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ND Women’s Basketball: Shooting spree

Molly Sammon | Tuesday, January 17, 2012

When Irish sophomore forward Natalie Achonwa hit a three-pointer with 36 seconds left on the clock Tuesday, she wrapped up the scoring rally that was Notre Dame’s 120-44 win over Pittsburgh at the Purcell Pavilion.

Notre Dame’s 120 points broke the program’s record for most points scored at home and marked the first time the Irish (18-1) have ever scored over 100 points twice in the same season.  Notre Dame’s 120 points were just eight shy of the all-time record for most points scored in a Big East game.

“It’s going to be hard for even me to find something to complain about,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “It was a great night to see the offense start to flow. We shot the ball well.”

The No. 2 Irish sport a 15-game winning streak, complimented by a perfect record in the Big East.

Notre Dame’s 76-point lead tied both the third largest margin of victory in program history and the largest in Big East play.

“It is so easy to play with these girls because everyone wants the ball,” junior guard Skylar Diggins said. “We’ve got guards that can score and posts that will go to the basket. It’s them too, and I’m just finding them right now.”

The Irish shot 69.4 percent from the field and 52.9 percent from behind the three-point line. Notre Dame’s 48 baskets scored were not only a program high but also a Big East record for regular season play.

“I thought it was their shooting that gave us the most trouble,” Pittsburgh coach Agnus Berenato said. “They didn’t miss tonight.”

Achonwa, Diggins and six other Irish players left the court in double figures, which ties the program record.

“I was really pleased with the bench. [Freshman forward] Markisha [Wright] and [junior guard] Kaila Turner in particular played well, as did [freshman guard] Whitney Holloway,” McGraw said. “I felt that everyone that came in contributed in some way, and we kept the intensity up.”

Notre Dame’s 33 assists against the Panthers became its new season high. The Irish had nine turnovers.

The Panthers (9-11) came to South Bend already facing trouble in a few different areas of the game. Their team is the youngest squad in Division I women’s basketball, made up of freshmen and two redshirted sophomores.

The Panthers have yet to form a solid starting line-up, as they’ve sent six different groups of five onto the court to start this season. The Pittsburgh roster is deeply hurting from freshman forward Cora McManus‘s shoulder injury against DePaul, which allegedly ended her season.

Pittsburgh is still searching for a win in the Big East, though they came close in their last contest against DePaul, which they dropped 86-83 on Saturday.

Diggins said it is important to stay humble, regardless of the success they found against Pittsburgh and with the season as a whole.

“We have to keep the focus up and try not to get too high,” Diggins said. “We take it one opponent at a time and just try to get better each day in practice.”

The Irish will return to action against Villanova at home at 1 p.m. Saturday. 

Contact Molly Sammon at [email protected]