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ND Women’s Basketball: No. 3 Notre Dame upset on the road by Red Storm

Chris Masoud | Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The first loss of the season is generally the hardest pill to swallow, but Tuesday’s 76-71 defeat at the hands of St. John’s will be one that Notre Dame thinks about for a long time. The Irish fell behind 18-6 within the game’s first six minutes and were never able to overcome the deficit, as St. John’s upset the No. 3 team in the country.

“We finally had a game where nobody played well,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “We had a lot of lapses defensively. Offensively, we shot the ball poorly, and we just really didn’t get back in transition.”

The Irish (23-2, 10-2 Big East) have now fallen on the road to the Red Storm (21-5, 9-4) in three straight meetings. Playing without sidelined senior guard Lindsay Schrader, who did not play because of an ankle injury, the Irish ran into a dangerous St. John’s team playing with confidence after playing No. 1 Connecticut more tightly than any other Big East team in a 66-52 loss.

“It’s always tough to play on the road,” McGraw said. “I think we looked fatigued. You just have to give the credit where credit’s due. St. John’s outplayed us. I don’t think we can talk about whether Schrader would have made a difference.”

Notre Dame was a noticeably different team Tuesday without Schrader. The Irish shot 36.2 percent from the field, down from their season average of 45.1 percent, and were held without a field goal for more than six minutes in the second half.

Shenneika Smith’s 23 points and 10 rebounds paced St. John’s, which had three players in double figures by the break.

Despite an overall lackluster team effort, Notre Dame had several players turn in noteworthy performances. Junior guard Brittany Mallory added 17 points, and freshman guard Skylar Diggins tallied a team-high 20 points, with 18 coming in the second half.

Junior forward Devereaux Peters, one of the few bright spots on the defensive end, finished with 14 rebounds and six blocks, both career highs.

“I thought Devereaux Peters did a nice job on the boards,” McGraw said. “She blocked some shots and rebounded well, but we didn’t have anybody else.”

Notre Dame’s biggest concern will be a potential collapse in the toughest stretch of the season. Upcoming games against Georgetown on the road and Marquette at home leave the Irish little time to right the ship.

“We just need to learn from it,” McGraw said. “We just have to put it behind us, and we’ve got to get our veterans to get us back on track.”

The Irish will look to rebound at Georgetown Saturday.