for this game

No. 5 Notre Dame beats Eastern Michigan 69-59

Dec 3, 2009 - 2:55 AM By TOM COYNE AP Sports Writer

SOUTH BEND, Ind.(AP) -- Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick had a reason to celebrate with a coach.

Swarbrick presented women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw a basketball and a bouquet after the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish beat Eastern Michigan 69-59 Wednesday night in her first home game since getting her 500th win at Notre Dame during the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.

"Five-hundred career wins here, you ever think about coaching football," joked Swarbrick, who is in the midst of trying to find a new football coach. "I'm quite certain you could coach anything you put your mind to."

McGraw laughed afterward when asked whether she was considering the football job.

"It hasn't been offered," she said.

The victory Wednesday night gave McGraw 503 wins in 23 seasons at Notre Dame and 591 wins overall in 28 seasons as a head coach. The win against Eastern will not go down as one of her more memorable victories as the Irish were sloppy with the ball and had defensive lapses.

McGraw said her team appeared to be tired from its trip to the Virgin Islands.

"We just weren't there mentally," she said. "We were lucky to win the game."

Lindsey Schrader and Skylar Diggins scored 15 points each for the Irish (7-0), who used runs of 11-0 and 8-0 in the second half to put away the Eagles.

Eastern Michigan (5-2) opened the second half with an 11-1 run, taking a 38-36 lead when Lindsey Mahone drove inside for a jumper. The Irish trailed 42-40 when Natalie Novosel scored inside to spark an 11-0 run highlighted by a three-point play by Diggins.

The Eagles closed to 53-49 when Kristin Thomas scored on a layup with 3:53 left. But the 8-0 run by the Irish put the game out of reach.

Tavelyn James led Eastern with 21 points and Mahone and Sydney Huntley-Rogers added 10 points each. Eastern Michigan fell to 0-10 all-time against ranked opponents.

Eastern coach AnnMarie Gilbert was pleased with the way the Eagles started the second half.

"I thought we put them on their heels for a change. I don't think they expected that," she said. "But a good team always finds a way."