Feb. 12, 2012
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said her team had it coming to them.
“I thought we’ve been building up to this game now for a couple of weeks,” she said. “We just haven’t played well for a long time.”
The second-ranked Irish almost played well enough Sunday, but West Virginia ended their 21-game winning streak with a 65-63 victory.
Brooke Hampton made two free throws with 4.6 seconds left to give the Mountaineers (18-6, 8-3 BIG EAST) the lead and a 15-footer by Natalie Novosel of Notre Dame bounced off the rim as time expired.
“This is a great win for us,” Mountaineers coach Mike Carey said. “We were below .500 three or four years ago and we beat Louisville at Louisville when they were ranked third in the country. This is right up there (with our best wins ever).”
The Mountaineers came in on a three-game winning streak and were confident heading into Sunday, according to center Asya Bussie who had 22 points and eight rebounds.
“I just think we were more focused,” she said. “We prepared all week and we just came in and did what we had to do to get the win.”
Bussie hit a turnaround jumper with 39 seconds to go that tied the game at 63.
Skylar Diggins had a career-high 32 points for Notre Dame (24-2, 11-1), which came into the game leading the nation at 83.2 points per game.
Diggins missed a contested layup with the score tied at 63 and less than 10 seconds to play. She fouled Hampton at midcourt as she went for a steal with 4.6 seconds to go.
Hampton then made the free throws that gave her four points for the game – all from the line.
Diggins said her team stopped playing defense.
“We just were not attacking,” she said. “We were getting transitions at first and then we stopped playing defense and they scored. We haven’t practiced with intensity this week and it showed. But it’s not the end of the season. It’s just a bad loss. We’ve got to come back and make sure we are ready for the rest of the season.”
The Mountaineers forced Notre Dame into 17 turnovers.
“I think we had to sit down and get a little physical with them,” Carey said. “Because if you don’t they are just going to throw you out of the way and go get a layup. I’ve watched a lot a lot of tape on them and (that is what they do). So we tried to get our guards to sit down and body them up a little bit more.”
Ayana Dunning added 11 points for the Mountaineers, who finished with a 41-33 rebound advantage.
“This was a big win for us,” Carey said. “We lost five seniors from last year and they were almost 90 percent of our offense. For these girls to get this type of win on the road will do a lot for our confidence because we are young. We have to build on this.”
Novosel scored 16 points for Notre Dame and Devereaux Peters grabbed 17 rebounds.
McGraw said her team’s inside play was a factor in the loss.
“I thought Bussie was outstanding for them,” she said. “She was really the difference in the game. We could not defend them in the post and we could not score in the post on our end. I’m just really disappointed for everybody.
“They were physical,” McGraw continued, “but I don’t know if that’s what threw us off. We just did not execute like we can. Ten assists and 17 turnovers tells you that.”
Notre Dame shot 41 percent from the field for the game while West Virginia shot 39 percent.
A 3-pointer by Taylor Palmer of West Virginia tied the game at 35 with 17:26 to play. Diggins scored on consecutive possessions to start a 9-0 run. The Mountaineers rallied to tie it at 55 on two free throws by Bussie with 4:39 to play.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame’s 21-game winning streak was the second-longest in school history, topped only by a 23-game run to open the 2000-01 season … the Fighting Irish had their 20-game home winning streak ended with their first loss at Purcell Pavilion since Jan. 8, 2011 (a 79-76 setback to second-ranked Connecticut) … Notre Dame’s last three losses at home all have been by three points or fewer (also adding in an 86-83 double-overtime loss to No. 15 UCLA on Nov. 18, 2010 … the Fighting Irish saw their 63-game winning streak against unranked (Associated Press poll) opponents stopped, with their first loss to a team outside the AP Top 25 since March 22, 2009 (a 79-71 defeat at the hands of Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA Championship at Purcell Pavilion) … Notre Dame’s 11-0 BIG EAST start goes down as the fourth-best since the program joined the conference 17 seasons ago, and best since a 12-0 debut in 2000-01 … the Fighting Irish fall to 54-6 (.900) at home in the month of February since their BIG EAST membership started in 1995-96, dropping their first February game at Purcell Pavilion since Feb. 11, 2009 (a 71-66 verdict at the hands of No. 10/12 Louisville) … Notre Dame falls to 18-3 all-time against West Virginia, with the Mountaineers earning their first win in 11 visits to Purcell Pavilion … all three Fighting Irish losses in the series have coincided with the team’s three lowest point totals (Sunday’s was just the fifth time Notre Dame had scored fewer than 70 points against WVU) … the Fighting Irish drop to 13-2 all-time against West Virginia as a ranked team, including a 7-1 record when appearing in the AP Top 10 … this marked the 12th time in the past 13 series games between Notre Dame and West Virginia that the margin was 13 points or fewer, with this being the closest margin in series history … the Fighting Irish lost when leading at the half for only the second time in the past three seasons (now 75-2 – other loss in 2011 NCAA national championship game vs. Texas A&M), and now are 238-19 (.926) when leading at halftime since the start of the 2000-01 season … WVU is just the fifth Notre Dame opponent to score more than 61 points in a game this season (three in BIG EAST play, two non-conference) … the Fighting Irish finished on the negative side of the rebounding margin (33-41) for the first time since Nov. 26, when No. 7/6 Duke held a 47-39 edge on the glass … Notre Dame had two players foul out of a game for the second time this season (also on Nov. 20 at No. 1 Baylor) … this marked only the third time all season the Fighting Irish did not have three or more players score in double figures (first since Jan. 14 at Cincinnati) … junior guard Skylar Diggins scored a career-high 32 points (previous high was 31 vs. Vermont on March 23, 2010, in the second round of the NCAA Championship at Purcell Pavilion), tallying the most points by a Notre Dame player in one game since March 25, 2008, when Charel Allen scored 35 points in a 79-75 overtime win over No. 14/13 Oklahoma in the second round of the NCAA Championship in West Lafayette, Ind. … it’s the most points by a Notre Dame player in a regular-season game since Jan. 10, 2006, when Megan Duffy also scored 32 points in a 67-65 overtime win against Marquette at Purcell Pavilion … it’s the most points a Fighting Irish player has scored in a regulation game since Nov. 20, 2004, when Jacqueline Batteast had 32 points in a 66-62 victory over No. 10/9 Ohio State in the Preseason WNIT championship game at Purcell Pavilion … it’s the most points for a Notre Dame player in a losing effort since Dec. 3, 1995, when Beth Morgan had 34 points in an 88-84 overtime loss to Texas A&M at the Kona Women’s Basketball Classic in Kona, Hawai’i … Diggins’ 18 free throw attempts tied for the second-most in school history and most since Feb. 22, 2000, when Ruth Riley tried a school-record 23 foul shots against Miami (Fla.) at Purcell Pavilion … Diggins’ 12 made free throws are tied for seventh-most in school history and most since Allen also made 12 foul shots in her aforementioned 35-point effort in the 2008 NCAA Championship win over Oklahoma … Diggins’ 12 made free throws are tied for the fifth-most in a home game in school history and most since Dec. 28, 2006, when Ashley Barlow made 13 foul shots against Prairie View A&M … Diggins also became the ninth player in school history to score 1,500 career points (now 1,514), lifting her past Barlow (1,492 from 2006-10) in ninth place on the Fighting Irish all-time scoring list … fifth-year senior forward Devereaux Peters tied her career high with 17 rebounds, finishing one shy of the Notre Dame record for a home game that has been set five times (most recently by Ruth Riley against Duke on Nov. 21, 1998) … Peters registers her fifth 15-rebound game of the season (all in the past six outings), becoming only the third Fighting Irish player with five or more 15-rebound contests in one campaign, and the first in the program’s Division I era (Shari Matvey had five in 1979-80, while Jane Politiski had a school-record seven in the program’s inaugural season of 1977-78, with both players competing while Notre Dame was at the AIAW Division III level) … Peters also becomes the eighth player in school history to collect 800 career rebounds (she now had 807) … Peters tied her career high with six blocked shots, a mark she had reached twice before (most recently on March 6, 2011, against Louisville in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.) … Notre Dame drew its school-record seventh sellout crowd of the season, as well as the 18th in the past three years and 24 in program history … the Fighting Irish held their annual Pink Zone game (known nationally by its new label, Play4Kay), to raise money for breast cancer research, collecting a school-record $204,682 this season (divided between the local Foundation of St. Joseph Regional Medical Center and the national Kay Yow Cancer Fund charity) and boosting their total in the past four years to more than $475,000 … of Sunday’s record-setting donation total, the Notre Dame Science Advisory Council has contributed $56,500 towards stipends for undergraduate students in chemistry, physics or mathematics who would like to focus on cancer research; as cancer research is moving towards research that is quantitative with elements of biophysics and biochemistry and sophisticated mathematics, these funds will provide these students with opportunities to conduct cutting-edge research in the Harper Cancer Research Institute or in the College of Science.