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ND WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Senior Day success for Irish

Heather VanHoegarden | Monday, February 28, 2005

In their last game at the Joyce Center, Teresa Borton and Jacqueline Batteast didn’t let their emotions get the best of them – or for that matter, West Virginia.

Borton had 18 points to lead the Irish and Batteast added 15 as the only two remaining seniors of what started as a class of six led No. 10 Notre Dame to an 82-57 rout of West Virginia Saturday afternoon.

“I was really pleased with the game today,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “I thought our two seniors did a great job coming out and doing everything they could to make their last game a fun one.”

The Irish struggled early, giving up five 3-pointers in the first half as they fell behind 12-6 early. After Notre Dame fought back to go up six, the Mountaineers went on a 9-0 run to reclaim a 28-25 lead with 6:29 to play in the first half after a jumper by Meg Bulger.

But Notre Dame wasn’t finished, as the Irish went on a 13-0 run, led by Borton’s six points, two rebounds and one block to go up by 10 points and put the game away.

“I thought that was huge,” McGraw said. “We got good momentum coming into the locker room.”

The second half was all Notre Dame. The Irish went on a 10-4 run to start the half behind two layups from Borton, and were on their way to a blowout victory. Notre Dame outscored West Virginia 46-22 in the paint and the Irish out-rebounded the Mountaineers 39-30.

“We’re starting to look sharp,” McGraw said. “We’re starting to peak.”

Notre Dame shot 8-for-11 from the field in the first 8:15 of the second half, a scorching 72 percent.

“They just dominated us the second half,” Mountaineer coach Mike Carey said.

Notre Dame held Bulger, the Big East’s leading scorer, to just nine points on 4-for-19 shooting. Her season average coming into the game was 20.5 points per game, but Notre Dame switched on screens in its man-to-man defense, preventing her from getting any good looks at the basket.

“They made it difficult by switching on everything,” Bulger said. “We just had nothing on offense by not moving.”

Meanwhile, Borton narrowly missed a double-double with nine rebounds and five blocks, while shooting 8-for-9 from the field. Notre Dame point guard Megan Duffy had a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists, just one game removed from a double-digit turnover performance at Rutgers.

“I lost about a half a week’s sleep over it,” Duffy said of her game at Rutgers. “I watched the film twice and I learned a lot from it, and I know that I don’t want that to happen again.”

For West Virginia, Sherell Sowho finished with 16 points and five rebounds, including four 3-pointers, all in the first half. Yolanda Paige, the nation’s leading passer finished with just five assists, four below her average, but had 16 points.

With the win, Notre Dame is tied for second in the Big East with No. 11 Connecticut, behind No. 9 Rutgers. The Irish finish the regular season Tuesday night on the road against Seton Hall (14-12, 6-9 Big East). Then they go to Hartford, Conn., for the Big East Tournament.