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ND Women’s Basketball: Beaten to a pulp

Matthew Robison | Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Devereaux Peters scored a season-high 21 points and pulled in 16 boards over the nation’s second-best rebounding team as No. 2 Notre Dame took down another Big East opponent at Syracuse on Tuesday by a 74-55 score.

“I was so pleased with the rebounding, in particular [graduate student forward Peters] and [sophomore forward] Natalie Achonwa,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “They both did a fantastic job. But I felt the whole team really contributed by getting in there and doing a good job boxing out. That was quite an accomplishment because [the Orange] are an excellent rebounding team.”

Peters’ numbers gave her a seventh double-double this season and her fourth in the last five games. It is also her fourth game with at least 15 boards in the previous five. McGraw was more than pleased to see Peters dominate the post.

“Devereaux was always in the right place at the right time,” McGraw said. “She did a good job on the offensive boards. She was available when the guards were in trouble. She just got so many easy shots. She made some jumpers. She was just really, really working the offense to perfection.”

Both teams struggled from the floor in the early going. The Irish (24-1, 11-0 Big East) started just three-for-11 from the field, and Syracuse (15-10, 4-7) started two-for-11. Notre Dame was still able to capture an 18-point lead going into the locker room at halftime.

“The first half in particular I thought was outstanding,” McGraw said. “We held them to 19 points. We just really, really played well.”

Syracuse had a few late spurts in the game, but the Irish were able to hold the Orange off and go on a few runs of their own each time. Syracuse came within 11 points of the Irish at one point, but Notre Dame squashed any hope of an upset with runs of its own. Junior guard Skylar Diggins and Peters consistently sparked the Irish transition offense. Diggins finished with 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Sophomore guard Kayla McBride contributed 19 points, tying a season high.

“Kayla McBride did an outstanding job,” McGraw said. “She played inside a little bit more than usual this game, and really was able to work the high-post area, really kept their defense a little off balance. I don’t think they were expecting her to attack like she did. She played really well.”

Once again, the Irish defense dominated. McGraw was not pleased with her team’s defense in its previous game against DePaul. Despite the 20-point margin of victory, McGraw felt the Irish could have played better defensively against the Blue Demons. Tuesday, the Irish held Syracuse 15 points below their season average.

“I was happier tonight,” McGraw said. “Holding them to 55 is good.”

Notre Dame consistently beat the Orange on the glass, gathering in 10 more rebounds than Syracuse. On the season, the Orange outrebounds opponents by an average of 12 boards per game.

Senior Brittany Mallory scooped up five steals in her 137th career game, the latter an Irish record. The margin of victory was the largest for the Irish at Syracuse since 2004.

The Irish play host to West Virginia Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in Purcell Pavilion.