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Irish get first win in five tries vs. Boilermakers

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Notre Dame found the answers to its problems. Purdue simply found more questions.

Megan Duffy sparked Notre Dame (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) by scoring 17 of her 19 points in the first half and Jacqueline Batteast finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds, leading the Irish past No. 20 Purdue 86-69 on Sunday.

"It's been these two who have gotten us to where we are now, and I think the team thought it was time for them to step up," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said.

Batteast was held to eight points and Duffy six in Notre Dame's 17-point loss to No. 16 Connecticut on Wednesday. But they surpassed those numbers in the first 15 minutes against the Boilermakers.

"Coming off two losses, we were angry more than anything," Duffy said. "Whatever it takes to get a win, we did it tonight."

The Irish (14-3) beat the Boilermakers for the first time since the 2001 NCAA championship game, ending a four-game losing streak to Purdue.

The Boilermakers (10-6), beaten by 20 points on Thursday by Minnesota (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP), lost consecutive games for the first time since December 2001, when they lost to the Irish and LSU.

Purdue coach Kristy Curry said her team didn't play well enough to win.

"You lose by 17, but you have to understand when you're playing someone as good as Notre Dame you can't have lapses defensively or offensively," Curry said.

It was the 36th career double-double for Batteast, tying her with Ruth Riley for second place on Notre Dame's career list. Teresa Borton added 18 points, and Notre Dame outscored the Boilermakers 38-24 in the paint.

McGraw said Duffy's play in the first half was the key.

"Once Megan got started, that opened up everything for everyone else," she said.

Erin Lawless led Purdue with 16 points, Katie Gearlds had 14 and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, Emily Heikes and Tyeisha Jackson had 10 points each.

The Irish led 54-38 at halftime, scoring four more points than they had in the entire game against UConn. Duffy shot 4-for-4 in the first half, including three from 3-point range, and 6-of-6 from the line.

"It felt good out there," Duffy said. "It's been a little tough for me to find my shot and I've been working on that."

The Irish made seven free throws in the final 63 seconds to take a 16-point halftime lead -- matching their biggest of the season.

Purdue cut the lead to 62-51 when Heikes stole the ball and hit a fast-break layup with 14:32 left. But Duffy answered with a pair of free throws, Borton scored inside and Tulyah Gaines scored on a 15-foot jumper as the Irish regained control, leading by 21 points late in the game.

The six losses for the Boilermakers are the most at this point in the season since they had six by Jan. 5, 1997, and finished 17-11.

Curry said the game was pivotal, especially with the teams coming off big losses.

"Somebody is feeling really good tonight and somebody is trying to stay above water," she said. "It's a tough spot to be in."