Nov. 22, 2009
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP)–No. 5 Notre Dame used defense to overcome a complacent offense and beat Iona 80-45 on Sunday.
Irish coach Muffet McGraw said a one-point victory over No. 21 Michigan State on Thursday as well as the team’s upcoming games at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands may have been to blame for Notre Dame’s sluggish offense.
“I think we were just a little lackadaisical,” she said. “I think we got up 11-2 and said, `Let’s pack our bags, we’re going to the Virgin Islands. Whose got the sun screen?”‘
The Irish shined defensively, though, particularly in the second half when the Irish (3-0) held the Gaels (2-2) to 29 percent shooting. Notre Dame also forced 33 turnovers for the game, leading to 34 points off of turnovers.
Skylar Diggins, who led the Irish with 17 points, said the goal for the Irish defense was to try to slow Iona from getting the ball upcourt quickly. They also wanted to keep the ball away from Anna McLean, who entered the game averaging 16.7 points and 13 rebounds. Notre Dame forward Becca Bruszewski, who scored 14, held McLean to 10 points and six rebounds.
Iona coach Anthony Bozzella said the Gaels knew the Irish were going to press them but couldn’t do anything about it.
“Not to take anything away from Notre Dame, but I think we made some poor decisions,” he said. “I’m disappointed in that.”
The Irish dominated from the start, going ahead 11-2 in less than 3 minutes when Lindsay Schrader scored on a layup. They extended the lead to 27-11 when Brittany Mallory hit a 3-pointer, and the Gaels (2-2) never got closer than 12.
Thazina Cook led the Gaels with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
McGraw said her focus before the team heads to the warm weather is to make sure the team regains its intensity.
“And I think I can do it,” she said.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame posts its second 35-point win in three games this season, having defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff by 45 points (102-57) back on Nov. 15 at Purcell Pavilion … the Fighting Irish tied their season high by forcing 33 opponent turnovers, having also reached that mark against UAPB … similarly, Notre Dame tied the 21-steal total it originally posted against Arkansas-Pine Bluff … Iona’s 45 points are the fewest allowed by Notre Dame since March 7, 2009, when the Fighting Irish ousted St. John’s, 62-45, in the second round of the BIG EAST Conference Championship in Hartford, Conn. … it’s the fewest points allowed by Notre Dame in a regular season game since Dec. 20, 2008, when the Fighting Irish toppled Loyola-Chicago, 89-45 at the former Joyce Center … Notre Dame had a season-low 15 turnovers and got 11 different players into the scoring column … the Fighting Irish continue to play well in November, improving to 58-11 (.841) in the month (with an active 11-game winning streak) since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96 … Notre Dame also extends its run of success against New York schools, rising to 46-4 (.920) all-time against the Empire State, including a 25-0 record at home; what’s more 22 of those 25 home wins have been by double digits … the Fighting Irish are 3-0 all-time against Iona (2-0 at home), and 7-0 all-time against Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference teams (3-0 at home) … freshman guard Skylar Diggins scored a career-high 17 points, the highest output for a Notre Dame reserve to date in this young season … sophomore guard Natalie Novosel tied her career high with five steals against Iona, having first set that mark at Providence on Feb. 28, 2009 … sophomore guard Fraderica Miller also tied her career high with three steals, after also having three thefts on Dec. 20, 2008 vs. Loyola-Chicago … senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow registered at least five steals for the ninth time in her career … Barlow now has 210 career steals, moving her past both Charel Allen (206 from 2004-08) and Katryna Gaither (207 from 1993-97) into seventh place on the Notre Dame career charts; up next in Megan Duffy, who amassed 220 steals from 2002-06 … senior walk-on guard Alena Christiansen knocked down her first career basket, a three-pointer with 12 seconds to play … Notre Dame added to a pair of its notable BIG EAST-era records — the Fighting Irish are now 125-4 (.969) in the past 15 seasons (1995-96 to present) when scoring 80 points in a game, and they also are 197-14 (.934) in that same span when limiting opponents to fewer than 60 points … since the start of the 2000-01 season, Notre Dame is 166-17 (.907) when leading at halftime … head coach Muffet McGraw earned her 499th win at Notre Dame (499-197, .717 in 23 seasons), putting her one victory away from becoming the fourth coach in Notre Dame athletics history (in any sport) to register 500 wins as a coach of a Fighting Irish team — the others are fencing’s Michael DeCicco (680-45 from 1962-86) and Yves Auriol (525-33 from 1986-2002), and baseball’s Jake Kline (558-449-5 from 1934-75), in fact, one can trace 75 years of Notre Dame athletics history and success via just four degrees of separation (Kline to DeCicco to Auriol to McGraw).