March 6, 2011
2010-11 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 32
BIG EAST Conference Championship — Semifinal
#7/8 [#3 seed] Notre Dame Fighting Irish (25-6 / 13-3 BIG EAST) vs. #12/13 [#2 seed] DePaul Blue Demons (27-5 / 13-3 BIG EAST)
DATE: March 7, 2010
TIME: 8 p.m. ET
AT: Hartford, Conn. – XL Center (16,294)
SERIES: DPU leads 19-15
1ST MTG: DPU 82-53 (1/30/79)
LAST MTG: DPU 70-69 (2/28/11)
TV: ESPNU (live) (Beth Mowins, p-b-p / Brooke Weisbrod, color / Allison Williams, sideline)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) / UND.com (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: UND.com / bigeast.org
- Notre Dame is making its second consecutive BIG EAST Championship semifinal appearance (ninth overall), and is playing for its first berth in the conference tournament title game since 2001.
- For the fifth time in the six years since DePaul joined the BIG EAST, the Fighting Irish and Blue Demons will be playing multiple times in the same season.
#7/8 Notre Dame Meets #12/13 DePaul Monday In BIG EAST Semifinal
Just one week after the two teams met in arguably one of the top games in the BIG EAST Conference, if not the nation, this season, No. 7/8 Notre Dame and No. 12/13 DePaul will find out if things are better the second time around when they square off in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship at 8 p.m. (ET) Monday at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. The game, which will be televised live to a national cable audience on ESPNU, will feature the two second-place teams in this year’s conference standings, with the Blue Demons garnering the two seed by virtue of their last-second 70-69 win over the Fighting Irish on Feb. 28 in Chicago.
Notre Dame (25-6) booked its place in this year’s conference tournament semifinals with a 63-53 victory over Louisville on Sunday night in Hartford. The Fighting Irish used a 22-5 run crossing over halftime to take control of the contest, with Notre Dame holding off a late Cardinal comeback that drew the No. 6 seed within six points in the final 2:30.
Senior forward Devereaux Peters paced the Fighting Irish with a stellar all-around effort, chalking up a game-high 19 points, nine rebounds and a career-high-tying six blocks. Sophomore guard Skylar Diggins added 14 points, while senior forward Becca Bruszewski chipped in with eight points and a team-high 10 rebounds for Notre Dame, which shot 46.5 percent from the floor in the victory.
- Notre Dame was ranked No. 7 in last week’s Associated Press poll and No. 8 in last week’s ESPN/USA Today poll.
- DePaul was ranked No. 12 in last week’s Associated Press poll and No. 13 in last week’s ESPN/USA Today poll.
The Notre Dame-DePaul Series
Arguably the Midwest’s premier women’s basketball rivalry, Notre Dame and DePaul will square off for the 35th time on Monday, with the Blue Demons holding a 19-15 edge in the all-time series. DePaul also is 2-0 against the Fighting Irish on neutral courts, with those two games marking the only prior postseason matchups between the programs (77-69 in the old National Women’s Invitation Tournament on March 24, 1989, in Amarillo, Texas; 76-71 on March 3, 2007, in a BIG EAST Championship first-round game in Hartford).
DePaul snapped a four-game series losing streak to Notre Dame in the teams’ lone meeting to date this year, winning 70-69 on Feb. 28 in the regular season finale for both teams in Chicago.
The Last Time Notre Dame and DePaul Met
Felicia Chester took Taylor Pikes’ pass and put in a layup with 5.9 seconds left and No. 12 DePaul stunned visiting No. 7 Notre Dame 70-69 on Feb. 28 at McGrath-Phillips Arena in Chicago.
Even after Chester’s layup, Notre Dame (24-6, 13-3) wasn’t quite finished. Skylar Diggins, who had a team-high 18 points, drove the lane for her own game-winning try, only to have the ball stripped away as time expired.
Chester scored 16 of her game-high 20 points in the second half as DePaul rallied from a nine-point deficit for a lead with 1:57 to play following Keisha Hampton’s layup.
Diggins hit two free throws with 1:49 to go, and Natalie Novosel followed with a three-pointer as Notre Dame pulled to 66-65. Pikes restored a three-point lead with 59 seconds to play, but Diggins’ layup closed the gap to 68-67 just 13 seconds later.
DePaul outscored Notre Dame 18-11 off turnovers on the way to a 32-26 halftime lead.
The Fighting Irish turned the tables early in the second half with a 9-2 run. DePaul’s third turnover of the second half allowed Notre Dame to take its first lead since the opening minutes on Becca Bruszewski’s hook shot at 18:02.
DePaul retook the lead at 36-35 on Chester’s hook shot with 16:27 left, but Diggins gave Notre Dame the lead again seconds later with a bank off the glass.
Hampton added 17 points for the Blue Demons while Novosel also had 17 for Notre Dame.
The Last Time Notre Dame and DePaul Met In The BIG EAST Championship
Notre Dame put together a stirring comeback from an 11-point second-half deficit to tie its BIG EAST Championship first-round game with DePaul, but the Fighting Irish couldn’t quite finish off matters, as the 10th-seeded Blue Demons held off No. 7 seed Notre Dame, 76-71 on March 3, 2007, at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. Breona Gray got a good look at a game-tying three-pointer for Notre Dame from the right corner with nine seconds to play, but her attempt rattled out and DePaul iced the game with two foul shots.
Charel Allen lived up to her billing as a first-team all-conference selection, tallying 18 points, six rebounds and five assists. Gray added 17 points, going 7-of-13 from the field for Notre Dame, which connected on 41.4 percent of its shots and held the Blue Demons to a .403 field goal percentage. DePaul also went just 4-of-11 from three-point range, a far cry from its 11-for-22 effort against the Fighting Irish five days earlier.
The difference came at the foul line, where the Blue Demons were nearly flawless, making 22-of-23 free throws (95.7 percent). Notre Dame, which came into the contest as the BIG EAST’s top free throw shooting team at .763, was 76.9 percent (20-of-26) from the stripe.
In what was a recurring theme during each of their three games during the 2006-07 season (all of which took place in a 20-day span at the end of the year), the Fighting Irish and DePaul played to a virtual stalemate in the first half. There were five ties and four lead changes in the period, with Notre Dame jumping out to a five-point lead on two occasions, the last on two free throws by Erica Williamson that made it 16-11 at the 13:40 mark. However, those foul shots came as the Irish were beginning a six-minute drought from the floor, while the Blue Demons went on a 15-4 run, ending with Jenna Rubino’s layup with nine minutes to go in the frame.
Gray halved the deficit on her third triple of the night a minute later, and Notre Dame basically kept it at a one-possession game through the final media timeout of the first half. Allen hit a pair of jumpers around two Sam Quigley free throws to tie the game twice and Melissa Lechlitner then put the Fighting Irish back in front on a jumper with 2:49 remaining. China Threatt responded with a bucket for DePaul, but Crystal Erwin put Notre Dame on top, 36-34 at halftime on a layup off a Lechlitner assist with 33 seconds left in the period.
The Fighting Irish kept their momentum going with eight of the first 12 points in the second half, taking a 44-38 lead on two Allen free throws with three minutes gone. Notre Dame then endured another rough shooting spell, as DePaul went on a 19-2 run and held the Irish without a field goal for nearly seven minutes. Threatt scored seven points in the run, while Allie Quigley boosted the Blue Demon lead to 57-46 on two foul shots with 10:38 to play.
Allen ended the Notre Dame offensive drought with a long jumper 18 seconds later, but the Irish wound up trading baskets for the next four minutes and still faced a 66-56 deficit when Caprice Smith hit a jumper with 6:09 left. That’s when Notre Dame called upon the resiliency it has shown all season, ripping off 10 unanswered points in 2:25, with Ashley Barlow accounting for seven points in the surge. Allen capped the rally by making the first of two free throws that tied the game at 66-66 with 3:44 remaining. Yet, she missed the second foul shot, and Rubino put DePaul back on top to stay with a baseline floater as the shot clock was about to expire with 2:46 left. Allen was fouled again on the ensuing Fighting Irish possession, but again made one of two free throws, leaving her team down by one.
Allie Quigley then took over for the Blue Demons by scoring her team’s final eight points on a jumper in the lane and six free throws (part of a 16-for-16 second-half effort by DePaul). Notre Dame got back within a point twice more, the second coming on Gray’s putback with 45.9 seconds showing. Quigley then drew a foul with the shot clock again winding down and hit two free throws with 21.3 ticks to go, rebuilding a three-point lead. The Irish raced upcourt and found Gray open for her potential game-tying trey, but it wouldn’t fall and Quigley closed the scoring on two more free throws with 5.5 seconds left.
Other Notre Dame-DePaul Series Tidbits
- In 12 of the past 15 series games, the winning team has scored at least 75 points. The only exceptions have been the second matchups in 2007-08 and 2008-09 (66-64 Notre Dame win in Chicago in 2008; 62-59 Fighting Irish win at Purcell Pavilion in 2009), as well as this year’s regular-season contest (70-69 DePaul victory in Chicago on Feb. 28).
- The Fighting Irish have held DePaul to fewer than 70 points in four of the past five series games after not having held the Blue Demons below that mark in the previous seven series contests (including the first six as members of the BIG EAST Conference).
- The DePaul series is the second-longest in Notre Dame history, with Monday being the 35th game between the clubs. Only the Marquette rivalry (36 games) is longer, with the Fighting Irish having defeated the Golden Eagles, 73-55, back on Jan. 5 at the Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee.
- DePaul’s 19 series wins are the third-most by one Fighting Irish opponent, exceeded only by Connecticut (27) and Tennessee (20).
- Combining their memberships in the North Star (1983-88) and BIG EAST (2005-present) conferences, Notre Dame is 11-9 all-time against DePaul in regular-season league games (6-4 in BIG EAST, 5-5 in North Star). The Blue Demons did win the only conference tournament game between the programs, 76-71 in the first round of the 2007 BIG EAST Championship in Hartford.
- Including that BIG EAST tournament matchup, seven of the 11 series games between Notre Dame and DePaul since the Blue Demons joined the conference (2005-06) have been decided by single digits, including five of the past seven.
- Despite the long history of the Notre Dame-DePaul series (34 games since 1978-79), the aggregate point totals for the two teams are amazingly close — the Blue Demons have scored 2,322 points (68.3 ppg.), while the Fighting Irish have tallied 2,295 points (67.5 ppg.).
- Notre Dame has had 12 players come from the state of Illinois, including 11 from the Chicagoland area. Senior forward Devereaux Peters (Chicago/Fenwick HS) and sophomore guard Kaila Turner (Joliet/Marian Catholic HS) are the latest additions to a list that includes NCAA career three-point percentage record holder Alicia Ratay (Lake Zurich/Lake Zurich HS), two-time honorable mention All-America guard Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett/Bartlett HS) and 1,000-point scorer/2004 Purple Heart recipient Danielle Green (Chicago/Roosevelt HS). The Fighting Irish will add yet another Chicago-area player to their roster next year when guard Whitney Holloway (Plainfield/Montini Catholic HS), a Chicago Sun-Times Class 3A first-team all-state pick and point guard for the Class 3A state champion Montini Catholic High School, arrives on the Notre Dame campus.
- Both head coaches — Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw and DePaul’s Doug Bruno — have ties to the old Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL) which existed from 1978-81; McGraw was a point guard for the California Dreams in 1979 (the franchise’s only year of existence), while Bruno was the head coach and director of player personnel for the Chicago Hustle throughout its incarnation from 1978-80.
- Both McGraw and Bruno also are passionate about doing everything possible to further the sport of women’s basketball, most notably through their work with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). Bruno is a past president of the organization, while McGraw continues to serve as that body’s NCAA Division I Legislative Chair.
Fighting Irish In The BIG EAST Championship
Notre Dame is in the midst of its 16th BIG EAST Championship this week, having compiled a 18-15 (.545) tournament record to date. Counting Monday’s appearance, the Fighting Irish now have reached the semifinals in nine of 16 years and advanced to the title game four times (1996, 1997, 1999, 2001). Ironically, three of Notre Dame’s four BIG EAST finals appearances came when the tournament was held in the state of Connecticut (1996, 1997 and 2001 — all on the UConn campus at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs).
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 third seed for the fourth time in 16 tournament appearances, but the first since 1999. Each of the three previous times the Fighting Irish were a No. 3 seed, they finished as the tournament runner-up, falling to Connecticut in the title game in 1996, 1997 and 1999.
- This year’s No. 3 seed also matches the most common seed for Notre Dame at the BIG EAST Championship — the Fighting Irish also have been No. 2 four times (2000, 2002, 2004 and 2005).
- Notre Dame has been the top seed for the BIG EAST Championship once, earning that honor in 2001.
- The Fighting Irish are 13-6 (.684) all-time at the BIG EAST Championship when playing as the higher seed.
- Conversely, Notre Dame is 5-9 (.357) as the lower tournament seed, with its most recent “underdog” victory coming in the second round of last year’s Championship (75-67 over fourth-seeded St. John’s in the quarterfinal round).
- Beginning with its classic 2001 BIG EAST title game against Connecticut (won by the Huskies, 78-76 at Gampel Pavilion on Sue Bird’s shot at the buzzer), 13 of the past 17 Fighting Irish games in the conference tournament have been decided by 11 points or fewer, including six by single digits.
- All told, more than half (18) of Notre Dame’s 33 career games in the BIG EAST Championship have featured margins of 11 points or fewer, with the Fighting Irish going 8-10 (.444) in those contests.
The Upper Hand
Take out Notre Dame’s 78-57 loss at current No. 1 Connecticut on Feb. 19, and the Fighting Irish have not trailed by more than nine points at any time in 17 games against BIG EAST Conference opponents this season. The largest deficit Notre Dame has faced outside of that second meeting with UConn has been a 20-11 hole with 11:03 left in the first half at DePaul on Feb. 28.
Going one step further — the Fighting Irish have led or been tied at halftime in 15 of their 17 games against other BIG EAST teams this season, with the lone exceptions being a 37-29 deficit at Connecticut (Feb. 19) and a 32-26 score at DePaul (Feb. 28).
Game #31 Recap: Louisville
When Devereaux Peters is on the court, Notre Dame is a very tough team to beat. Peters had 19 points, nine rebounds, and tied her career high with six blocks to help the No. 7 Fighting Irish top Louisville 63-53 on Sunday night in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST tournament.
“She’s a big key for us,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “I only sat her for five minutes and they really went off on runs when she wasn’t in the game. Her on the floor makes us a very different team.”
The Irish (25-6) will play DePaul on Monday night (8 p.m. ET, ESPNU) in the semifinals. It will be a rematch of last Monday night’s game in which the Blue Demons scored with about six seconds left to edge the Fighting Irish by one point. That win earned DePaul the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
“It’s a good redemption opportunity for us,” said Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins, who finished with 14 points. “DePaul’s a great team and we know that from their record. We know we’re going to have a great game and hopefully it will be a great matchup again.”
With top-seeded UConn and fourth seed Rutgers advancing, it will be only the third time in the past decade that the top four seeds advanced to the semifinals. Leading 26-24 with two minutes left in the first half, Peters keyed a 22-5 spurt over the next eight minutes to help the Fighting Irish take control.
Louisville could only get within six the rest of the game.
Shoni Schimmel scored 12 to lead the Cardinals (20-12).
Peters was all over the court for the Fighting Irish. She scored 13 points during the game-changing run, including eight straight at one point. With Notre Dame leading 40-29, she had a block on one end of the floor and then a three-point play on the other side.
The senior forward’s effort impressed Cardinals coach Jeff Walz.
“She played fantastic,” he said. “I’m pretty good friends with their staff and I’ve told them the entire time when Devereaux comes to play they’re as good a basketball team as there is. She’s such an impact player.”
Diggins followed with a three-pointer and Peters another layup to give the Fighting Irish a 19-point advantage.
“I thought she carried us through a large stretch of the game,” McGraw said.
Louisville wasn’t done, rallying over the next six minutes with Peters on the bench. Schimmel’s pull-up in the lane started a 16-4 spurt. Charmaine Tay followed with a three-point play and Schimmel’s three-pointer with 8:12 left made it 52-45.
“Charmaine Tay played her heart out,” Schimmel said. “She got everyone going and feeding off it. We went out there and kept going as a team.”
Peters was on the bench during the Cardinals’ run and McGraw put her back in to restore order.
Diggins hit a three to make it a 10-point game and had a key steal late in the game that she converted into a basket.
Louisville cut it to six with 2:32 left on Monique Reid’s lay-in, but the Fighting Irish scored the next five points to seal the win.
Reid, who leads the Cardinals in scoring, was held to just six points.
Louisville hung around for the first 20 minutes despite shooting 38 percent and committing 13 turnovers. The Cardinals finished the game at the same shooting clip, but made just two of their 18 three-pointers and were outshot 25-7 at the free throw line.
Noting The Louisville Game
- Notre Dame advances to the BIG EAST Championship semifinals for the ninth time in its 16 appearances at the tournament since joining the conference in 1995-96.
- The Fighting Irish improve to 9-6 (.600) all-time in BIG EAST quarterfinal games and 14-7 (.667) in the first three rounds of the tournament (first round through quarterfinals), as well as 18-15 (.545) all-time in the BIG EAST Championship.
- This marked the 13th time in Notre Dame’s last 17 BIG EAST tournament games that the margin was 11 points or fewer (18 of 33 all-time tournament games also have fallen within that spread).
- Notre Dame earns its 25th victory of the season, the second consecutive year and third time in four years the Fighting Irish have posted a 25-win season, as well as the eighth time in school history.
- The only other time in the program’s 34-year history that Notre Dame recorded back-to-back 25-win seasons was 1998-99 through 2000-01, when the Fighting Irish turned in records of 26-5, 27-5 and 34-2, the last resulting in the program’s first NCAA national championship.
- The current Notre Dame senior class becomes the fourth group in school history to contribute to three 25-win seasons during their careers, joining the senior classes of 1999-2000 (Danielle Green and Julie Henderson), 2000-01 (Imani Dunbar, current assistant coach Niele Ivey, Meaghan Leahy, Ruth Riley and Kelley Siemon) and 2001-02 (Ericka Haney).
- For just the second time in Notre Dame athletics history, both Notre Dame basketball teams have recorded 25 wins in a season (men are currently 25-5) — the first time that happened was in 2007-08, when each squad collected exactly 25 wins (men 25-8, women 25-9).
- The Fighting Irish rise to 6-11 (.353) all-time at Hartford’s XL Center, including a 6-7 (.462) record in the BIG EAST Championship and 6-5 (.545) mark against other teams besides Connecticut (which uses the facility as one of its home arenas during the regular season).
- Notre Dame rises to 7-4 (.636) all-time against Louisville, including a 6-2 (.750) mark since the Cardinals joined the BIG EAST in 2005-06 (2-0 in the conference tournament) — this also was the eighth time in 11 series games that the margin was 15 points or fewer.
- Notre Dame improves to 24-0 this season when leading at halftime and now has won 49 consecutive games when it is ahead at the break.
- The Fighting Irish were outrebounded for just the fourth time all season, and first since Dec. 8, when Providence held a 37-35 edge on the glass, but Notre Dame earned a 79-43 road win.
- The minus-5 rebounding margin matches Notre Dame’s largest of the season, first set by No. 2/3 Baylor on Dec. 1 (the Lady Bears outrebounded the Fighting Irish, 43-38).
- Notre Dame logged double-digit steals for the 23rd time this season, and shot better than 45 percent from the field for the 25th time this year.
- Senior forward Devereaux Peters not only tied her career high with six blocks (first set on Feb. 16, 2010, at St. John’s), but also registered her sixth career “5-5-5” game (“5” or more in three of five major statistical categories), and third this season.
- Senior forward Becca Bruszewski notched her third double-digit rebounding night of the season, and first since Jan. 29, when she also had 10 rebounds in a win at Villanova.
— ND —