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Irish top Wildcats for second Big East win in three games

DEIRDRE KRASULA | Thursday, January 17, 2008

Villanova leads the nation with the fewest turnovers per game, but that didn’t stop Irish freshman Devereaux Peters from playing her role. Peters forced seven of Villanova’s 24 turnovers in Notre Dame’s 69-58 win over Villanova Wednesday night at the Joyce Center. The Irish felt Peters’ impact as soon as she stepped on the court at 15:47 in the first half. She grabbed her first steal only 20 seconds into the game and put her first two points on the board just 29 seconds later. “She’s a really good defender in the front of the press and I think she makes a difference in our press, which is why we were able to force the turnovers tonight,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. Villanova looked strong coming out of the gate and took the 6-4 lead in the first five minutes of the game. With Peters on the court, though, Notre Dame took the game back in its own hands. The strong Irish press continued to force turnovers as Notre Dame stretched its lead. Despite staying strong up top, Notre Dame struggled to defend the Wildcats’ three-point game. Villanova went 9-for-16 from the three-point line, led by Junior Lisa Karcic, who made three for four.McGraw knew the Irish had their work cut out for them.”That was a great win for us,” McGraw said. “[Villanova] is a really difficult team to guard, they obviously shoot the three very well.”The game also brought an excess of fouls from both sides. Villanova headed to the locker room after the first half with eight fouls, Notre Dame with six. The Irish were able to control their fouls in the second half and finished the game with 12; Villanova had 18. This made the difference for the Irish as they went 17-for-18 in free throws, just one shy of the team record. Villanova only went three for four from the line.The match wasn’t all ups for Notre Dame. With 4:55 left in the first half, Lindsay Schrader was down on the floor grabbing her left knee. McGraw said she was immediately concerned, since the guard had torn her right ACL last October. “Bad memories went through my mind and I was worried,” McGraw said. “She’s been such a big key for us and she’s having such a great year you hate to see that happen.”Schrader re-entered the game in the second half, after doctors said she had hyper-extended her knee, which was not enough to keep her on the bench.Schrader came back for the Irish to finish the game with 12 points.Laura Kurz, sister of Notre Dame men’s basketball captain Rob Kurz, led Villanova with 20 points. Notre Dame had some trouble with the ball as the Villanova defense succeeded in forcing 19 turnovers from the Irish, but McGraw wasn’t too worried.”I don’t think they’re the type of turnovers you worry about because they weren’t bad decisions,” she said.Notre Dame’s athleticism helped slow Villanova’s offense for the win, Villanova coach Harry Perretta said,”When have you have athleticism that disrupts anybody’s offense,” Villanova coach Perretta said. Peters’ role in Notre Dame’s press isn’t always to get the ball herself.”[My role is] really to get in their vision and really just force them to through it long so other people can get the steal,” Peters said.

Note: uThe game started with a moment of silent prayer for Notre Dame faculty member Patricia McAdams, a longtime Irish fan who was injured in an accident on her way home from the West Virginia game Sunday.