Five players scored in double figures and Devereaux Peters registered a double-double, as Notre Dame eliminated Temple, 77-64, to return to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship.
Peters’ 17 points and 12 rebounds inside were key as the No. 2 Irish (28-7) outscored the No. 10 Owls (24-9) in the paint 44-20 in the second round match Monday night in the Dayton Regional played at the Huntsman Center on the University of Utah.
“Devereaux with the double-double came up big for us in the big game,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said.
The Irish closed the first half on a 14-2 run that saw Skylar Diggins score eight. Temple guard Shey Peddy hit a three with five seconds left to decrease the Notre Dame lead to 12 at the recess.
Temple clawed back to within five at the 13-minute mark, but after an Irish timeout, a 10-0 run ensued and Notre Dame was on cruise control to Dayton.
“We didn’t panic,” said Irish guard Natalie Novosel, who finished with 17 points. “We just executed on offense and shut them down on defense. We’ve been in situations like this before. Any win in the tournament is a relief.”
Peddy scored 21 points, while shooting 8-for-16 (4-for-6) from three-point range.
“When we got within five, we felt like all of the momentum was on our side,” Peddy said.
The Owls’ 6-foot-4 center Victoria Macaulay was limited to two points after scoring 12 in Saturday’s first round win over Arizona State. She did grab eight boards, however.
“Shey did most of the scoring and that’s not how we play,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said. “We play with balanced scoring, and that’s how we won Saturday. They relied on her so much down the stretch that she was exhausted trying to make plays. While she’s making those plays, she created turnovers because she was tired. We needed other players to step up.”
Natasha Thames was instrumental off the bench for the Owls, scoring 12 and grabbing 14, and Kristen McCarthy scored 16.
“You always want to look at the positive things,” McCarthy said. “Next year, we’re going to come back stronger.”
Diggins finished with 15 points and seven assists, despite eight turnovers. Becca Bruszewski scored 12, Brittany Mallory had six assists, and 6-foot-3 freshman Natalie Achonwa had 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench for Notre Dame.
“She hit some amazing shots going down the lane in traffic,” McGraw said of Achonwa. “I was really proud of her. For a freshman coming into a game with a chance to go to the Sweet 16, she didn’t look nervous at all.”
Notre Dame will face the winner of Tuesday’s game between No. 3 Miami, Fla., and No. 6 Oklahoma. The Sooners beat the Irish in overtime in the Sweet 16 last season, and Notre Dame won a second round matchup in 2008.
Other winners Monday night were Tennessee, Stanford, Duke, DePaul, Gonzaga, North Carolina, and Ohio State.