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ND Women’s Basketball: Peters takes the lead in a crushing Wildcat defeat

Chris Masoud | Sunday, January 22, 2012

No. 2 Notre Dame poured it on early (four seconds into the game) and often (26 field goals throughout the contest), cruising to a 76-43 home victory over Villanova two days before a critical matchup against Tennessee.

Irish senior forward Devereaux Peters tallied 19 points — 17 of which came in the first half — and six rebounds, as four Notre Dame players finished in double-digit scoring.

“I was so pleased with Devereaux Peters tonight,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “What a game. She got out of the gate and really did everything we hoped she would do, and then some. She was able to exploit the mismatch inside, use her athletic ability to out-jump people. She has phenomenal athletic ability, and when you play a team like this she can exploit some things.”

That athletic ability was on full display from the first play of the contest.

Peters won the tip, sprinted into the frontcourt and caught a pass on the run before laying it in the hoop and picking up a foul, all in four seconds. She hit the free throw to complete the traditional three-point play and give the Irish (19-1, 7-0 Big East) a lead they maintained for the remaining 39 minutes and 56 seconds.

“The tip play was huge. We’ve been trying to do that every game this year, and we finally got it, so we were all pretty excited about that,” Peters said. “After that, everyone was excited and ready for the game.

“I’m just looking for the ball a lot more, and post up a lot more. I’m really posting up, and they’re giving me the ball.”

While the Wildcats (12-7, 2-4) hardly posed a challenge during the contest, the game did prevent the Irish from preparing for its second top-10 opponent in three weeks: No. 9 Tennessee.

Led by the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history, Pat Summitt, the Volunteers (14-4, 5-1 SEC) hold a lead on the all-time season series 20-1.

“This game was hard to play before Tennessee,” McGraw said. “We learned nothing; we’re not going to use anything we did today against Tennessee, and certainly offensively it’s going to be a lot different look. It really was a bad game to have two days before Tennessee. We’re going to have to switch gears.”

Despite the overwhelming disparity in favor of Tennessee in wins and championships, Notre Dame earned its first ever win over the Lady Volunteers in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament last season. Irish junior guard Skylar Diggins scored a game-high 24 points, leading the Irish to the Final Four in the 73-59 victory.

“We understand that they’re going to be after us,” Diggins said. “I think that loss is in the front of their minds, and the win is in the front of ours. We’ve got to prepare for them like every other team, and not make it too special, but understand that they are a good team that is capable of beating us.”

Notre Dame takes the court against Tennessee tonight at 7 p.m. at the Purcell Pavilion.


Contact Chris Masoud at cmasoud@nd.edu