PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Despite not feeling well, Natalie Achonwa provided a big lift for Notre Dame.
Achonwa scored a career-high 13 points off the bench and the No. 18 Irish routed Providence 79-43 on Wednesday in the Big East opener for both teams."She didn't even come to practice and couldn't keep any food down," coach Muffet McGraw said. "She had a rough night. But she said I'll play if you need me and I'm a little weak."She played great. I was really pleased, but I don't think she could have gone too many more minutes."Achonwa played nine minutes but was 5 for 6 from the floor and 3 of 4 from the free throw line.Mi-Khida Hankins scored 16 points for the Friars (5-6), who were held to 16 points in the second half.Notre Dame (7-3) broke the game open when it went on a 16-0 run in the second half, during which the Irish held Providence without a point for 9:11.The Irish forced the Friars into seven of their 28 turnovers during that run."I thought our press was good," McGraw said. "I thought we came out and put a little pressure on them."I also thought Devereaux Peters missing most of the first half [because of foul trouble] was a problem for us. But Erica Solomon [11 points, 10 rebounds] had a great game off the bench. She gave us great energy. She gave us rebounding."Notre Dame also made a defensive adjustment in the half court that made a difference."We switched up defensively," McGraw said. "We didn't front as much. I thought they were getting inside a little bit more so we played behind in the post."I thought that stopped them a little bit."Notre Dame led 35-27 at halftime and after the Friars cut their deficit to seven points (40-33), Natalie Novosel ignited the Irish's 16-0 run.The Irish are 19-0 all time against Providence, their longest active winning streak against any Big East opponent.