Sophomore guard Kayla McBride scored 14 points in Sunday's BIG EAST Championship quarterfinal win over No. RV/23 DePaul.

#3 Irish Prepared To Play West Virginia Monday In BIG EAST Semifinal

March 4, 2012

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2011-12 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 32

BIG EAST Conference Championship — Semifinal
#3/3 [#1 seed] Notre Dame Fighting Irish (29-2 / 15-1 BIG EAST) vs. [#5 seed] West Virginia Mountaineers (23-8 / 11-5 BIG EAST)

DATE: March 5, 2012
TIME: 6 p.m. ET
AT: Hartford, Conn. – XL Center (16,294)
SERIES: ND leads 18-3
1ST MTG: ND 73-55 (2/26/96)
LAST MTG: WVU 65-63 (2/12/12)
TV: ESPNU (live) (Beth Mowins, p-b-p / Brooke Weisbrod, color / Allison Williams, sideline)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) / (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TWITTER: @ndwbbsid/@UND_com


  • Notre Dame has reached its third consecutive BIG EAST Championship semifinal, and the 10th in the program’s 17-year conference membership.
  • The past two years, the Fighting Irish have played their second BIG EAST tournament game against a team that it lost to during the regular season, successfully redeeming earlier losses to St. John’s (2010 quarterfinal) and DePaul (2011 semifinal), respectively.

#3 Fighting Irish Prepared To Face West Virginia Monday In BIG EAST Semifinal
Three weeks after dropping its first (and only) BIG EAST Conference game of the season, No. 3 Notre Dame has the opportunity to soothe the sting of that defeat, when the top-seeded Fighting Irish take on No. 5 seed West Virginia at 6 p.m. (ET) Monday in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. The game will be televised live to a national cable audience by ESPNU.

Notre Dame (29-2) advanced to the BIG EAST semifinals for the third consecutive year with a 69-54 victory over No. RV/23 DePaul on Sunday afternoon. The Fighting Irish used a 14-0 run that crossed over halftime to take command of the quarterfinal contests and the Blue Demons would not get closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

Fifth-year senior forward/tri-captain Devereaux Peters paced the Fighting Irish with a stellar all-around effort, chalking up a game-high 16 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high-tying six blocks, collecting her team-high 10th double-double of the season, and seventh in the past 11 games. Senior guard/tri-captain Natalie Novosel also added 16 points, while sophomore guard Kayla McBride chipped in with 14 points in her BIG EAST postseason debut for Notre Dame.


  • Notre Dame was ranked No. 3 in last week’s Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls.
  • West Virginia was receiving votes in last week’s Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls.

The Notre Dame-West Virginia Series
Notre Dame and West Virginia will square off for the 22nd time on Monday night, with the Fighting Irish holding an 18-3 lead in the series with the Mountaineers. WVU won the regular season meeting between the clubs (65-63 on Feb. 12 at Purcell Pavilion), snapping Notre Dame’s modest three-game winning streak in the series.

Monday will mark the second time Notre Dame and West Virginia have played in the postseason. On March 6, 2005, the Fighting Irish defeated the Mountaineers, 70-59 in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals, also played at the XL Center in Hartford.

The Last Time Notre Dame and West Virginia Met
Second-ranked Notre Dame almost played well enough, but West Virginia ended the Fighting Irish’s 21-game winning streak with a 65-63 victory on Feb. 12, 2012, at Purcell Pavilion.

Brooke Hampton made two free throws with 4.6 seconds left to give the Mountaineers the lead and a potential game-tying 15-footer by Natalie Novosel bounced off the rim as time expired.

WVU center Asya Bussie had 22 points and eight rebounds, including a turnaround jumper with 39 seconds to go that tied the game at 63.

Skylar Diggins had a career-high 32 points for Notre Dame, which came into the game leading the nation at 83.2 points per game.

Diggins missed a contested layup with the score tied at 63 and less than 10 seconds to play. She then fouled Hampton at midcourt as she went for a steal with 4.6 seconds to go. Hampton then made the free throws that gave her four points for the game — all from the line.

Ayana Dunning added 11 points for the Mountaineers, who finished with a 41-33 rebound advantage.

Novosel scored 16 points for Notre Dame and Devereaux Peters tied two (then) career highs by grabbing 17 rebounds and blocking six shots.

Notre Dame shot 41 percent from the field for the game while West Virginia shot 39 percent.

A three-pointer by WVU’s Taylor Palmer tied the game at 35 with 17:26 to play. Diggins scored on consecutive possessions to start a 9-0 run. The Mountaineers rallied to tie it at 55 on two free throws by Bussie with 4:39 to play.

The Last Time Notre Dame and West Virginia Met In The BIG EAST Championship
Missing her first four shots didn’t shake up Jacqueline Batteast.

The BIG EAST Player of the Year found other ways to help No. 10 Notre Dame early in the Fighting Irish’s 70-59 BIG EAST Championship quarterfinal win over West Virginia on March 6, 2005, at the XL Center in Hartford. She grabbed a couple of defensive rebounds and stole the ball until she found her shot.

When she finally did, Batteast scored 16 points, including seven straight during a late second-half run to help Notre Dame reach the semifinals for the first time since 2001.

“That’s how it’s been for a while. You have to keep shooting,” Batteast said. “It’s going to fall eventually, so you can’t stop.”

Yolanda Paige led the Mountaineers with 23 points.

The game pitted the conference’s top scorers in Batteast and West Virginia’s Meg Bulger, who averaged a league-high 19.6 points. Batteast was second at 17.4.

Bulger struggled all night, making just three of 15 shots and finishing with eight points.

The second-seeded Fighting Irish were in control from the start and led by as many as 14 in the second half, shooting 61 percent in the period. Batteast made sure they kept the cushion, scoring seven points in a two-minute stretch.

The Mountaineers would get no closer than eight the rest of the way.

Sherell Sowho added 11 points for West Virginia, and Olayinka Sanni grabbed a team-high seven boards.

Notre Dame controlled the boards, outrebounding West Virginia 32-23. The Fighting Irish also got 20 points from its backup players. Guard Charel Allen led the Notre Dame reserves with 11 points.

Other Notre Dame-West Virginia Series Tidbits

  • The only other time Notre Dame faced West Virginia in the BIG EAST Championship (March 6, 2005 at the XL Center), the starting point guard for the Fighting Irish was a junior named Megan Duffy — the same Megan Duffy who will be sitting on the bench for St. John’s in Monday’s second semifinal as an assistant coach on Kim Barnes Arico’s staff. In that 70-59 BIG EAST quarterfinal win over WVU in 2005, Duffy narrowly missed a double-double, finishing with 15 points and nine assists.
  • The Fighting Irish are 13-2 in the series with West Virginia when entering the game as a ranked team, including a 7-1 record when appearing in the AP Top 10 (the lone loss coming back earlier this year, when second-ranked Notre Dame fell to the Mountaineers, 65-63 on Feb. 12 at Purcell Pavilion).
  • After Notre Dame won the first eight games in the series, seven by at least 13 points, 12 of the past 13 games between the Fighting Irish and Mountaineers have been decided by 13 points or fewer (the lone exception being an 82-57 Notre Dame win on Feb. 26, 2005, at Purcell Pavilion).
  • Notre Dame has scored at least 70 points against West Virginia 16 times in the 21-game series. On the other hand, the Mountaineers have reached the 70-point plateau twice against the Fighting Irish and have been limited to fewer than 60 points nine times.
  • In 19 of its 21 games against Notre Dame, WVU has scored exactly in a 13-point window (54-67 points), including three 64-point nights.
  • The Fighting Irish have scored 100 points in a game twice against West Virginia, making the Mountaineers the only BIG EAST opponent to see Notre Dame crack triple digits more than once.
  • The greater Baltimore area will be well-represented on Monday with four residents suiting for the game. Notre Dame fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Brittany Mallory is a 2007 graduate of the McDonogh School in Owings Mills, Md., while West Virginia junior center Asya Bussie attended Seton Keough High School on Baltimore’s southwest side (she actually hails from Randallstown) and WVU sophomore forward Jessica Harlee (a Bel Air, Md., native) matriculated from Fallston High School, about 45 minutes northeast of Baltimore. The Mountaineers added a third native of “Charm City” to their roster this season when freshman guard Akilah Bethel (a 2011 graduate of Academy of Holy Cross) arrived on campus.
  • Mallory and Bussie played against one another several times in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, with the McDonogh-Seton Keough rivalry among the best in the city (and state) at that time.

Fighting Irish In The BIG EAST Championship
Notre Dame is in the midst in its 17th BIG EAST Championship appearance this week, having compiled a 20-16 (.556) record at the conference tournament. Counting Monday’s appearance, the Fighting Irish now have reached the semifinals 10 times and advanced to the title game five times (1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2011). Ironically, four of Notre Dame’s five BIG EAST finals appearances came when the tournament was held in the state of Connecticut (1996, 1997 and 2001 on the UConn campus at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs; 2011 in Hartford).

Prior to joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, Notre Dame was a member of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now known as the Horizon League). During its seven-year affiliation with that conference, the Fighting Irish won the MCC Tournament five times, with Notre Dame’s most recent conference tourney title (of any kind) coming in 1994, following a 72-63 championship game win over Xavier at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Other BIG EAST Championship Tidbits

  • Notre Dame is the No. 1 seed for the second time in 17 tournament appearances, but the first since 2001. That year, the Fighting Irish defeated both Georgetown (89-33) and Virginia Tech (67-49) to reach the title game before losing to second-seeded (and host) Connecticut, 78-76 on a last-second jumper by Sue Bird.
  • The Fighting Irish are 14-6 (.700) all-time at the BIG EAST Championship when playing as the higher seed.
  • Conversely, Notre Dame is 6-10 (.375) as the lower tournament seed, with its most recent “underdog” victory coming in the semifinals of last year’s Championship (71-67 over second-seeded DePaul).
  • Beginning with that classic 2001 BIG EAST title game against Connecticut, 15 of the past 20 Fighting Irish games in the conference tournament have been decided by 11 points or fewer, including eight by single digits. All three of last year’s games had margins of 11 points or fewer, the last two decided by single digits.
  • All told, more than half (20) of Notre Dame’s 36 career games in the BIG EAST Championship have featured margins of 11 points or fewer, with the Fighting Irish going 9-11 (.450) in those contests.

Thirty Deeds
Notre Dame needs one victory to reach the 30-win mark for the second consecutive season and the fourth time in program history. The Fighting Irish have never had back-to-back 30-win seasons, with its three prior campaigns of at least 30 victories coming in 1996-97 (31-7), 2000-01 (34-2) and 2010-11 (31-8).

Milestone Ahead
Notre Dame has a 749-312 (.706) record in 35 seasons of varsity competition, starting with its roots as an AIAW Division III independent program in 1977-78. With one victory, the Fighting Irish would be the 25th Division I program to reach the 750-win mark, and the second to do so this season — Virginia recorded its 750th all-time victory on Dec. 28 with an 84-41 conquest of Wagner.

Three other programs are hot on Notre Dame’s heels to be the next 750-win program, including a pair of Atlantic Coast Conference schools. Duke (748) and North Carolina State (747) could reach the mark during postseason play later this month, while Ole Miss (744) also is within striking distance.

Lessons Learned
Since its Nov. 20 loss at No. 1 Baylor, Notre Dame has won its last 11 games against ranked opponents (including five against top-10 teams), earning eight of those victories by double digits (three by 25 points or more).

The major driving force in this turnaround has been the play of the Fighting Irish defense, which has held those last 11 Top 25 opponents to just 56.5 points per night, including eight games when the opposition scored 60 points or fewer.

Notre Dame also has held its ranked foes to a .356 field goal percentage (.261 from the three-point line), and posted a +6.7 rebounding margin after being outrebounded by 15 at Baylor.

Improvement Continues On The Glass
After averaging 37.2 rebounds in its first six games (and holding the upper hand in that category only three times, with an aggregate minus-2 rebounding margin), Notre Dame has featured a marked improvement on the boards since its return from the Bahamas after the Thanksgiving weekend.

In their last 25 games, the Fighting Irish are averaging 42.4 rebounds a night, with an average rebounding margin of +12.6 rpg., winning or finishing even in the rebounding battle all but twice in that span (41-33 against West Virginia on Feb. 12; 35-28 at No. 16 Louisville on Feb. 20). Furthermore, Notre Dame has grabbed at least 40 rebounds 20 times in the past 25 games after not reaching that mark once in its first six contests.

According to last Friday’s NCAA statistics report, Notre Dame ranked ninth in the country in rebounding margin (now +10.1 rpg.) this year.

Windy City Warrior
Fifth-year senior forward Devereaux Peters is in the midst of one of the best stretches of her college career, averaging 13.7 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game with a .535 field goal percentage (61-of-114) and seven double-doubles in her last 11 outings.

Here’s a look at some of the rare feats Peters (the two-time BIG EAST Conference Defensive Player of the Year and first-team all-BIG EAST selection) has been accomplished in the past six weeks:

  • Peters chalked up consecutive double-doubles against No. 7/9 Tennessee (16 points, 16 rebounds), at St. John’s (18 points, 15 rebounds), and at No. 13/14 Rutgers (10 points, then-career-high 17 rebounds) while adding a career high-tying six assists vs. UT and a season-best five blocks at St. John’s.
  • Peters was the first Notre Dame player with three consecutive 15-rebound games since Feb. 16-24, 1979, when Jane Politiski had four consecutive games with at least 15 rebounds during the program’s AIAW Division III era (21 at Marion, 15 vs. Valparaiso, 18 vs. Saint Mary’s-Ind., 16 vs. St. Joseph’s-Ind.).
  • Peters became the first Fighting Irish player with three consecutive double-doubles since the 2004 NCAA Championship, when Jacqueline Batteast did so against Missouri State (17p/11r), Middle Tennessee (22p/12r) and No. 5/7 Penn State (22p/12r) from March 21-27, 2004.
  • Peters then added a season-high 21 points and 16 rebounds on Feb. 7 in a win at Syracuse, a (then) career high-tying 17 rebounds and six blocks on Feb. 12 against West Virginia, 17 points and a new career-high 18 rebounds on Feb. 25 against USF, 15 rebounds on Feb. 27 at No. 4 Connecticut and 16 points, 12 rebounds and a career high-tying six blocks on Sunday in the BIG EAST quarterfinals vs. No. RV/23 DePaul, giving her seven 15-rebound games and four 15-point/15-rebound outings in this current 11-game span.
  • Peters has tied the school record with seven 15-rebound games in a single season, and she is the first to do so in Notre Dame’s Division I era. Jane Politiski is the only other player in this elite club — she had seven 15-rebound games during the program’s inaugural season of 1977-78, when the Fighting Irish were competing at the AIAW Division III level.
  • Peters also has tied the school record with four games of 15 points and 15 rebounds in a single season, becoming the first Fighting Irish player to manage that feat since 1996-97, when Katryna Gaither had four such outings, matching the marks first set by Jane Politiski (1977-78) and Shari Matvey (1979-80).

Game #31 Recap: DePaul (BIG EAST Championship Quarterfinal)
Devereaux Peters had 16 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks to lead No. 3 Notre Dame to a 69-54 win over No. RV/23 DePaul in the BIG EAST Conference Championship quarterfinals Sunday at the XL Center in Hartford.

Natalie Novosel also had 16 points and Kayla McBride added 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 three-pointer from Novosel that gave the Fighting 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.

DePaul hit four of its first six shots and led 10-7 early on the strength of two three-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 Fighting Irish outrebounded DePaul 41-28 and Peters had six of the team’s seven blocks.

Notre Dame now has won two consecutive games at the XL Center. It closed the regular season with a 72-59 win over Connecticut to sweep the regular-season series with the Huskies and secure sole possession of the regular-season conference title.

DePaul had defeated South Florida, 76-62 on Saturday in the tournament’s second round, behind 33 points from Anna Martin, her second consecutive 30-point game. However, Martin was held to seven points by the Fighting Irish on 3 of 10 shooting.

Beyond The Box Score — DePaul

  • Notre Dame advances to the BIG EAST Championship semifinals for the third consecutive year and the 10th time in 17 seasons as a conference member.
  • This is the first time the Fighting Irish have made the semifinals three years in a row since they made six consecutive semifinal trips from 1996-2001.
  • Notre Dame improves to 10-6 (.625) all-time in BIG EAST Championship quarterfinal games, and 20-16 (.556) overall in the conference tournament, having won five of their last seven games in the event.
  • The Fighting Irish are 14-6 (.700) all-time as the higher seed in BIG EAST Championship play.
  • In the past four years, Notre Dame has opened with a strong defensive effort at the conference tournament, holding each of its “first” opponents to 54 points or fewer.
  • The Fighting Irish even their record at 8-8 in BIG EAST Championship action at the XL Center since the tournament moved to Hartford in 2004, and move to 9-12 (.429) all-time in the building formerly known as the Hartford Civic Center.
  • Notre Dame jumps to 11-1 this season against ranked opponents (DePaul was No. 23 in the ESPN/USA Today poll at tipoff), extending its school record for Top 25 wins in a season and including a 7-1 record away from home against ranked teams.
  • Eight of the 11 Fighting Irish wins against the Top 25 have come by double digits.
  • Notre Dame defeats DePaul for the seventh time in the past eight matchups, trimming the Blue Demons’ series lead to 19-18 (the Fighting Irish lead 3-2 at neutral sites).
  • With Sunday’s result, Notre Dame takes a razor-thin edge in the aggregate scoring total during the 37-game series with DePaul (which ties Marquette for the most frequently-played opponent in school history) — the Fighting Irish have scored 2,525 points in the series, while the Blue Demons have piled up 2,523 points.
  • Notre Dame held DePaul to fewer than 70 points for the sixth time in the past eight series games (the Blue Demons scored exactly 70 points in the regular-season contest the past two years), with Sunday’s 54 points the fewest allowed by the Fighting Irish since Dec. 31, 2001, when Notre Dame posted a 79-50 victory over DePaul at Purcell Pavilion.
  • The Fighting Irish collected double-digit steals for the 23rd time this year … Notre Dame had at least four double-figure scorers for the 15th time this season and raise its record in the past three years to 49-4 (.925) with at least four in double figures.
  • The Fighting Irish grabbed at least 40 rebounds for the 20th time in the past 25 games.
  • Peters registered her team-high (and career high-tying) 10th double-double of the season, and the 21st of her career, tying her for ninth in school history with Heidi Bunek (21 from 1985-89).
  • Peters tied her career best with six blocked shots, a mark she had reached on three other occasions, most recently on Feb. 12 against West Virginia at Purcell Pavilion.
  • Peters rose one spot on the Fighting Irish career scoring list with 1,243 points, passing Mary Beth Schueth (1,233 from 1981-85).
  • Peters also moved into 10th place in school history with 209 career steals, passing Katryna Gaither (207 from 1993-97).
  • Novosel jumped to 12th place on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,448 points, passing Sheila McMillen (1,439 from 1995-99).
  • Diggins tied her season high with six steals, the third time this year she has hit that mark.
  • Sunday’s victory raised Notre Dame’s all-time record to 749-312 (.706) in 35 seasons of varsity competition.

— ND —