ND Women’s Basketball: Huskies get revenge 67-54
Heather VanHoegarden | Tuesday, March 15, 2005
HARTFORD, Conn. – A little more than a month after Notre Dame dominated Connecticut in the paint en route to a win, the Huskies returned the favor.
No. 13 Connecticut knocked No. 10 Notre Dame out of the Big East Tournament March 7, with a convincing 67-54 victory at the Hartford Civic Center in the semifinal game.
“I think the game speaks for itself,” Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said.
Barbara Turner had 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals in just 28 minutes to lead the Huskies, who went on to win the Big East Tournament with a 67-51 win over No. 9 Rutgers.
“I though they were really physical with us inside,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “They completely dominated us on the block.”
The Irish were dominated early and often by the Huskies, who came out with an intensity the Irish never really matched. Connecticut outscored the Irish 32-22 in the paint, and had 27 second-chance points to the Irish’s six.
“We’re a post-oriented team and we couldn’t get anything going today,” McGraw said. “They outworked us, they outrebounded us. They did everything they needed to do to win.”
The game was fairly close for the majority of the first half, but with 11:41 to play and the Irish up 11-9, the Huskies erupted with a 20-6 run, powered by two 3-pointers by Ann Strother. Connecticut went up 29-17 and the Irish could never recover, as Big East Player of the Year Jacqueline Batteast was ineffective. Batteast went 1-for-11 in the opening half, contributing to Notre Dame’s poor first-half shooting, as the Irish went 28.6 percent from the field.
To start the second half, however, the Irish looked poised to make a comeback. Batteast scored eight points to lead the Irish on a 10-4 run to start the half, and cut the lead to 34-31. But that was as close as they would come.
With 15:24 to play, Connecticut responded when Charde Houston hit a jumper to start 24-2 run that put the Huskies up 60-37 and put the Irish away for good, as Batteast was quickly shut down once again.
“They made it more difficult to get the ball,” Batteast said. “They were really pressuring and denying, and so they made it hard to get the ball.”
During the run, the Huskies were led by Strother, who had 10 points, including two 3-pointers. The Irish were scoreless for about seven minutes during that stretch, with Batteast ineffective. She didn’t get good shots, and the ones she had didn’t go in.
“When we cut it to 34-31, I thought we had a chance,” McGraw said. “And we just hit a drought.”
Irish point guard Megan Duffy credited the Huskies defense during the run.
“After we made our run, they really buckled down and played tremendous defense,” Duffy said. “I felt like every time we drove in the lane there were three people there and there was nowhere to kick it out.
“But we have to be able to execute better. I think that’s when we have to set better screens, do the little things.”
Duffy had 21 points for the Irish, but 16 of them came with under five minutes to play in the game.
“She has the biggest heart of any player I’ve ever coached – she never gives up,” McGraw said.
Notre Dame 70, West Virginia 59
Before this year’s tournament, the Irish had never won at the Hartford Civic Center. They quickly changed that March 6, making quick work of West Virginia (17-12) with a 70-59 win in the quarterfinal match.
Duffy showed why she was a first team All-Big East selection, scoring 15 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and dishing out nine assists to lead Notre Dame.
The Irish found a different offensive spark in the first half, however, in Breona Gray. Gray, who averaged just 5.6 points coming into the game, had six first-half points and finished with 11 to give the Irish a boost out of the gate.
“I was really pleased with the way she came out,” McGraw said. “I told her after the game, she really set the tone for the game. She was running the floor, she was scoring points.”
Batteast, after struggling early, finished with 16 points and five rebounds to lead the Irish. Allen added 11 points off the bench.
u Batteast, who was the preseason Big East Player of the Year, was named the Big East Player of the Year and was first team all-Big East for the second straight year. Duffy earned first team honors for the first time in her career, one year after she was named Big East Most Improved Player. Allen was named to the first team Big East All-Freshman team. Honors were announced March 4 in Hartford, Conn.
u Turner was named the Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Player, and Duffy earned first team All-tournament honors, averaging 18 points, six assists and two steals in two games.