Melissa Lechlitner, right, puts up a shot over Marquette guard Jessica Pachko during the first half.

No. 7 Irish Trump Golden Eagles, 82-67

Feb. 23, 2010

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw sat down at her post-game news conference and let out a sigh of relief.

“Welcome back Lindsay Schrader,” she said.

The Fighting Irish (24-3, 11-3 BIG EAST), who had lost two straight road games against ranked opponents with Schrader sitting out with a sprained left ankle, beat Marquette 82-67 on Tuesday night as Schrader had 17 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes of play and Melissa Lechlitner had a career-high 23 points. McGraw said Schrader was only allowed to play 20 minutes by the team trainers.

“We squeezed every second we could get out of her,” McGraw said. “She had a fantastic game.”

McGraw was concerned when Marquette hit 3 of 4 shots to open the game and the Irish defense looked like it did in the losses at St. John’s and Georgetown last week.

“I thought, `Well, gosh, we look like we’ve looked the last couple of games where our feet were in mud defensively,”‘ she said.

Lechlitner, though, helped the Irish get going. After turning the ball over on Notre Dame’s initial possession and then missing their first three shots, the Irish made eight straight during an 18-2 run that gave it an 18-6 lead.

Lechlitner made back-to-back baskets during the run, hitting a 3, then a jumper to give the Irish a 12-6 lead. She later drove inside for another score during the run. The Golden Eagles narrowed the lead to 24-19 when Courtney Weibel made a 3-pointer. But a three-point play by Lechlitner and another 3-pointer by her helped spark a 15-3 spurt, giving the Irish a 41-24 lead at halftime.

An 11-2 run by the Golden Eagles early in the second half cut the lead to 48-37, but the Irish quickly answered with a 10-2 spurt that included another 3-pointer by Lechlitner.

“She shot the ball extremely well,” McGraw said. “She just did some really good things to get us going.”

Marquette coach Terri Mitchell said the Golden Eagles lost track of Lechlitner at times.

“She made us pay for it,” she said.

Lechlitner was 8 of 13 shooting, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range. She credited Skylar Diggins, who had a career-high nine assists, with getting her open looks.

She said she wasn’t surprised the Irish struggled without Schrader even though they are a veteran team.

“Lindsay’s been our go-to player all year,” McGraw said. “I was disappointed, honestly that other people haven’t stepped up in her absence.”

The Irish held their senior night Tuesday even though they still have a game remaining at home Monday against top-ranked Connecticut. McGraw said the decision to switch senior night had more to do with the game Monday being televised than the opponent.

“It’s hard to do it on a night of a TV game,” she said. “There’s going to be enough hype that night that we don’t have to worry about the seniors. We thought this was a good idea.”

Ashley Barlow added 11 for the Irish. Weibel and Jessica Pachko had 15 points each for Marquette and Angel Robinson had 11.

McGraw wasn’t totally happy with her team’s play, especially about being outrebounded again and with Notre Dame’s defense.

“We were up 20 and they got back in the game,” she said. “We just needed to settle down a little bit. I think it was a good win for us.”

— ND —

POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame continues its uncanny success on Senior Night, improving to 27-6 (.818) all-time, including a 20-3 (.870) record in the 23-year Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present); in fact, after McGraw’s first Fighting Irish club lost on Senior Night in 1988, Notre Dame has won 20 of its last 22 Senior Night games, with only losses in 2002 (Villanova) and 2007 (Rutgers) … the Fighting Irish rise to 29-6 in the all-time series against Marquette, with the wins and 35 games played extending program records against one opponent (the series dates back to the first varsity season of Notre Dame women’s basketball in 1977-78) … the Fighting Irish also move to 18-1 all-time against Marquette at Purcell Pavilion, including an active 17-game winning streak (the Golden Eagles’ lone win in South Bend came on Feb. 2, 1980 – a 67-46 decision in Notre Dame’s final season as an AIAW Division III program) … the Fighting Irish topped the 70-point mark for the 23rd time in the Marquette series, all in the past 29 games … once more, Notre Dame displayed its resiliency, improving to 54-14 (.794) in their first game after a double-digit loss since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96 — the Fighting Irish are 2-0 in such games this season, having also won at Louisville, 78-60 on Jan. 19 … Notre Dame chalks up another February home win, jumping to 49-5 (.907) at Purcell Pavilion in the month of February during its BIG EAST era (overall record of 86-25, .775, in that 15-year span) … in the 23-year McGraw era, Notre Dame is 134-30 (.817) in February, with a 71-11 (.866) home record, and the Fighting Irish have never had a losing record in the month of February under McGraw (and just one .500 record, that being a 4-4 mark in 1988-89, McGraw’s second season in South Bend) … Notre Dame forced 20+ opponent turnovers for the 21st time in 27 games this season, and logged double-digit steals for the 19th time … the Fighting Irish shot better than 50 percent from the field for the eighth time this year … wearing jersey number 23 and playing on the 23rd of February, senior guard/tri-captain Melissa Lechlitner scored a career-high 23 points, one more than her output at Purdue on Jan. 4 of this year … Lechlitner also tied her career highs with eight field goals, four three-pointers and seven three-point attempts (marks she most recently set at Purdue on Jan. 4), and matched her season best with six assists … freshman guard Skylar Diggins dished out a career-high nine assists (previous high was six on two occasions, most recently vs. Pittsburgh on Feb. 6), the most dimes for a Notre Dame rookie since Lechlitner had a career-high nine assists on Jan. 16, 2007, in a win over St. John’s at Purcell Pavilion … Diggins also collected her team-leading fifth “5-5-5” game of the season, adding eight points and six rebounds to her nine assists … junior forward Devereaux Peters narrowly missed her second “5-5-5” game in three outings, finishing with seven points, a game-high nine rebounds and season-high-tying four steals … fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader wound up one point shy of her season high (which she’s done three times, most recently vs. Pittsburgh on Feb. 6) … Schrader made her 116th career start, tying Karen Robinson (1987-91) for fifth place on the Notre Dame all-time list … senior walk-on guard Alena Christiansen earned her first career start, and closed out the scoring with a jumper in the final seconds, as all 10 Fighting Irish players who saw action got into the scoring column (the first time that’s happened for Notre Dame since the Feb. 6 Pittsburgh game) … the Fighting Irish attracted their school-record fifth sellout crowd of the season (9,149) and 11th in program history.