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Joyce cuts up St. John’s defense

Joe Hettler | Wednesday, February 18, 2004

St. John’s decided to focus on controlling Notre Dame’s leading scorers Megan Duffy and Jacqueline Batteast in a triangle-and-two defense Tuesday night, but that was fine with Jeneka Joyce.

Joyce hit her first four 3-pointers en route to a career-high 15 points for the Irish in their fourth road win of the season, 69-56.

“She was able to find some open spots and did a great job shooting,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said.

For Notre Dame (16-8, 9-3 in the Big East), it was only its fourth win in 12 attempts in true road games this season. But it wasn’t an easy win by any means.

St. John’s (9-14, 3-9) came out red-hot in the first half, shooting 53.6 percent from the field.

The Irish’s box-and-one was not working as well as they hoped, so they switched to man-to-man in the second half and were able to pull away in the end.

“Defensively, no question [that made a difference],” McGraw said. “I felt we played our better defenders in the second half a little bit more.”

Notre Dame came out strong in the second half after being down 36-33 after the first 20 minutes and were up 48-47 with 7:08 to play in the game.

Then Jacqueline Batteast (eight points, eight rebounds, five assists) got her own rebound time and time again until she finally put it in to start a 10-2 Irish run.

“I thought Jackie’s three-point play was a real momentum shifter,” McGraw said. “I think that persistence by her really got everybody excited. I thought that was a real turning point in the game.”

Joyce added her fifth 3-pointer from the right corner with 4:40 to go and the shot clock winding down, giving the Irish a 53-47 lead. Batteast hit a jumper, and the Irish made three straight free throws to go ahead 58-49. St. John’s hit a 3-pointer, but they didn’t score again until 36 seconds left in the game.

The Irish hit 14-of-16 free throws in the final 3:01 to seal the game.

Duffy was 8-for-10, and Le’Tania Severe was 6-for-6. Duffy finished 11-of-13 from the line, good for 17 points.

The Irish shot 34 percent from the field, and finished 22-of-26 from the free throw line.

The Irish outrebounded the Red Storm 45-34, including collecting 23 offensive rebounds.

Teresa Borton had a game-high 11 rebounds to go with eight points. Severe grabbed 10 rebounds, five on the offensive end and scored 10 points, good for her first career double double.

“She just did a great job of working hard in 23 minutes,” McGraw said. “It was obviously so critical and that was really important for us.”

Joyce has scored in double figures the past two games, both being career highs.

“It’s been the difference in both games,” McGraw said of Joyce’s back-to-back double digit performances.

With the win, the Irish jumped to second place in the Big East, as Villanova beat West Virginia, dropping the Mountaineers to 9-4 in conference play.