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ND Women’s Basketball: Just short

Molly Sammon | Friday, November 19, 2010

Sophomore guard Skylar Diggins’ half-court shot at the buzzer of Thursday night’s second overtime hit the rim, but bounced out as the Irish fell 86-83 to UCLA at the Purcell Pavilion in the fourth double overtime game in program history.

“With three seconds left, I was just trying to get the ball up the court,” Diggins said. “I thought it was going in. It’s all we had.”

No. 12 Notre Dame’s last double overtime game was in a win 13 years ago against the No. 15 Bruins (3-0) in Los Angeles. The only games that have extended that far beyond regulation for UCLA have been these two contests against the Irish.

Diggins led the Irish (2-1) offense with 22 points, followed closely by junior guard Natalie Novosel, who scored 19 points.

“We were able to rally together,” Novosel said. “We were able to stop their game as well.”

It looked like the Irish would pull away with the win at the end of regulation time, but a three-pointer from UCLA forward Christina Nzekwe tied up the game.

Notre Dame was also in a good position heading into the end of the first overtime as a basket from Novosel put the Irish up 79-77.

With the Irish down by one point and 19 seconds left, Diggins at point guard and the Irish waited out the shot clock in order to set up one final play and take the game. As Novosel attempted a shot, she was fouled and missed both free throws to end the first overtime.

The Bruins suppressed the Irish offensive drive well in the first half, as they maintained the lead for most of the first 20 minutes of play.

“I thought we shot ourselves in the foot in the first half,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said.

Forward Jasmine Dixon led Bruins scoring with 21 points, followed by guard Darxia Morris with 14. UCLA headed into halftime with a 41-37 lead.

“We hit adversity, we stood together, nobody had negative talk. We kept encouraging each other. We knew we needed boxing out, rebounds and make our layups to win the game, and we did that,” Morris said.

The Irish started to take over on the court at the beginning of the second half, with a three-pointer from Notre Dame freshman guard Kayla McBride that finally evened the score up for the first time since six minutes into the game. They tossed the lead back and fourth for the rest of the game.

“When we got the lead, we didn’t make a defensive stand,” McGraw said.

Defensively, senior forward Becca Bruszewski, with her third career double-double against the Bruins, raked in a career high 13 rebounds for the Irish. Bruszewski fouled out in the second overtime.

Senior guard Brittany Mallory left the game during the first half due to an ankle injury. She returned to the game with five minutes remaining in regulation time with her ankle taped and on crutches.

“We looked really young, and not having Brittany in the game, we’re going to look young. She’s definitely the calming force on our team, and it hurt not having her there,” McGraw said. “She the common force on our team, and we really hurt not having her in there.”

McGraw said she is not sure on Mallory’s health yet, but they will know soon whether the injury is serious.

“We didn’t use the bench as much as we have. It was hard to take Skylar out with Brittany on the bench,” McGraw said.

This game was only the first of the more competitive games for the Irish that are still to come on the schedule.

“Being a young team, we have to have a short term memory,” Diggins said.

The Irish will travel to Lexington, Ky. Sunday to take of the University of Kentucky Wildcats at the Memorial Coliseum.