Nov. 15, 2009
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP)–Coach Muffet McGraw was not as excited as the 9,080 fans about fourth-ranked Notre Dame breaking the 100-point barrier at home for the first time in seven years in a 102-57 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Sunday night.
“I don’t care how many points we score,” she said. “I’m looking at the other one, and 57 is just too many. That’s where we’re trying to emphasize. We can score. We’ve got a lot of depth. We’ve got a lot of people who can score. Defensively, that’s what I’m looking for, who our five best defenders are.”
Becca Bruszewski led eight Irish players in double figures as Notre Dame (1-0) dominated inside against the smaller Lady Lions (0-2), who surrendered 100 for a second straight game. Bruszewski consistently cut through Pine Bluff’s 2-3 zone defense for baskets inside.
“I wasn’t really hitting well from outside, so cleaning up inside and just staying in the paint,” she said.
The Irish opened the game up with their pressing defense, forcing 33 turnovers.
“We knew what it was going to be like before we got here, but not to that magnitude,” Pine Bluff coach Cary Shelton said. “They just lure you into it. They just walk you right smack into it.”
The Irish got caught up in the Pine Bluff tempo at times and had 27 turnovers of their own.
“We were a little sloppy … a lot sloppy. We’ve got a lot of things to tighten up,” McGraw said.
The crowd at the refurbished Purcell Pavilion was the biggest ever for an opening game for Notre Dame and the 14th largest ever.
“The crowd was electric from the start of the game,” McGraw said. “It was almost deafening. I think it’s going to be a great home-court advantage.”
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame had a school-record eight players score in double figures on Sunday night, eclipsing the old standard of seven double-digit scorers that was first set on Feb. 6, 1997 vs. Syracuse (90-73 win at the Joyce Center) and matched on Jan. 19, 2008, in a 104-86 win at Georgetown … Notre Dame improves to 25-8 (.758) all-time in season openers, including a 20-3 (.870) record in the Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present) and an active 15-game winning streak that mirrors the program’s membership in the BIG EAST Conference (1995-96 to present) … The Irish also raise their record in home openers to 25-8 (.759), with a 19-4 (.826) mark in the McGraw era … Arkansas-Pine Bluff was the 179th different opponent in the 33-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball, with the Irish moving to 40-5 (.889) against new opponents since joining the BIG EAST 15 seasons ago, and a 20-1 (.952) record since the start of the 2000-01 season and a current 15-game winning streak (only loss: 72-66 at Colorado State on Nov. 21, 2001) … what’s more, Notre Dame now has won 18 consecutive home games against first-time opponents since an 87-64 loss to Connecticut on Jan. 18, 1996 … the Irish topped the 100-point mark for the 12th time in school history, and the third time in less than two calendar years (104-86 at Georgetown on Jan. 19, 2008; 102-54 at Boston College on Nov. 23, 2008) … Notre Dame hits the century mark at home for the first time since Nov. 26, 2002, when the Irish toppled Cleveland State, 107-65 in the 2002-03 season opener … Notre Dame scored a school-record 61 first-half points in that CSU win, only three more than the first-half output for the Irish on Sunday night vs. UAPB … Notre Dame’s 45-point margin of victory was its third-largest in a season opener, topped only by a 113-35 win over Liberty at the UCF Rotary Classic in Orlando on Nov. 24, 1989, and a 98-50 win over Miami (Ohio) on Nov. 9, 2007, in the opening round of the Preseason WNIT at the Joyce Center … the Irish are 3-0 all-time against Southwestern Athletic Conference opponents, all at the Joyce Center/Purcell Pavilion and all by an average margin of 44.3 points per game (98-49 vs. Alcorn State on March 17, 2001; 94-55 vs. Prairie View A&M on Dec. 28, 2006) … for the second time in as many seasons, Notre Dame narrowly missed reaching the seemingly-unreachable school record for field goals made in a game (44), which has been set three times, but not since Dec. 21, 1990, in a 109-56 home win over Marquette (44-of-73 that night); the Irish also connected on 42 field goals (65 attempts) last Nov. 23 in a 102-54 win at Boston College … Notre Dame’s 31 assists are the most for the Irish in a single game since Nov. 20, 2000, when they also recorded 31 assists in a 95-65 win over Arizona at the Joyce Center; leading the way for Notre Dame on that night was current Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey, who had a double-double with 14 points and 11 assists … junior forward Becca Bruszewski logged her second career double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, finishing one point shy of her career high in that department (20, twice, most recently vs. Syracuse on Feb. 24, 2009); Bruszewski’s other double-double was a 14-point, career-high 12-rebound afternoon in a win over No. 25 DePaul on Feb. 8, 2009 at the Joyce Center … sophomore guard Fraderica Miller posted new career highs with 11 points and seven rebounds, topping the old marks (seven points, five rebounds) she had set on Dec. 20, 2008, in a victory over Loyola-Chicago at the Joyce Center … junior guard Brittany Mallory saw her first action since suffering a torn ACL in her left knee on Dec. 10, 2008 at Michigan — she finished with 10 points, six rebounds (one off her career high) and a career-best six steals (previous high was four against Valparaiso on Dec. 12, 2007) … sophomore guard Natalie Novosel earned her first career start and dished out a career-high six assists, two more than her previous high-water mark that she established three times last season (most recently on Feb. 11, 2009 against Louisville at the Joyce Center) … fifth-year senior guard Lindsay Schrader moved into 22nd place on Notre Dame’s all-time scoring list with 1,068 career points, passing Carrie Bates (1,060 from 1981-85) on that chart … freshman guard Skylar Diggins had 14 points, the fifth-most by an Irish rookie in her debut game during the 23-year McGraw era, and the most since Courtney LaVere began her career with 18 points in the 2002 win over Cleveland State … Sunday night’s crowd of 9,080 for the regular-season debut women’s basketball game at the newly-renovated Purcell Pavilion was the 14th-highest attendance in arena history and the largest home crowd ever to see a Notre Dame women’s basketball season opener (previous high was 7,960 on Nov. 18, 2001, for a 42-35 win over Valparaiso on the day the Irish raised their 2001 NCAA national championship banner to the rafters).