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ND Women’s Basketball: Something Sweet?

Laura Myers | Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Irish got their postseason jitters out of the way Sunday with an easy win over Cleveland State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Now they will look to earn a ticket to the Sweet 16 in the team’s last home game.

The No. 2-seed Irish face No. 10-seed Vermont tonight at the Purcell Pavilion. The Catamounts pulled off the first upset of the 2010 women’s tournament when they defeated No. 7-seed Wisconsin, 64-55, Sunday.

Irish coach Muffet McGraw said the America East champions have the tools to grab a much bigger upset if Notre Dame is not careful.

“I have a lot of respect for them and their conference,” McGraw said in a press conference Monday. “They are a really poised, veteran team, and an experienced team that doesn’t beat themselves. They don’t make a lot of mistakes, that was probably the thing we looked at first, how few turnovers they had in the game which is something we want to attribute to their senior guards.”

Catamounts guards May Kotsopoulos and Courtnay Pilypaitis lead their team with 17.3 and 14.8 points per game, respectively. Pilypaitis, a taller guard at 6-foot-1, also averages eight rebounds per game.

“Put [Pilypaitis] next to Skylar [Diggins] and she looks a lot bigger,” McGraw said. “That’s a concern of how we are going to guard them. Pilypaitis is quick and a very good shooter, so we have to figure out the matchups and who do we want on her for most of the time and how many different things can we do.”

Notre Dame came out a little tight against Cleveland State Sunday, allowing the Vikings to stay relatively close throughout the first half before pulling away in the second half for an 86-58 win. McGraw attributed the problem to having to sit through the Vermont-Wisconsin game before getting a chance to play — something the Irish will not have to do tonight.

“That is difficult when you are just sitting around and waiting for the game to begin,” she said. “I think the adrenaline’s flowing and you’re watching the game thinking about your own game and just want to get out there. I think by the first timeout we were kind of tired, a little bit drained because of the adrenaline rush of the whole tournament and getting out there finally.”

Junior forward Becca Bruszewski led the Irish with 14 points Sunday, though three players scored in double digits and 11 players put points on the board.

“We are an all-around team,” freshman guard Skylar Diggins said at Monday’s press conference.

Diggins, who led the team in rebounds, assists and steals Sunday but did not post her usual offensive numbers, said she was nervous before the game but praised her teammates for getting it done off of the bench.

The winner of Tuesday’s game will advance to the Sweet 16 in Kansas City, Mo., to play the winner of a second-round game between No. 3-seed Oklahoma and No. 11-seed

Arkansas-Little Rock. That game will take place tonight at 9:45 p.m.
The Irish and the Catamounts tip off at 7:16 p.m. at the Purcell Pavilion.