Notre Dame's Natalie Novosel (21) shoots over St. John's Shenneika Smith (35).

No. 2 Notre Dame Dominates St. John's, 71-56

Jan. 28, 2012

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NEW YORK (AP) – Devereaux Peters has a simple explanation for her success lately: She’s been able to stay out of foul trouble.

Peters had 18 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks and four steals to help No. 2 Notre Dame beat St. John’s 71-56 on Saturday – the Fighting Irish’s 18th straight victory.

“I think the biggest difference is I’ve been in the game,” Peters said. “You have more opportunities to score and rebound. I do what they need me to do.”

Peters had a career-high 16 rebounds in the Irish’s 28-point blowout of No. 7 Tennessee on Monday night.

“Dev is great,” said Skylar Diggins, who led Notre Dame with 24 points. “She’s long, athletic. She’s relentless on the boards. We need Dev in the game.”

Trailing 6-1 early on, Notre Dame (21-1, 8-0 BIG EAST) went on a 19-2 run to take an early 12-point lead. Peters had six points during the burst and Diggins had the final eight, including a pretty floater down the lane that made it 20-8 with 11:16 left in the half.

St. John’s scored the next eight points, including two 3-pointers by Tesia Harris, to cut it to a four-point game. That’s as close as the Red Storm (13-8, 5-3) would get as Notre Dame put it away with a 14-0 spurt.

“I thought we played pretty well in the first half,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “I thought we were playing their pace, it lulled us. When we started rebounding and running we looked like ourselves.”

Notre Dame dominated the glass, outrebounding St. John’s 49-29 – including a whopping 26-8 advantage in the first half.

Diggins has been the catalyst for the Irish all season. During the decisive run she scored four points and had two assists on beautiful lookaway passes to Natalie Achonwa. Later in the first half, with her team up 18 points, the junior guard blocked a shot on one end, ran the floor and caught a long outlet from Peters for a lay-in.

Even when she made a rare mistake, she quickly made up for it. On one sequence, the preseason All-American turned the ball over, but hustled back and blocked a shot on the other end. She moved into 11th place on the school’s all-time scoring list, passing assistant coach and mentor Niele Ivey.

“I didn’t know that,” Diggins said smiling. “Don’t tell her.”

The Irish will be back in the Tri-State area Tuesday night when they play No. 11 Rutgers. Notre Dame will fly back to South Bend and return Monday because of classes.

“Those academic institutions, they like us to get to class,” McGraw said. “We’ll be home by 5 p.m. Sometimes when you sit around the hotel you get a little bored. It’s good for us to get back home.”

Notre Dame has won 21 of the 24 games between the teams, although the Red Storm had won the previous three at home, including upsetting the then-No. 4 Irish in 2010.

Despite Saturday’s performance, St. John’s has been playing well over the last month. The Red Storm had won six of their previous seven games since getting everyone healthy, including victories over then-No. 7 Rutgers and then-No. 14 Louisville.

“I like where our team is right now,” St. John’s coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “To come back here and not quit. We could have come out and it really could have gotten ugly. They showed that they are a really good basketball team.”

Trailing 43-23 at the half, the Red Storm tried to battle back. They started the second half with a 13-4 run to cut the deficit to 11, but Diggins calmly restored order for the Irish – who scored eight of the next 10 points to seal the win.

“I feel like we played the best team in the country,” Barnes Arico said. “They have a lot of weapons, are extremely well coached, really a great team.”

Da’Shena Stevens and Shenneika Smith each scored 10 points to lead St. John’s.

— ND —

POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame extends its winning streak to 18 games (third-longest in school history and longest since a 23-game streak to open the 2000-01 season) … the Fighting Irish reach the midpoint of the BIG EAST Conference season undefeated for the fourth time since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, and the first time since 2000-01 … Notre Dame improves to 21-3 all-time against St. John’s, earning its first win at Carnesecca Arena since Feb. 17, 2004 (a 69-56 triumph) … the Fighting Irish are 51-5 (.911) all-time against teams from the state of New York, including a 19-4 (.826) record on the road … Notre Dame now has held its opponent to 25 points or fewer in 22 of the past 33 halves of basketball, dating back to the second half against No. 7/6 Duke on Nov. 26 in Freeport, Bahamas … the Fighting Irish grabbed 49 rebounds, their highest total in BIG EAST play this year and the 14th time in the past 16 games they have piled up at least 40 rebounds … Notre Dame swiped double-digit steals for the 17th time this season … for the 18th time in 22 games this year, the Fighting Irish limited their opponent to fewer than 60 points, improving to 18-0 in these games and 248-15 (.943) since joining the BIG EAST 17 seasons ago … prior to Monday night, Notre Dame had gone more than three years without a player recording a 15-point/15-rebound game — now it has had a player do so in consecutive games, as fifth-year senior forward/tri-captain Devereaux Peters followed her 16-point, 16-rebound effort against No. 7/9 Tennessee with 18 points and 15 boards at St. John’s … Peters is the first Notre Dame player to post consecutive 15-point/15-rebound games, as well as simply consecutive 15-rebound games (never mind the scoring component) since Dec. 21 & 30, 1992, when Letitia Bowen had 16 points and 15 rebounds against Georgia, followed by 16 points and 18 rebounds against Georgetown (both played at Purcell Pavilion) … Peters is the first Fighting Irish player with two 15-rebound games in one season since Ruth Riley did so in 1998-99 (18 rebounds vs. Duke on Nov. 21, 1998; 17 rebounds vs. Toledo on Dec. 2, 1998 — both played at Purcell Pavilion) … Peters also collected a season-high five blocked shots, the fifth time in her career she has posted a five-block outing … Peters moved to ninth place on Notre Dame’s career rebounding list with 750 boards, passing Shari Matvey (742 from 1979-83) … for the second time this season, junior guard Skylar Diggins has strung together three consecutive 20-point games, following up on her 20-point afternoon against Villanova on Jan. 21, and 27 points two nights later against No. 7/9 Tennessee … Diggins tied her career high with three blocked shots, having first reached that mark against No. 23/24 San Diego State on Nov. 26, 2009, at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands … Diggins rose to 11th place on Notre Dame’s all-time scoring list with 1,442 points, passing both former teammate Lindsay Schrader (1,429 from 2005-10) and current Fighting Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey (1,430 from 1996-2001) … senior guard/tri-captain Natalie Novosel jumped to 16th place on the Notre Dame career scoring list with 1,316 points, passing Margaret Nowlin (1,312 from 1988-92) … fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Brittany Mallory played in her 134th career game, two shy of the school record set by her former teammate, Becca Bruszewski, from 2007-11.