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ND Women’s Basketball: ‘Becca tough’

Laura Myers | Wednesday, February 2, 2011

You know something’s off when it’s February 1 and the loudspeakers at a basketball game are playing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

Notre Dame’s home-court advantage wasn’t apparent in the seats Tuesday, as inclement weather prevented the usual near-sellout crowd from attending the Irish’s tilt against Syracuse at the Purcell Pavilion.

But on the court, the advantage was perfectly clear.

No. 8 Notre Dame (18-4, 8-1 Big East) defeated Syracuse (16-5, 4-4) 71-48 Tuesday night.

Senior Becca Bruszewski scored her 1,000th career point with a layup early in the first half, and finished with 12 total points.

“What a great day it was for Becca,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “It was great she was able to get it right away. A lot of people think about it and struggle a little bit, and she went right after it, the same way she does everything. Full speed ahead.”

Bruszewski also had seven rebounds, three steals and a block in the game.

“It’s great. I’m in the record books at Notre Dame. I’m going to be remembered,” Bruszewski said. “I mean, a little girl from Wheeler [Ind.], it’s kind of a big deal. So I’m pretty happy.”

The Irish took an early 13-2 lead on the strength of four points by Bruszewski and 3-pointers by junior guard Natalie Novosel and senior guard Brittany Mallory.

They extended the lead to 34-20 at halftime, and a 12-2 run to begin the second half put the game away for Notre Dame.

“I really like to set the tone,” Bruszewski said. “… I want to be the person that sets the tone, and I really take responsibility for it when we don’t come out strong.”

Senior forward Devereaux Peters led the Irish with 15 points and 11 rebounds. She also notched four assists and two steals.

“Our posts are really playing well,” McGraw said. “[Peters] got her double-double tonight… They’re really carrying us right now. They’re shooting the ball well, they’re rebounding well, they’re defending. They’re doing everything.”

Peters, who has yet to play a full season with the Irish due to injuries, said she joked around with Bruszewski about the milestone.

“Guess how many points I have until 1,000? About 896,” she said with a laugh. “But it’s really nice to finally have that full season and really contribute as much as I’ve been able to this year.”

Novosel and freshman forward Natalie Achonwa both finished with 13 points.

Though Syracuse leads the Big East with a rebounding margin of +16.6, the Irish out-rebounded the Orange 44-34.

“There was a lot of talk early on about how the posts were going to be this year, and we kind of took that to heart,” Peters said. “… Everybody’s taking that role of being ‘Becca tough,’ as I call it, and really getting down there and being physical.”

Orange center Kayla Alexander led all players with 19 points. No other Syracuse player scored in double digits, as the Orange shot just 25.5 percent on the night and turned the ball over 24 times.

“We’re winning with defense,” McGraw said. “And that’s what we want to do.”

The Irish travel to Tampa, Fla. Saturday to face South Florida (10-12, 1-7). Tip-off is at 7 p.m. in the Sun Dome.