Zellous surpasses 2,000 career points as Panthers stop Irish

PITTSBURGH -- Shavonte Zellous was happy with a victory over a Top 25 opponent. She wasn't too interested in celebrating her personal achievement.

The senior guard scored 29 points, surpassing 2,000 in her career, and Pittsburgh (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) beat Notre Dame (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP) 82-70 on Tuesday night for its sixth straight win.

Xenia Stewart and Taneisha Harrison both scored 17 points and Shayla Scott added 11 points and a career-high 18 rebounds for the Panthers (17-4, 7-2 Big East).

Pepper Wilson has 12 rebounds for Pitt, which has won three of four against Notre Dame after losing the first 16 in the series.

"We expected to win tonight," Pittsburgh coach Agnus Berenato said. "Before, it might have been 'Oh no, Notre Dame's coming.' You ask my staff, we expected to win this game tonight."

Zellous, the Big East's leading scorer, became the third player in school history to reach 2,000 points when she made a one-handed layup with 12:30 left in the game. She was fouled on the play by Ashley Barlow, but missed the free throw.

Zellous is the 13th player in the Big East to reach the mark.

"It's well-deserved," Berenato said. "She's worked hard for it."

Zellous shrugged when asked about the accomplishment.

"It was great that it came in a win against Notre Dame," Zellous said. "I was happy the home crowd got to see that. I can only thank my teammates because they helped me reach the milestone."

Becca Bruszewski and Erica Solomon both scored 14 points for Notre Dame (16-5, 5-4), which has lost four of six.

"We just don't have the fight we had at the beginning of the season," Notre Dame's Melissa Lechlitner said. "That's what is disappointing about this loss."

Notre Dame, which never led, closed to 49-48 on Erica Williamson's layup with 14:42 left and missed a chance to take the lead on its next possession when Natalie Novosel made a basket but was called for an offensive charge.

Zellous then scored eight points during a 14-6 Pittsburgh run which put the Panthers ahead 63-54. The Irish got no closer than seven points the rest of the way.

"Zellous was unstoppable," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "We had nobody who could guard her."

Notre Dame was called for five fouls during the run, and the Panthers converted three 3-point plays.

"That really took the wind out of our sails," McGraw said. "They were just bad fouls. That was the game right there."

Zellous scored 11 of Pittsburgh's first 21 points but was limited to 12 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.

Pitt held leads of 8-0 and 15-4. The Irish got as close as three points before a late run by the Panthers gave them a 40-31 halftime lead.

"Any time you can open with a strong start, it's hugely important," Berenato said.