Published March 06, 2010
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Notre Dame was the only one among five ranked Big East teams not to get a bye into the conference tournament quarterfinals.
The Irish didn't need it.
Erica Williamson led five players in double figures with 16 points and No. 6 Notre Dame routed Louisville 89-52 Saturday in the tournament's second round.
"It's nice to get a feel for the gym," Williamson said. "We weren't able to have a shootaround, with the schedule that we had, and the teams playing yesterday. So, it's great to go out there, feel comfortable in the first half and just work on things in the second."
Freshman Skyler Diggins had 13 points, Deveraux Peters added 11, and Lindsay Schrader and Becca Bruszewski each had 10. The Irish (26-4) advance to play No. 16 St. John's in the quarterfinals on Sunday.
Monique Reid had 23 points and 13 rebounds to lead Louisville. The Cardinals end the season 14-17, a year after losing in the national championship game to Connecticut.
Notre Dame and St. John's ended the regular season in a fourth-place tie in the Big East, but the Red Storm earned the No. 4 seed with a 76-71 win over the Irish last month. Notre Dame also had to play undefeated Connecticut twice, something that hurt its seeding.
But Irish coach Muffet McGraw said the extra game might end up helping her team.
"I was really pleased to be able to get out on the floor and get Skyler a run and Devereaux" she said. "Those guys didn't play last year, so it was still a little bit new for them. So, it was great to be able to get out, get on the floor and see what it's going to be like tomorrow."
The Irish used a 10-0 run to build an early 15-6 lead, and the rout was on. They hit 14 of their first 19 shots, and forced Louisville into 15 first-half turnovers.
A 13-0 run gave the Irish a 38-16 lead.
Louisville missed its final seven shots of the half, did not score in the last 4 minutes and trailed 47-21 at halftime.
Notre Dame shot 56 percent from the floor, had 46 points in the paint and held Louisville to under 30-percent shooting in the first half.
A 3-pointer by Brittany Mallory made it 60-28 with 12 minutes left.
Williamson put an exclamation point on the game with a 3-point shot with 1:35 left, the first 3-pointer of the senior center's career.
"Our team is a great 3-point shooting team, so it was fun to go out there and be a part of it," she said. "I think I'm officially 1 for 3 on the career, so 33 percent, not that bad. I'm pretty happy."
Louisville was hampered by the loss of several key players this season. Point guard Deseree Byrd and Laura Terry both sustained season-ending knee injuries and Ashley Rainey left the team for personal reasons. Center Chauntise Wright, who missed last season with an injury, was not granted an extra semester of eligibility.
"I feel like we responded the best way we could with all the injuries and everything that's been going on this year," Reid said. "I think we did good."
Notre Dame knows it could have gotten a bye had it beaten St. John's last month. And the players know what to look for on Sunday.
"We know we have to box out and get on the boards," Peters said. "Hopefully, we'll pull out a win."