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ND Women’s Basketball: Women host No. 9 Purdue Wednesday

Eric Retter | Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Notre Dame will face its toughest challenge of the season tonight at 7 as it tips off against No. 9/10 Purdue at the Joyce Center.

The Irish (5-3) are coming off a 54-51 loss to Indiana at home Sunday, only their fifth non-conference loss at the Joyce Center in the past 12 seasons.

The Boilermakers (7-1) last played Saturday when they beat Gonzaga 69-44. They also played No. 7 Connecticut last week, falling 66-55 to the Huskies.

“This is obviously the best team we’ve played this year,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “We’ve really got to make it just a great game to make it a game.”

Notre Dame struggled from the field Sunday, shooting just 34.1 percent from the floor including a dismal 1-for-14 performance from beyond the 3-point line.

Still, McGraw plans to continue shooting the long-range jumpers.

“What we’re working on is making more 15-footers, to get our touch, then moving out to the 3-point line,” she said. “We’re still going to shoot threes.”

Charel Allen will look to spark the Irish offense. The junior guard is averaging 15.9 points per game to lead the team. She is also pulling down 5.1 rebounds per contest, currently third on the team behind freshman guard Ashley Barlow and center Erica Williamson.

Allen was named to the Big East honor roll following her performance last week, where she averaged 18 points, six rebounds and two steals per game in three contests.

“I think she’s playing really well,” McGraw said. “She’s been our most consistent [player], and I think she’s doing everything we need her to do.”

Barlow will also likely figure prominently into the Irish offense. She has averaged 10.4 rebounds and 5.4 rebounds – both second on the team – coming off the bench this season.

The Boilermakers will be headed up by senior guard Katie Gearlds, who leads the team with 16.5 points per game. Gearlds is one of four Purdue players averaging double figures, and McGraw anticipates that she could cause problems.

“She can shoot from long range, she can put the ball on the floor, she can pass,” McGraw said. “She’s such a complete offensive player there’s not a lot of ways to stop her, especially when there’s the other ones out there that you have to guard.”

Gearlds, who, according to McGraw, is dealing with foot problems, has been slumping as of late. In her past two games, she has shot just 5-of-30 from the floor.

Forward Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, who averages 14.6 rebounds and 9.3 assists, has been there to pick up the slack for Purdue. Wisdom-Hylton scored 21 points and blocked five shots against Gonzaga.

“They have great balance,” McGraw said. “You can’t key on any one person because really any of the five of their starters can beat you.”


uSophomore forward Chandrica Smith will not play tonight. She missed the last three games with an inflammation in her foot, McGraw said.

“It just hurts when she puts pressure on it, jumps [or] runs,” McGraw said. “That’s kind of [an] important part of the game.”

uNotre Dame’s Jan. 23 game at Marquette has been pushed forward an hour. The game will now take place at 7 p.m. in Milwaukee.