Feb. 26, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (AP) – Becca Bruszewski made sure it was a sweet Senior Day in South Bend.
Bruszewski scored 12 points in her final home game, and No. 8 Notre Dame cruised past Cincinnati 66-48 before a sellout crowd on Saturday.
“We were a little giddy, almost, before the game,” coach Muffet McGraw said. “Everybody had a little bit of emotion. But we didn’t have the same type of focus that we normally do.”
Skylar Diggins scored 12 points for Notre Dame (24-5, 13-2 BIG EAST), which jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first 2 1/2 minutes, pushed it to 15-6 with 8:24 remaining in the first half and then started the second half with a 21-0 run that put the game away.
“I thought everybody got a lot more aggressive to start the second half,” said McGraw, whose team has won 19 of 21, the only losses against current No. 1-ranked Connecticut.
“Today was great,” a teary-eyed Bruszewski said. “I was really taking it all in.”
McGraw called her the “most amazing competitor, I think, I’ve ever coached.”
“I think her contribution over four years has been outstanding,” McGraw said. “But the contribution that she’s made this year from a leadership perspective has way surpassed everyone’s expectations.”
Kayla Cook had 18 points for Bearcats (8-19, 1-14). Shareese Ulis added 14 points.
“They were a little bit smaller group, so I always try to take advantage of that,” Peters said. “I really tried to make it a point to get inside.”
Cincinnati trailed only 28-20 at halftime before the Irish went on their big run. The Bearcats’ bench was hit with a technical foul with 17:19 remaining, and Kaila Turner hit back-to-back 3-pointers that made it 61-30 with about 9 minutes left as the rout was on.
“For us to go into halftime down eight, I don’t know if I would have envisioned that,” Cincinnati coach Jamelle Elliot said. “I was hoping that would come out and just kind of build off that, but that just wasn’t the case.”
An injury-riddled roster limited Cincinnati to just seven dressed players, making it an uphill battle against a team that has never lost to the Bearcats in seven previous matchups.
Cincinnati has lost 13 straight games and wraps up its regular season against No. 24 Marquette on Monday night. The Bearcats’ last win was against South Florida, 57-56 on Jan. 5.
“You never have a break,” Elliot said. “Every night you’re playing against a team that’s athletic, that’s quick, that’s deep.”
Elliot knows that her team is at a disadvantage every time it steps out onto the floor, but she was proud of the way the Bearcats performed.
“We play extremely hard,” Elliot said. “We compete, we fight, we’re scrappy.”
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame logs its 13th conference win of the season, the most for the Fighting Irish in a BIG EAST campaign since 2004-05, when they went 13-3 during conference play … the Fighting Irish senior class earned its 100th victory (now 100-29, .775), becoming the sixth senior class in school history — and first since 2002-03 (Alicia Ratay and Karen Swanson) — to reach the century mark in career wins … Notre Dame improves to 28-6 (.824) all-time on Senior Day, including a 21-3 (.875) record during the 24-year Muffet McGraw era … the Fighting Irish finish with a 15-2 home record, the second consecutive season and fifth time in program history that Notre Dame has registered 15 home wins in a season … Notre Dame attracted its fifth sellout crowd of the season, one shy of last year’s school record … the Fighting Irish set a new single-season home attendance average record, welcoming 8,553 fans per game to Purcell Pavilion this season to break last year’s average attendance mark of 8,377 … Notre Dame rises to 37-7 (.841) all-time against Ohio schools at Purcell Pavilion, including an active 17-game winning streak that dates back to 1993 … the Fighting Irish move to 7-0 all-time against Cincinnati (4-0 at Purcell Pavilion), as the Bearcats and Providence (19-0) remain the two current BIG EAST opponents Notre Dame has not lost to … Saturday’s final score was one Bearcat basket away from being identical to the final score in the past two Notre Dame-Cincinnati games (66-50) … the Fighting Irish forced at least 25 turnovers for the ninth time this season, with UC’s 28 giveaways the most by a Notre Dame opponent since Dec. 8, when Providence also had 28 in the BIG EAST opener for both teams (a 79-43 Fighting Irish win at PC) … Notre Dame posted double-digit steals for the 21st time this season … the Fighting Irish had a double-digit advantage in the rebounding column for the 15th time this season, just missing their ninth game with a rebound margin of +15 or better … Notre Dame held its opponent to 50 points or fewer for the 14th time, including the eighth time in BIG EAST play … senior forward Devereaux Peters chalked up her seventh double-double of the season (eighth of her career), including her fifth in BIG EAST action … Peters also moved into eighth place on Notre Dame’s career blocks list with 127, breaking a tie with Trena Keys (124 from 1982-86) and passing former teammate Erica Williamson (125 from 2006-10) with three blocks on Saturday … senior forward Becca Bruszewski rose to 23rd place on Notre Dame’s all-time scoring list with 1,069 points, passing Carrie Bates (1,060 from 1981-85) … sophomore guard Kaila Turner dropped in a career-high three three-pointers, after having hit two treys on three occasions, the last on Dec. 20 at Valparaiso — Turner’s nine points were one off her season high set on Nov. 15 against Morehead State at Purcell Pavilion.