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ND Women’s Basketball: Penn State hands Irish first loss of ’06 season

Jay Fitzpatrick | Friday, November 17, 2006

There was no comeback for the Irish Thursday night.After falling behind 15-2 to Penn State four minutes into the game, Notre Dame never recovered – losing 75-49 at State College.”When you have a young team like this, you really need things to go well early I think to get a little confidence,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “We made some nice runs eventually. But that was just a little hard for us to overcome.”After a Tulyah Gaines jumper tied the game at 2-2 early in the game, the Lady Lions went on a huge run, capped by a three-pointer from guard Kamela Gissendanner to stretch the lead to 14.Notre Dame (2-1) was 0-of-4 from the floor in the run and 0-of-2 from the line, in part because of Penn State’s tough defense throughout the game.”We missed some open shots. We missed some free throws when I don’t think they were guarding us as tightly,” McGraw said. “We needed to get better shots I think. I have to credit their defense with that.” The Lady Lions (4-0) held the Irish to only 27-percent shooting from the field and dominated Notre Dame in the paint. Penn State had six blocks to Notre Dame’s two, and out-rebounded the Irish 39-27 – 32 on the defensive end.Leading this inside stand was center Amanda Brown, who notched 12 points and eight rebounds for Penn State.Because of this defense, Notre Dame was unable to get things started offensively all night. Irish starters center Melissa D’Amico, guard Breonna Gray and forward Crystal Erwin totaled six points combined. Notre Dame also lacked a spark off the bench – something freshman Ashley Barlow brought against Bowling Green Monday night with her 16 points and 10 rebounds. Notre Dame’s bench was outscored 30-19 by the Lady Lion substitutes, led by freshman guard Tyra Grant – who scored a game-high 19 points.”Our sixth, seventh and eighth man are all freshmen so when we do sub, we get younger,” McGraw said.Another problem for the Irish in their comeback attempt was Penn State’s ability to shoot the three. In the closing minutes of the first half, with Notre Dame down only 12 points Lady Lions guard Adrienne Squire drained a three to stretch the lead back to 15. As the second half began, Squire (nine points) continued her shooting display with another three to counter two Tulyah Gaines free throws to extend the score to 40-24.”I thought they looked like a veteran, poised team playing at home,” McGraw said. “They really, to me, seemed to have a good equal-opportunity type of offense where everybody contributes.”The Irish return home Sunday at noon where they will try to rebound against Western Michigan. The Broncos (0-2) have been a high-scoring team in their two losses, putting up 80 points per game this season.”We just need to turn around and try to rebound against Western Michigan,” McGraw said.