Senior post Becca Bruszewski led Notre Dame with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting and three free throws. Bruszewski only needs 15 points to reach the 1,000-point mark in her career.
“It was absolutely positioning,” Bruszewski said of her season-high point production. “It was positioning, and knowing the offense and where the guards are going to be, and where it’s best for me to get the ball.
McGraw said that Bruszewski turned in a strong effort to get behind the St. John’s defense.
“We gave it to (Bruszewski) more on the block,” McGraw said. “I think she was really doing a nice job of being physical and getting position inside. She was an easy target, because she really did a great job of getting on her back.”
Devereaux Peters turned in her fifth double-double in her last nine games for the Irish, scoring 14 points and fighting inside for 10 rebounds. Natalie Novosel added 13 points.
“I think our inside game has really come alive,” McGraw said. “They played really well. In the Georgetown game, the guards were shooting well, so we didn’t go inside as much as we wanted. This game was a great game to take advantage of our posts and the way they are playing right now, which is so well.
“Becca had a great game. Dev had a great game. It was really a great job by both of them.”
Centhya Hart led St. John’s with eight points. Shenneika Smith, who entered the game averaging 14.5 points, scored seven points, and Da’Shena Stevens (12.0 ppg) added six.
Stevens didn’t score after the 14:43 mark of the first half.
“We were trying to stay in front of the point guard (Nadirah McKenith),” McGraw said of the Irish defensive strategy. “She’s a really good player, a really good passer. She can run their team exceptionally well. She’s difficult to guard. We tried to give her a little bit of a cushion and keep her in front of us and go into the ball screens. I thought that Skylar (Diggins) in particular did a really good job of that.
“Brittany (Mallory) did a nice job on Shennieka Smith. Her job was to really be on her and not give her any room at all. She did a really good job there. I thought that was a big key to the game.”
St. John’s fell behind early, as the Irish used a 10-3 run to pull ahead, 21-12. After a St. John’s basket, the Irish reeled off an 8-0 run and were on their way to a 39-21 halftime lead.
The Irish pulled away in the second half, opening with a 17-4 run. Combine that with a 7-0 spurt the Irish had to close the first half, it was a 24-4 run, and the Irish defense held St. John’s to just two field goals in a span of 15 minutes, 33 seconds.
Notre Dame outscored St. John’s, 46-20, in the point, owned a 24-2 advantage in points off turnovers, and held a 14-4 edge in second-chance points.
“Obviously, we couldn’t score,” said St. John’s coach Kim Barnes Arico. “At one point I said, ‘How many points have we had in the second half?’ We couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end.
“They do a great job of forcing turnovers. We had 26 of them. They get in the passing lanes, they’re super aggressive, they rotate well, and their chemistry is good. They play exceptionally well together.”
ST. JOHN'S (14-6): Da’Shena Stevens 3-7 0-7 6, Centhya Hart 4-9 0-0 8, Sky Lindsay 1-5 0-0 2, Nadirah McKenith 2-6 2-3 6, Shenneika Smith 3-8 1-1 7, Amanda Burakoski 1-5 0-0 3, Briana Brown 0-1 0-0 0, Jennifer Blanding 1-3 0-0 2, Keylantra Langley 0-0 0-0 0, Zakkiyah Shahid-Martin 0-0 0-0 0, Eugeneia McPherson 1-6 0-0 2. Totals 16-50 3-11 36.
NOTRE DAME (17-4): Devereaux Peters 7-10 0-0 14, Becca Bruszewski 8-11 3-5 19, Skylar Diggins 2-6 1-2 6, Natalie Novosel 5-14 3-3 13, Brittany Mallory 2-7 1-2 6, Veronica Badway 0-1 0-0 0, Natalie Achonwa 2-2 0-0 4, Fraderica Miller 1-3 0-0 2, Kaila Turner 1-4 0-0 3, Mary Forr 0-2 0-0 0, Ariel Braker 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 28-61 10-14 69.
Halftime - Notre Dame 39-21. 3-Point Goals - St. John's 1-6 (Burakoski 1-2, Brown 0-1, Smith 0-1, McPherson 0-2), Notre Dame 3-10 (Mallory 1-3, Turner 1-3, Diggins 1-3, Novosel 0-1). Fouled Out - None. Rebounds - St. John's 31 (Stevens 9), Notre Dame 42 (Peters 10). Assists - St. John's 8 (McKenith 6), Notre Dame 21 (Diggins 6). Total Fouls - St. John's 13, Notre Dame 14. A - 9,149.