Jan. 31, 2009
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP)–Notre Dame had a lot of fun getting serious about defense.
After losing three of their past four games, the No. 17/13 Fighting Irish used a season-high 21 steals to bolster Lindsay Schrader’s season-high 19 points and career-high 15 rebounds and beat Cincinnati 66-50 on Saturday.
“I thought we had a new attitude today,” coach Muffet McGraw said. “I think we came out in a different frame of mind and we were the aggressor and we just continued to try to get up 10 and 15 and whatever we could do. I was really proud of that.”
Schrader said the change in attitude was the Irish were having fun.
“For the last couple weeks we just haven’t been having fun. This game, it’s supposed to be fun,” she said. “A mentality we had was just go out and have fun. There were a couple of smiles and a couple of laughs. That relaxes us a little bit. That helped us a lot.”
The Irish (16-4, 5-3 BIG EAST) used a 13-2 run late in the first half and a 7-0 run to start the second half, forcing five straight turnovers, to move ahead 43-26 on a 3-pointer by Becca Bruszewski. The Irish opened a 52-33 lead on a free throw by Kellie Watson with 12:01 left.
The Bearcats (13-7, 3-4), led by Kahla Roudebush with 13 points, closed to 59-50 when Angel Morgan, who scored 10, cut drove the baseline and scored on a layup. They had a chance to cut the lead to six points, but Morgan missed a 3.
Then Watson, who earlier ended an 0-for-14 streak over five games from 3-point range, made back-to-back 3s.
“Two daggers back-to-back that ended it,” Cincinnati coach J. Kelley Hall said.
The Irish, who had been slumping got a lot of contributions from almost everyone. Schrader, who had scored in double figures just once in the past four games, shot 9-of-18 from the floor and had a double-double at halftime.
“I think all of my rebounds were off my own missed shots,” she said.
Bruszewski, who had three points in each of her last two games, scored 15 points, the most she’s had since November. Melissa Lechlitner had a season-high eight assists and Ashley Barlow had a career-high eight steals, two shy of the school record.
Hall said Notre Dame’s defense and 48-34 rebounding advantage were too much for the Bearcats to overcome.
“That was a huge difference in the game,” he said. “We still had a chance late.”
Cincinnati lost its third straight, also falling to No. 1 Connecticut and No. 6 Louisville.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame improves to 5-0 all-time against Cincinnati, including wins in all four matchups since the Bearcats joined the BIG EAST Conference in 2005-06; UC and Providence (16-0) are the two current BIG EAST members against whom the Irish have never lost (Notre Dame visits PC on Feb. 28) … since entering the BIG EAST 14 seasons ago, Notre Dame is 50-13 (.794) in its first game after a double-digit loss, including a 2-0 mark this season in these so-called “bounce back” games … the Irish also stretch their record against Ohio schools to 70-16 (.814), with a 35-7 (.833) home record, including an active 15-game winning streak at the Joyce Center vs. the Buckeye State … Notre Dame turns in its best defensive performance in a month, with Cincinnati’s 50 points the fewest allowed by the Irish since Dec. 20, when they defeated Loyola-Chicago, 89-45 at the Joyce Center … Notre Dame’s 21 steals were the most it has had in a single game in almost exactly one year, since the Irish tallied 23 thefts against Providence on Jan. 30, 2008, at the Joyce Center … Notre Dame forced at least 25 turnovers for the fourth time this season, and first since tying their season high with 31 takeaways in the victory over Loyola-Chicago; Cincinnati came into Saturday’s game averaging 14.1 turnovers per game … the Irish allowed only four offensive rebounds, the best mark since Jan. 22, 2008, when DePaul also had four offensive boards … senior guard Lindsay Schrader posted her third double-double of the season (and seventh of her career) with a season-high-tying 19 points (also at Charlotte on Dec. 28) and a career-best 15 rebounds; the latter total was one more than Schrader’s previous mark set in her first college game on Nov. 18, 2005, vs. Michigan at the Joyce Center … Schrader is the first Irish player with at least 15 points and 15 rebounds in the same game since Feb. 17, 2001, when Kelley Siemon had 19 points and 15 rebounds in a 54-53 loss at Rutgers (the lone regular-season defeat in Notre Dame’s run to the national championship) … junior guard Ashley Barlow collected a career-high eight steals, one more than her previous best that she set on Nov. 23 at Boston College … Barlow’s eight steals tied for the second-most in school and Joyce Center history (two off Mary Gavin’s record of 10 set exactly 22 years earlier vs. Marquette), and were the most for any Irish player in a game since Feb. 5, 2003, when Le’Tania Severe notched eight steals against Georgetown, also at the Joyce Center … junior guard Melissa Lechlitner tallied a career-high eight rebounds (previous best was six vs. Syracuse on Jan. 20, 2007) and a season-best seven assists (previous high was six vs. St. John’s on Jan. 17) … sophomore forward Becca Bruszewski tied her career high with seven rebounds, a mark she’s hit three times before (most recently on Dec. 30 at #20/19 Vanderbilt) … other miscellaneous Irish season trends from Saturday’s game included: 8-1 at home, 11-1 in day games, 14-2 when leasding at the half, 16-2 when having at least three double-figure scorers, 10-1 when outrebounding the opposition and 12-2 when holding opponents below 40 percent shooting.