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ND Women’s Basketball: Peters dominates paint in win over Wildcats

Chris Masoud | Monday, November 15, 2010

The Irish kicked off the season in record-breaking style on Friday afternoon, forcing 49 turnovers and 36 steals en route to a 99-48 victory over New Hampshire. Senior forward Devereaux Peters led the squad on both ends of the floor, scoring a career-high 23 points while adding two blocks in just 16 minutes of action.

“I think overall Deveraux was just outstanding today, and it’s just so great to have her back,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “I mean we needed the rebounding. She did a great job on the boards as well as scoring, and I’m really, really happy with that.”

Peters and junior guard Natalie Novosel, who finished with 11 points and a team-high seven steals, led the Irish on a 28-0 run that kept the Wildcats scoreless for 9:44. Notre Dame was tenacious on the defensive end, as McGraw used a full-court press in the first half to prevent the New Hampshire guards from setting up their offense.

“I felt we got off to a great start, and I thought our defense was where we wanted it to be in the first half,” McGraw said. “I thought the press was good, the pressure was good. We scrambled well — we really did a nice job.”

With the loss of 2010 graduates Ashley Barlow and Melissa Lechlitner, McGraw has changed her team’s offense in response to the different personnel on the team. No longer a squad that relies heavily on perimeter shooting, the Irish have a balanced attack that starts at the top with sophomore guard Skylar Diggins.

“We have so many weapons, and we have so many people who can score,” McGraw said. “That makes us really hard to guard when you think you’re going to shut down one person and then another gets hot.”

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 2000-01 national championship team, the Irish honored Ruth Riley and the members of the squad during a halftime ceremony that brought Irish fans to their feet. Riley’s number 00 was retired before the start of the game, as her jersey was added to the Ring of Honor at Purcell Pavilion.

“It was amazing — well deserved,” McGraw said. “We are so blessed to have her as a representative of Notre Dame and of our program. She was an outstanding person as well as a player. She has made her mark and left an amazing legacy for everybody at Notre Dame. It was a proud moment for everybody in the arena.”

Notre Dame’s 36 steals breaks the previous mark of 29, while the 49 forced turnovers eclipses a 30-year-old record of 48 turnovers set in 1980.

“We’ve been going defense day in and day out,” Novosel said. “One of our points of emphasis is just defense and intensity. Once it starts, it’s really contagious and everyone gets up to pressure, and then it’s just an exciting feeling.”