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Irish come home to face Mich. St.

Joe Hettler | Thursday, December 2, 2004

Notre Dame returns to the Joyce Center tonight – where it has won 24 straight games – to face its third ranked opponent of the early-season schedule, this time against No. 15 Michigan State at 7 p.m.The Spartans (4-1) are looking to rebound after their first loss of the season – an 80-75 defeat to Texas Christian Sunday. Meanwhile, the No. 3 Irish (7-0) haven’t played at home since facing Colorado State Nov. 22. “They’re just a really good team,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said of Michigan State. “They have a great inside and outside game. They play great defense and they present a lot of match-up problems for us.”Lindsay Bowen, a second-team All-Big Ten selection who poured in 33 points against TCU including 6-of-11 3-pointers, is one of the leaders of the Spartans. Center Kellie Roehrig also gives Michigan State a strong inside presence, She was third all-time in career field goal percentage entering the 2004-05 season.”They’re very balanced,” Irish guard Meghan Duffy said. “They have great guards that can score and they distribute the ball. Their post players are very physical – a typical Big Ten team.”Last season, Michigan State pummeled Notre Dame 92-63 in East Lansing. The Irish hope to return the favor this season.”Just from watching the film from last year’s game we were extremely disappointed with our effort,” Duffy said. “That’s the biggest key for [this year’s game], just to come out and have intensity and shut them down defensively.”Duffy scored 20 points in Notre Dame’s 69-59 victory against Valparaiso Tuesday. All-American forward Jacqueline Batteast scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Batteast tweaked her ankle during practice Wednesday, but should be ready for tonight’s game. The Irish may be without the services of forward Courtney LaVere, who injured herself during the second half of the Southern California game Friday. Assistant sports information director Chris Masters said LaVere is a game-time decision.After two straight road games, McGraw said Notre Dame is excited to be playing again at the Joyce Center.”We’re just a lot more comfortable playing at home in front of our home fans,” McGraw said.After tonight’s game, the Irish have a much-needed week off before facing Dayton on December 9.