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ND Women’s Basketball: No road worries

Jared Jedick | Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The No. 4 Irish picked up the defensive intensity, causing 23 turnovers against Cincinnati Tuesday to earn a 66-50 win for their 22nd victory this year and their seventh in a row.

“Overall, defensively, I was really pleased. We caused 23 turnovers and we held them to 50 points,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said.

Notre Dame got a welcome contribution from junior guard Brittany Mallory, who snagged eight rebounds in the first half for a career high. Mallory also chipped in for two points, two steals and three assists without any turnovers.

“She is playing great defense, and she is always looking to rebound,” McGraw said. “Today was exceptional, it was a career high.”

The game got off to a fast start for Notre Dame (22-1; 9-1 Big East), as after Cincinnati (10-12; 3-7 Big East) scored the first two points of the game, the Irish never trailed the rest of the way.

The Irish used an 11-0 run in the first half to extend their lead out to 30-16 with a minute to go in the first half.

The second half score stood at 32-18, but McGraw was not pleased overall with the first half effort, as she did not believe the offense played up to its potential.

“Offensively we did not shoot the ball all that well,” McGraw said.

Notre Dame extended the lead out as far as 20 points to start the second half, but that was when the Bearcats began to make their comeback bid. Utilizing an 11-2 run midway through the second half, Cincinnati was able to reduce the lead to 44-35 with 9:30 left to go in the game.

That deficit was as close as the Bearcats would get, as junior guard Lindsay Schrader decided to turn it on.

Schrader was dominant on the low post throughout the second half, finishing with a team-high 16 points to go along with three steals and four rebounds. Also playing well offensively for the Irish was junior forward Becca Bruszewski, who managed 14 points and 8 rebounds.

Notre Dame quashed the comeback attempt from Cincinnati with a renewed defensive intensity and cruised to the final whistle keeping the Bearcats at a safe distance.

“We played all man-to-man and we got up to pressure the ball,” McGraw said. “In the backcourt we really got up and pressured the ball and I was really pleased with that.”
The Irish won the rebounding battle 35-32, but McGraw would have liked to see the first half rebounding performance extend across the entire game.

“We outrebounded them significantly in the first half, and then in the second half both teams shot the ball really well, so they had an edge in the second half,” McGraw said. “I was not particularly pleased with the rebounding in the second half.”

The win moved the Irish up to second place in the Big East standings, placing them ahead of No. 9 West Virginia (21-3; 8-2 Big East) and No. 16 Georgetown (19-3; 8-1 Big East). The Irish still trail undefeated No. 1 Connecticut in the standings (23-0; 10-0 Big East).

Notre Dame will next take the court against DePaul (16-8; 5-5 Big East) in this year’s Pink Zone Game to benefit research into breast cancer. Tip-off will be at 3 p.m. on Sunday.