Jan. 18, 2016
Notre Dame, Ind. (AP) – The Notre Dame-Tennessee rivalry is lopsided again – in the other direction.
The third-ranked Irish used five straight layups early in the third quarter and turnovers by No. 18 Tennessee to turn a relatively close game into their sixth straight victory in this series, 79-66 Monday night.
Brianna Turner scored 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting and Kathryn Westbeld added 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting as the Irish outscored the Lady Vols 26-16 in the paint in the second half and added 24 points off 20 turnovers.
All six of the wins by the Irish (17-1) over the Lady Vols (11-6) have been by 10 points or more. The success streak has come after Notre Dame lost the first 20 games in the series.
”I have to say I like the last six better than the first 20,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said.
McGraw said Notre Dame’s 73-59 victory over then-No. 4 Lady Vols in the NCAA quarterfinals in 2011 was key to turning around the series.
”I think beating Tennessee to go to the Final Four for the first time in a while and then beating Connecticut in the Final Four, that was just a huge turn for our program. I think since then we’ve been able to not think about the past. The 0-20 is on me. These guys are undefeated against them.”
Arike Ogunbowale added 14 points and Marina Mabrey had 13 as the Irish bench outscored Tennessee’s reserves 30-17. Lindsay Allen and Madison Cable scored 10 points each as the Irish had six players in double figures for the second time this season.
Notre Dame forced five turnovers during a 15-2 run in the second quarter and six more during another 15-2 burst in the third quarter, when Notre Dame opened the second half with five straight layups. Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said the difference was the Irish were more aggressive.
”They attacked, they ran backdoors, we knew what they were doing and we just got undisciplined. We’re standing up,” she said. ”We did a great job in the first half of keeping people in front of us. In the second half, we didn’t. We gave them open looks.”
”When we have 20 turnovers, we normally get beat,” Warlick said.
Diamond DeShields, Tennessee’s leading scorer at 15.3 points a game, was late coming out for the second half. She said she realized at halftime she tweaked her shoulder, but said it didn’t slow her down. She returned with 4:07 left in the third quarter and finished with 17 points. Asked if it bothered her, she said: ”Not really.”
BaShaara Graves had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Jaime Nared 11 points for Tennessee. Graves said the Lady Vols got too casual with the ball, but said the Irish defense was a factor.
”They were getting into us on defense and making us turn the ball over,” she said.
The No. 18 ranking for Tennessee was its lowest since being ranked No. 24 in 2012. The Lady Vols are one of only six teams to have beaten Notre Dame 10 times. The others are Connecticut (34), DePaul (19), Rutgers (16), Purdue (14) and Villanova (10).
The Lady Vols played in South Bend for the second straight season after the Irish played in Knoxville the previous two seasons. The Lady Vols and the Irish have played only three games that were decided by single digits. Tennessee’s last road win over a top five team was against No. 5 Connecticut in Hartford on Jan. 6, 2007.
Allen started her 95th straight game for Notre Dame, matching Katryna Gaither (1994-1997) for the second-longest streak in school history. The school record is 97 straight by Jacqueline Batteast (2002-2005).
Notre Dame is averaging 6.4 (111) 3-pointers a game. The single-season school record is 5.74 3-pointers a game set in 1998-99.
Former Notre Dame standout Skylar Diggins sat courtside for the game.
Up next, Notre Dame hosts Syracuse on Saturday.