Created: 11/26/2013 9:35 PM
(AP) SOUTH BEND, Ind. - DePaul coach Doug Bruno wanted to play a more conservative style Tuesday night against No. 5 Notre Dame.
It didn’t quite work out.
The 25th-ranked Blue Demons normally like to run, but Bruno didn’t want to try playing at a fast pace against the Fighting Irish on their home court. DePaul declined to press and kept it close for a half before Notre Dame turned it on in the final 20 minutes of a 92-76 victory at Purcell Pavilion.
"We come after people, and I didn’t really know that I wanted to come after Notre Dame tonight," said Bruno, whose team trailed by four points at halftime. "We wanted to score the ball, but I didn’t think it would be to our advantage to be chasing them all over 94 feet."
Natalie Achonwa had 17 points and eight rebounds in her second game back from a knee injury to lead the Irish (5-0), who won their 28th consecutive regular-season game and 15th straight at home.
Kayla McBride added 16 points and Taya Reimer had 15 points and 14 rebounds off the bench.
DePaul (3-1) was led by 18 points from reserve Megan Rogowski in the Blue Demons’ first game in eight days.
Notre Dame outrebounded DePaul 58-33 and held the Blue Demons to 30 percent shooting in a dominant second half.
DePaul opened the second half with turnovers on its first two possessions and Notre Dame capitalized with seven straight points to push a four-point halftime lead up to 11 in the first 1:11.
The Irish run grew to 19-5 at the 15:22 mark, with Achonwa scoring seven of those points as Notre Dame’s lead got to 18.
"I think we started to actually guard them," McBride said. "We were able to get out in transition and get some easy buckets. From then on, we just guarded them."
While Irish coach Muffet McGraw wasn’t happy with her team’s overall defensive effort, she did like the adjustment the Irish made on Rogowski, who scored just three points in the second half.
"She played really well," McGraw said. "Held her to three in the second half, I thought that was really important. We looked like we just wanted to outscore them, which is not what I want our philosophy to be."
Foul trouble began to hamper DePaul’s comeback effort as two starters, Brittany Hrynko and Brandi Harvey-Carr, each had to sit with four fouls and still nearly 14 minutes to play.
Jasmine Penny, the Blue Demons’ leading scorer at 17.3 points per game, fouled out with 4:49 left and finished with just four points.
"We’re still a work in progress," Bruno said. "We still have an inside game to develop."
Madison Cable’s 3-pointer with 4:07 to play increased Notre Dame’s lead to 21.
Three straight pull-up jumpers in the lane gave the Irish the largest lead either team had in the first half, six points, with 9 minutes left before halftime.
Notre Dame shot 50 percent from the field (19 of 38) and outrebounded DePaul 30-17 in the first half, but 11 Irish turnovers and a 5-of-10 showing at the free throw line helped the Blue Demons stay close. They trailed 45-41 at the break.
"We were happy to be down only four because of some missed layups that we had," Rogowski said.
But the offense unraveled to begin the second half.
"There was too many panic possessions," Bruno said. "You can’t take shots that have no chance to go in the basket."