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ND Women’s Basketball: Not caught in the web

Jay Fitzpatrick | Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Despite trailing throughout almost the entire game, Richmond held close to Notre Dame until freshman guard Melissa Lechlitner nailed a 3-pointer to extend the Irish lead to double-digits.

Lechlitner’s three was the beginning of an important run for Notre Dame, which scored 11 of the next 13 points en route to an 87-66 win Tuesday at the Joyce Center.

“I thought we had a really good spurt in the second half,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “[We] hit some shots, got a little better defensively, stopped fouling for a few minutes, and we made our free throws.”

Before Lechlitner’s three sealed the Irish lead, the Spiders were able to hang with Notre Dame during the first three-quarters of the game. Throughout the game, Richmond gave the Irish trouble from beyond the arc, shooting 46.7 percent as a team. The Spiders also used those 3-pointers to counter the Irish early and prevent any serious runs.

“I was a little disappointed with our 3-point percentage defense,” McGraw said. “I think that’s something we’ve really got to improve. We still have a lot of work to do defensively and we’re still not doing the job on the boards.”

Richmond could never pull ahead of the Irish because of the play of junior guard Charel Allen. After she was subbed out early for Lechlitner, Allen returned and rejuvenated the Irish squad, scoring the team’s next eight points while also grabbing two boards to give Notre Dame a 16-10 lead.

“[Allen] really came out ready to go offensively and she was able to do pretty much what she wanted on the floor,” McGraw said.

Notre Dame was also able to dominate inside against the shorter Spider lineup. Centers Melissa D’Amico and Erica Williamson combined to shoot 10-of-13 from the floor, with D’Amico scoring 15 points and Williamson adding 9. Williamson also grabbed seven rebounds while D’Amico had four.

“I think the guards did a great job getting the ball inside to me, and Erica and I think we just got better position than we did last game [at USC],” D’Amico said.

As the game was winding to a close, McGraw kept the pressure high against the Spiders, using a full court press right until the final buzzer.

“That’s the kind of game we need to play to keep our energy up,” McGraw said. “In the first half, we didn’t have a lot of success at it. I think we finally wore them down in the second half so we need to press.”

The press worked very effectively. Richmond turned the ball over to the Irish three times in the final three minutes of play for the starters, and the Irish won the game’s turnover battle 21-16.

“We’re not averaging that many turnovers a game, and that’s something we’re doing really well mostly because Tulyah [Gaines] takes very good care of the ball, Charel takes great care of the ball, and we don’t really turn it over that much,” McGraw said.

The Irish are off the rest of the week until taking on in-state rival Indiana Sunday at the Joyce Center.

Notes:

uFreshman forward Danielle Ben-Tsvulun recorded the first points of her Notre Dame career Tuesday night. Ben-Tsvulun was 3-of-4 from the free throw line and nabbed two rebounds in four minutes.