No. 2 Notre Dame 74, Syracuse 55

After the final horn sounded in the Carrier Dome and Notre Dame

had its 21st straight victory, Irish coach Muffet McGraw grimaced

when she looked at the stat sheet.

Sure, Devereaux Peters had 21 points and Kayla McBride added 19,

season-highs for both players, in No. 2 Notre Dame’s74-55 win over

Syracuse on Tuesday night, but McGraw wasn’t happy with all the

missed long-range shots and the two shot-clock violations.

”I didn’t want to shoot so many 3s, and we’re 2 for 16. We were

really, really poor,” McGraw said. ”We shot the ball so poorly

today. We made some bad decisions, shot it too quickly at times and

then the shot clock ran out. We haven’t done that all year long. To

have that many shot-clock violations in one game, it was pitiful.

We just didn’t play a smart game today at all.”

Still, Notre Dame (24-1, 11-0 Big East) improved its road record

to 12-1 against Syracuse (15-10, 4-7), which lost at home by 41

points to No. 3 Connecticut two weeks ago.

Skylar Diggins, the Irish’s leading scorer, finished with 11

points, all in the second half, and they were key. She scored five

straight points to get the Irish going after the Orange had pulled

within 49-39 on a 3-pointer by Rachel Coffey and two free throws by

Shakeya Leary midway through the half.

Brittany Mallory had seven points in the 137th game of her Notre

Dame career, a school record. Former star Becca Bruszewski played

in 136 games from 2007-11.

Iasia Hemingway had 15 points to lead the Orange, but 11 came

from the free throw line as she finished 2 of 13 from the field.

Kayla Alexander added 11 points for Syracuse.

”That’s not normal,” said the 5-foot-11 Hemingway, who thrives

around the basket and entered the game shooting 48.5 percent. ”I

give a lot of credit to Notre Dame. They made sure they sagged on

me going to the rim. They did a great job making sure I didn’t get

to the basket.”

After a slow start – both teams combined to shoot 5 of 22 in the

first 5 minutes – the Irish settled down and pulled away with a

16-4 run despite little help from Diggins. McBride more than made

up for that with six points in the spurt, her jumper from the right

wing giving Notre Dame a 20-8 lead midway through the period.

”I thought Kayla McBride got us out of the gate really well,”

McGraw said. ”She shot the ball well, looked for opportunities

against their zone, and really shot it well. I was pleased.”

The lead ballooned to 30-12 with 4:39 left on consecutive layups

by McBride and Peters. The Orange were held scoreless for nearly 5

minutes until Leary’s follow with 3:26 left and trailed 38-19 at

halftime. Syracuse shot 18.8 percent (6 of 32) in the half,

repeatedly misfiring from in close, and finished the game 18 of 61

(29.5 percent).

”We missed a lot of easy baskets,” Syracuse coach Quentin

Hillsman said. ”You’re not going to be in a game in the first half

shooting 18 percent against the No. 2 team in the country. To play

an even second half, it’s one of those things – if you put a full

game together against good teams, you have a chance to win.”

Syracuse entered the game tied for second nationally with

top-ranked Baylor in rebounds per game at 47.7, but the Irish

dominated the glass 33-18 in the opening half, outscoring the

Orange 26-6 in the paint. Since struggling early in the season on

the boards, Notre Dame is back on track. In their previous 18

games, the Irish averaged 43.7 rebounds and had an average

rebounding margin of plus-14.8 per game. They finished this one

with a 47-37 edge.

After Mallory hit a 3-pointer to open the second half, the

Orange ran off 11 straight points, two baskets coming on follows by

Hemingway and Alexander as Syracuse began to assert itself on the

glass. A pullup jumper in the lane by Phylesha Bullard and a

three-point play by Alexander moved the Orange within 41-30 with

15:20 left.

Diggins’ layup, her first points of the game, stopped the surge

and Mallory’s layup gave the Irish a 45-30 lead with 13:52 to

go.

The Irish put the game out of reach with a 13-4 run keyed by

Diggins, who scored five straight points, the last on a rebound of

her missed free throw. Consecutive three-point plays by McBride and

Peters gave Notre Dame a 62-43 lead with 7:30 left.

Notre Dame finished with a 48-24 edge in points in the paint and

20-2 on the fast break.

Against UConn, Syracuse played a solid first half, trailing by

only seven, and got blown out in the second. It was the opposite

against Notre Dame as the Orange matched the Irish with 36 points

in the second half.

”We have to put it together as a team, put both halves

together, play as a unit,” said Carmen Tyson-Thomas, who finished

with eight points and eight rebounds for the Orange. ”When we get

outrebounded, it’s never a good end result.”