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Monday, May 20, 2024
The Observer

ND Women's Basketball: Eight players score 10 or more in win

High-pressure defense and dominating post play propelled No. 4 Notre Dame past Arkansas Pine-Bluff 102-57 in its season opener Sunday night at the Purcell Pavilion.

The Lady Lions (0-2) had no answer for Irish forward Becca Bruszewski as the junior led all scorers with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting while grabbing 10 rebounds on her way to her second career double-double.

"They sat in their zone and I was really just looking to slip inside for some easy buckets," Bruszewski said. "I wasn't hitting well from outside so I was cleaning up inside and just staying in the paint."

The Irish (1-0) came out sloppy, committing a number of turnovers which led to an early deficit. Notre Dame didn't grab its first lead until 4:10 into the game when a layup by senior Lindsay Schrader made it 7-6. However, poor free throw shooting and more turnovers continued to haunt the Irish as the Lady Lions kept it close for the better part of the first half.

Arkansas Pine-Bluff was down just four at 19-15 until Notre Dame's full-court press finally became too much to handle. The Irish forced 14 first-half steals and 22 turnovers total on their way to 58-34 halftime lead.

"Bringing the energy really helps," freshman guard Skylar Diggins said. "The more that we're pumped, the more we get after it. The energy really makes you want to get up and get on the ball and that helps you get some steals."

In the second half, the Irish pulled away with stingy defense and accurate shooting. Notre Dame stymied the Arkansas Pine-Bluff offense, which posted just 7-of-34 shooting in the half while the Irish managed 19-of-34 shooting.

Notre Dame got solid contributions from nearly every player who touched the court. Bruszewski was one of eight Irish players to score in double figures. Senior Ashley Barlow had 15 points and Diggins added 14 off the bench in front of a raucous crowd of 9,080, the largest ever for an Irish home-opener.

"It was crazy," Diggins said of the record crowd. "Our fans are like the gas to our car, they keep us running. We're really playing the game for them and just trying to make sure we show our appreciation."

Despite the sizeable margin of victory, Notre Dame's performance was far from flawless. The Irish were anemic from the free-throw line, converting just 13-of-25 attempts. And while the Irish defense forced 33 total turnovers, the offense gave most of them back, committing 27 turnovers of its own.

"I think we tried to play too fast," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "We were a little sloppy and we just made a lot of really bad decisions."

Shay Holmes led Pine Bluff with 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting. Jasmine Abrams had 13 points off the bench and Rekevia Brown added 12 for the Lady Lions.

The Irish will play their first road game of the season when they travel for a top-ten showdown with No. 10 Michigan State on Thursday.