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December 29, 2010 at 4:40 PM

Game thread: Gonzaga at No. 16 Notre Dame

IRISH WIN: There was a lot of tournament talk after Notre Dam collected a 70-61 win in its first-ever meeting with Gonzaga. Notre Dame (10-4) mentioned how it could boost its RPI rating for seeding and the Zags were disappointed because a quality win like beating the Irish would help their positioning or even get them a berth, if unable to win a seventh consecutive West Coast Conference title. Poor shooting by Gonzaga in the second half (28.2 percent) allowed Notre Dame to take over the game. Diggins’ three-pointer was the “final dagger,” according to McGraw. The sophomore PG finished with 19 points and a career-high 11 rebounds while Novosel was the constant, finishing with a career-high 27 points. Standish led the Zags with 16 points and Redmon was7-for-16 from the field for 15 points. The Irish will play Loyola Marymount on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. The Zags face Seattle U. for the first time in the program’s history at 7 p.m. Both games are at KeyArena. And don’t forget about the auction going on the concourse. Autographed basketballs, dinners with Bonvicini and other goodies are up for grabs. All proceeds help the SU women’s baksetball program.
DYK?: Did you know Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw recruited Washington coach Tia Jackson when the latter was in high school? Jackson ended up choosing Iowa, however. “We were really upset not to get her, she was a really good player,” McGraw said of Jackson.
ICE: Diggins and former Stanford star Candice Wiggins are friends via Twitter. The former nailed a shot that was reminiscent of the current WNBA player, nailing a needed three-pointer with 1:46 left in the game to give the Irish a 68-61 lead.
FIGHTING IRISH: Sigh, the turnovers are starting to get the Zags in trouble and open things up for the Irish. Novosel is putting on a mini offensive show to help Notre Dame build a 65-57 lead. The Irish have some nice defensive stops, too, like the block on Vandersloot by Novosel that was turned into another bucket.
SMALL SHOWING: SU coach Joan Bonvicini has dreams of playing at KeyArena, but the inaugural Classic may have been better at Connolly Center, like the Thanksgiving Day Tournament. Seating is configured like the Storm, 9,686 in the lower-bowl, but there’s hardly 2,000 people for the highlight game. GU travels well for NCAA tournament games at Edmundson Pavilion, only many must be away for the holiday break. The Redhawks play Loyola Marymount in the nightcap at 7 p.m.
NO FLOW: Credit team play for the Zags to stay in the game because nothing else is helping. The officiating has created a staccato vibe and turnovers are keeping each team fm looking spectacular. A Redmon layin off Standish feed with 11:20 remaining in the game has the Zags up 48-46.
HALFTIME: Defense is dictating this matchup. Well, that and fouls. The Zags are shooting 46.9 percent from the field, but have 11 turnovers for eight Notre Dame points to barely lead 35-33 at the break. The Fighting Irish are no better, shooting a solid 48 percent but allowing 14 turnovers morph into 15 points for GU. Diggins is the biggest offender with six. Teammate Natalie Novosel leads in scoring with 14, shooting 4-for-4 from the field. Redmon and Standish have eight points apiece for the Zags, Standish adding eight boards with her total at the break.
BACK UP: A turnover turned into a snazzy layin by Standish and a FT by Bowen has given the Zags a 35-31 lead, matching its largest of the game. Diggins in on the bench with two fouls and the Irish are surprising committing a lot of turnovers (10). There’s 33.7 seconds left in the half.
SPOTTED: Tulsa coach Nolan Richardson is in attendance. Perhaps scouting Vandersloot for the upcoming WNBA draft? She has the Zags up 32-31 with 2:36 remaining in the opening half.
TIE GAME: Neither team can shake each other. But if Diggins weren’t 0-for-4 from the FT line, the Fighting Irish would have a little breathing room. It’s her three-point shooting and team play by the Zags that has things knotted up with 7:40 remaining in the opening half. Actually a turnover converted into a layin by ND’s Kaila Turner as the Irish up 25-23.
BOWMAN LIMPING: Former GU star Heather Bowman is in attendance, but on crutches after suffering an injury from play in Switzerland. She’ll be out three to four months, extending her holiday break.
MCBRIDE FINE: Notre Dame G Kayla McBride is dressed and prepared to play after a scare in practice on Tuesday. McBride, a freshman went down on a drive to the hoop with an apparent right knee injury, needing crutches to walk. She was examined by doctors and cleared. The Fighting Irish are tied with the Zags at eight points apiece with 15:12 remaining in the opening half.
It’s a little odd that Gonzaga is just across the mountain but playing the part of the visiting team. I’m a little late getting started, so we’ll get right to it with the starting lineups and spill in the stories and updates for the kick-off of the Seattle University Holiday Classic at KeyArena as we go.
BULLDOGS
F Katelan Redmond
F Kelly Bowen
C Kayla Standish
G Courtney Vandersloot
G Janell Bekkering
FIGHTING IRISH
F Becca Bruszewski
F Natalie Novosel
C Deveraux Peters
G Skylar Diggins
G Brittany Mallory
Tonight’s officials are Jeneane Pence, Jim Morrell, and Wanda Szeremeta.

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