March 7, 2010
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP)–Notre Dame had already lost to St. John’s during the regular season.
Forward Devereaux Peters said they weren’t going to let it happen again.
Peters scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half and Skylar Diggins scored 21, two shy of her career high, as No. 6 Notre Dame defeated the No. 16 Red Storm 75-67 in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship.
Notre Dame (27-4) advanced to the tournament semifinals on Monday (6 p.m. ET on ESPNU) to play top-ranked Connecticut.
The Irish, seeded fifth in the tournament because all four of its losses were to BIG EAST teams, fell to the Red Storm 76-71 in New York in February.
“It definitely burned,” Peters said of the earlier loss. “We definitely came in with a chip on our shoulder and wanted to come out hard and definitely prove that we can play better than we did when we were there.”
They played that game without guard Lindsay Schrader, who sustained an ankle injury prior to tip-off, and failed to score for a 7-minute stretch in the second half.
Notre Dame had trouble with scoring droughts again Sunday, but they were nothing the Irish couldn’t overcome. St. John’s (23-6), down seven midway through the first half, went on an 11-0 run over 4 minutes and outscored the Irish 21-8 to finish the half leading 36-32.
The Irish also had what coach Muffet McGraw called 13 “really uncharacteristically bad turnovers,” in the first half, including dribbling into traps and travel calls that resulted from rushed play.
“We just talked about moving the ball a little bit and trying to get it to the middle of the floor,” McGraw said. “That was an area we really wanted to get the ball to. We didn’t have a lot of success with that in the first half, and I thought we did a little better in the second half.”
Peters, who reached double figures in scoring for her third consecutive game and fifth of the season, was the primary beneficiary of Notre Dame’s offensive adjustments.
She scored 10 of her points in a four-minute stretch midway through the second half, including a basket with 13:36 remaining that gave Notre Dame a 47-45 lead–its first since the 9-minute mark of the first half.
St. John’s, which starts two freshmen and a sophomore, showed its postseason inexperience down the stretch.
The Red Storm held a 63-59 advantage with 6 minutes to play before Notre Dame went on a 12-0 run.
“We wanted to just take over,” Diggins said. “We really came together and were like, `We don’t want to go home. We want to win.’ And we were very anxious to come out here and play this team. We didn’t get off to a good start, so we wanted to make sure we finished well.”
St. John’s committed 20 fouls, with 17 coming in the second half and eight in the last 6 minutes.
“I think today was the first time in some time that we showed our inexperience and youth at the end,” said St. John’s coach Kim Barnes Arico. “The kids got extremely frustrated by it and we tried to continue to stay positive, but I think it really affected us.”
Shenneika Smith scored 23 points for St. John’s, making her first five shots and nine of her first 10, and Da’Shena Stevens scored 14 despite missing three minutes early in the game with a right ankle injury.
Notre Dame shot 54 percent despite making just one of its six 3-point attempts. The Irish also shot over 56 percent in a second-round victory over Louisville on Saturday.
Barnes Arico said the quarterfinal loss didn’t diminish the Red Storm’s best record in 26 seasons.
“If we come in here and beat them today, what does that say about us?” Barnes Arico said. “We already beat them once, and I think we gave them a heck of a game. The ball didn’t bounce our way down the end, but I feel as though the game could have gone either way.”
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame advances to the BIG EAST Championship semifinals for the ninth time in its 15 seasons as a conference member (1995-96 to present), but the first since 2005 … the Fighting Irish win multiple games at the BIG EAST Championship for the first time since 2001, when they advanced to the title game before losing to Connecticut, 78-76 … Sunday marked the 12th time in Notre Dame’s last 15 BIG EAST Championship games that the margin of victory was 11 points or fewer, with seven of those contests decided by single digits … Notre Dame was playing its 10th ranked opponent of the season, improving to 6-4 against Top 25 foes this season, including a 4-3 record away from home … Sunday’s win was the first for Notre Dame over a ranked opponent since a 74-66 conquest of #16/11 West Virginia on Jan. 24 at Purcell Pavilion … the six wins over ranked opponents are the most for the Fighting Irish in a single season since 2004-05, when they knocked off seven Top 25 opponents … Notre Dame earned its 27th win of the season, its highest win total in a single year since 2004-05, when the Fighting Irish finished 27-6 for the third-highest single-season victory mark in school history … Notre Dame was playing on a one-day (or less) turnaround for the seventh time this season (5-2 record) and 12th time in the past two years (9-3 record) … the Fighting Irish rise to 19-3 all-time against St. John’s, including a 3-0 record on neutral courts (all at the BIG EAST Championship) … Notre Dame now has scored at least 66 points in 19 of the 22 series games against St. John’s … six of the past eight series games between the Fighting Irish and Red Storm have been decided by 10 points or fewer, with the two schools splitting those six close affairs … Notre Dame moves to 48-5 (.906) all-time against New York-based schools, including a 5-1 (.833) mark at neutral sites, and a 3-1 record this season (avenging a 76-71 loss at St. John’s back on Feb. 16) … the Fighting Irish trailed by four points (36-32) at halftime, with Sunday’s win the third for Notre Dame this season when it was behind at the break (first since the Jan. 24 win over West Virginia, when the Mountaineers were up 42-31 at intermission) … with its 10 steals vs. St. John’s, Notre Dame set a new single-season school record with 399 steals, eclipsing the old mark of 397 that was set twice before (1990-91 and 2007-08) … the Fighting Irish also chalked up double-digit steals for the 23rd time this season … Notre Dame continues its recent hot shooting spell, connecting at a .540 clip against St. John’s; the Fighting Irish have shot 50 percent or better from the floor in four of the past five games, hitting at a .542 rate in those four wins, including a .554 field goal percentage in their first two BIG EAST Championship games this year (they have shot 50 percent or better in all four halves thus far) … Notre Dame held St. John’s to an opponent season-low 24 rebounds (previous was 26 by Seton Hall on Feb. 27) … freshman guard Skylar Diggins collected her team-leading sixth 20-point game of the season … fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader moved into 13th place on Notre Dame’s all-time scoring list with 1,380 points, passing Shari Matvey (1,373 points from 1979-83) … junior forward Devereaux Peters posted her third consecutive double-digit scoring game and fifth of the season, with her 13 points vs. St. John’s only two shy of her season/career-high set on March 1 vs. Connecticut … Notre Dame will face top-ranked Connecticut for the third time this season in Monday’s BIG EAST Championship semifinals (6 p.m. ET on ESPNU), with this marking the first time since the 2006-07 season that the Fighting Irish have played the same team three times in the same year (Notre Dame dropped two of three to DePaul that season) … Monday also will be the first time the Fighting Irish play a No. 1-ranked team three times in the same season (they had a pair of games against top-ranked opponents in both 1996-97 and 2000-01).