SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame got off to a fast start. Brittany Mallory made sure the Fighting Irish (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 3 AP) didn't let up.
The Irish were ahead 13-2 when Mallory came off the bench five minutes into the game. She made her first five baskets, scoring 13 points in just over four minutes to help the Irish extend the lead to 31-10 with a 3-pointer midway through the first half. She finished with a career-high 22 points in 20 minutes of play to lead the Irish to an 88-47 win over Valparaiso."Brittany's been playing her role extremely well," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "She's playing great basketball. She has such great poise when she's on the floor. She's working hard defensively. She's doing a lot of little things. I'm really pleased with the way she's playing."Mallory, whose previous career high was 19 points against Georgia Southern last season, said she focuses on making sure there is no letdown when she enters the game."I've just got to come in and do what I can," she said. "It's just a matter of keeping the intensity that my team's already started."The Crusaders (3-5), who lost their fifth straight, went on a 10-2 run to close to 33-20 on a three-point play by Raegan Moore with 6:12 left before intermission. But Valparaiso missed its last nine shots of the half and trailed 45-22 at halftime.The Irish pulled away throughout the second half. Valparaiso coach Keith Freeman was disappointed in his team's passive play. Betsy Adams, Valparaiso's leading scorer at 17.1 points a game, was held scoreless on 0-for-8 shooting."I think it just points to the fact that they're bigger, stronger, faster," Freeman said. "They overpowered her. They overpowered us in pretty much every position. How many times did we get knocked to the floor and how many times did they get knocked to the floor? That's the difference in the game."Valparaiso shot 29 percent and had 29 turnovers and just six assists.Moore led the Crusaders with 16 points and Lauren Kenney had 12 points. Becca Bruszewski had 11 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes of play for the Irish, Ashley Barlow had 11 points and Natalie Novosel added 12 points off the bench.McGraw said she's just happy the Irish head into finals week undefeated, especially after seeing some upsets the past week."We really wanted to make sure we took care of business," she said.