Women’s Basketball: Notre Dame looks for fifth win this season
Brennan, Kevin | Tuesday, November 29, 2005
The Notre Dame women’s basketball team has started the season off hot, opening with four straight victories. The Irish will look for their fifth tonight when they face Iona at 7 p.m. at the Joyce Center.
Iona (2-0) also enters the game undefeated. The Gaels defeated Wichita State 73-71 in New Rochelle, N.Y., Saturday. Tonight’s game will be Iona’s first road contest of the year.
The Gaels are led by point guard Toni Horvath. The junior captain averages 14 points per game, leading Iona in that category. The Irish coaching staff is concentrating on neutralizing Horvath’s offensive abilities.
“She’s a leader,” Notre Dame assistant coach Angie Pothoff said. “She does a nice job finding the open spot. She’s 6-of-8 from three [point range], so our guards really have to be aware of where she is. She’s a real 3-point threat out there.”
Six-foot-five German center Martina Weber and sophomore guard Tiara Headen also are of concern for the Irish. Weber is averaging 11.5 points per contest and creates serious matchup problems with her size inside. Headen is the Iona’s second leading scorer with 13.5 points per game and leads the team with 14 rebounds on the season.
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said she is pleased with her team’s overall play and ability to close out games so far this season.
“We are playing well,” McGraw said. “We are doing a lot of good things, particularly down the stretch. I think we’ve really done a good job with clock management and the end of the game – just working the ball and doing what we’re trying to do.”
There is one area where McGraw feels her team must get better, however. The coach has been emphasizing that her team must improve its rebounding all season.
“We’ve been working on rebounding, and I’ve just been disappointed,” McGraw said. “So we are going to continue to work on it and hopefully find someone who can get the job done.”
The Irish are also looking for continued progression and development on the offensive end against Iona. McGraw said each new opponent brings a different defensive challenge and thus bolsters Notre Dame’s offensive capabilities and experience.
“I think we want to continue to execute offensively,” the coach said. “We are trying to put more and more offenses in. It’s just always good to play somebody different so that we can see some different things and work on different things.”
Notre Dame is coming off of two big out-of-conference victories. The Irish traveled to Bloomington Wednesday and downed the Hoosiers 74-61.
Senior point guard Megan Duffy led the way for Notre Dame with a career-high 26 points and five assists. Sophomore Charel Allen added 11 points and four rebounds in the victory.
The Irish led the Hoosiers 36-32 at the half but fell behind 51-47 with 10:42 left in the game. Duffy sparked an Irish run, however, and Notre Dame outscored Indiana 23-14 in the game’s last 10 minutes.
Notre Dame also defeated Southern California 73-62 at the Joyce Center Sunday. The Irish turned the ball over 20 times against the No. 24 Trojans, but Duffy again led Notre Dame to victory in the second half. The senior captain recorded 19 points, six assists and six steals Sunday.
McGraw stressed how important Duffy has been to the team’s early success.
“She is playing extremely well,” McGraw said. “She’s confident. She’s doing everything we need her to do. She’s been just really great at the end of the game – at the free throw line, making big shots, getting steals, defensively, in every way.
“She’s a great player, and she’s showing it. It’s been fun to watch.”