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WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Duffy pushes Notre Dame past Badgers

Heather VanHoegarden | Monday, December 5, 2005

In their second game playing without head coach Muffet McGraw, the No. 11 Irish found a way to defeat Wisconsin 77-72 at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., winning their sixth straight game to open up the season.

McGraw missed her second straight game due to illness and did not make the trip to Wisconsin. She also missed Tuesday’s game at the Joyce Center against Iona.

Irish associate head coach Coquese Washington, who coached the team for the second straight game in McGraw’s absence, said she was content with her team’s play on Sunday.

“I was pretty pleased with our overall team play,” Washington said. “We got a lot of contributions from everybody. It was a wonderful team effort and a big win. This was a huge win for us.”

Senior point guard Megan Duffy led all scorers with 20 points, including 9-for-10 from the free throw line and six free throws down the stretch. She also had five assists, six rebounds and three steals. Duffy was one of four Irish players to finish in double digits. Freshman Lindsay Schrader had 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting, including her first career 3-pointer, and Tulyah Gaines and Melissa D’Amico each had 11 points. Washington joked Sunday that she should have played Schrader more than 29 minutes because she didn’t miss a shot.

“She’s a scorer – the coach is an idiot – she should have played her more. She could’ve went 12-of-12 or something,” Washington said, joking about her coaching.

“She had a great night offensively, and we needed that. Every one of her baskets were big baskets. She had a great night, hopefully she can build on it.”

The Irish outrebounded the Badgers 34-27, the first team to do so this year against Wisconsin, which moved to 4-3 after the loss. Leading the way on the boards was D’Amico, who finished with eight rebounds – two away from a double-double.

“I felt like we had everybody going to the glass,” Washington said. “They’re a tremendous rebounding team, and for us to be able outrebound them speaks volumes about our effort and intensity on the glass.”

The game was close most of the way, as Notre Dame led just 42-39 at the half. Wisconsin fought back to tie it at 62 with 8:50 to play in the game, but Notre Dame guard Breona Gray hit a 3-pointer to give the Irish the lead with 6:03 to play. And when Wisconsin cut the lead to 67-65, it was Duffy and Gaines who hit big shots, Gaines with the shot clock winding down.

In front of a relatively large crowd of 5,455, the Irish found a way to get their second road win of the year.

“We knew coming into this place that Wisconsin’s a tough place to play,” Washington said. “They’re a Big Ten team, so they’re used to playing quality competition. We knew we would have our hands full.”

And with Notre Dame’s sixth win of the year, Washington thinks this young Irish team is starting to figure out just what kind of team it is going to be this year.

“I think this team is slowly finding itself and finding its identity,” she said. “And I think one of our hallmarks is going to be that we are a true team. I think that everybody else is starting to see that on any given night they can go out and make big plays. As they get their confidence night-in and night-out, I think we’re going to be a tough team to defend.”

Notes:

u It is unclear when McGraw will be healthy enough to coach the Irish again. Notre Dame’s next game is Wednesday night at Purdue before a week off for final exams. Then the Irish hit the road for the Duel in the Desert tournament, which starts Dec. 17.

u The Irish shot 55.1 percent Sunday, shooting 27-for-49 from the field. These figures included Duffy’s 5-for-14 shooting, which made the rest of the team 22-for-35, an impressive shooting percentage of 62.8 percent. The 55.1 percent was the best shooting percentage of any team Wisconsin has faced this season.

u Notre Dame shot 25 free throws, making 20 of them, good for 80 percent. Wisconsin, on the other hand, shot just 9-for-13 from the charity stripe.