Updated BIG EAST Notes
Both No. 2/3 Notre Dame and No. 15/13 Louisville had to go to overtime on Tuesday night, but pulled out exciting wins. The Irish (13-1, 2-0 BIG EAST), playing for the first time since their win at then-No. 1/1 Connecticut last Saturday, earned a 75-71 victory at USF. The Cardinals (13-3, 1-1 BIG EAST) downed Rutgers 66-57 at home.
In the Louisville win at the KFC Yum! Center, junior Shoni Schimmel scored a season-high 21 points as the Cardinals outscored the Scarlet Knights 14-5 in the overtime period to seal it. Schimmel had a jumper with 6 seconds left in regulation to force a 52-all tie that carried into overtime.
Senior Erica Wheeler led Rutgers (9-6, 0-2 BIG EAST) with 18 points. Classmate Monique Oliver, who has been battling a sprained left ankle, scored 10 points with nine rebounds in 36 minutes. The Scarlet Knights were 2-of-2 from the free throw line, while Louisville shot 21-of-30 (70-percent).
In the Notre Dame win in Tampa, senior Skylar Diggins led the Irish with 19 points, while junior Natalie Achonwa had 20 points and freshman Jewell Loyd finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
''Last year, we had a veteran team. We came out every game, I knew what we were going to do," said ND head coach Muffet McGraw. "We were going to be ready every game, and we were never going to take anyone lightly, and not let the thrill of a big game get to us,'' she added. ''This team's still young, so we're still not where we need to be, I think, maturity-wise. And really, even with the veterans, I'm not sure that they came out ready. Hopefully, it was a really good learning lesson for us.''
''I thought South Florida was fantastic," McGraw continued. "They did everything they needed to do. They scored and they ran on us. ... They should be ranked in the Top 25, because they're a very, very good basketball team,'' McGraw said.
Senior Andrea Smith tied a career high with 33 points and 11 rebounds for USF (11-3, 0-1 BIG EAST), including her team's last nine points of regulation and first four of overtime. Smith's twin sister, Andrell, had 15 points before fouling out less than a minute into the extra session.
South Florida led 35-32 at the break despite shooting 37.8 percent and pushed Notre Dame to overtime for the third time in the last nine meetings between the team despite shooting 33.3 percent (25-of-75) for the game. The Fighting Irish were only slightly better, shooting 36.8 percent while making the same number of field goals while taking seven fewer shots.
''It's tough going into the locker room, especially with eight seniors, we've got a lot of guys hurting,'' USF head coach Jose Fernandez said. ''I'm sure around the country there weren't a lot of people that thought that we were even going stay within 15, 20 points with what Notre Dame did to Connecticut and what Notre Dame has done to opponents this season. But, that's why you play the game.''
There are three league games set for Wednesday. Seton Hall (6-8, 1-0 BIG EAST) heads to Cincinnati (8-6, 0-1 BIG EAST), while DePaul (12-3, 1-0 BIG EAST) is at Villanova (11-2, 1-0 BIG EAST). Both games will begin at 7 p.m. Georgetown (10-4, 1-0 BIG EAST) hosts No. 3/2 Connecticut (12-1, 0-1 BIG EAST) at 7:30 p.m. on SNY.
Material from interviews, school websites, the Associated Press wire service as well as league and team sources was used in this report. All times are Eastern