BIG EAST teams wrapped up nonconference play for 2011 with an 11-2 record heading into the New Year.
No. 3/3 Notre Dame continued its offensive prowess with a 128-42 victory over Mercer. ND (13-1) set school marks for the biggest margin of victory, most free throws made (43) and attempted (52) and points in a half (72 in the first half). The Irish matched their best-shooting night in school history by making 70.2 percent of their shots (40-of-57) from the field.
Irish reserve Markisha Wright had 24 points and starter Skylar Diggins had 21 as Notre Dame stretched its winning streak to 10 games.
Notre Dame's 128 points also are tied for 17th-most in a single game in NCAA Division I history, and most by a Division I team in a game since Nov. 29, 2002, when Tennessee scored 136 points against Puerto Rico-Mayaguez (the highest by any team this season was Oklahoma, which scored 117 vs. Sacramento State on Nov. 13).
No. 15/16 Georgetown (12-2) posted a 77-38 win over Dartmouth in the 35th annual Blue Sky Classic in Hanover, N.H.
Sugar Rodgers was still irked about a late missed free throw that forced her to settle for tying her career scoring high in a win over Vermont the day before. Rodgers more than made up for it Friday night from the foul line and everywhere else on the floor, scoring a career-high 39 points as the Hoyas routed the Big Green.
Rodgers, who scored 34 against Vermont the night before, was 13-of-26 from the field, including 6-of-12 on 3-pointers, while outscoring all of Dartmouth’s players combined.
“We’ve seen her do this before. We’ve seen her in a rhythm and just shoot the lights out,” Georgetown coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “This tournament, she seemed to just do so much more. She rebounded. She got steals. She played defense. She just had her all-around game.”
No. 11/11 Rutgers (11-2) chopped down George Washington 75-54 in our nation’s capital. Four Scarlet Knights were in double figures, including Monique Oliver who tied a season-high with 23 points and eight rebounds in just 24 minutes. April Sykes added 17 points and Khadijah Rushdan had 13.
Rutgers shot 47.7 percent (31-of-65) and held GW to 38.8 percent shooting (19 of 49). The Scarlet Knights also forced 23 turnovers.
Also on Friday, Villanova lost to Monmouth 49-48, Seton Hall lost to Memphis 82-73 and USF beat St. Peter’s 68-52.
On New Year’s Eve, DePaul’s Anna Martin, had a game- and season-high 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting, in a 65-46 win over Northern Illinois at home. That translated into the 500th career win for head coach Doug Bruno.
Bruno downplayed his accomplishment, instead crediting the support his program has received from the school administration, the present and former coaching staffs and the players.
“It’s not our 500th win, it’s our one in a row win 500 times,” Bruno said. ”I don’t even go there, I don’t think about it. Thank God I’ve been able to coach this long. I really think more in terms of being able to have been blessed to still be physically able to coach after 39 years and enjoy doing it and love doing it.”
In his 26 seasons at DePaul, Bruno has compiled a 500-273 record with 16 appearances in the NCAA tournament.
“It’s awesome, he’s a great coach,” DePaul guard Anna Martin said. “He’s helped me so much throughout the way. I’ve had a lot of college growing pains and I’m really happy for his 500th win.” Martin also surpassed the 1,000-point plateau during the game.
DePaul needed a strong defensive effort in the second half against Northern Illinois to secure Bruno’s milestone victory.
Despite winning their 18th straight game versus Northern Illinois, the No. 21/19 Blue Demons (13-2) trailed the Huskies 25-22 at halftime after shooting 26.7 percent including a 1-of-12 effort from beyond the 3-point line. They recovered in the second half to shoot nearly 50-percent, though the Blue Demons still struggled from beyond the arc finishing the game just 3-of-19.
Also on Saturday, Providence beat Hartford 63-46, Marquette topped Toledo 69-60 and St. John’s knocked off Boston University 75-38. In addition, Pittsburgh beat Lafayette 74-69 in overtime, Syracuse brushed off Colgate 83-32 and West Virginia rolled over Elon 84-36.
BIG EAST play begins on Tuesday, Jan. 3 with 10 teams in action over five games. The schedule begins with No. 15/16 Georgetown (12-2, 1-0 BIG EAST) hosting No. 21/19 DePaul (13-2, 1-0 BIG EAST) at 7 p.m. The Blue Demons hold a 5-1 edge in BIG EAST matchups, but the Hoyas won the last time the teams met in Washington, D.C. Individual scoring leaders Sugar Rodgers of Georgetown (a conference-best 20.2 ppg) and Anna Martin of DePaul (third in the league at 19.0 ppg) should provide some additional New Year’s fireworks.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Pittsburgh (8-6, 0-1 BIG EAST) heads to Villanova (10-3, 1-0 BIG EAST) and USF (8-6, 0-0 BIG EAST) is at Cincinnati (9-5, 0-1 BIG EAST). In addition, Marquette (9-5, 0-1 BIG EAST) is at No. 14/13 Louisville (12-2, 1-0 BIG EAST) and Syracuse (11-4, 0-1 BIG EAST) is at No. 11/11 Rutgers (11-2, 0-0 BIG EAST).
Material from interviews, school websites, the Associated Press wire service as well as league and team sources was used in this report.