The look of complete and utter surprise on Erica DeCandido's face couldn't have been faked.

Twenty-eight points?

The Gwynedd Mercy senior couldn't believe it.

"Oh, really? I thought I had, like, 10 points," DeCandido said, through laughter.

"I think a lot must have come from my foul shots, though.

"Wow, that's very surprising. I didn't know that."

It may not have been apparent to No. 21, but to everyone else watching Saturday afternoon, DeCandido's impressive performance was obvious.

The forward took over the game early as the Monarchs beat visiting Notre Dame, 38-30, in a nonleague contest.

"She's a phenomenal player - amazing - and to watch her go out and take over a game is unbelievable," sophomore Carly Heineman said. "I love watching her play. It's crazy how she can put our team on her back and lead us until the end."

At "5-foot-9 and 3/4," DeCandido doesn't tower over defenders, but she is extremely quick, physical, and athletic, and proves to be a tough matchup. At times against the Irish (2-1), she brought the ball up the court, shot from beyond the arc, drove the lane, and posted up down low.

When the Monarchs (3-0) needed her most, she came up big, like when she broke a 10-minute scoring drought to put her team ahead by 20-17 in the third quarter.

She did it again with 15 seconds left in that same frame, when she stole a pass and took it for a layup to extend the Monarchs' lead to six.

"Our help defense - we've definitely improved on that," said DeCandido, who also had six rebounds and four steals. "Our pressure, too. We got a lot of steals, especially at key points in the game. Just the intensity of everyone on the court, I think that's an important factor in making this team a good defensive team."

With five minutes left and her team up by eight, DeCandido made a nice move to the basket and was fouled. The ball bounced off the rim and out.

DeCandido momentarily looked disappointed that it didn't drop, but after some love from her teammates she smiled big and walked to the line.

It was, after all, one of only a few times she missed all game.

Notre Dame 4 9 5 12 - 30

Gwynedd Mercy 10 8 6 14 - 38

ND: Katie Mayock 12, Casey Walsh 5, Jill Kane 5, Caitlin Clark 4, Rachel Ryan 2, Amanda McGurk 2.

GM: Erica DeCandido 28, Carly Heineman 4, Maggie Cameron 2, Megan Dougherty 2, Georgia Cattie 2.