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Irish experience roller coaster ride over break

Joe Hettler | Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Notre Dame had its share of ups and downs over winter break, but the Irish ended on a high note by beating No. 16 Virginia Tech 53-40 at the Joyce Center Jan. 10. Notre Dame won four of six games during the break and improved to 8-6 for the season, including 6-0 at home.

After winning three non-conference games to begin the break, Notre Dame fell to Purdue at West Lafayette on Jan. 4, 76-63, and shot a dismal 25.9. Purdue went on a 10-point run in the middle of the first half to jump out to a double digit-lead they would not relinquish. The Boilermakers led 32-20 at halftime.

“They had a nice run and that was pretty much the game,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “It was just that run they had in the first half that really hurt us.”

Megan Duffy, Le’Tania Severe and Jacqueline Batteast all scored in double figures for the Irish.

Notre Dame tried to bounce back on the road against Georgetown Jan. 7, but blew a 6-point lead with less than a minute left in the game. The Hoyas Bethany LeSueur hit a field goal, was fouled and converted the free throw attempt with 12 seconds left to give Georgetown a 76-73 win. Georgetown ended the game on an 11-2 run and scored seven points in the final 27 seconds to secure the victory. It was the Hoyas’ first win over Notre Dame in 18 years and gave the Irish an 0-1 start in the Big East conference.

Duffy paced Notre Dame with 22 points on 6-10 shooting, including hitting 4-8 3-pointers and sinking all six of her free throw attempts. Jacqueline Batteast added 18 in the losing effort.

Notre Dame headed back to the Joyce Center Jan. 10 to face a Virginia Tech team that had started the season 12-1. But the Irish pulled it back together and used a strong second half surge, which included a 22-7 run, to beat the Hokies by 13. Notre Dame did not allow Virginia Tech an offensive rebound in the second half and finished the game with a 41-31 rebounding edge.

“I’m really impressed with their mental toughness because we really did a lot of uncharacteristic and unintelligible things at the end of the game,” McGraw said. “I was just happy they were able to come back and play the kind of defense we were able to play.”

Batteast had 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Teresa Borton also added 14 points for the Irish as they improved to 1-1 in the conference.

Notre Dame started its break with a 73-62 win over USC at the Joyce Center Dec. 22 behind Batteast’s 20 points. The team led wire-to-wire en route in gaining the victory.

The Irish squeaked by Colorado State on the road 63-59 Dec. 29 and then ousted Marquette 72-64 on New Year’s Day.