Jan. 17, 2006
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Megan Duffy did a bit of everything to help 24th-ranked Notre Dame avoid another loss.
After Suzanne Morrison scored on a layup to cap an 18-0 run for No. 10 DePaul and give the Blue Demons a 12-point lead, Duffy had two assists, a defensive rebound and a steal in the span of 51 seconds to get the Irish going again, sparking their own 18-0 run.
Duffy finished with 23 points, nine assists and eight rebounds to lead Notre Dame to a 78-75 victory Tuesday night over the Blue Demons, who cracked the Top 10 for the first time the previous day.
“Megan. What can you say about Megan? Almost a triple double,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “That’s the best point guard in America right there.”
DePaul (16-2, 3-2 Big East), which saw its nine-game winning streak end, had a chance to tie it at the end, but a half-court shot by Allie Quigley bounced hard off the back of the rim.
“We had some moments, but we didn’t have enough consistent moments,” DePaul coach Doug Bruno said.
It was just the second win in six games for the Irish (11-5, 2-3). McGraw grabbed the courtside microphone and thanked the crowd of 5,311.
“You know we’ve been struggling the last couple of weeks. I want to thank you because you made it happen,” she said.
Early in the second half it appeared the Irish, who led 37-33 at the half, wouldn’t have a chance to win.
Jenna Rubino, who had a career-high 25 points, started DePaul’s 18-0 spurt with three straight 3-pointers and Rachel Carney, who had 12 points, added another 3. Quigley had 19 points for the Blue Demons, who made a season-high 13 3-pointers while shooting a season-best 45 percent from beyond the arc.
Duffy blamed Notre Dame’s defensive problems on poor communication.
“We were switching defense so much and they would kind of get it and run,” she said. “In that uptempo style of play we just weren’t finding their shooters. They have a lot of people who can score.”
But the Irish finally found DePaul’s scorer, holding them scoreless for 8:29. The Blue Demons went 0-for-12 during the stretch.
“When the second half began Notre Dame was one and out,” Bruno said. “It allows us to ignite our fastbreak.”
The Blue Demons made some substitutions and the Irish began getting more chances.
“We were careless with the basketball and the game turned back around Notre Dame’s way,” Bruno said.
DePaul closed to 65-64 on a 3-pointer by Carney, but Duffy answered with a basket. The Irish made 9-of-12 free throws in the final 1:37 to hold on.
McGraw said she wasn’t too worried when the Irish fell behind.
“We’ve had a lot of practice in getting behind big,” McGraw said. “I don’t think it bothered us. We’ve done it so much. This time we just didn’t dig ourselves quite as big a hole.”
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame picks up its third win over a ranked opponent in five tries this season; it’s also the first Irish win over a Top 10 opponent since Jan. 30, 2005, when No. 6/7 Notre Dame defeated No. 9/10 Connecticut, 65-59 in Storrs, Conn. … Tuesday’s win is the first for the Irish vs. a higher-ranked opponent since Jan. 23, 2005, when No. 11/10 Notre Dame downed No. 6/7 Rutgers, 63-47 at the Joyce Center … the Irish are 12-3 in their last 15 home games against ranked opponents, dating back to the start of the 2003-04 season … Notre Dame continues its remarkable resiliency after a double-digit loss, improving to 40-6 (.870) in so-called “bounce back” games during the past 11 seasons, including a 25-1 (.962) mark at home and a 3-1 record this season … the Irish rallied from a double-digit deficit to win for the second time in as many home games; the 12-point comeback vs. DePaul was the largest for Notre Dame since Feb. 15, 2005 at Boston College, when the Irish used a pair of 15-point rallies in a 54-47 win over the Eagles … Notre Dame improves to 10-14 all-time against DePaul, including a 6-5 mark at the Joyce Center, where the Irish have won their last three matchups with the Blue Demons … Tuesday’s game was the closest in the series since Feb. 28, 1988, when DePaul edged Notre Dame, 69-68 in Chicago … the Irish and Blue Demons commenced their second stint as conference sisters, following a five-year run from 1983-88 in the old North Star Conference; Notre Dame now has won 24 of its last 25 games against former NSC members (including a 2-0 record this year following the Jan. 10 win over Marquette) … the Irish set season highs for points scored (previous: 77 at Wisconsin on Dec. 4 and vs. Arkansas State on Dec. 17) and points allowed (previous: 74 by Seton Hall on Jan. 7) …Notre Dame is 3-1 in televised games this season, with Tuesday’s victory broadcast nationally by CSTV … the Irish are 4-1 in games decided by five points or less this season, with the only setback a 66-63 verdict at St. John’s on Jan. 4 … following a minus-26 (29-55) rebound margin three days earlier at Louisville, Notre Dame won the battle on the boards with the BIG EAST Conference’s top rebounding club, DePaul, by a 37-35 count; the Blue Demons came into the contest averaging 44.7 rebounds per night … the Irish are 9-1 this season when they outrebound their opponent … Notre Dame is 9-2 this year when leading at halftime (37-33 vs. DePaul, just the second time all year the Blue Demons trailed at the intermission) … the 18-0 second-half run by the Irish was its largest of the season and the eighth time Notre Dame has used a large run in the second half to preserve a victory … after allowing 26 points off turnovers at Louisville last Saturday, Notre Dame scored 24 points off DePaul turnovers Tuesday night … the Blue Demons tied an Irish opponent record with 13 three-point field goals, matching the standard set by Connecticut on Jan. 15, 2001 at the Joyce Center … the Irish had three double-figure scorers for the 12 time in 16 games this season … senior All-America guard Megan Duffy came close to pulling off Notre Dame’s first triple-double in near 16 years; Sara Liebscher is the last Irish player to pull off the feat, doing so on Feb. 15, 1990 against Detroit (ironically, Liebscher was courtside tonight providing color commentary on the Notre Dame radio broadcast) … Duffy’s eight rebounds tied a career high, previously attained vs. Villanova on March 9, 2003 in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship at Piscataway, N.J. … Duffy’s nine assists were a season high, one more than the eight handouts she had on two occasions (vs. Michigan on Nov. 18; vs. #22/21 Utah on Dec. 18)l it also was her 43rd career game (seventh this year) with at least five assists … Duffy’s 9-of-9 performance at the free throw line was the best foul shooting night for an Irish player since Jan. 24, 2004, when Jacqueline Batteast went 10-for-10 against Villanova at the Joyce Center … Duffy notched the 10th 20-point game of her career and fifth this season … Duffy also moved into 18th place on the Notre Dame career scoring list with 1,076 points, passing Carrie Bates who had 1,053 points from 1981-85 … junior guard Breona Gray came off the bench to record her fourth double-digit scoring game of the season (11th career) and first since an 11-point outing vs. #22/21 Utah on Dec. 18 in her hometown of Las Vegas … junior forward Crystal Erwin also scored in double figures for the fourth time this season and 11th of her career, with three of those double-digit nights coming in the past five games … Erwin tied her career high with four steals, matching the theft total she had vs. Middle Tennessee on March 23, 2004 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Joyce Center … sophomore guard Charel Allen earned her first career start Tuesday night after coming off the bench in each of her first 48 games at Notre Dame … senior forward Courtney LaVere passed Kelley Siemon for 21st place on the Irish career scoring charts with 1,010 points (Siemon had 1,006 points from 1997-2001).