7:00 PM ET, January 4, 2012
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. -- Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw insists her team hasn't been looking ahead to its upcoming showdown with Connecticut.It's hard to argue with her.Skylar Diggins and Kayla McBride each scored 14 points and the third-ranked Irish cruised to a 74-36 win over Seton Hall on Wednesday night for their 11th straight victory."We kept our focus, for this has been a tough place for us to play in year's past," McGraw said. "I thought we didn't look ahead to this weekend. We did some pretty good things defensively especially with the starters."The Irish will host No. 2 UConn on Saturday in a nationally televised game. Notre Dame eliminated the Huskies in the Final Four last season and was picked in the preseason coaches' poll to win the Big East for the first time since 2001.The two teams will play again in Connecticut to close out the regular season on Feb. 27."We're excited for this weekend. It's a big rivalry and a great game between us. We'll be ready," said Notre Dame senior Brittany Mallory.Notre Dame (14-1, 2-0 Big East) has been sizzling on offense and leads the nation in scoring. The Irish came in averaging over 100 points in their previous four games, including a 128-42 thrashing of Mercer on Dec. 30.Notre Dame kept it up against the Pirates (7-9, 0-2).The Irish closed the first half with a 36-9 run, with their three stars -- Diggins, Natalie Novosel and Devereaux Peters -- combining for 22 points during the burst.Notre Dame led 49-16 at the break and its lead grew as large as 44 points in the second half. With her team building its huge lead, McGraw rested Diggins, Novosel and Peters for most of the second half. Novosel finished with 13 points, and Peters had eight points and 10 rebounds."I've been trying to give them longer stretches without subbing," said McGraw of limiting her starters' minutes. "I'm trying to get them through a couple of timeouts just to get that game shape conditioning. They haven't played a lot of minutes since Kentucky. I want them to play more. It's hard to figure that balance."The Seton Hall women were hoping to pull off their own shocker one night after the men's team stunned No. 8 Connecticut 75-63 -- but it wasn't meant to be. The Pirates have now lost 20 of their 24 meetings with the Irish, including the last six. They were outrebounded 41-18 and shot 28 percent from the field.Jasmine Crew provided the sole bright spot on offense for the Pirates, finishing with 17 points. She had all nine during Notre Dame's huge run to end the opening half, including two incredible acrobatic shots."That's the demise of this team right now, we have consistently Jasmine stepping up, but haven't had consistent play from other players," Seton Hall coach Anne Donovan said. "Credit Notre Dame, they played physical, took a lot of our kids out of their game."Former New York Liberty president Carol Blazejowski and WNBA chief of basketball operations and player relations Renee Brown were at the game.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||24-46 (.522)||12-43 (.279)|
|3P Made-Attempted||6-11 (.545)||2-14 (.143)|
|FT Made-Attempted||20-25 (.800)||10-20 (.500)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||17 (0/0)||22 (0/0)|