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ND Women’s Basketball: Notre Dame tops Seton Hall, a prelude to Connecticut tilt

Chris Masoud | Monday, March 1, 2010

Following two consecutive road losses last week, No. 7 Notre Dame turned in a complete performance Saturday, crushing an overmatched Seton Hall team 72-47 in South Orange, N.J.

Although the game was briefly tied at 18, the Irish put together a 12-2 run to close out the first half and put the game to rest.

“We played as well as we’ve played in a long time,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “The second half was really great, our balance, our depth. I was really pleased with just the overall team effort, which is something that has been lacking in the last couple of games.”

In her second game back from an ankle injury, senior guard Lindsay Schrader scored 12 points to lead an Irish offense that shot 56 percent from the floor, its best percentage in conference play all season. Senior guard Melissa Lechlitner added 10 points, as Notre Dame (25-3, 12-3 Big East) appeared to have regained its rhythm on offense with Schrader’s return to the lineup.

“We’re hard to guard when we have a lot of people contributing,” McGraw said. “We rebounded well today, we had a lot of assists. Everybody did what they could do, and I thought we took great shots. We didn’t shoot a lot of threes, we really tried to get inside a little bit more, and we were very successful with it.”

Several players approached double figures in scoring for the Irish, who handed the Pirates (9-19, 1-14 Big East) their sixth straight loss and 15th in 16 games. Freshman guard Skylar Diggins and senior guard Ashley Barlow chipped in nine points apiece, and junior forward Devereaux Peters added eight points and eight rebounds.

Barlow’s nine points Saturday give her 1,432 in her distinguished Irish career as she  surpassed Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey for sole possession of 11th on the all-time scoring list. Barlow is just seven points short of breaking the top 10.

“She’s had a major impact on our program,” McGraw said. “She has done so many different things. She’s our most versatile player — she rebounds, she scores, she defends. She makes big plays after big plays each and every game. She’s done it all four years. She’s had just a brilliant career, and I think she’s going to be irreplaceable.”

The Irish will need another balanced performance on both ends of the court if they hope to end No. 1 Connecticut’s 68-game winning streak Monday. Notre Dame needs a victory or a loss by No. 18 St. John’s to lock up the No. 4 seed in the Big East tournament and a double bye.

The Irish fell to the Huskies (29-0, 15-0) 70-46 on Jan. 16. McGraw said a different mentality and a renewed intensity would be key as the Irish look to close out the regular season with a historic upset.

“Unfortunately we’re not going to learn a lot from the last game we played them because we played so poorly,” McGraw said. “What we want to do now is go out and play our game. I think that we need to go in with a different mindset. I think we need to go in with a different attitude. We need to come at the game and be ready to really go to war and to battle.”

Tipoff is 7 p.m. Monday at the Purcell Pavilion.