Notre Dame women beat DePaul 69-54 in Big EastBy PAT EATON-ROBB, Associated Press Sunday, Mar 4, 2012
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP)—Notre Dame will be playing with some extra incentive in Monday’s Big East semifinals.
Devereaux Peters had 16 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks and the Irish beat DePaul 69-54 on Sunday, setting up a rematch with West Virginia, the only Big East team to beat Notre Dame during the regular season.
The Mountaineers, who beat No. 12 Georgetown 39-32 in Sunday’s first quarterfinal, won in South Bend 65-63 on Feb. 12, ending the Irish’s 21-game winning streak.
“We’ll come out with a chip on our shoulder and play better with a chip on our shoulder,” said Big East player of the year Skylar Diggins, who had 12 points, five assists and six steals on Sunday. “It’s good for a second chance, because they beat us at home.”
Natalie Novosel added 16 points and Kayla McBride had 14 for the Irish (29-2) who are coming off the program’s first outright regular-season conference championship.
Katherine Harry had 10 of her 14 points in the first half for eighth-seeded DePaul (22-10).
Notre Dame took control of the game with a 14-0 run that began in the first half and ended three minutes into the second with a 3-pointer from Novosel that gave the Irish a 48-26 lead.
The Blue Demons fought back, cutting the lead to 11 on a jumper by Jasmine Penny with 7:30 left in the game.
But three straight layups from Peters along with a blocked shot on the other end stretched the lead back out to 17, and DePaul could get no closer than 10 the rest of the way.
“Devereaux’s a great defender, she got defensive player of the year in our league,” Harry said. “She’s really long and uses her length and has great timing on blocking shots. Give respect where respect is due. She got herself some easy buckets on getting some offensive rebounds.”
DePaul hit four of its first six shots and led 10-7 early on the strength of two 3-pointers by Deanna Ortiz. But Notre Dame responded with an 11-2 run to take the lead for good.
Peters and Diggins scored the final two buckets of the half, and Notre Dame blocked three DePaul shots down the stretch to go into halftime with a 38-26 lead.
The Irish outrebounded DePaul 41-28 and Peters had six of the team’s seven blocks.
“I think I’m just being smarter about which ones to block and which ones to go straight up and make them shoot over me,” Peters said.
The Irish have now won two consecutive games at the XL Center. They closed the regular season with a 72-59 win over Connecticut to sweep the season series with the Huskies and secure sole possession of the regular-season conference title.
Notre Dame has never won a Big East tournament title, and hasn’t won any conference tournament since taking the 1994 Midwestern Collegiate Conference crown.
The Irish shared the regular-season title with UConn in 2000-01 and went on to win the program’s only NCAA championship that season.
Notre Dame has now won seven of the last eight meetings with DePaul, including a 90-70 win in South Bend on Feb. 5.
DePaul beat South Florida 76-62 on Saturday, behind 33 points from Anna Martin. Martin was held to seven by the Irish on 3 of 10 shooting.
“I think everybody did guard her a little bit and I think that probably trying to keep a little fresher defender on her was a little bit more effective,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw.
The Blue Demons have advanced past the tournament’s quarterfinals just once since joining the conference and that was last year, when they lost to Notre Dame 71-67 in the semifinals.
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