SOUTH BEND, Ind. —
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said her team had it coming to them.
“I thought we’ve been building up to this game now for a couple of weeks,” she said. “We just haven’t played well for a long time.”
The second-ranked Irish almost played well enough Sunday, but West Virginia ended their 21-game winning streak with a 65-63 victory.
Brooke Hampton made two free throws with 4.6 seconds left to give the Mountaineers (18-6, 8-3 Big East) the lead and a 15-footer by Natalie Novosel of Notre Dame bounced off the rim as time expired.
“This is a great win for us,” Mountaineers coach Mike Carey said. “We were below .500 three or four years ago and we beat Louisville at Louisville when they were ranked third in the country. This is right up there (with our best wins ever).”
The Mountaineers came in on a three-game winning streak and were confident heading into Sunday, according to center Asya Bussie who had 22 points and eight rebounds.
“I just think we were more focused,” she said. “We prepared all week and we just came in and did what we had to do to get the win.”
Bussie hit a turnaround jumper with 39 seconds to go that tied the game at 63.
Skyler Diggins had a career-high 32 points for Notre Dame (24-2, 11-1), which came into the game leading the nation at 83.2 points per game.
Diggins missed a contested layup that could have tied the score with less than 10 seconds to play. She fouled Hampton at midcourt as she went for a steal with 4.6 seconds to go.
Hampton then made the free throws that gave her four points for the game — all from the line.
Diggins said her team stopped playing defense.
“We just were not attacking,” she said. “We were getting transitions at first and then we stopped playing defense and they scored. We haven’t practiced with intensity this week and it showed. But it’s not the end of the season. It’s just a bad loss. We’ve got to come back and make sure we are ready for the rest of the season.”
The Mountaineers forced Notre Dame into 17 turnovers.
“I think we had to sit down and get a little physical with them,” Carey said. “Because if you don’t they are just going to throw you out of the way and go get a layup. I’ve watched a lot a lot of tape on them and (that is what they do). So we tried to get our guards to sit down and body them up a little bit more.”
Ayna Dunning added 11 points for the Mountaineers, who finished with a 41-33 rebound advantage.
“This was a big win for us,” Carey said. “We lost five seniors from last year and they were almost 90 percent of our offense. For these girls to get this type of win on the road will do a lot for our confidence because we are young. We have to build on this.”
Novosel scored 16 points for Notre Dame and Devereaux Peters grabbed 17 rebounds.
McGraw said her team’s inside play was a factor in the loss.
“I thought Bussie was outstanding for them,” she said. “She was really the difference in the game. We could not defend them in the post and we could not score in the post on our end. I’m just really disappointed for everybody.
“They were physical,” McGraw continued, “but I don’t know if that’s what threw us off. We just did not execute like we can. Ten assists and 17 turnovers tells you that.”
Notre Dame shot 41 percent from the field for the game while West Virginia shot 39 percent.
A 3-pointer by Taylor Palmer of West Virginia tied the game at 35 with 17:26 to play. Diggins scored on consecutive possessions to start a 9-0 run. The Mountaineers rallied to tie it at 55 on two free throws by Bussie with 4:39 to play.