March 7, 2009
The Irish (22-7) will play fourth-seeded Villanova in the quarterfinals on Sunday (noon ET, ESPNU).
St. John’s Da’Shena Stevens, chosen the BIG EAST freshman of the year on Friday, had 12 points for the Red Storm (17-14).
The teams traded the lead five times in the second half and St. John’s led 35-33 before the Irish went on a 16-2 run. Novosel scored seven points and Melissa Lechlitner had five during that stretch.
A 3-pointer by Ashley Barlow at the shot-clock buzzer gave the Irish a 58-45 lead with 3:53 left, and Notre Dame cruised from there.
“It’s like the dagger to the defense,” said Irish coach Muffet McGraw. “You play great defense for 29 seconds and then somebody hits a three and it really deflated them.”
Notre Dame opened the game on a 9-2 run, despite hitting just two of its first 10 shots. St. John’s also was 2-of-10 from the field early and had just six points midway through the first half.
But the Red Storm kept chipping away, and Sky Lindsay’s driving layup with a minute left gave them a 22-20 lead at intermission.
“I felt like we ran out gas a little bit, missed some chippies, allowed them to score some easy baskets,” said St. John’s coach Kim Barnes Arico.
The Irish have won five of their last six games, with only a 10-point loss at top-ranked Connecticut on Feb. 22.
St. John’s, the 13th-seed, had lost six of seven games coming into the tournament, but made it into the second round by upsetting Syracuse 63-61 on Friday.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame picks up its fourth consecutive win and fifth in six games … the Irish earn their first victory at the BIG EAST Championship since 2006, when they logged a 73-66 win over South Florida in a first-round contest, also at Hartford’s XL Center … the 45 points allowed by Notre Dame were the third-fewest for the Irish defense in a BIG EAST Championship game and fewest since the 2001 quarterfinals, when Notre Dame rolled over Georgetown, 89-33 at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn. … Notre Dame is 4-1 all-time in BIG EAST Championship first/second round games and 15-13 overall in the league’s postseason tournament … the Irish earn their third win in 13 career games at the XL Center and first since that 2006 win over USF … Notre Dame improves to 18-2 all-time against St. John’s, including a 2-0 record in the BIG EAST Championship … the Irish held the Red Storm to their lowest point total in the series since Jan. 14, 2003, when Notre Dame earned a 71-42 victory at Carnesecca Arena (then Alumni Hall) in Queens, N.Y. … the Irish are 45-4 all-time against New York-based schools, including a 21-4 record away from home (road/neutral sites) … Notre Dame posts its third win in eight games this season when trailing at halftime (others were at No. 20/19 Vanderbilt on Dec. 30 and at South Florida on Feb. 17) … for the first time in four games this year, the Irish collected a win when having two or fewer double-digit scorers … Notre Dame’s 20 first-half points tied a season low, set twice before (most recently on Jan. 24 at Villanova) … St. John’s 22 first-half points were the fewest the Irish have allowed to a BIG EAST opponent this season, one fewer than the 23 points scored by Seton Hall on Jan. 3 … Notre Dame held the Red Storm to a .311 field goal percentage, the lowest by an Irish opponent since Dec. 2, when Eastern Michigan shot 26.5 percent from the floor … Notre Dame’s 50 rebounds tied for its second-highest total of the season (most vs. a BIG EAST opponent) behind only a 60-rebound effort in that win at Eastern Michigan … senior guard Lindsay Schrader registered her seventh double-double of the season (fourth in six games), setting a new school record for double-doubles by a guard in one year (previous was six by Danielle Green in 1998-99) … Schrader also tied Niele Ivey’s career record for double-doubles by an Irish guard, a mark the current Notre Dame assistant coach set from 1996-2001 … Schrader is the first Notre Dame player to notch a double-double in the BIG EAST Championship since March 8, 2003, when Jacqueline Batteast chalked up 15 points and 10 rebounds in a first-round win over Pittsburgh at Piscataway, N.J. … Schrader moved into 23rd place on the Irish career scoring list with 1,042 points, passing Mollie Peirick (1,034 points from 1994-98) … freshman guard Natalie Novosel posted her ninth double-figure scoring game of the season and first since Feb. 11 when she had 17 points against No. 10/12 Louisville … for the second time in four games, junior center Erica Williamson grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds, having also done so on Feb. 24 against Syracuse … Schrader and Williamson are the first pair of double-figure rebounders for the Irish in the same game since March 23, 2008, when Ashley Barlow had 12 boards and Charel Allen snared 11 caroms in an NCAA Tournament first-round win over SMU in West Lafayette, Ind. … the tandem’s 11 rebounds are the most for a Notre Dame player in a BIG EAST Championship game since March 5, 2000, when Ruth Riley grabbed 14 rebounds (tying Katryna Gaither’s BIG EAST tourney record by an Irish player) in a quarterfinal win over Miami (Fla.) at Storrs, Conn. … for the first time since joining the conference 14 seasons ago, Notre Dame had multiple double-figure rebounders in a BIG EAST tournament game.