Jan. 16, 2008
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Villanova coach Harry Perretta knew his team was in trouble when he saw that Notre Dame's 6-foot-2 freshman forward Devereaux Peters was quicker than his guards.
"She's everywhere," Perretta said. "She takes up a lot of ground. She's guarding our guards. She's faster than our point guard. You have a little bit of trouble when the other team's big kids are faster than your guards."
Peters finished with a career-high 15 points, seven steals and three blocked shots, and No. 17 Notre Dame forced Villanova into a season-high 24 turnovers en route to a 69-58 victory Wednesday night.
Peters plays at the top of Notre Dame's pressing defense and her primary job is to force bad passes.
"I really just want to make them throw it long so other people can get the steals. I don't think it's necessarily for me to get them," she said.
Against Villanova, though, she was the one making the steals.
"She's got great speed and can anticipate," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "She gets a hand on a lot of balls."
Peters entered the game at 15:47 of the first half, grabbed her first steal 20 seconds later and scored her first basket just 29 seconds after that.
"She made a big difference when she came in the game," McGraw said. "She rebounded, she blocked some shots, she did some scoring. She did a lot of great things."
The Irish (14-3, 2-1 Big East) went ahead 43-34 when Peters caught a pass inside from Tulyah Gaines and banked it in with 15:52 left. The Wildcats (11-6, 1-3) twice cut the lead to five points and had chances both times to cut it to three, but couldn't do it.
The Irish extended the lead to 62-52 when Ashley Barlow, who led the Irish with 16 points, converted on a three-point play with 4:20 left, and went ahead 68-55 when Peters made a pair of free throws with 67 seconds left.
Charel Allen added 13 points for the Irish and Lindsay Schrader finished with 12. The Irish shot 54 percent for the game and were 17-of-18 from the free throw line. The Wildcats were just 3-of-4 from the line.
Laura Kurz, sister of Notre Dame men's basketball captain Rob Kurz, led the Wildcats with 20 points. She said she was nervous playing in front of him and other family members.
"At one point I was looking in the rafters and saw his picture," she said.
The Irish had some trouble handling the ball as well, turning it over 19 times, one shy of their season high. McGraw, though, said she wasn't concerned.
"I don't think their the type of turnovers you worry about because they weren't bad decisions," she said.