper in the lane and six free throws (part of a 16-for-16 second-half effort by DePaul). Notre Dame got back within a point twice more, the second coming on Gray's putback with 45.9 seconds showing. Quigley then drew a foul with the shot clock again winding down and hit two free throws with 21.3 ticks to go, rebuilding a three-point lead. The Irish raced upcourt and found Gray open for her potential game-tying trey, but it wouldn't fall and Quigley closed the scoring on two more free throws with 5.5 seconds left.
Other Notre Dame-DePaul Series Tidbits
Fighting Irish In The BIG EAST Championship
Notre Dame is in the midst of its 16th BIG EAST Championship this week, having compiled a 18-15 (.545) tournament record to date. Counting Monday's appearance, the Fighting Irish now have reached the semifinals in nine of 16 years and advanced to the title game four times (1996, 1997, 1999, 2001). Ironically, three of Notre Dame's four BIG EAST finals appearances came when the tournament was held in the state of Connecticut (1996, 1997 and 2001 -- all on the UConn campus at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs).
Prior to joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, Notre Dame was a member of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now known as the Horizon League). During its seven-year affiliation with that conference, the Fighting Irish won the MCC Tournament five times, with Notre Dame's most recent conference tourney title (of any kind) coming in 1994, following a 72-63 championship game win over Xavier at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Other BIG EAST Championship Tidbits
The Upper Hand
Take out Notre Dame's 78-57 loss at current No. 1 Connecticut on Feb. 19, and the Fighting Irish have not trailed by more than nine points at any time in 17 games against BIG EAST Conference opponents this season. The largest deficit Notre Dame has faced outside of that second meeting with UConn has been a 20-11 hole with 11:03 left in the first half at DePaul on Feb. 28.
Going one step further -- the Fighting Irish have led or been tied at halftime in 15 of their 17 games against other BIG EAST teams this season, with the lone exceptions being a 37-29 deficit at Connecticut (Feb. 19) and a 32-26 score at DePaul (Feb. 28).
Game #31 Recap: Louisville
When Devereaux Peters is on the court, Notre Dame is a very tough team to beat. Peters had 19 points, nine rebounds, and tied her career high with six blocks to help the No. 7 Fighting Irish top Louisville 63-53 on Sunday night in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST tournament.
"She's a big key for us," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "I only sat her for five minutes and they really went off on runs when she wasn't in the game. Her on the floor makes us a very different team."
The Irish (25-6) will play DePaul on Monday night (8 p.m. ET, ESPNU) in the semifinals. It will be a rematch of last Monday night's game in which the Blue Demons scored with about six seconds left to edge the Fighting Irish by one point. That win earned DePaul the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
"It's a good redemption opportunity for us," said Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins, who finished with 14 points. "DePaul's a great team and we know that from their record. We know we're going to have a great game and hopefully it will be a great matchup again."
With top-seeded UConn and fourth seed Rutgers advancing, it will be only the third time in the past decade that the top four seeds advanced to the semifinals. Leading 26-24 with two minutes left in the first half, Peters keyed a 22-5 spurt over the next eight minutes to help the Fighting Irish take control.
Louisville could only get within six the rest of the game.
Shoni Schimmel scored 12 to lead the Cardinals (20-12).
Peters was all over the court for the Fighting Irish. She scored 13 points during the game-changing run, including eight straight at one point. With Notre Dame leading 40-29, she had a block on one end of the floor and then a three-point play on the other side.
The senior forward's effort impressed Cardinals coach Jeff Walz.
"She played fantastic," he said. "I'm pretty good friends with their staff and I've told them the entire time when Devereaux comes to play they're as good a basketball team as there is. She's such an impact player."
Diggins followed with a three-pointer and Peters another layup to give the Fighting Irish a 19-point advantage.
"I thought she carried us through a large stretch of the game," McGraw said.
Louisville wasn't done, rallying over the next six minutes with Peters on the bench. Schimmel's pull-up in the lane started a 16-4 spurt. Charmaine Tay followed with a three-point play and Schimmel's three-pointer with 8:12 left made it 52-45.
"Charmaine Tay played her heart out," Schimmel said. "She got everyone going and feeding off it. We went out there and kept going as a team."
Peters was on the bench during the Cardinals' run and McGraw put her back in to restore order.
Diggins hit a three to make it a 10-point game and had a key steal late in the game that she converted into a basket.
Louisville cut it to six with 2:32 left on Monique Reid's lay-in, but the Fighting Irish scored the next five points to seal the win.
Reid, who leads the Cardinals in scoring, was held to just six points.
Louisville hung around for the first 20 minutes despite shooting 38 percent and committing 13 turnovers. The Cardinals finished the game at the same shooting clip, but made just two of their 18 three-pointers and were outshot 25-7 at the free throw line.
Noting The Louisville Game