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ND Women’s Basketball: Last second magic

Molly Sammon | Monday, November 28, 2011

With less than a second left, Notre Dame senior guard Natalie Novosel scored the game-winning basket from the free-throw line, and the Irish beat Duke 56-54 in the Championship game of the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas on Saturday night.

“It was hard earned,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said.

No. 4 Notre Dame (5-1) made it to the final round of the Thanksgiving weekend tournament at St. George’s High School in Freeport, Bahamas after beating USC 80-58 on Friday.

The No. 7 Blue Devils carried a 36-20 lead at halftime, and most of the Irish high scorers struggled putting up the points they had earlier in the season.

“We were having a really bad day shooting the ball,” McGraw said. “We were taking bad shots. Defensively we weren’t on our game. We just really played poorly at both ends. We were lucky to only be down 16 [points] at halftime.”

In the first 20 minutes of play, Novosel only shot one for 10, far behind what her season average of just over 17 points per game suggested she should have by that point.

But Novosel made up for lost time in the second half. She scored 15 total points, including the game-saving basket.

Junior guard Skylar Diggins led team scoring with 19 points, and the Irish went on a 21-3 run at the start of the second half as Duke shot 19 percent from the field in the second half.

“It was a role reversal in the second half,” McGraw said. “The defense was the reason that we won the game. [Senior guard] Fraderica Miller, [graduate student guard] Brittany Mallory, all of them played well defensively. I think it was our defense. It was a good contribution from everybody, a good contribution in that game.”

Against the Trojans on Friday, Diggins scored 22 points and brought in five steals for the Irish.

“[Diggins] had a fantastic two-day tournament at both ends of the floor. She scored, she passed, and she didn’t turn the ball over,” McGraw said. “She managed the game. She did everything that she could do to help us win. I thought she had one of the best games of the season for her. I thought she really elevated her game and played well.”

Notre Dame held the Trojans (2-3) to just one field goal in the last 7:34 of the first half, led the game by 12 points at the half and won their eighth of 10 total meetings between the Irish and Trojans.

USC continued to the consolation game, and beat Gardner-Webb 82-41 on Saturday before the championship game.

Next, the Irish play Pennsylvania at home Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.


Contact Molly Sammon at [email protected]