No. 3 Notre Dame tops Purdue for 6th straight victory

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Notre Dame's pressure defense harassed Purdue into one of its worst offensive performances ever, and the No. 3 Fighting Irish manufactured enough points to roll past the Boilermakers (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP) 66-38 on Saturday.

It was only the ninth time in school history that Purdue scored fewer than 40 points, and its 24.1 percent shooting was the fifth-worst in school history.

The Fighting Irish forced the Boilermakers into 24 turnovers.

"Defensively, I think we're about where we need to be," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said.

Purdue coach Sharon Versyp had a different take.

"This is the second team that pressed us," she said. "If I was the opposing team, I'd press us every second. It throws our rhythm off and we panic in the halfcourt when you still have 18 to 15 seconds to run an offense."

Natalie Novosel scored 17 points and Devereaux Peters added 16 points and 11 rebounds for Notre Dame. Skylar Diggins added nine points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Fighting Irish.

Notre Dame (9-1) has won six straight since losing at No. 1 Baylor 94-81 on Nov. 20.

Courtney Moses scored 14 points and Antionette Howard added 13 for Purdue (7-2), which was coming off a 60-51 win over then-No. 4 Texas A&M, the defending national champion, on Sunday. Less than a week later, Versyp was talking about lineup changes.

"We were just flat," she said. "There was no energy, no communication by anybody up here who was sitting next to me. That's just hard to come by when people aren't bringing energy that they did on Sunday."

Brittany Rayburn, Purdue's leading scorer for the season, was held to four points on 1-for-7 shooting. She was ill and played just 24 minutes. Notre Dame defensive stopper Brittany Mallory handled her assignment.

"She's incredibly disciplined and determined," McGraw said. "She fights screens really well. We got some help at times when we needed it, but overall, she just guarded her one-on-one and did a really good job of taking away the three."

Notre Dame shot 44 percent against Purdue, which had been holding opponents to 31 percent shooting.

"We talked a lot about executing," Peters said. "We hadn't been doing that lately. The stuff we talked about in practice, we did in the game. We moved the ball around a lot, from the outside, we looked high-low a lot, and we were getting open shots inside off of that."

Notre Dame went on an early 17-0 run to take a 25-5 lead, and it could have been even larger had the Fighting Irish not missed several layups on passes by Diggins. Purdue went scoreless for more than seven minutes and missed 13 of its first 15 shots.

"We missed four wide open layups with a little contact," Versyp said. "You've got to finish."

Notre Dame led 36-17 at halftime. Purdue shot 28 percent, committed 11 turnovers and was outrebounded 29-13 in the first 20 minutes. Peters had 10 points and eight rebounds before the break and Diggins had seven points, five assists and four rebounds. Rayburn, Purdue's leading scorer, went without a point in the first half.

The Fighting Irish extended their lead in the second half. Notre Dame led 58-30 with 10 minutes to play. Novosel scored 11 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half to help put the game out of reach. A breakaway layup by Diggins pushed the lead to 30 points.

"We got some transition baskets, we got some steals and we were able to look inside," McGraw said. "I felt we got really good looks around the basket. We weren't hitting our threes, so we had to put it on the floor."

McGraw said it was a good win that could help the Fighting Irish down the road when it comes time for NCAA Tournament seeding, but overall, she wasn't satisfied.

"We can be a lot better," she said. "We missed some easy shots. We put them on the line way too many times."