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Peters’ foul trouble plagues Irish

Molly Sammon | Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Trying to beat Baylor in the national championship is tough enough. Trying to beat Baylor with 6-foot-2 graduate student forward Devereaux Peters on the bench for more than half of the game is even tougher.

Early foul trouble for Peters inhibited Notre Dame’s ability to keep up with the Bears’ defense, especially junior center Brittney Griner, for the entirety of the 80-61 Irish loss for the national title at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Peters went to the bench early in the first half, but came back in and helped the Irish climb to a six-point deficit before the break. She sat out again in the second half and the Bears ran away with the lead.

“It was really disappointing that [Peters] got the third foul in the first half,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “That was really disappointing. Because she was why we made that run, having her back in.”

With Notre Dame’s top rebounder off the court for most of the game, Griner flirted with the possibility of a triple-double, put up 26 points for the Bears, had 13 rebounds and made five steals to wrap up the Bears’ perfect 40-0 season and national championship win.

“When [Griner] got the ball we didn’t lean on her and she shot over us,” McGraw said. “She made great shots, she’s a great player. She was unstoppable.

“It would have been great to see Devereaux play 39 minutes, but I don’t think it would have changed a lot. [Griner] is one-of-a-kind.”

Throughout the season, Peters averaged 24.5 minutes of play per game, but plagued by fouls in the title game, Peters spent just 15 minutes on the court. During the season she averaged 9.4 rebounds a game overall and 10.9 in the Big East, but grabbed only 3 against the Bears.

“We just couldn’t get key stops when we needed to,” Peters said. “Down three, we give up an offensive rebound, they get a put back. Or we might have a call not go our way and get a foul and then we’re not as aggressive as we normally were. We just were struggling today and it showed.”

Peters went 3-for-5 from the field for a total seven points.

“I thought we did a great job getting [Peters] in foul trouble because she helped Notre Dame out with rebounds and blocking shots,” Baylor redshirt junior forward Destiny Williams said. “We had to rebound. We couldn’t allow them to get second-chance points. If so, it would have kept them in the game, and we had to limit them to one shot. A couple times they did and they’d score off it. And it’s something that we had to do in order to win.”

Sophomore forward Natalie Achonwa and freshman forward Markisha Wright got a chance to play the position in a national championship situation that does not usually lend itself to much dependence on the bench. But with Peters on the bench, they got prime preparation for their future seasons with the Irish in that role.

Achonwa tied graduate student guard Brittany Mallory in rebounds for the Irish with six.

“I think [foul trouble is] something we’ve had to deal with before,” Peters said. “It wasn’t that difficult. It’s a position we’ve been in. We’re fighters. We never quit. We’ve never been that type of team.”

Contact Molly Sammon at msammon@nd.edu