BIG EAST teams went 4-2 on Sunday and currently sit a combined 41-17 during nonconference play this year (.707). No. 2/2 Notre Dame (4-1) lost at No. 1/1 Baylor 94-81 in the title game of the Preseason WNIT. It was the 38th matchup between the nation’s top two teams, with the No. 1 team improving to 21-17 all-time.
Notre Dame, which had trailed by as many as 15 points just before halftime, was within 56-55 when junior Skylar Diggins made two free throws with 14 minutes left. The Bears (4-0) then responded with a 14-3 run and by the time Odyssey Sims turned a steal into a breakaway layup about 5 minutes later, they led 70-58.
Notre Dame had a pair of 25-point scorers in the same game for the first time since 2000. Senior Natalie Novosel scored a career-high 28 points and Diggins had 27. Both were named to the Preseason WNIT all-tournament team. Brittany Griner led Baylor with 32 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks.
“We didn’t play the kind of defense that we hope to play this year,” coach Muffet McGraw said. “It was a good learning experience. … It’s great that it’s in November, and we can look ahead to what we want to be, and know that we’re not there now. I think we have that promise and we have that vision of our team moving forward, but really disappointed with the loss today.”
In Louisville, Ky., the No. 9/10 Cardinals (3-1) knocked off Xavier 62-44 at home. Louisville held the Musketeers to just 12 first half points and posted a 31-12 halftime lead.
Xavier head coach Amy Waugh said Louisville’s constantly changing defense that included a full-court press and a zone intended to limit outside looks affected her team’s shooting. The Musketeers finished the game 4-for-23 on three-point attempts.
“Give Louisville credit. They came out from the tip and they mixed it up defensively on us and caused some problems for us offensively,” she said.
Becky Burke scored 13 points, including hitting all three of her 3-pointers, to lead the Cardinals.
Louisville was again without their Big East first-team forward Monique Reid who has missed the past two games due to foot and back problems. Reid, a two-time All Big East selection, led the Cardinals in scoring and rebounding last year.
Walz said Reid participated in Sunday’s morning shoot around and that he’s expecting her back when Louisville faces Austin Peay at noon on Tuesday.
In addition to Reid’s absence, Walz has been forced to rework his rotation following the loss of Tia Gibbs. The junior guard suffered a torn labrum in her right shoulder in the season opener against Missouri State and is out for the year.
The game was a rematch of last season’s NCAA tournament second game that saw the Cardinals upset No. 2 seed Xavier 85-75.
Across the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii, No. 18/18 DePaul (4-1) finished the Jack in the Box Rainbow Wahine Classic with a 90-65 win over Hawaii at the Stan Sheriff Center. The Blue Demons finished the tournament in second place while junior Anna Martin and senior Keisha Hampton were named to the all-tournament team.
Martin led the Blue Demons for the second consecutive night in scoring and hit five 3-pointers and seven of her 11 field goal attempts. The Kentucky native led all scorers with 22 points and averaged 23.0 points during the tournament.
It was a historic afternoon at the WVU Coliseum as West Virginia (2-1) set an arena record in a 97-24 victory over North Carolina Central. The Mountaineers held North Carolina Central to the lowest point total in the history of women’s basketball at the WVU Coliseum. The previous lowest total at the Coliseum was in the 1974-75 season when the Mountaineers held Seton Hill to 26 points.
The point total is the second-lowest in the history of the program as WVU held Marshall to only 21 points last season. As part of its defensive scheme, WVU forced 42 NCCU turnovers, tying for the second-most opponent turnovers in a single game since Feb. 1, 1982 and the most under coach Mike Carey. More than half of those turnovers came in steals as the Mountaineers recorded 27, the most steals by a team under Carey. Jess Harlee led the stealing efforts with a career-high seven, while Ayana Dunning and Averee Fields each grabbed four steals.
The Mountaineers rattled off 38 unanswered points to open the second half. Harlee and Taylor Palmer each had a game-leading 20 points, while Asya Bussie and Akilah Bethel chipped in 12 points apiece.
Other action saw Pittsburgh (3-1) beat Central Michigan 77-70 at home. Sophomore Marquel Davis led the way with a game-high 26 points. Seton Hall (3-1) suffered its first loss of the year as it was narrowly edged by Michigan (4-0) at home 51-47. Senior Jasmine Crew had a tough day shooting going 3-of-14 from the field. She finished with just nine points.
There are two games on the schedule Monday, including No. 4/4 UConn against No. 5/5 Stanford. The 7:30 p.m. ET game will take place at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., and will be broadcast on ESPNU. Georgetown hosts Monmouth at 7 p.m.
Material from interviews, the Associated Press wire service as well as league and team sources was used in this report.