Nov. 26, 2009
ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands (AP) – Skyler Diggins and Brittany Mallory did all they could to help Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw earn her 500th win at Notre Dame.
Diggins scored 21 points and Mallory added 15 to lead the fifth-ranked Irish to an 84-79 victory over No. 23 San Diego State on Thursday in the Paradise Jam.
“I thought Skylar Diggins made a couple of big 3s that got us on a run,” said McGraw, who has 588 victories overall. “Brittany Mallory was the player of the game. She came off the bench and hit a key shot late and made the free throws. She was fantastic. I was really pleased with her, her overall poise. She gave us a huge lift off of the bench.”
The Irish (4-0) jumped out to a 21-point lead in the first half and led 44-29 at the break. The Aztecs whittled it down to 81-79 with 29 seconds left before Mallory made three of four free throws to seal the win.
“I thought we got off to a great start,” McGraw said. “I thought our defense in the first half was excellent. The second half, I was extremely disappointed in our 3-point defense. The defense in general was bad.”
Jene Morris scored 32 points to lead San Diego State (3-1), which was ranked this week for the first time in 14 years. Quenese Davis added 25 points and nine assists.
“I’m obviously disappointed in our start,” San Diego State coach Beth Burns said. “After they calmed down and saw that they just have five and we just have five, they played an even game. We’re a little bit older, so I was a little disappointed in that.”
Lindsay Schrader scored 16 points for Notre Dame.
“They spread the floor so well and their experience really shows, Burns said of the Irish. “They capitalize on every mistake. They hit us, they smacked us hard early in the game.”
Notre Dame plays South Carolina on Friday while San Diego State plays No. 20 Oklahoma.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: McGraw becomes the fourth Notre Dame coach (in any sport) to record 500 career wins at the helm of a Fighting Irish athletics program, joining fencing skippers Michael DeCicco (680-45 from 1962-86) and Yves Auriol (525-33 from 1986-2002), and baseball coach Jake Kline (558-449-5 from 1934-75) in the prestigious Notre Dame coaching “Fighting Irish Five Hundred” club; McGraw is 500-197 (.717) in 23 seasons at Notre Dame (1987-88 to present) and 588-238 (.712) in 28 seasons overall (including a five-year run at Lehigh from 1982-83 to 1986-87) … Notre Dame earns its second win over a ranked opponent in a week, having also won at No. 21 Michigan State (68-67) back on Nov. 19 … the Fighting Irish continue their success in regular-season tournament play, winning for the 19th time in their last 22 contests, dating back to the 1996-97 season … Notre Dame evens its series record with San Diego State at 1-1, having last faced the Aztecs on March 21, 1981 at the Northern Lights Invitational in Acnhorage, Alaska (a 71-34 SDSU win); the series hiatus of 28 years, eight months and five days is the longest in Notre Dame women’s basketball history, with the two series games to date also being played on neutral courts nearly 5,000 miles apart … the Fighting Irish improve to 9-2 (.818) against the current Mountain West Conference alignment (also 8-2 in the McGraw era, and 6-2 at road/neutral sites) … Notre Dame moves to 22-14 (.611) all-time against California schools, with a 20-6 (.769) mark in the 23-year McGraw era and 13-11 (.542) record at road/neutral sites … the Fighting Irish were playing on Thanksgiving Day for the first time in the program’s 33-year history … Notre Dame rises to 59-11 (.843) in the month of November since it joined the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96 … the Fighting Irish were playing a regular season game outside the continental United States for the first time since Dec. 1-3, 1995, when they participated in the Kona Women’s Basketball Classic in Kona, Hawai’i … senior guard Melissa Lechlitner and senior center Erica Williamson both appeared in their 100th career games on Thursday, while senior guards Ashley Barlow and Lindsay Schrader both played in career game #99 against San Diego State … Barlow scored seven points against SDSU, giving her 1,155 career points and moving her into 19th place on the Notre Dame all-time scoring list, passing Courtney LaVere (1,150 from 2002-06) … junior guard Brittany Mallory scored a season-high 15 points, her best offensive output since returning from off-season ACL surgery, and her highest scoring night in almost exactly a year, when she chalked up a career-high 19 points in a home win over Georgia Southern (Nov. 25, 2008) … freshman guard Skylar Diggins’ season/career-high 21 points are the most for a Notre Dame rookie in a game since Feb. 26, 2007, when Barlow tossed in a (then) career-best 21 points at DePaul.