HARTFORD, Conn. -- Lindsay Schrader had 16 points and Natalie Novosel added 15 as Notre Dame (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP) defeated St. John's 62-45 Saturday in the second round of the Big East tournament.
The Irish (23-8) will play fourth-seeded Villanova in the quarterfinals on Sunday.St. John's Da'Shena Stevens, chosen the Big East freshman of the year on Friday, had 12 points for the Red Storm (17-14).The teams traded the lead five times in the second half and St. John's led 35-33 before the Irish went on a 16-2 run. Novosel scored seven points and Melissa Lechlitner had five during that stretch.A 3-pointer by Ashley Barlow at the shot-clock buzzer gave the Irish a 58-45 lead with 3:53 left, and Notre Dame cruised from there."It's like the dagger to the defense," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "You play great defense for 29 seconds and then somebody hits a three and it really deflated them."Notre Dame opened the game on a 9-2 run, despite hitting just two of its first 10 shots. St. John's also was 2-of-10 from the field early and had just six points midway through the first half.But the Red Storm kept chipping away, and Sky Lindsay's driving layup with a minute left gave them a 22-20 lead at intermission."I felt like we ran out gas a little bit, missed some chippies, allowed them to score some easy baskets," St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico said.The Irish have won five of their past six games, with only a 10-point loss at top-ranked Connecticut on Feb. 22.St. John's, the 13th-seed, had lost six of seven games going into the tournament, but made it into the second round by upsetting Syracuse 63-61 on Friday.St. John's has played without Monique McLean, a second-team all-conference selection, who was suspended last month after a drunken-driving arrest."You lose your leading scorer, your leading rebounder at the end of the season and our kids could have crumbled," Barnes Arico said. "But they really pulled together and I think they really showed something about their character these last couple games."