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ND Women’s Basketball: Irish hit the road to Happy Valley to take on Lady Lions

Jay Fitzpatrick | Thursday, November 16, 2006

Coming off a big 85-81 overtime Monday over Bowling Green, Notre Dame (2-0) is ready to start its road season today at Penn State (3-0).

It will be the fourth matchup between the Irish and Lady Lions, with Penn State taking all four previous meetings. But this year, Notre Dame feels it is primed to stay undefeated.

“We’ve been preparing since the beginning of the season, so I think we’re pretty ready,” junior guard Tulyah Gaines said.

Gaines was a key part of the Irish win Monday, putting up a career-high 23 points. But she wasn’t alone in getting the Notre Dame victory. Junior Charel Allen and freshman Ashley Barlow each scored in double figures for career highs (21 for Allen and 19 points and 10 boards for Barlow). Barlow’s performance – the first double-double of her young career – proved her a legitimate performer for the Irish early in the season.

“In the first half we still looked very young, and in the second half we pulled together as a team,” Gaines said of her teammates against the Falcons.

Along with Barlow, guard Melissa Lechlitner and center Erica Williamson are the other two Notre Dame freshmen making their first road trip. Barlow is third on the team in scoring with 13 points per game, while Williamson averaged five points and five rebounds in her first two college games, while filling in for senior Melissa D’Amico.

Although Lechlitner has been contained offensively, she has been consistent substituting for Gaines at the point so far this year.

“I expected Ashley [Barlow] would be that kind of player down the stretch,” said Irish coach Muffet McGraw. “I think Melissa Lechlitner will be the same.”

The Irish realize they cannot focus on the past, however, and say their practices have them ready to take on the Lady Lions.

“I think we are very mentally prepared right now,” senior guard Breona Gray said. “We had a good practice, we’re going to go out there today and have another practice before we go to bed tonight.”

Notre Dame also recognizes how tough a team Penn State has been this season. Even though the Lady Lions are coming off a 13-16 season – their first losing season in the program’s history – they have won their first three games.

Penn State is led offensively by junior guard Kamela Gissendanner with 14.7 points per game, and senior forward Amanda Brown, who has averaged a double-double so far with 11.0 points per game and 11.7 rebounds per game.

“They’re going to be tough,” Gaines said. “Any team we play is going to be tough, and that’s how we’ve got to look at everybody. We’re going to be ready.”