No. 3 Notre Dame 69, DePaul 54

Notre Dame will be playing with some extra incentive in Monday’s

Big East semifinals.

Devereaux Peters had 16 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks and

the Irish beat DePaul 69-54 on Sunday, setting up a rematch with

West Virginia, the only Big East team to beat Notre Dame during the

regular season.

The Mountaineers, who beat No. 12 Georgetown 39-32 in Sunday’s

first quarterfinal, won in South Bend 65-63 on Feb. 12, ending the

Irish’s 21-game winning streak.

”We’ll come out with a chip on our shoulder and play better

with a chip on our shoulder,” said Big East player of the year

Skylar Diggins, who had 12 points, five assists and six steals on

Sunday. ”It’s good for a second chance, because they beat us at

home.”

Natalie Novosel added 16 points and Kayla McBride had 14 for the

Irish (29-2) who are coming off the program’s first outright

regular-season conference championship.

Katherine Harry had 10 of her 14 points in the first half for

eighth-seeded DePaul (22-10).

Notre Dame took control of the game with a 14-0 run that began

in the first half and ended three minutes into the second with a

3-pointer from Novosel that gave the Irish a 48-26 lead.

The Blue Demons fought back, cutting the lead to 11 on a jumper

by Jasmine Penny with 7:30 left in the game.

But three straight layups from Peters along with a blocked shot

on the other end stretched the lead back out to 17, and DePaul

could get no closer than 10 the rest of the way.

”Devereaux’s a great defender, she got defensive player of the

year in our league,” Harry said. ”She’s really long and uses her

length and has great timing on blocking shots. Give respect where

respect is due. She got herself some easy buckets on getting some

offensive rebounds.”

DePaul hit four of its first six shots and led 10-7 early on the

strength of two 3-pointers by Deanna Ortiz. But Notre Dame

responded with an 11-2 run to take the lead for good.

Peters and Diggins scored the final two buckets of the half, and

Notre Dame blocked three DePaul shots down the stretch to go into

halftime with a 38-26 lead.

The Irish outrebounded DePaul 41-28 and Peters had six of the

team’s seven blocks.

”I think I’m just being smarter about which ones to block and

which ones to go straight up and make them shoot over me,” Peters

said.

The Irish have now won two consecutive games at the XL Center.

They closed the regular season with a 72-59 win over Connecticut to

sweep the season series with the Huskies and secure sole possession

of the regular-season conference title.

Notre Dame has never won a Big East tournament title, and hasn’t

won any conference tournament since taking the 1994 Midwestern

Collegiate Conference crown.

The Irish shared the regular-season title with UConn in 2000-01

and went on to win the program’s only NCAA championship that

season.

Notre Dame has now won seven of the last eight meetings with

DePaul, including a 90-70 win in South Bend on Feb. 5.

DePaul beat South Florida 76-62 on Saturday, behind 33 points

from Anna Martin. Martin was held to seven by the Irish on 3 of 10

shooting.

”I think everybody did guard her a little bit and I think that

probably trying to keep a little fresher defender on her was a

little bit more effective,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet

McGraw.

The Blue Demons have advanced past the tournament’s

quarterfinals just once since joining the conference and that was

last year, when they lost to Notre Dame 71-67 in the

semifinals.