for this game

No. 3 Notre Dame beats Purdue 79-75

Jan 5, 2010 - 3:38 AM By CLIFF BRUNT AP Sports Writer

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.(AP) -- Melissa Lechlitner has Purdue figured out.

One year after setting a career scoring high in a victory over the Boilermakers, she did it again. She scored a career-best 20 points, and No. 3 Notre Dame held off Purdue 79-75 on Monday night to remain unbeaten.

Lechlitner, who was averaging 6.2 points per game, made 7 of 15 shots, including four 3-pointers.

"I thought she really had a great game," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "She carried us through the first half, and then kept it going in the second."

Purdue coach Sharon Versyp knew Lechlitner was capable. The senior guard scored 19 points in a 62-51 win last season in South Bend.

"She always plays well against us," Versyp said. "It's her fourth year, and she still played well against us. She took some good shots."

Skylar Diggins and Lindsay Schrader each scored 15 points, and Ashley Barlow added 13 points and eight rebounds for Notre Dame (13-0), which is off to its best start since winning its first 23 games in 2000-2001. It was the final test for the Fighting Irish before Big East play.

"We're excited to be undefeated in the non-conference portion of our season," McGraw said. "That was one of our goals, and we're fortunate."

Jodi Howell scored 18 points and Chelsea Jones added a career-high 16 for Purdue (7-7).

Versyp is breaking in young players after reaching the Elite Eight last season, but close wasn't good enough for her.

"It was a great basketball game between two good programs," Versyp said. "This isn't a moral victory whatsoever. We tasted it, we just didn't get it."

Purdue could have tied the game in the closing seconds, but Devereaux Peters blocked Samantha Woods' 3-pointer from the right corner, and Notre Dame rebounded.

Notre Dame recovered from a rough first half to shoot 48 percent after the break.

The Irish had the ball with a 76-73 lead in the final minute. Diggins missed in close as the shot clock wound down, and Purdue gained possession.

Howell made a layup with 12.1 seconds left to make it a one-point game.

The Boilermakers fouled Diggins with 11.8 seconds to play. She made the first free throw and missed the second, but Schrader got the rebound. Schrader made the first free throw, but missed the second to give the Boilermakers a chance.

Notre Dame had an uphill climb just to position itself to win. The Boilermakers led 37-28 late in the first half before Notre Dame went on a 8-0 run that included two baskets by Diggins to help trim Purdue's lead to three points at halftime.

"I was a little disappointed with our defense in the first half, and our offense," McGraw said. "We were more ourselves the second half."

Notre Dame took a 49-48 advantage on a 3-pointer by Lechlitner, but Purdue's Sam Ostarello came back with the first 3-pointer of her college career to put the Boilermakers back in front.

Brittany Mallory made a 3-pointer for Notre Dame to give her team a 58-54 lead, and Purdue point guard FahKara Malone left the game with an ankle injury on the play.

Malone returned as Howell tied the game at 62 on a pair of free throws, but Lechlitner and Diggins made back-to-back 3-pointers to give Notre Dame a 68-62 lead, its largest of the game, with 5:41 to play.

Purdue responded quickly. Howell was fouled on a 3-pointer and made all three free throws, then Malone got a steal and layup to make it 68-67.

A 3-pointer by Barlow with 2:38 to play made it 72-67, but Purdue rallied again to set up the frantic final minute.

The game provided just the test McGraw felt her team needed.

"We're trying to get ready for the Big East, and we got what we wanted out of this game," she said.