SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP) used defense to overcome a complacent offense and beat Iona 80-45 on Sunday.
Irish coach Muffet McGraw said a one-point victory over No. 21 Michigan State on Thursday as well as the team's upcoming games at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands may have been to blame for Notre Dame's sluggish offense."I think we were just a little lackadaisical," she said. "I think we got up 11-2 and said, 'Let's pack our bags, we're going to the Virgin Islands. Whose got the sun screen?"The Irish shined defensively, though, particularly in the second half when the Irish (3-0) held the Gaels (2-2) to 29 percent shooting. Notre Dame also forced 33 turnovers for the game, leading to 34 points off of turnovers.Skylar Diggins, who led the Irish with 17 points, said the goal for the Irish defense was to try to slow Iona from getting the ball upcourt quickly. They also wanted to keep the ball away from Anna McLean, who entered the game averaging 16.7 points and 13 rebounds. Notre Dame forward Becca Bruszewski, who scored 14, held McLean to 10 points and six rebounds.Iona coach Anthony Bozzella said the Gaels knew the Irish were going to press them but couldn't do anything about it."Not to take anything away from Notre Dame, but I think we made some poor decisions," he said. "I'm disappointed in that."The Irish dominated from the start, going ahead 11-2 in less than 3 minutes when Lindsay Schrader scored on a layup. They extended the lead to 27-11 when Brittany Mallory hit a 3-pointer, and the Gaels (2-2) never got closer than 12.Thazina Cook led the Gaels with 12 points and 10 rebounds.McGraw said her focus before the team heads to the warm weather is to make sure the team regains its intensity."And I think I can do it," she said.