Dec. 29, 2012
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – With Skylar Diggins in foul trouble and Purdue making a run, Notre Dame kept its cool.
Diggins picked up her second foul midway through the first half and coach Muffet McGraw decided to see how her team would respond instead of rushing her star guard back in the game.
The move worked as the Irish went on a 10-2 run, including consecutive baskets by Kayla McBride that sparked the fifth-ranked team to a 74-47 victory over No. 11 Purdue on Saturday.
“Really, really pleased with the way we never panicked,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. “That’s huge for us, because it hadn’t happened yet.”
McBride finished with 18 points and Natalie Achonwa added 15 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. Diggins ended with 16 points and also recorded her 300th career steal 5:37 into the second half when she poked the ball away from Courtney Moses and drove in for a layup, which pushed Notre Dame’s lead to 23. Diggins is the third player in Notre Dame history with at least 300 career steals.
Courtney Moses led the Boilermakers (11-2) with 13 points and Taylor Manuel added 12.
Notre Dame (10-1) won its fifth straight game overall, and seventh in a row over Purdue, the longest win streak by either side in the series. The Irish did it by dominating the boards with a 56-28 rebounding advantage. That total included 25 offensive rebounds, which was one less than Purdue’s total.
“That was the only stat I put up on our board,” said Purdue coach Sharon Versyp. “If you box out and finish, the game would have been totally different.”
Purdue was one of the country’s best 3-point shooting teams coming into the game, but went 0-for-11 from behind the arc. It was the first time since March 1, 2009 at Michigan State that Purdue failed to hit a 3-point field goal.
“We really guarded them on the 3-point line, which was our main goal of the day,” McGraw said. “They’re shooting it well from there, and we held them scoreless. That was a phenomenal accomplishment for us.”
Purdue opened the game hitting just 2-of-12 from the field as the Irish used runs of 8-0 and 11-0 to open up an early 17-point lead. But the Boilermakers crept back into it with a 7-0 run, then Diggins went to the bench with two fouls, and the Irish offense stagnated.
Drey Mingo’s fast-break layup off a behind-the-back pass from Courtney Moses cut Notre Dame’s lead to 25-20 with 6:38 left before the half, but Purdue’s streaky shooting went off again, and the Boilers didn’t score a field goal the final 4:43 of the half.
An early 9-0 run in the second half pushed the Notre Dame lead to 23. As the advantage ballooned toward 30, Notre Dame’s starters rested on the bench for much of the second half.
Achonwa recorded her seventh double-double of the season, and nine of her 17 rebounds were on the offensive glass, several of them rebounds of her own missed shots.
“I think I cheated a little bit,” Achonwa joked. “I was getting my own rebounds… It was just attacking and being aggressive.”
Fans waved signs before the game honoring McGraw’s 600th win at Notre Dame, which came in Dec. 21 win over Texas A&M.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame improves to 4-1 this season against ranked opponents (and second in as many games), posting its largest victory of the season against a Top 25 foe … the Fighting Irish earn their seventh consecutive win against Purdue, the longest streak by either team in a series that dates back to 1984 (Purdue leads the rivalry, 14-12, with Notre Dame ahead 7-4 at Purcell Pavilion) … when both teams come into the in-state rivalry ranked, the Fighting Irish are 7-3 all-time against the Boilermakers … the 70-point mark continues to be the indicator in who will win in the series — one or both teams have hit that total in 17 of 26 series games, with the first to 70 points winning all 17 times … Saturday’s 27-point margin was the second-largest winning spread for the Fighting Irish in series history, topped only by last year’s 66-38 victory in West Lafayette … Notre Dame has held Purdue to its lowest point totals in six of the past seven matchups (47 is second-fewest behind last year’s 38 points), keeping the Boilermakers to 58 points or fewer in each of those six contests (after not limiting Purdue to fewer than 60 points in the first 19 series games) … the Fighting Irish have won 19 consecutive games against in-state opponents (dating back to Dec. 3, 2006, and a 54-51 loss at home to Indiana) and are 124-32 (.795) all-time against other Indiana schools … Notre Dame has won 17 of its last 23 games against Big Ten Conference opponents (including both this year also downing No. 19/21 Ohio State, 57-51 on Nov. 9) and six in a row, improving its all-time record against the Big Ten to 45-49 (.479), with a a 25-18 (.581) record at home, and a 38-34 (.528) mark in the 26-year Muffet McGraw era … the Fighting Irish are 25-11 (.694) all-time (and have won 10 in a row) in their first game after Christmas, with a 14-6 (.700) record at home and 19-7 (.731) mark in the McGraw era … Purdue came into the game shooting .413 from the three-point line, but went 0-for-11 against Notre Dame, the first time the Fighting Irish have held an opponent scoreless from distance since March 27, 2012, when Maryland went 0-for-8 in an 80-49 Notre Dame win in the NCAA Raleigh Regional final … the Fighting Irish tied a season high with 56 rebounds (also vs. Utah State on Dec. 8), and had at least 25 offensive rebounds in a game for the first time in almost exactly one year (30 vs. Longwood on Dec. 28, 2011, at Purcell Pavilion) … for the second consecutive game, junior forward Natalie Achonwa set a career high on the glass with 17 rebounds, while picking up her BIG EAST Conference-leading seventh double-double of the season, and the first 15-point/15-rebound game by a Notre Dame player since Feb. 25, 2012, when Devereaux Peters had 17 points and 18 rebounds in a home win over South Florida … junior guard Kayla McBride tied her season high with seven rebounds … senior guard Skylar Diggins had two steals, giving her exactly 300 thefts for her career, putting her behind only current assistant coach Niele Ivey (348 from 1996-2001) and former assistant/current Penn State coach Coquese Washington (307 from 1989-93) … Diggins is poised to move into fourth place on Notre Dame’s career assist chart — she now has 578 helpers, one behind Karen Robinson, who had 579 assists from 1987-91 … junior forward Ariel Braker handed out a career-high four assists, one more than she had against Mercer on Nov. 20 … the Fighting Irish continued some other remarkable long-term trends — 257-19 (.931) since 2000-01, when leading at the half, including 94-2 (.979) in past four seasons; and 264-15 (.946) since 1995-96 (after joining the BIG EAST) when holding opponents to fewer than 60 points … Notre Dame welcomed its third sellout in five home games this season, as well as their 28th all-time and 22nd since the start of the 2009-10 season.