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Devereaux Peters, Skylar Diggins powers No. 2 Notre Dame past Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Devereaux Peters has stepped her game up
in the last week, helping Notre Dame run over its opponents.

Peters had 10 points and a career-high 17 rebounds to lead
second-ranked Notre Dame to a 71-41 victory over Rutgers (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 13 AP) on
Tuesday night.

"Devereaux was simply amazing," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw
said. "She's playing like an All-American and that's why we're
playing so well."

The fifth-year senior became the first Irish player to have
three straight double-doubles since Jacqueline Batteast did it in
the 2004 NCAA tournament. Peters can see the end of her run at
Notre Dame in the offing.

"I'm realizing my time's almost up," Peters said. "I want to
make the most of it. I'm a fifth-year senior, I want to get our
team winning and go as far as we can."

The Irish lost only once this season, falling to No. 1 Baylor.
They have won 19 straight games -- the third longest streak in
school history. They ran through Tennessee, St. John's and now
Rutgers the last three games.

"Dev stepped up not only defensively, but also on the boards,"
McGraw said. "She runs the floor well and is scoring on offensive
rebounds. That might be the biggest shift in our game."

Skylar Diggins scored 18 points and Natalie Achonwa added 15 as
the Irish had a balanced offense. Kayla McBride had 13 points and
10 rebounds for Notre Dame. The Irish controlled the boards against
the Scarlet Knights, outrebounding them 52-24.

"You can't really key on one person, we're a team that has a
lot of different weapons," McGraw said. "It could be anyone's
game. Natalie coming off the bench, provided a spark for us."

Notre Dame (22-1, 9-0 Big East) completed a perfect January for
the fifth time under McGraw and the first since 2001.

Trailing 9-8 early on, Notre Dame went on a 22-6 run over the
next 7 minutes to take control. The Irish hit five 3-pointers
during the spurt, including three by Diggins.

"We had opportunities early, knocked some 3s down and started
our run," Diggins said.

They led by 17 at the half and blew Rutgers away in the second
half, winning by the largest margin in the series' history.

Notre Dame is just four victories short of the school record set
by the 2000-01 team that won the school's lone national
championship and shared the Big East title. If the Irish can beat
DePaul on Sunday they will match the 20 straight victories done by
the 2000 squad.

Monique Oliver scored 17 points to lead the Scarlet Knights
(17-5, 6-3).

Rutgers was missing second leading scorer Khadijah Rushdan, who
sustained a concussion in Sunday's 18-point loss to Georgetown. The
senior guard had been playing really well lately, rescuing the
Scarlet Knights from a 16-point deficit in the second half to beat
DePaul last Tuesday. She scored the final 11 points of that game
including the game-winning lay-in with 1.5 seconds left.

With Rushdan out and the Scarlet Knights not playing well, coach
C. Vivian Stringer started four freshmen and Oliver. It's the first
time she's had four freshmen in the starting lineup since 2005.

"I was particular proud of our (freshmen)," Stringer said.
"They kept their heads up."

Sparked by the young group, Rutgers hung with Notre Dame for the
first 7½ minutes. Oliver had the Scarlet Knights first seven
points, including her first career 3-pointer. A layup by Briyona
Canty a minute later gave the Scarlet Knights a 9-8 lead.

Then the Irish got hot from the outside and Oliver picked up her
second foul, heading to the bench. Diggins ditched her trademark
white headband and started connecting from the outside. She hit
back-to-back 3s in the corner during the run.

"There's no formula to that," said Diggins laughing at tossing
her headband. "I was sick of it, threw it off to change gears."

Leading 40-23 at the half, Notre Dame extended its advantage to
35 in the second half. Diggins hit one of two free throws with
11:30 left to move into a tie for 10th place on the school's career
scoring list.

It was the biggest win for Notre Dame in the series, surpassing
the 28-point victory in 1997.

This was the Irish's second trip to the Tri-State area in the
past week. They beat St. John's on Saturday afternoon, returned to
South Bend for class Monday then flew back to New Jersey later that
night.

It was the second straight poor offensive output by the Scarlet
Knights. They only had 36 against Georgetown.

Life doesn't get any easier for the Scarlet Knights as they
visit No. 3 Connecticut on Saturday.

"The Big East is not a joke," Stringer said. "This is the
last third of our season. We played Georgetown, Notre Dame and
Connecticut is right behind that. Doesn't get any rougher than
that."