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ND Women’s Basketball: Win in West Virginia

Chris Masoud | Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Seeking to avoid back-to-back losses on the road, Notre Dame cruised past West Virginia Tuesday night in a 72-60 victory to close out its two-game road trip.

The Irish fell to Connecticut on Saturday, but have not lost consecutive games since dropping a pair to UCLA and Kentucky in late November.

Junior guard Natalie Novosel led all scorers with 22 points, as the Irish shot 58 percent from the floor.

“[The win] was really important for a lot of reasons,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “That was a great offensive game for us. [West Virginia is] a really good defensive team, so I’m really pleased with the shooting percentage that we had tonight.”

Despite contributing only five points, Notre Dame’s bench provided relief in the form of freshman forward Natalie Achonwa and sophomore guard Kaila Turner. The pair logged a combined 39 minutes and chipped in six rebounds.

“Our starters are really good,” McGraw said. “I think we need a little more production off the bench, but I thought we got a lot of minutes from them. Kaila Turner did a nice job handling the ball for us, and I think Natalie Achonwa is doing a good job for us. They didn’t score tonight, but I think they can, and I think Natalie in particular will score a lot more points for us the rest of the way.”

Senior forward Devereaux Peters also had a big night, finishing with 16 points and three blocks in just 22 minutes of action for No. 8 Notre Dame (23-5, 12-2 Big East). Peters scored six points during a 13-1 Irish run, as the Mountaineers (21-7, 7-7) went six minutes without scoring a field goal.

“I thought [Peters] had some nice post moves tonight,” McGraw said. “She’s scoring a lot with people driving and finding her open, but tonight I thought she did a really good job of posting up some guards that were on her. She really did a good job of scoring in the paint.”

Although Mountaineers guard Sarah Miles finished with 16 points on the evening, Notre Dame limited West Virginia’s leading scorer Liz Repella to just eight points and 3-for-15 shooting from the field. McGraw credits her back court and sophomore guard Skylar Diggins in particular for limiting the Mountaineers on the perimeter, as the team shot just 25 percent from beyond the arc.

“We actually were keying on Liz Repella, and we did a great job on her,” McGraw said. “Miles scored a couple of baskets late — we were trying not to foul. Skylar did a pretty good job picking her up full court. I thought that was a big key to get on her early, and I think we did that in the first half.”

The Irish wrap up the Big East slate with a home game against Cincinnati (8-18, 1-13) Saturday and a showdown at No. 7 DePaul (25-3, 12-1) next Monday. The Irish have clinched a bye to the quarterfinals of the Big East championships, and have a chance to move into second place with a victory over the Blue Demons.