Feb. 22, 2011
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) – Notre Dame’s constant layup drill more than made up for its sloppiness against West Virginia.
Natalie Novosel scored 22 points and the No. 8/7 Irish overcame 30 turnovers to beat the No. 19/18 Mountaineers 72-60 Tuesday night.
The Irish (23-5, 12-2 BIG EAST) saw their nine-game winning streak end in a 78-57 loss at No. 2 Connecticut on Saturday in which they shot just 36 percent from the floor. Notre Dame bounced back against West Virginia, hitting 58 percent of its field goals to make those turnovers seem less painful.
“We were able to just quickly fix our minds to just forget that game and move on because we knew we had a tough stretch coming up,” Novosel said.
Twenty-two of Notre Dame’s 30 baskets came on layups and the nation’s sixth-best offense more than handled the fifth-best scoring defense.
“We worked them a lot on the back doors and executed very well,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “We had some great shots and shot the ball extremely well, but when you’re getting layups, I think it’s a little easier to shoot well.”
And those 30 turnovers, including 10 from Skylar Diggins?
“That is an embarrassing number,” McGraw said.
Sarah Miles scored 16 points and Madina Ali added 12 for West Virginia (21-7, 7-7). The Mountaineers trailed by double digits for most of the second half and fell for the fourth time in five games.
The Irish didn’t need any help from their bench. The starters scored all but five points and Notre Dame outrebounded West Virginia 40-31.
West Virginia had 16 steals but committed 23 turnovers, shot just 35 percent (24 of 68) from the floor and made only 10 of 18 free throws.
“When it came down to it, we missed so many foul shots and easy layups,” West Virginia coach Mike Carey said.
Notre Dame kept its attack-the-basket mantra going after building a 13-point halftime lead.
Ali, who’s been bothered by a stress fracture in her lower leg most of the season, played just 4 minutes in the first half but answered after the break with hit a 3-pointer and a layup 27 seconds apart to bring West Virginia within 53-44 with 11 minutes left.
Peters then made a layup, Brittany Mallory followed with a 3-pointer and Notre Dame kept its lead in double digits the rest of the game.
“I think the stats show everything,” Carey said. “They scored 48 in the paint and only shot two 3s. They drove us to the paint and scored.”
Peters scored the final six points of a 13-1 run that put the Irish ahead 28-14 with 5:54 left in the half. West Virginia went 6 minutes between field goals before Miles hit the Mountaineers’ final three baskets and they trailed 38-25 at halftime.
Notre Dame shot 65 percent (15 of 23) from the floor in the first half and beat West Virginia for the 18th time in 20 all-time meetings.
To McGraw, the win was key in many ways, including making an impression on the NCAA tournament committee.
“Wins on the road, I think, look better in the committee’s eyes,” she said.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame picked up its fourth win over a ranked opponent this season … the Fighting Irish collected its first road win at a Top 25 opponent since Nov. 19, 2009, when they edged No. 21 Michigan State, 68-67 in East Lansing, Mich. … this marked the largest margin of victory for Notre Dame on the road at a ranked opponent since Feb. 16, 2008, when it posted a 79-67 win at No. 21/23 Syracuse … the Fighting Irish reached a program milestone on Tuesday, becoming just the third BIG EAST Conference school to record 200 BIG EAST regular-season victories, improving to 200-62 (.763) in less than 16 seasons as a conference member (1995-96 to present); BIG EAST charter members Connecticut (377) and Villanova (250) are the only other BIG EAST schools with at least 200 regular-season conference wins … the Notre Dame senior class collectively recorded its 99th career win (now 99-29, .773), with an opportunity to reach the century mark Saturday on Senior Day vs. Cincinnati at Purcell Pavilion … the Fighting Irish continue to show excellent resilience, improving to 58-14 (.806) in their first game after a double-digit loss since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, including a current run of six in a row covering the past two seasons; Notre Dame also is 83-31 (.728) in the 24-year Muffet McGraw era in these so-called “bounce back” games … Notre Dame remains solid in the critical month of February, rising to 92-26 (.780) in February during its BIG EAST tenure and 140-41 (.773) in February during the McGraw era; the Fighting Irish also secured a winning month of February for the 23rd time in McGraw’s 24-year stewardship under the Golden Dome … Notre Dame shot better than 50 percent from the field for the 16th time this season, while topping 65 percent in a single half (.652 in first half) for the first time since Feb. 8 (.667 in first half vs. Seton Hall at Purcell Pavilion) … the Fighting Irish had at least four double-digit scorers for the 18th time this year, moving to 16-2 in those contests … Notre Dame tied its season low with five steals (set two other times, the last on Feb. 5 at South Florida), while West Virginia had an opponent season-high 16 thefts (previous was 15 by UCLA on Nov. 18 in a double-overtime contest at Purcell Pavilion) … how uncharacteristic was Notre Dame’s 30-turnover night? It was the most by the Fighting Irish in a single game since Nov. 15, 2003, when they had a similar 30 giveaways in a 67-63 overtime loss at 20th-ranked Colorado in the title game of the WBCA Classic … Notre Dame improves to 18-2 all-time against West Virginia, including a 7-2 record in Morgantown … the Fighting Irish earned their first victory at WVU Coliseum in exactly five years (70-58 on Feb. 22, 2006) … Notre Dame’s 72 points are the most the Fighting Irish have scored at WVU since Jan. 24, 2001 (87-64 win) … this marked the 11th time in the past 12 series games that the margin has been 13 points or fewer … Notre Dame is 13-1 all-time against West Virginia when coming in as a ranked team, including 7-0 when the Fighting Irish are appearing in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll … the Fighting Irish have scored at least 70 points against the Mountaineers in 16 of 20 series games, while WVU has been held to 60 points or fewer in half (10) of those matchups … in 18 of the 20 series contests, the Mountaineers have scored exactly within a 13-point window (54-67 points) … junior guard Natalie Novosel posted her fifth 20-point game of the season after coming into the campaign with a career high of 19 points … Novosel also notched her first career 20-point game against a BIG EAST opponent, having scored 19 points in BIG EAST on three occasions (the last on Feb. 5 at South Florida) … Novosel also came one rebound shy of her career, while her 8-for-8 effort at the foul line was one make away from her season best (9-for-9 against current No. 23 Gonzaga on Dec. 29 at the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic in Seattle) … sophomore guard Skylar Diggins tallied her team-high seventh “5-5-5” game this season, and the 15th of her career … Diggins dished out at least seven assists for the sixth time this year, and at least five assists for the 18th time this season … senior forward Devereaux Peters turned in her best shooting performance against a BIG EAST team this year and matched her third-best effort overall this season, having shot .889 (8-9) vs. Loyola Marymount on Dec. 30 at the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic in Seattle, and .846 (11-13) against New Hampshire on Nov. 12 in the season opener at Purcell Pavilion … Peters’ three blocks give her 124 career rejections, tying her for ninth place in school history with Trena Keys (1982-86) and putting her one back of former teammate Erica Williamson (2006-10) for eighth place on the Notre Dame career blocks chart … sophomore guard Kaila Turner tied her career high with four rebounds, the fourth time in her career she’s hit that mark and first since Jan. 2 vs. Southeast Missouri State at Purcell Pavilion … senior forward Becca Bruszewski finished one rebound away from her third double-double of the season and fifth of her career … Bruszewski also pulled within three points of 23rd place on the Notre Dame career scoring list with 1,057 points, shadowing Carrie Bates (1,060 points from 1981-85).