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SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Georgetown coach Keith Brown liked his team's effort and resilience against No. 2 Notre Dame — even if he didn't always like the Hoyas' execution.
After falling behind early against the Fighting Irish, the Hoyas managed to make a couple of runs. It was never enough to turn it into a competitive game as Notre Dame won 79-64. But Brown saw enough to believe his squad is improving after losing three straight to third-ranked Connecticut, Syracuse and the Irish.
"I thought we played UConn and Notre Dame well," he said. "I thought we kind of embarrassed ourselves against Syracuse. We didn't play well in the second half. But if we can keep play with this kind of energy, let the chips fall where they may, but I think we'll be OK."
Brown said the Hoyas (10-7, 1-3) have to play smarter.
"We've got to get to the point where we take better shots and hit some shots," he said.
The Irish held the Hoyas' Sugar Rodgers, the nation's leading scorer, to a season-low 14 points and scored 35 points from the free-throw line to overcome a season-high 28 turnovers for their 10th straight victory.
"We played really well early," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "We ran our press well, got some easy baskets, but then the turnovers really hurt us."
Kayla McBride scored 17 points, Skylar Diggins had 15 points, nine assists and six steals and Jewel Loyd added 14 and defended Rodgers for most of the game. Natalie Achonwa added 12 points and 10 rebounds for Notre Dame (15-1, 4-0 Big East).
Jasmine Jackson led Georgetown with 15 points and Andrew White added 14 points and 12 rebounds. Rodgers was 1-of-6 shooting in the first half with just four points and finished 6 of 18 from the floor, including 0 of 7 from 3-point range as Georgetown (10-7, 1-3) lost its third straight. Rodgers said she injured her right hand when a Notre Dame player fell on it in the first half.
"But I think it's OK now," she said.
Brown said it was an off night for Rodgers, but also credited the Notre Dame defense.
"When we tried to run our pick and rolls, he said. "They trapped the pick. I thought they did a good job."
Notre Dame quickly took control, opening a 15-2 lead in the first five minutes as the Irish forced six turnovers and held the Hoyas to 1-of-7 shooting. The Irish repeatedly passed their way inside for baskets.
"I think our rotation was bad in the middle. I think sometimes they're so young that we forget what we're supposed to do," Brown said.
McBride said the Irish were able to get the Hoyas off balance.
"We were able to get the defense moving and get layups and short jump shots," she said.
Diggins and Braker then each made two free throws, extending the lead to 35-11, as the Irish made their first 17 free throws before Diggins finally missed two in a row before the Hoyas attempted their first free throw.
Brown complained that the Irish were getting too many calls, yelling to the officials: "I know this is South Bend, but they can't play that perfect."
A jumper by White sparked a 13-2 run for the Hoyas. Rodgers scored her first basket during the run to cut the lead to 35-20. A layup by Katie McCormick cut the 39-24.
Georgetown center Vanessa Moore was called for a technical foul after elbowing Madison Cable midway through the first half and was ejected late in the half for saying something after she and Achonwa got tangled up under the basket. Brown said afterward that he didn't think the second technical would have been called in a men's game.
After trailing 44-29 at halftime, the Hoyas narrowed the lead to 46-33 on a 3-pointer by White, but Diggins answered with a 3-pointer and the Irish eventually stretched the lead to 23 again. The Hoyas used a 10-2 run to cut the lead to 62-47 on jumper by Rodgers midway through the second half. But the Irish responded with a 9-0 run to put the game away.