Just the Facts, Ma'am: The Blue Demons of DePaul made a few runs, but Notre Dame held them off every time to win 69-54. Devereaux Peters led the way with 16 points, 12 rebounds, six blocks, and three steals; Natalie Novosel also had 16 points. Katherine Harry had 14 to lead DePaul.
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38-26 Notre Dame at the half- we have achieved offense, and it is a beautiful thing. It's sort of clear that DePaul is short-handed and getting worn down by Notre Dame's talent. McBride has 11 for the Irish, while Diggins has 10; Harry has 10 for the Blue Demons.
Of course the DePaul band performs Chicago. Of course. They seem to keep a general Chicago theme to their music- their version of Kanye West's "All of the Lights" makes me want a recording. I don't say that about bands often. They really got into their cheers, having special ones for each player. Good volume from the cheerleaders, though they need to work on their projection and pitch. Trust me, I know what it sounds like to be very loud and very shrill.
After some of the tripping by Notre Dame, I was expecting Doug Bruno to abuse a chair. I know, you do it once, you're branded for life.
The Blue Demons got good minutes off the bench from Megan Rogowski and Kelsey Reynolds, both of whom were able to put up points, though their impact was more in the second half, when Notre Dame had backed off the pedal slightly. But that gave DePaul a chance to rest their starters and try for one last run.
Katherine Harry was doing work inside. She had some pretty shots off the glass, though I don't know how many friends she was making with tough screens. She's one of those players who turns interesting colors when she's tired. Jasmine Penny was a disaster in the early going- bad passes, bad shots, stupid fouls. She got better in the second half and made a difference in the paint and the midrange. Deanna Ortiz's threes got the pro-DePaul portion of the crowd going, and her flying save on the baseline was impressive. Anna Martin was rendered into a non-factor, except that maybe Notre Dame's defense was forced to leave the post players open due to doubling and switching. Brittany Hrynko looked like she was trying to force the matter, though that might be because someone had to try and make something happen from the perimeter to give DePaul even the ghost of a chance.
Notre Dame didn't get much from their bench, but they didn't need much from their bench. Ariel Braker scored the last basket, and while from the margin at the time, it might have looked like the Irish were rubbing it in, it was a clear putback for a player who hadn't been on the board. You can't tell a player not to take that shot; it'll ruin her instincts. Natalie Achonwa came off the bench later than I was expecting, but made a little noise in the first half with a pretty bank shot. Don't remember much else about the Notre Dame bench.
Skylar Diggins tried to showboat a little in the first half, and wrenched her back doing it. In the second half, when they had a little bit more of a margin, she was more successful in her fancy passes to Peters and Novosel. She kept busy on defense, playing the lanes well. Brittany Mallory did not endear herself to us with constant tripping of her opponents. Watch your feet, Mallory, because West Virginia's better at that game than you'll ever be. Kayla McBride was red hot in the first half, but receded in the second. Natalie Novosel was solid all the way through. But the star of the show and the best player on the floor beyond a doubt was Devereaux Peters, who imposed her will on the game on both ends of the floor with powerful blocks and forceful shots. She showed a few moves, and an ability to use both hands and both sides of the basket. Honestly, the only reason I have any skepticism about her ability to play in the WNBA is her knees- she's got the skills on both ends of the floor. I like her a lot.
It's one thing to leave a blowout early if you're a neutral fan, or if your team is losing. I don't blame the UConn fans who were only there because they had all-session passes or were curious or wanted to prove that they weren't just cultists. But Notre Dame fans were leaving a game that they were winning. How spoiled is that?
I can't go much further on this without being inappropriately biased, because I like and respect Doug Bruno, and I don't necessarily like Muffet McGraw. My memory is faulty, my notes insufficient; I don't want to risk giving the wrong impression of the game because of my distaste for the top dog.