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ND Women’s Basketball: Irish seek ninth straight win

Andrew Owens | Friday, February 11, 2011

Riding an eight-game winning streak, the No. 8 Irish will attempt to make it nine in a row this weekend before preparing for the most important game of the season, against No. 2 Connecticut. But before they get a rematch against the Huskies, they will have to stay focused on one of the Big East’s tougher teams — Rutgers.

“There won’t be any problem focusing on Rutgers,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “This is a huge game for us. We came out after South Florida and played well. We’re really focused on this game.”

Notre Dame (21-4, 10-1 Big East) cruised to an easy 89-38 victory over Seton Hall at the Purcell Pavilion on Tuesday. The Irish are playing their best basketball of the season, in the midst of an eight-game stretch in which only one opponent has managed to stay within single digits.

The balance the Irish have displayed during the streak has been outstanding. In their blowout of Seton Hall earlier this week, six players reached double-digit scoring totals.

Junior guard Natalie Novosel has been especially impressive as of late, scoring 19 and 16 points against South Florida and Seton Hall, respectively.

“She’s been a good scorer all season long for us,” McGraw said. “She has been strong in the transition game. Skylar [Diggins] has been able to get her the ball on the fast break. Also, she has been playing better defensively and has gotten a lot of steals, which have created opportunities in transition.”

The Scarlet Knights (14-9, 7-3 Big East), however, are currently tied for fifth place in the conference and enter the game only 2 1/2 games behind the Irish. Notre Dame defeated Rutgers on the road 75-63 in the teams’ only meeting during the 2009-10 season.

“They’re playing well,” McGraw said. “They have a great post game and really good guards. They are possibly the most talented team we have faced since Connecticut.”

The Irish and the Scarlet Knights will tip off tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.