March 6, 2011
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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -
Devereaux Peters had 19 points, nine rebounds, and tied her career high with six blocks to help the No. 7 Fighting Irish top Louisville 63-53 on Sunday night in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.
"She's a big key for us," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "I only sat her for 5 minutes and they really went off on runs when she wasn't in the game. Her on the floor makes us a very different team."
With top-seeded UConn and fourth seed Rutgers advancing it will be only the third time in the past decade that the top four seeds advanced to the semifinals.
Leading 26-24 with 2 minutes left in the first half, Peters keyed a 22-5 spurt over the next 8 minutes to help the Irish take control.
Louisville could only get within six the rest of the game.
Shoni Schimmel scored 12 to lead the Cardinals (20-12).
Peters was all over the court for the Irish. She scored 13 points during the game-changing run, including eight straight at one point. With Notre Dame leading 40-29, she had a block on one end of the floor and then a three-point play on the other side.
The senior forward's effort impressed Cardinals coach Jeff Walz.
"She played fantastic," he said. "I'm pretty good friends with their staff and I've told them the entire time when Devereaux comes to play they're as good a basketball team as there is. She's such an impact player."
Diggins followed with a 3-pointer and Peters another layup to give the Irish a 19-point advantage.
"I thought she carried us through a large stretch of the game," McGraw said.
Louisville wasn't done, rallying over the next 6 minutes with Peters on the bench. Schimmel's pull-up in the lane started a 16-4 spurt. Charmaine Tay followed with a three-point play and Schimmel's 3-pointer with 8:12 left made it 52-45.
"Charmaine Tay played her heart out," Schimmel said. "She got everyone going and feeding off it. We went out there and kept going as a team."
Peters was on the bench during the Cardinals' run and McGraw put her back in to restore order.
Diggins hit a 3 to make it a 10-point game and had a key steal late in the game that she converted into a basket.
Louisville cut it to six with 2:32 left on Monique Reid's lay-in, but the Irish scored the next five points to seal the win.
Reid, who leads the Cardinals in scoring, was held to just six points.
The Cardinals advanced to the quarterfinals with a 69-47 victory over Villanova. After Saturday's win coach Walz quipped that it wouldn't be too hard to adjust from Villanova's slow plodding style to Notre Dame's fast-paced offense.
Louisville hung around for the first 20 minutes despite shooting 38 percent and committing 13 turnovers. The Cardinals finished the game at the same shooting clip, but made just two of their 18 3-pointers and were outshot 25-7 at the free throw line.