December 29, 2010 in Sports

Irish women rally against Zags

Associated Press
 

SEATTLE — Natalie Novosel scored a career-high 27 points and No. 16 Notre Dame beat Gonzaga 70-61 on Wednesday night.

Skylar Diggins added 19 for Notre Dame (10-3), including a clinching 3-pointer from the corner with 1:46 remaining that put the Irish up by seven.

“Right now that’s the best win on our tournament resume,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, whose team won its fifth consecutive game since losing to Baylor back on Dec. 1.

Gonzaga, which advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with two wins in Seattle last March, used a balanced offense to lead by two at the half and four midway through the second half.

Notre Dame encountered another problem when forward Devereaux Peters picked up a technical for her fourth personal foul with 17:01 left in the second half.

But Novosel helped pick up the slack with an assortment of drives into the lane, and the Irish were able to hang tough despite turning the ball over 26 times.

“I thought the technical on Devereaux really turned the game in our favor in a way,” McGraw said. “Because I thought the team responded really well to that adversity. And we haven’t had a chance to do that much this year.”

Peters came back in to convert a putback with six minutes remaining to give Notre Dame a 60-57 lead, and Novosel then drew contact while rolling in a layup for a three-point play that put the Irish up by six with just 5:08 to play.

The junior guard converted 8 of 11 shots from the field and was a perfect 9-for-9 from the free-throw line.

“She’s our leading scorer and she had just a great game and really looked to score,” McGraw said. “Which is what we want her to do. Crucial free throws, just an outstanding game.”

Gonzaga was able to claw back to within four with 2:35 remaining, but Diggins — who had a double-double with 11 rebounds — made her third 3-pointer of the game to end the threat.

Kayla Standish had 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs (10-4).

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