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ND Women’s Basketball: Winning streak begins again

Jared Jedick | Monday, January 25, 2010

The No. 4 Irish began a winning streak of their own Sunday with their second consecutive come-from-behind victory, a 74-66 win over a No. 16 West Virginia squad that came into the day boasting a 16-game winning streak.

The Irish recovered from a 42-31 halftime deficit to put the Mountaineers away on the back of a dominant 13-point second-half performance from senior guard Lindsay Schrader.

“I thought our depth wore them down,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “We were able to rest.”

The Irish (17-1, 4-1 Big East) were able to get the Mountaineers (18-2, 5-1 Big East) into foul trouble early, forcing West Virginia to play less aggressively as the game went on.

“They play aggressive, we can’t play aggressive. They can bang, and we can’t because of foul trouble,” Mountaineers coach Mike Carey said. “We weren’t as aggressive in the second half because of foul trouble.”

The game started off shakily for the Irish, as they lost the battle on the boards 9-1 in the first five minutes. This rebounding advantage allowed the Mountaineers to take over the first half and set the tone of the game.

“They knew right away that they could have their way with us on the boards,” McGraw said. “And that set the tone for the half, and we never fought back. We let them manhandle us in there and we took it.”

The bright spot for the Irish in the first half was freshman guard Skylar Diggins, whose play was key to keeping the first half from getting out of hand.

“Skylar [Diggins] had the best game from start to finish,” McGraw said. “She got us off to a great start, thankfully, because we really couldn’t score, and she came off the bench and hit a couple shots and did really well defensively.”

Diggins ended the game with 15 points, second only to Schrader’s 16.

West Virginia went on a 13-0 run near the end of the first half and seemed to have the game well in hand heading into halftime with a 42-31 lead. According to McGraw, that is when her senior leadership stepped up.

“I knew that the seniors would just get it done,” McGraw said. “They would step up. They knew what they had to do, they don’t need me to do that very often. I thought they took care of business pretty much on their own.”

The Irish used a 16-3 run in the second half, 10 points of which came from Schrader, to take the lead away from West Virginia for good and to cruise to their second straight victory.

“In the first half, I didn’t think we got inside as much,” Schrader said. “We have to go back to what we are really good at, which is the inside-out game.”

Schrader posted her second consecutive double-double and her third in the past four games.

Senior guard Ashley Barlow also posted a career-high mark with seven assists.
The game marked the Irish’s second sell-out this year, eighth all-time. McGraw attributes much of the victory to the atmosphere the crowd brought to the game.

“We really, really got the energy,” McGraw said. “We were feeding off of them today.”
The Irish will next tip off against Providence Wednesday in the Purcell Pavilion at 7 p.m.