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Survive and advance

Heather VanHoegarden | Monday, March 22, 2004

Seconds after the Irish edged Southwest Missouri State, there was a sense of relief in the air for a team that hadn’t lost at home this season and for a crowd that had just witnessed an upset in the previous tournament game.After being up 23-9, fifth-seeded Notre Dame (20-10), did not score a field goal for a 12:11 stretch and needed overtime to defeat twelfth-seeded Southwest Missouri State, 69-65.”Now we know what they mean by survive and advance,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “This was a game of survival for us. I thought SMS played an outstanding game.”Jacqueline Batteast had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Irish, and Megan Duffy added 16 points and three assists. Meanwhile, Courtney LaVere added another double-double, pulling down a game-high 13 rebounds, including 7 on the offensive end, to go along with 11 points. For the Lady Bears, Jenni Lingor and Kari Koch each scored 15 points, and Stephanie Busbey came off the bench to score 10 points in just 12 minutes.But the game wasn’t always as close as the final score indicated.Notre Dame jumped out to a 23-9 lead behind eight points from Duffy, including two 3-pointers. But the Lady Bears made a run to cut the gap to 33-27 at the half. It was during this time that the Irish were held to zero field goals in a 12:11 span, including the last nine minutes of the first half.”We were standing around shooting jumpers and we really needed to attack the basket and be more aggressive,” McGraw said. “We didn’t do a good job of that. I was a little frustrated with our shot selection for a while.”The Bears pulled to within two and finally tied it at 46 with 9:48 to play on a Busbey layup. But the Irish responded, and the game went back and forth until Le’Tania Severe hit a driving layup with 3:41 to play to tie the game at 55. Southwest Missouri State coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, in her second year with the Lady Bears, was then whistled for a technical foul, and Severe knocked down both free throws to put the Irish ahead with 3:21 remaining.Morgan Hohenberger tied it with a jumper, and Duffy answered for Notre Dame. But with 26 seconds to play, Hohenberger hit a layup to tie the game, and Batteast was whistled for an offensive foul on the ensuing possession to send the game into overtime.In the extra period, the Irish struck first on a Monique Hernandez jumper, and LaVere proceeded to score four straight points off Severe assists to seal the win for Notre Dame, and prevent a second straight upset in the Joyce Center.”That’s what makes the tournament so exciting,” Duffy said. “The seeds don’t matter at this point. Southwest Missouri State did a fantastic job with their energy and coming out ready to play.”Severe proved to be the difference down the stretch when the Irish couldn’t seem to find a way to score. On the game, she scored 11 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, had five assists and three steals. She kept her cool and helped everyone else do the same.”I thought Le’Tania Severe was player of the game,” McGraw said. “I thought we really showed our poise, our maturity. We played with a lot of patience down the stretch.”However, the Irish only shot 22.2 percent in the second half, and 32.9 percent for the game, including an abysmal 4-for-23 from beyond the arc. Three point specialist Jeneka Joyce shot 1-for-10 from 3-point range.”She had a tough night shooting the ball, but we have a lot of confidence in her and she will continue to shoot the ball,” McGraw said.However, even with poor outside shooting, the Irish were able to cash in at the line, where they made 19-of-22 free throws.The win improved Notre Dame’s home record to 14-0, despite an outstanding showing from Southwest Missouri State fans.”It made for a great tournament atmosphere,” McGraw said.