Sophomore center Erica Williamson scored a career-high 16 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds as 16th-ranked Notre Dame downed Saint Francis (Pa.), 82-39, on Saturday afternoon at the Joyce Center.

No. 16 Irish Roll Past Saint Francis (Pa.), 82-39

Dec. 29, 2007

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – A bad first half at IUPUI last week may have been just what Notre Dame’s Erica Williamson needed to get going.

Williamson missed four layups in a minute and a half against IUPUI. She then came back in the second half and scored nine points in eight minutes. She continued to improve Saturday, scoring a career-high 16 points in 20 minutes to lead the 16th-ranked Fighting Irish to an 82-39 victory over Saint Francis of Pennsylvania.

“I went into the second half of IUPUI knowing I could play so much better, and I wanted to prove to both the coaching staff, our fans and my teammates that I could play better. That’s what I tried to do,” Williamson said.

Williamson said she tried to take the same attitude into Saturday’s game.

“I just tried to go after every rebound,” she said.

Williamson, who scored in double figures six times last year as a freshman, accomplished the feat for the first time this season, becoming the 10th Irish player to score in double figures this season.

Irish coach Muffet McGraw said it was the best game of the season for the 6-foot-4 center.

“I think she’s really on the upswing right now,” McGraw said. “I’m really pleased with the way she’s being a presence defensively. She’s working hard, taking charges, scoring points. That is exactly what we’ve been missing is a post presence, and I think she showed that today.”

Williamson added eight rebounds and three blocks as the Irish dominated inside, outscoring the Red Flash 54-10 in the paint. Devereaux Peters added 10 points and eight rebounds.

Saint Francis used a 17-4 run midway through the first half to cut Notre Dame’s lead to 21-19. But Notre Dame’s inside game and defense were too much. The Irish blew the game open by ending the first half on a 21-6 spurt and starting the second half with a 29-6 run.

Saint Francis made just 3-of-24 shots from the field in the second half and shot 29 percent for the game.

“We just don’t have enough scoring, and obviously size is a huge factor,” Saint Francis coach Susan Robinson Fruchtl said. “Peters and Williamson really gave us a lot of problems on the interior and on rebounding. They had five offensive rebounds each and probably scored on most of those. That was the big difference in the game.”

Ashley Barlow added 12 points for the Irish. Britney Hodges led the Red Flash with 18 points.

The Irish (11-1) won their ninth straight, and the 39 points were the fewest allowed by Notre Dame since a 41-35 victory over Seton Hall on March 1, 2005. The Red Flash (3-8) lost their sixth straight to fall to 1-6 on the road.

— ND —

POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame and Saint Francis were playing one another for the first time ever; the Irish are 17-1 (.944) against first-time opponents since the start of the 2000-01 season (10-0 at home), including an active 12-game winning streak against new foes … Notre Dame finished the month of December with a perfect 6-0 record, its first unblemished mark for en entire month since November 2005 (5-0) … seven of the 11 Irish wins this year have come by 30+ points; that ties for the second-most 30-point wins in a single season by Notre Dame, matching the total of the 1998-99 squad (the school record for 30-point wins is 10, set by the 2000-01 club) … the Irish have held 10 of their 12 opponents to fewer than 60 points, including seven to 50 points or fewer … Saint Francis scored only 14 second-half points, the fewest allowed by the Irish in a single half since Jan. 2, 2005, when Seton Hall also scored 14 points in the first half of a 54-33 Irish win at the Joyce Center … Notre Dame has not trailed by more than three points at any time during its seven home wins this season (5-2 vs. Michigan with 18:10 left in first half on Dec. 2) … the Irish shot at least 50 percent from the field for the sixth time this year … Notre Dame forced at least 20 opponent turnovers for the 10th time this year, with only (then) third-ranked Maryland and Bowling Green (15 apiece) avoiding the turnover bug against the Irish … Notre Dame had at least three double-digit scorers for the 11th time in 12 games (lone exception came Dec. 8 at Purdue when the Irish had two in double figures) … all 11 Irish players found the scoring column for the fifth time this season … sophomore center Erica Williamson had a career-high 16 points, one more than her total almost exactly one year ago vs. Prairie View A&M (Dec. 28 at the Joyce Center) … Williamson’s double-digit afternoon leaves senior walk-on guard Amanda Tsipis as the only member of the 11-player Irish roster who has not scored in double figures at least once this season … Williamson added a season-high three blocks and was one rebound shy of her season-best in that category (nine vs. Miami-Ohio on Nov. 9) … freshman forward Devereaux Peters matched her season high with eight rebounds, a mark she set in each of the first two games of her career (vs. Miami and Western Kentucky); Peters also dished out a season-high four assists, one more than her total vs. Boston College on Nov. 24 … junior guard Lindsay Schrader handed out a career-high five assists after logging four assists in a game on five prior occasions (most recently on Nov. 27 vs. Canisius) … senior guard Tulyah Gaines recorded at least five assists for the third consecutive game and has a 4.0 assist/turnover ratio in that time (20 assists, five turnovers).