SOUTH BEND, Ind. – DePaul coach Doug Bruno doesn't expect anyone to feel sorry for his team which has been plagued by injuries all season and is down to seven healthy players.
Sometimes the Blue Demons have looked really good — a 25-point win over No. 14 Louisville on Tuesday night. In other games they've struggled.
On Sunday, DePaul fell 90-70 to No. 2 Notre Dame, giving up 56 points in the first half.
"We showed moments of being discombobulated and disconcerted by their pressure," Bruno said. "but at the same time, our mission is to get better. We got better at Rutgers, at Seton Hall, at Louisville and I think there were moments we got better tonight."
Bruno was impressed by the Irish.
"Notre Dame has five players that I will probably vote for All-Big East," Bruno said. "And I think they are one of the four teams that have a chance to win the national championship."
The five Notre Dame players Bruno mentioned all contributed. Natalie Novosel scored 17 of her 21 points in the first half. Skylar Diggins had a double-double (11 points, 10 assists), Mallory contributed 14, Deveraux Peters 11, and Kayla McBride added seven points. Reserve Natalie Achonwa added 16.
"Mallory and McBride are underrated," Bruno said.
Notre Dame was nearly perfect on offense for a 16-minute stretch against DePaul, yet it was the defense that coach Muffet McGraw was concerned about.
"I was really disappointed with our defense," she said. "I thought we had some really good spurts (on offense), had a nice spurt to start the second half, and then I subbed too early and we went flat. That was disappointing. But the posts were not ready to play and that was the most disappointing."
Mallory backed up her coach's assessment.
"We love to win," she said. "But there is always places for improvement. We gave up 70 points and that's not what we are most proud of. We are looking to get better."
The offense couldn't get much better during that 16-minute stretch. Notre Dame didn't miss many shots during its 56-point first half. The Irish shot a blistering 73 percent from the field. From the 13:54 mark of the first half to the 17:18 mark in the second half, they hit 22 of their 24 shots to build a 34-point lead.
McGraw started subbing liberally and the Blue Demons (17-7, 5-5) rallied behind Jasmine Perry's 24 points and Katherine Harry's 20.
"Katherine Harry played a great game (matched her career high in scoring with 20) and I'm sure that (Jasmine) Penny had a career high (24 points). Those two really gave us trouble inside and it was disappointing that our posts were not able to defend."
The win was the 20th straight for Notre Dame matching the second longest streak in school history. Notre Dame is just three victories short of the school record set by the 2000-01 team that won the school's lone national championship and shared the Big East title.
The Irish matched the 2000 squad that won 20 in a row.
The game was tied at 12 before Notre Dame went on a 17-2 run led by Novosel to take control of the game. She had 11 points and two assists during the burst that left the Irish up 29-14 with 9:37 left in the half.
Notre Dame continued its offensive onslaught building a 56-31 halftime lead. Achonwa had 12 of her points in the first half, making all five of her shots.
The Irish opened the second half with an 11-2 run to put the score at 67-33 before McGraw started subbing.