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ND Women’s Basketball: Irish edge Eagles

Alex Barker | Thursday, December 3, 2009

For much of the night, Notre Dame looked sluggish, distracted and out of sync. But in the end, the Irish were sharp enough when it counted most.

An 8-0 run capped by junior forward Becca Bruszewski’s layup with 2:30 left all but sealed the game for the Irish as they went on to defeat Eastern Michigan 69-59 Wednesday night at Purcell Pavilion.

Bruszewski finished with 14 points and six rebounds while senior guard Lindsay Schrader added 15 points and seven boards for the No. 5 Irish (7-0).

“I thought Lindsey and Becca did a nice job offensively,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “They were really able to score inside, but I thought we could have gone inside [to them] a little bit more.”

The two teams exchanged leads three different times in the first half before the Irish’s 11-0 run gave them a 35-27 halftime advantage.

However, Eastern Michigan didn’t flinch. The Eagles began the second half on an 11-1 run to take the lead.

“This was a game where, coming back from a three day tournament, you’re tired, thinking about the paper that’s due and not getting enough rest,” McGraw said. “Overall I thought we just weren’t in a good place and it showed.”

The Irish finally retook the lead at 45-42 when freshman guard Skylar Diggins converted a three-point play with 11:09 remaining and the team never looked back. Diggins finished with 15 points, six rebounds and three steals, but was 0-for-4 from the three-point line.

“We weren’t there mentally,” McGraw said. “We were lucky to win the game.”

Tavelyn James led all scorers with 21 points on 8-of-21 shooting for the Eagles (5-2), who fell to 0-10 all-time against ranked opponents.

“I thought James played extremely well,” McGraw said. “We couldn’t catch her in transition. We didn’t run the floor with her and she was fantastic.”

The Eagles defense held the Irish to 25-of-62, or 40 percent, shooting from the floor and just 4-of-15 shooting from behind the arc.

“I thought there zone defense gave us problems,” McGraw said. “They slowed us down a little bit and we didn’t quite get the up tempo points we usually get.”

After the game, Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick presented McGraw with a game ball and a bouquet commemorating her 500th victory as coach of the Irish.

“I look back at all the assistant coaches and all the players that I’ve had, and I have been so blessed to be able coach at the University of Notre Dame,” McGraw said of the honor. “It’s such an amazing place and I count my lucky stars every day when I come to the office.”