Tournament MVP Melissa D'Amico, right, blocks a shot by Utah's Kim Smith. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

No. 13 Notre Dame Tops No. 22 Utah 68-55

Dec. 18, 2005

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LAS VEGAS (AP)Melissa D’Amico scored 13 points and Lindsay Schrader had 10 points and 10 rebounds in No. 13 Notre Dame’s 68-55 victory over No. 22 Utah on Saturday in the Gray Division title game in the Duel in the Desert.

D’Amico, the tournament MVP, was 4-for-5 from the field and had seven rebounds for the Irish (8-1). Crystal Erwin added 12 points and seven rebounds, and Breona Gray also scored 12 points for Notre Dame.

Kim Smith led Utah (7-2) with 18 points, and Shona Thorburn had 16 points and nine rebounds.

— ND —

POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame wins its 12th regular-season tournament game in the past 13 opportunities, dating back to the 1996-97 season; the Irish also earn their fifth tournament title in the past six tries — others were 1996 Comfort Inn Downtown Classic (Atlanta, Ga.), 1999 Wachovia Women’s Basketball Invitational (Richmond, Va.), 2000 Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge (Madison, Wis.) and 2004 Preseason WNIT (campus sites) … Sunday’s win is Notre Dame’s second in three games vs. a ranked opponent this season, pairing up with a 73-62 win over No. 24/23 USC on Nov. 27 … Notre Dame is off to an 8-1 start for the second year in a row, fourth time in eight years and fifth time in school history (also 1978-79 as AIAW Division III program, 1998-99, 2000-01 and 2004-05) … the Irish are 6-2 (.750) all-time against the Mountain West Conference, including a 2-0 series mark vs. Utah … Notre Dame led or has been tied at halftime in eight of its nine games this year (all wins) … the Irish had a season-high five players scoring in double figures, the first time they have had that much balance on offense since last year’s season opener (five double-figure scorers on Nov. 12, 2004 vs. Illinois State in the Preseason WNIT at the Joyce Center) … Notre Dame has featured at least three double-digit scorers in eight of nine games this year (all wins), including four with four or more in double figures (No. 24/23 USC, Iona, Wisconsin and No. 22/21 Utah) … the Irish trailed for a grand total of 15 seconds in their two wins in Las Vegas this weekend, falling behind Utah, 39-38 at the 9:54 mark of the second half on Sunday, but regaining the lead with two free throws by junior forward Crystal Erwin with 9:39 to play (ND never trailed in Saturday’s game vs. Arkansas State) … the Notre Dame defense played a key role in its Duel in the Desert Gray Division title, as the Irish held their two opponents to a combined .286 field goal percentage (32-of-112) and an average of 54.5 ppg. … sophomore center Melissa D’Amico was named the Duel in the Desert Gray Division Most Valuable Player after averaging 16.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game with an astronomical .824 field goal percentage (14-of-17) — it’s the first all-tournament honor of D’Amico’s career … senior guard Megan Duffy also earned a spot on the all-tournament team after logging 12.5 points and 7.0 assists per game with just one turnover in 66 minutes of action; Duffy has now been named to three all-tournament teams in her career, also making the squads for the 2004 Preseason WNIT and 2005 BIG EAST Conference Championship … perhaps lost a bit in the shuffle, junior guard Breona Gray turned in a solid two-day effort in returning to her hometown of Las Vegas, finishing with 11.5 points per game while shooting .538 from the floor (60 percent from the three-point line) … junior forward Crystal Erwin tallied a season-high 12 points vs. Utah, her first double-digit game since Jan. 26, 2005 vs. St. John’s … freshman guard Lindsay Schrader chalked up her second double-double this season with 10 points and 10 rebounds vs. Utah (also 10p, 14r vs. Michigan on Nov. 18) … sophomore guard Charel Allen matched her career high with nine rebounds, tying her personal standard set on two other occasions (most recently at Seton Hall on March 1, 2005).