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ND Women’s Basketball: ND falls to Blue Demons

Laura Myers | Tuesday, March 1, 2011

CHICAGO — With just over a minute to play in the first half of Notre Dame’s final regular-season game, senior guard Brittany Mallory sprinted the length of the court after a fast-breaking DePaul guard, diving to knock the ball from her hands and out of bounds before she could make a shot.

The play came after one of Notre Dame’s 15 first-half turnovers and was followed seconds later by a Blue Demons lay-up — just another too little, too late moment for the Irish.

With 30 seconds to play in the second half, Mallory attacked a DePaul guard and stole the ball, feeding it from the ground to junior Natalie Novosel, who gave it to Devereaux Peters for a layup.

The play came after a furious half and gave Notre Dame its first lead in four minutes —but was once again, it wasn’t enough.

DePaul senior Felicia Chester made a layup with four seconds left and No. 7 Notre Dame (24-6, 13-3 Big East) fell 70-69 in the final seconds to No. 11 DePaul (25-5, 13-3) Monday night at the McGrath Phillips Arena in Chicago.

Down 32-26 after halftime, Notre Dame scored the first seven points of the second half and 19 of the first 26 to open up a 58-49 lead over DePaul.

“We knew in the first half we weren’t really playing our game,” Mallory said.

But the Blue Demons fought their way back with a 12-0 run that spanned more than three minutes to take a 61-58 lead.

The Irish tied it at 61 with four minutes to play and the two teams sparred for the remaining time.

“I thought we made a valiant effort at the end of the game,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said.

Chester led all players with 20 points on her own senior day, and celebrated with fans who rushed the court after the victory. DePaul junior Keisha Hampton came in right behind her with 17 points.

“I thought Hampton and Chester were too much for us defensively,” McGraw said.

Diggins led the Irish with 18 points, while Novosel had 17, Peters 15 and Mallory 10. Senior forward Becca Bruszewski had just six points after getting into foul trouble early, and she fouled out with 5:28 remaining in the game.

The Irish now have six days to think about the loss before they begin play in the Big East tournament Sunday in Hartford, Conn., as a No. 3-seed.

“The season’s over, it’s done,” Mallory said. “We’ve got to move on.”

DePaul will be the No. 2-seed in the tournament, meaning the two teams could play each other again the semi-final round on Monday.

“We’ll be ready,” McGraw said. “I can guarantee that.”