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Thursday, June 13, 2024
The Observer

Women's Basketball: Playing for Hope

Following No. 3 Notre Dame's 90-66 dismantling of DePaul University in the annual Pink Zone game, the Irish may consider wearing their pink and white jerseys on a regular basis. Led by the career-high 25 points of junior forward Becca Bruszewski, the Irish moved into sole possession of second place in the Big East standings while raising over $70,000 towards cancer research and awareness.

"I was really pleased with the offense," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "I thought we moved the ball well. We shared the ball well, we made some good passes. We were able to get it inside to Becca, and she had just a great day on the offensive end. Just really, we were able to work the zone and find some great shots for her."

The contest's scariest moment came in the first half when senior guard Lindsay Schrader stepped on senior guard Ashley Barlow's foot while after a loose ball. Schrader fell to the floor, was helped off the court and did not return to play. It was later announced that she sprained her left ankle, and her status is currently day-to-day.

"It was hard for us because down a fourth player with them playing a zone like that …we were forced to put a guard inside, and in the first half it really wasn't working," McGraw said. "Then in the second half Barlow was able to go inside, and coming up with eight assists, she was able to really work the high post and find Becca down low."

Picking up the slack left by Schrader's absence, Bruszewski credited her career day to the team's balance and ability to find the open shooter.

"I think it's just any given day anybody on this team can get double figures, get a double-double," Bruszewski said. "Lately, Lindsay's been our go-to, and she's been doing a great job. Today, she went down, and I just stepped up, and my teammates did a great job of finding me, so I got the easy buckets."

Bruszewski's 25-point performance was only eclipsed by the monster game of Blue Demons forward Keisha Hampton. Hampton finished with a game-high 28 points and eight rebounds, as the Irish had no answer for the lanky sophomore on either end of the court.

Nevertheless, Blue Demons coach Doug Bruno said Notre Dame's depth and pressure at the guard position were too much for Hampton and his squad, who coughed up 25 turnovers.

Despite shooting over 50 percent from the floor, Notre Dame (23-1, 10-1 Big East) struggled to break away from the Blue Demons (16-10, 5-7) in the first half. The Irish needed a 12-2 run in the final minutes to take a 42-32 lead into the break. Freshman guard Skylar Diggins hit a floater to beat the buzzer, energizing a sold-out Purcell Pavilion.

"It was a huge shift," McGraw said. "I thought that we were just a little out of sync, missing some shots. Skylar was able to get going, and with four seconds left was able to go the length of the floor and hit that shot. That just gave us great momentum heading into the locker room. She had a very good game."

Diggins finished the game with 18 points, four steals and three assists, solidifying her status as the conference's leading freshman scorer.

Barlow's eight assists were a new career-high for the senior. She also contributed nine points, six rebounds and five steals.

Notre Dame will travel to Queens, N.Y., Tuesday to take on No. 25 St. Johns. Tip-off will be at 7 p.m.