Natalie Novosel

No. 16 Irish Top Gonzaga, 70-61

Dec. 29, 2010

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SEATTLE (AP) – Natalie Novosel scored a career-high 27 points and No. 16 Notre Dame beat Gonzaga 70-61 on Wednesday night.

Skylar Diggins added 19 for Notre Dame (10-3), including a clinching 3-pointer from the corner with 1:46 remaining that put the Irish up by seven.

“Right now that’s the best win on our tournament resume,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, whose team won its fifth consecutive game since losing to Baylor back on Dec. 1.

Gonzaga, which advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with two wins in Seattle last March, used a balanced offense to lead by two at the half and four midway through the second half.

Notre Dame encountered another problem when forward Devereaux Peters picked up a technical for her fourth personal foul with 17:01 left in the second half.

But Novosel helped pick up the slack with an assortment of drives into the lane, and the Irish were able to hang tough despite turning the ball over 26 times.

“I thought the technical on Devereaux really turned the game in our favor in a way,” McGraw said. “Because I thought the team responded really well to that adversity. And we haven’t had a chance to do that much this year.”

Peters came back in to convert a putback with six minutes remaining to give Notre Dame a 60-57 lead, and Novosel then drew contact while rolling in a layup for a three-point play that put the Irish up by six with just 5:08 to play.

The junior guard converted 8 of 11 shots from the field and was a perfect 9-for-9 from the free-throw line.

“She’s our leading scorer and she had just a great game and really looked to score,” McGraw said. “Which is what we want her to do. Crucial free throws, just an outstanding game.”

Gonzaga was able to claw back to within four with 2:35 remaining, but Diggins – who had a double-double with 11 rebounds – made her third 3-pointer of the game to end the threat.

Kayla Standish had 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs (10-4).

— ND —

POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame earned the 699th win in program history (now 699-305, .696) and will have a chance to become the 32nd NCAA Division I team to reach that 700-win milestone, following Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) (the alma mater of Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw), which registered its 700th victory on Wednesday … Notre Dame now has won 25 of its last 28 regular-season tournament games (dating back to the start of the 1996-97 season), including a current streak of seven in a row … the Fighting Irish improve to 4-2 this season against first-time opponents, 25-3 (.893) against new foes since the start of the 2000-01 season, and 45-7 (.865) against first-time opponents since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96 … Notre Dame rises to 4-1 all-time against schools from Washington state (2-1 vs. Washington, 1-0 vs. Gonzaga, 1-0 vs. Pacific Lutheran) … the Fighting Irish are 6-1 (.857) all-time against current West Coast Conference teams, with Wednesday’s game being the first for Notre Dame against a WCC opponent since March 17, 2000 (an 87-61 win over San Diego in the first round of the NCAA Championship at Purcell Pavilion); ironically, the Fighting Irish will play another WCC team (Loyola Marymount) on Thursday at the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic in Seattle … speaking of the Emerald City, this was Notre Dame’s first win in six all-time games in Seattle, and just its second in seven career games in the state of Washington (the Fighting Irish defeated Pacific Lutheran, 57-48, in Tacoma on March 12, 1980, in the AIAW Division III Tournament) … Notre Dame has won eight in a row and is 23-11 (.676) all-time when playing its first game after the Christmas holiday, including an 11-5 (.688) mark away from South Bend and a 17-7 (.708) record in the 24-year McGraw era … Notre Dame won for the first time this season (in three tries) when trailing at halftime … for the first time this season, the Fighting Irish won when shooting less than 50 percent from the floor (albeit barely, as they connected as a .491 clip against Gonzaga) … Notre Dame’s .600 three-point percentage was its second-best of the season (.750, 3-4 vs. Creighton Dec. 11) … the Fighting Irish committed 26 turnovers, their second-highest total of the season (27 vs. UCLA on Nov. 18) … Notre Dame had two players register double-doubles in the same game for the first time since March 23, 2008, when Ashley Barlow (20 pts/12 rebs) and Charel Allen (14 pts/11 rebs) turned the trick against SMU in the first round of the NCAA Championship at West Lafayette, Ind. … junior guard Natalie Novosel scored a career-high 27 points, four more than her previous high set on Nov. 27, 2010, against Wake Forest at Purcell Pavilion — Novosel has four 20-point games this season after her previous career high of 19 points came during her freshman year … Novosel’s 27 points are the most by a Notre Dame player since Skylar Diggins’ 31-point effort against Vermont in the second round of last year’s NCAA Championship (March 23, 2010) at Purcell Pavilion … in her last two games, Novosel is averaging 22.5 points while shooting .778 (14-18) from the field and a perfect 1.000 (15-15) from the foul line … Novosel’s 9-for-9 free throw shooting performance against Gonzaga was the best by a Notre Dame player since March 25, 2008, when Charel Allen went 12-for-12 from the charity stripe against Oklahoma in the second round of the NCAA Championship at West Lafayette, Ind. … sophomore guard Skylar Diggins posted her second career double-double and grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds, after her previous double-double (vs. Pittsburgh, Feb. 6, 2010 at Purcell Pavilion) featured her former personal high with 10 rebounds … senior forward Devereaux Peters also chalked up the second double-double of her career, and first since Jan. 27, 2008, when she tallied 10 points and 12 rebounds against Connecticut at Purcell Pavilion … there were several folks with Notre Dame ties in the crowd on Wednesday, including former Fighting Irish assistant athletics equipment manager Bill Peck (now on the event staff at KeyArena while pursuing his graduate degree in sports administration and leadership at Seattle University), former Notre Dame coordinator of student-athlete development Eric Guerra (now the associate athletics director for finance & compliance at Seattle University) and former Fighting Irish women’s basketball student manager/player Christy Grady (now partnership development manager for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer).