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Seventh-ranked Notre Dame defeats UMass women’s basketball

  • Massachusetts forward Kim Piere-Louis, center, look at the referee as she battles for a loose ball with Notre Dame guards Kayla McBride, left and Skylar Diggins during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)

    Massachusetts forward Kim Piere-Louis, center, look at the referee as she battles for a loose ball with Notre Dame guards Kayla McBride, left and Skylar Diggins during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Massachusetts coach Sharon Dawley reacts to her team's play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame won 94-50. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)

    Massachusetts coach Sharon Dawley reacts to her team's play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame won 94-50. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Massachussetts forward Kiara Bomben, left, drives the lane as Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)

    Massachussetts forward Kiara Bomben, left, drives the lane as Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Massachusetts forward Kim Piere-Louis, center, look at the referee as she battles for a loose ball with Notre Dame guards Kayla McBride, left and Skylar Diggins during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)
  • Massachusetts coach Sharon Dawley reacts to her team's play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame won 94-50. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)
  • Massachussetts forward Kiara Bomben, left, drives the lane as Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)

Kayla McBride scored 18 points and Skylar Diggins added 15 to help the seventh-ranked Irish beat UMass 94-50 on Sunday in the home opener.

“I thought we did a lot of good things on the offensive side, but I thought we could have rebounded a little bit better,” said Irish coach Muffet McGraw. “We’ve got a lot of things to work on. It’s early in the year, we’re still finding our way.”

The Irish only led by four early on before using a 17-0 run to blow the game open. Notre Dame used its defense to take control, forcing 20 turnovers in the first half that led to 30 points.

“We’ve really been working hard at double-teaming, running at the ball, and trying to have our defense get their offense to feel really uncomfortable,” McGraw said. “I was disappointed we didn’t take more charges but overall I thought we had a good awareness today of where their shooters were.”

Offensively the Irish had four players in double figures and had 26 assists.

“I think we’re a good passing team. It’s like last year’s team,” said Diggins, who had seven assists. “We have a lot of weapons. We have a lot of people who can score. It’s just a matter of finding the open player. I think sometimes we overpass a little bit and try to think too much for each other. But that’s something that we’re learning. I like that we’re sharing the ball.”

UMass coach Sharon Dawley scheduled the game for her senior center, Jasmine Watson, a South Bend native. Watson and Diggins led South Bend Washington to the state title game their senior year.

Watson was one of four Minutewomen to lead the team in scoring with eight points. She led both teams with eight rebounds, but fouled out with 7:25 left in the game.

Dawley, noting she has three other players from Michigan and one from Ohio, said her team might have been caught up in the moment.

“We wanted to bring Jas home and I think everyone just got too caught up in the emotional side, where we’re playing, who we’re playing, how good they are,” Dawley said. “Sometimes you can try too hard and look awful, and I think that’s what happened. I think we played better in the second half because we just decided to play basketball.”

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