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Peters reinjures knee in win over Eagles

BIll Brink | Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bad news tempered No. 11 Notre Dame’s spirits coming off a successful week – forward Devereaux Peters tore her left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in Notre Dame’s 102-54 win over Boston College last Saturday. Peters, who tore the same ligament on Feb. 10 against Pittsburgh last season, will miss the rest of the season.

Peters had surgery to repair the torn ligament and successfully rehabbed the knee. She returned to the court this season, seeing time in three games and starting in one, before re-injuring the knee. She averaged 7.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game and had six blocks this season.

“She was doing a terrific job so far,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “It was devastating news at first.”

McGraw said the presence of assistant coach Niele Ivey, who also had multiple ACL surgeries while at Notre Dame, will have a positive effect on Peters’ recovery.

“That was the first thing we talked about,” McGraw said. “It’s a great reference point for her.”

McGraw also said she asked the rest of the players to fill one gap left by Peters’ absence.

Despite losing Peters, Notre Dame won two games over the holiday break, beating Georgia Southern 85-36 and No. 21 Michigan State 78-72. The Irish held Georgia Southern to 21.4 percent field goal shooting and forced 24 turnovers.

“Our man-to-man defense is a lot better than last year at this time,” McGraw said. “We’re willing to take some risks, we’re not as conservative.”

Guard Brittany Mallory scored 19 points and hit 3-of-4 3-pointers against the Eagles. McGraw said Mallory’s consistent performance in other areas of the game, rather than her 3-point shooting, makes her valuable.

“I wanted her on the floor at the end of the Michigan State game because she knew what to do,” McGraw said. “She’s fearless on defense. She’s always a lift off the bench.”

Against the Spartans, the defense struggled to defend forward Aisha Jefferson, who scored a career-high 34 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. The Irish also struggled to rebound – the Spartans grabbed 48 boards to Notre Dame’s 32.

“The defense on [Jefferson] was not very good,” McGraw said. “But it wasn’t defense so much as rebounding.”

Freshman forward Kellie Watson torched the Spartans defense from 3-point range, hitting 6-of-9 from 3-point land. McGraw said Watson always stays after practice to work on her shot, but there’s more to being an effective shooter than practice.

“It has to happen in a game to gain the confidence,” McGraw said.

The Irish (5-0) travel to Eastern Michigan today to face the 2-4 Eagles, who recently competed in the Caribbean Challenge in Cancun, Mexico. Both wins for the Eagles have come at home. McGraw said the Irish have a size advantage against the Eagles, who start three players who are under six feet tall.

“We’re going to look inside and take advantage of that,” she said.

McGraw said she wants the defense to play better against Eagles guard Cassie Schrock, who leads the team with 16 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, than it did against Jefferson.

The Eagles play an active defense, McGraw said.

“They can trap, they can press, they play zone, they play man,” McGraw said. “We have to be ready for their aggressiveness.”

Note:

uWatson was named the Big East Freshman of the Week following her performances against Georgia Southern and Michigan State. She averaged 12.5 points in the two games and hit 7-of-11 3-point shots. She is the first Notre Dame freshman to earn the award since current senior Lindsay Schrader in 2005.