Feb. 1, 2010

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) - Skylar Diggins scored 14 points and Becca Bruszewski added 13 to help No. 3 Notre Dame beat Rutgers 75-63 on Monday night.

Melissa Lechlitner added 12 points for Notre Dame (20-1, 7-1 Big East), which beat Rutgers for the first time since 2005.

Khadijah Rushdan scored 16 points and Myia McCurdy matched her career high with 14 - all in the second half - for Rutgers (12-10, 4-4), which has lost three straight games.

Despite winning their last five games, the Irish have been inconsistent since losing their only game of the season to No. 1 Connecticut on Jan. 16. Notre Dame trailed by double digits against Louisville and West Virginia, and blew a 15-point lead against Syracuse before rallying for the late win.

Against Rutgers, the Irish built an early lead before holding off the Scarlet Knights' challenge.

Notre Dame was leading 44-36 midway through the second half when Rutgers started to rally behind McCurdy and Lee. The two combined for 13 straight points for the Scarlet Knights, and Lee's two free throws with 5:12 left cut the deficit to 52-50.

The Scarlet Knights trailed 55-52 after Rushdan's putback with 4:05 to go, but Diggins' layup kicked off a 9-1 run for Notre Dame. Leading 57-53, the Irish called a timeout and Ashley Barlow hit a 3-pointer to extend the advantage to seven and put the game away.

Notre Dame trailed 9-5 before going on a 16-4 run over the next 6 minutes. Lechlitner started the spurt with a layup and Diggins added consecutive baskets. The Irish scored 10 straight before Rashidat Junaid's layup ended a 5-minute scoring drought for the Scarlet Knights and made it 15-11. The Irish then scored six of the next eight points capped by Natalie Novosel's layup.

The Irish extended the advantage to 12 on Barlow's 3-pointer before Rutgers started pressing and closed its deficit to 31-23 at the half.

Rutgers is in the midst of a brutal stretch in the schedule. The Scarlet Knights lost to Connecticut, then fell to then-No. 17 Georgetown on Saturday before Monday's game against the Irish.

Rutgers leading scorer Brittany Ray has really struggled in those games. She was 1 for 21, including going 0 for 10 from behind the arc, against UConn and Georgetown. Ray hit just two of 10 shots against the Irish, making her first 3-pointer. She missed her next seven shots before hitting a jumper in the final minute.

The schedule gets a bit easier for the Scarlet Knights after Monday night with games against the lower half of the Big East.