SOUTH BEND – As Natalie Achonwa put it, Tuesday was a good knee day.
In her second game back after knee surgery in late October, Achonwa had 17 points and eight rebounds to help No. 5 Notre Dame beat No. 25 DePaul 92-76 for its second victory over a ranked opponent this season.
After scoring only four points in 14 minutes against Penn on Saturday, Achonwa felt much more comfortable this time out.
I think I was overthinking it, I wanted to be back so bad, Achonwa said. I just let it flow a little bit more today.
Today was just a good knee day, as we call them.
For Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, the difference from Achonwas first game of the season to her second was clear.
It was kind of like night and day, really, McGraw said. I feel like shes probably 80, 85 percent back.
Kayla McBride added 16 points and Taya Reimer had 15 points and 14 rebounds off the bench for the Irish (5-0), who won their 28th consecutive regular-season game and 15th straight at home.
DePaul (3-1) was led by 18 points from reserve Megan Rogowski in the Blue Demons first game in eight days.
Notre Dame outrebounded DePaul 58-33 and held the Blue Demons to 30 percent shooting in a dominant second half.
DePaul opened the second half with turnovers on its first two possessions and Notre Dame capitalized with seven straight points to push a four-point halftime lead up to 11 in the first 1:11.
The Irish run grew to 19-5 at the 15:22 mark, with Achonwa scoring seven of those points as Notre Dames lead got to 18.
I think we started to actually guard them, McBride said. We were able to get out in transition and get some easy buckets. From then on, we just guarded them.
While McGraw wasnt happy with her teams overall defensive effort, she did like the adjustment the Irish made on Rogowski, who scored only three points in the second half.
She played really well, McGraw said. Held her to three in the second half, I thought that was really important. We looked like we just wanted to outscore them, which is not what I want our philosophy to be.
Foul trouble began to hamper DePauls comeback effort as two starters, Brittany Hrynko and Brandi Harvey-Carr, each had to sit with four fouls and still nearly 14 minutes to play.
Jasmine Penny, the Blue Demons leading scorer at 17.3 points per game, fouled out with 4:49 left and finished with just four points.
Were still a work in progress, DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. We still have an inside game to develop.
Madison Cables 3-pointer with 4:07 to play pushed Notre Dames lead to 21.
Notre Dame shot 50 percent from the field (19 of 38) and outrebounded DePaul 30-17 in the first half, but 11 Irish turnovers and a 5-of-10 showing at the free throw line helped DePaul stay close.