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ND WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Weathering a Storm

Joe Hettler | Wednesday, January 26, 2005

After two impressive wins against top-20 opponents, Notre Dame faces St. John’s tonight at the Joyce Center. But this St. John’s team is much different than a season ago.

The Red Storm went just 10-18 during the 2003-04 campaign, but opened this season with a school-record 12 straight wins before dropping a 60-32 contest to Connecticut. While the team has improved from a season ago, they haven’t exactly played the most difficult schedule. St. John’s wins include – Canisius, Colgate, Norfolk State, North Carolina-Wilmington, Hofstra, Fordham, Holy Cross, Farleigh Dickinson, Binghamton and Cornell. Since the hot start, the Red Storm is 2-3, putting them at 14-3 overall and 3-3 in Big East play.

Still, Notre Dame must be careful not to have a letdown after an emotionally-draining win against Rutgers Sunday. The Irish trailed the Scarlet Knights by as many as 13 points in the first half, and by 11 at the intermission before turning the game around and cruising to a 63-47 victory. Jacqueline Batteast scored 27 points in the win and, for her performance, earned several player of the week honors.

This is likely the weakest opponent Notre Dame has faced in several games, and will face for the next week. The Irish have tough games against Connecticut on the road and Boston College at home on Jan. 30 and Feb. 2, respectively.

St. John’s has three players averaging double figures in scoring, including the team’s leading scorer, Kia Wright. Wright tallies 14.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game this season. She scorched Georgetown for 21 points in the team’s win Saturday.

Notre Dame sits in a tie for fourth place in the Big East conference, with the Red Storm a game behind. The Irish started the season winning 13 of the team’s first 14 games before hitting a slump against Villanova and Connecticut. Despite struggling for a week, Notre Dame turned it around quickly with back-to-back wins against top-20 teams. The Irish defeated then-No. 20 Purdue on Jan. 16 before whipping Syracuse on the road and blowing out then-No. 6 Rutgers in the second half en route to the victory.

Notre Dame is in the midst of its toughest stretch of games this season, but has several easier opponents nearing. After Connecticut and Boston College, Notre Dame faces Pittsburgh, Providence and Georgetown during an 11-day stretch. While Pittsburgh is a respectable 11-6, Providence and Georgetown are the at the bottom of the Big East.

Notre Dame has never lost to St. John’s in the teams’ 14 meetings.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.