Novosel’s 17 points lead Irish over Temple
SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—Notre Dame had the impressive NCAA tourney resume.
With a dominating inside game Monday night, the Fighting Irish just padded it some more.
Their 77-64 victory over Temple advanced the Irish to the regional semifinals for the ninth time, and second in a row.
It wasn’t exactly easy as Temple refused to quit, pulling within five points early in the second half and within nine late thanks to a defense that forced 19 turnovers. But when they needed a play, the Irish got it.
“We have played in games like this before and prepared for games like this so we didn’t panic,” said Natalie Novosel, who had 17 points, and made all three 3-pointers and 6 of 8 free throws. “That was the key. We executed on offense and we shut them down on defense.”
The Irish, who will play the winner of Oklahoma and Miami, won this one with their inside game. Big East Defensive Player of the Year Devereaux Peters, who had her ninth career double-double, led the charge.
Peters finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks, and Notre Dame had a 44-20 advantage in the paint.
“Devereaux with a double-double came up big for us in a big game,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw.
Skylar Diggins added 15 points for Notre Dame (28-7), while Becca Bruszewski had 12 and freshman Natalie Achonwa 10 off the bench.
Shey Peddy led the Owls with 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting, and Kristen McCarthy added 16 points.
But the Owls didn’t give them much help.
“(At one point) we were only getting points from one guy—Shey,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said. “We win with balanced scoring. At the end, she was exhausted and she couldn’t make the plays because she wasn’t getting help earlier.”
Still, the Owls made a game of it, pulling within 52-47 on a 3-pointer by McCarthy wth 13:19 left.
“When we got within five, we felt it was our game, our opportunity,” said Peddy, who added to her Temple single-season steals record with three Monday.
But the Owls were outscored 10-0 over the next 3 minutes to make it a 15-point game. They got no closer than nine the rest of the way.
“The girls said in the huddle, ‘They look tired, we need to keep running,”’ McGraw said. “Our transition got going and I thought we did wear them down.”
Cardoza said the game plan was to make Notre Dame take jump shots so they could protect the paint. “But we forgot our game plan,” she said.
Temple (24-9) has lost all five of its second-round games.
Notre Dame got an unexpected boost from Achonwa.
“She was really amazing,” McGraw said. “She was going down the lane and finishing with contact. She did a great job and made big shots and grabbed eight rebounds. She didn’t look nervous in a tournament game as a freshman.”
Notre Dame led 41-29 at halftime and now is 26-0 when taking a lead lead into the locker room.
The Irish dominated in just about every category in the first half. They held an edge in shooting (59.3 percent to 33.3 percent), in rebounding (18-16) and points in the paint (22-8).
Peddy kept Temple within striking distance in the first half by hitting 3 of 4 from beyond the arc (and 4 of 7 overall). Her teammates, meanwhile, were a combined 7 of 26 in the first half.
The Owls took a 14-13 lead on a 3-pointer by Qwedia Wallace and were within 27-24 on a 3-pointer by Peddy. But Diggins and Peters proved a powerful 1-2 punch, combining for Notre Dame’s final 14 points of the half as the Irish outscored BYU 14-5.
“We were finding people on the 3-point line in the first half and finding open players,” McGraw said. “Our shot selection was good and we shot it well. Then we got it going in transition and got to the basket more and got to the foul line. With the lead, we wanted to attack rather than settle for 3s.”
Both teams shot 25 free throws, but the Owls made just 12. Sophomore Natasha Thames, who came off the bench to finish with a double-double for Temple (12 points and 14 rebounds), made just 4 of 11 free throws.
It would proved costly down the stretch.
“Going against one of the top 10 teams in the country, we knew we had our work cut out for us,” Cardoza said. “But we never backed down and fought to the end.”
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