Lindsay Schrader scored 26 points and Becca Bruszewski added 20 to help No. 24 Notre Dame rally past the University South Florida 86-79 on Tuesday night.
Notre Dame (18-6, 7-5 Big East Conference) scored the first five points of the game, but a 15-2 run enabled USF (18-8, 5-7) to lead by as many as 14 midway through the first half. Danielle Starzynski paced the Bulls with 39 points, and Janae Stokes scored all of her 15 before the Bulls took a 58-51 advantage into the break. Shantia Grace (11) also scored in double figures.
Schrader, who also finished with a team-high 11 rebounds, was one of three Notre Dame players to reach double digits before halftime with 14 points. Bruszewski and Ashley Barlow each chipped in 11. Barlow finished with 16 and Erica Solomon had 10.
The difference in the game, which included nine ties and eight lead changes, was at the free throw line. The Irish hit on 30 of 35 attempts while USF collected 19 points on 32 tries.
The most deflating free throws against the Bulls were the four Notre Dame was awarded with the score tied at 75 with 3:28 left on the clock.
Starzynski was charged with a technical foul for throwing an elbow at Bruszewski after fouling the Notre Dame sophomore. Melissa Lechlitner converted both technical shots, then Bruszewski added a pair to give the Irish a lead they protected down the stretch.
USF, which has dropped four of its past five conference home games and six in a row overall against ranked opponents, connected on half of its 34 shots from the floor in the first half. The Bulls sank only nine of 33 after the intermission, blowing a halftime lead for the first time in 16 occasions.
Bruszewski has scored in double figures in each of her past five games. She reached double digits six times last season. Grant, who entered the game with a team-leading 8.2 rebounds a game, finished with a dozen.
"We were intimitated by Notre Dame tonight and we played like it. It definitely showed, we didn't come out here and play the type of game we needed to in order to get this win and that's why we weren't successful," Coach Fernandez had to say after the game.
Starzynski also added, "We played scared tonight. As a team, we came in with a defeated mindset just because Notre Dame is a higher ranked team and that crippled us from the beginning. You'll never win a game playing scared. We did everything wrong and you can't expect to win when you play the way we did tonight."
The Bulls are back in action on Saturday against West Virginia. As always stay tuned for your updates and GO BULLS!