Feb. 27, 2008
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — After losing in overtime to South Florida the past two seasons, No. 14 Notre Dame took all the drama out of Wednesday night’s game early.
The Fighting Irish used a 27-5 run in the first half to gain control and continued to pull away throughout to beat the Bulls 92-49 on Wednesday night.
“They showed tonight how good they are,” South Florida coach Jose Fernandez said. ‘I’m disappointed in our guys that we couldn’t give them a much better game.”
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw was especially pleased with the first-half play of the Irish (22-6, 10-4 BIG EAST), who outrebounded South Florida 29-14, outscored them 28-2 in the paint, outshot them 47 percent to 23 percent and forced 14 turnovers.
“The first half was about as well as we’ve played all year,” she said.
The Bulls (13-14, 3-11) scored just 15 points in the first half, matching their season-low total in the first half against Duke in the second game of the season. They lost that game 89-52. The Irish held Saint Francis (Pa.) to 14 points in the second half en route to an 82-39 victory on Dec. 29.
“I was really pleased with just about everybody,” McGraw said.
Lindsay Schrader, who led the Irish with 17 points and 13 rebounds, said Notre Dame’s pressing defense triggered the blowout.
“Holding somebody to 15 points in a half is something,” she said. “I think we should be proud of that.”
Brittany Mallory had 14 points, making 4-of-5 3-pointers, Charel Allen also added 14 and Melissa Lechlitner had 12 points. Melissa D’Amico finished with 10 points, her best game since scoring 10 against Central Michigan on Nov. 20.
Shantia Grace led the Bulls with 15 points and Melissa Dalembert added 10 points. South Florida shot 34 percent and had 23 turnovers, leading to 28 points for the Irish. Notre Dame’s reserves outscored South Florida’s 38-8.
The Bulls, who have lost five straight road games, fell into a tie for 13th with Seton Hall and need help to make the league tournament.
The Irish need one win in their final two games (Saturday against Seton Hall and Monday at St. John’s) to clinch a first-round bye in the BIG EAST Championship.
“I think we’re playing for a lot of things,” McGraw said. “We’re playing for a seed in the NCAA tournament, how high can we get?”
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: For the 12th time in its 13-year BIG EAST Conference affiliation, Notre Dame has recorded at least 10 league wins; in fact, since Muffet McGraw became the Irish head coach 21 seasons ago, Notre Dame has posted double-digit conference wins 18 times, covering three leagues (North Star, Midwestern Collegiate/Horizon League, BIG EAST) … Notre Dame posts its 10th 30-point win of the season, tying the school record set in 2000-01 … the Irish also notch their seventh 90-point game of the year, matching the school record set first in 1996-97 and tied in 1998-99; it’s also Notre Dame’s 15th 80-point game of the season … the 43-point victory margin is the largest for the Irish in a BIG EAST regular-season game since Feb. 12, 2000, when Notre Dame defeated St. John’s, 94-51 at the Joyce Center … Notre Dame improves to 44-4 (.917) at home in the month of February since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96 … the Irish move to 4-2 all-time against South Florida, earning their first regular-season win over the Bulls since USF became a BIG EAST member in 2005-06; Notre Dame now has scored at least 70 points in five of the six series games vs. USF … the Irish had five double-figure scorers for the eighth time this season (8-0 record) … Notre Dame forced at least 20 opponent turnovers for the 18th time this season … the Irish held a 31-point halftime lead, their largest margin going to the locker room since Dec. 13, 2003, when Notre Dame led visiting Dayton, 47-11 at the break (on the way to a 78-41 win) … the Irish committed 10 turnovers (or fewer) for the fifth time this season … Notre Dame registered a positive assist/turnover ratio for the 16th time this season … junior guard Lindsay Schrader chalked up her second double-double of the season (fourth of her career), following a 17-point, 12-rebound effort at Bowling Green on Dec. 5 … Schrader’s 13 rebounds not only were a season high by a Notre Dame player, but also one off her career high set in her college debut on Nov. 18, 2005 vs. Michigan at the Joyce Center … freshman guard Brittany Mallory buried a career-high four three-pointers (previous was three at #16 West Virginia on Jan. 13 and at #21/23 Syracuse on Feb. 16); it also was the most treys by an Irish player this season … Mallory also matched her career high with seven rebounds, having first hit that mark in her college debut on Nov. 9 vs. Miami (Ohio) at the Joyce Center … senior guard Charel Allen moved into ninth place on the Notre Dame career scoring list with 1,451 points, passing Sheila McMillen (1,439 points from 1995-99); next up is Sandy Botham, who scored 1,460 points from 1984-88 … senior center Melissa D’Amico not only posted her first double-figure scoring game since Nov. 20 at Central Michigan (10 points), but also had a career-high four blocked shots (previous high was three on three occasions, most recently on Dec. 16, 2006 vs. IUPUI at the Joyce Center) … D’Amico’s four blocks also give her 95 career rejections, moving her into ninth place on the Irish career blocks list, passing Heidi Bunek (93 from 1985-89) … with the crowd of 5,441 for the USF game, Notre Dame officially cracked six figures in total attendance this season with 104,697 fans coming through the Joyce Center turnstiles; it’s the third six-figure season attendance in school history (second in as many years) and puts Notre Dame in position to break the school record for total attendance in a single season (109,549 in 2001-02) going into Saturday’s home finale vs. Seton Hall.