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ND Women’s Basketball: Marquette tops Irish

Jay Fitzpatrick | Wednesday, January 24, 2007

In a night where everything had to go right for the Irish, nothing did.

Notre Dame (13-6, 4-2 Big East) started its three-game road trip Tuesday with a loss to No. 19 Marquette (18-2, 5-1) 71-62 in Milwaukee.

“I don’t think anything went right for us tonight,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said in a phone interview after the game. “It was just a bad game from start to finish.”

Notre Dame was unable to knock down shots when it needed to most, especially in the paint. As a team, the Irish shot only 35.5 percent from the floor, including 4-for-13 from beyond the arc. In the post, the Golden Eagles were able to outscore the Irish 36-26 as well as outrebound them 37-31.

“I thought we lost the game on the boards and in the post,” McGraw said. “They scored on the inside – I think they got 36 points in the paint. Late in the game, they got like three or four offensive boards for put-backs. We just didn’t do a good job boxing out.”

Despite the outcome, the Irish were able to keep the game close with Marquette throughout the first half, even taking a 13-12 lead at 13:44. The Golden Eagles would soon recapture that lead, however, and would hold on to it the remainder of the match.

The Irish had one more chance at the lead after guard Melissa Lechlitner drove the lane for a layup and was fouled, making the score 42-41. Lechlitner missed the free throw for the old-fashioned three-pointer and – even though forward Ashley Barlow grabbed the rebound – missed the go-ahead layup. After that, Marquette continued to pull farther away from the Irish, eventually wearing out an 11-point lead with 3:42 to play that would be good enough to ride to victory.

Another disappointment was the play of guard Charel Allen, who put up 17 points and eight rebounds in the loss. Although this would be a good line on most nights, Allen scored 56 points in two games last week, a feat that earned her Big East player of the week honors. But Allen finished the game against the Golden Eagles a meager 6-of-20 shooting, missing both of her 3-point tries.

Allen did not give up hope late in the game.

She continued to try and find her shot, and was integral in keeping the score reasonable by making crucial baskets in the second half.

“I was happy that [Charel] continued to shoot even though she was having an off night,” McGraw said. “I was a little disappointed that nobody else could pick up the slack.”

Defensively, the Irish were only able to contain Marquette’s potent offense, not effectively shut it down. Golden Eagle guard Krystal Ellis – the team’s leading scorer – scored below her season average of 19.3 with only 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

“I thought as a whole the whole team did a good job in guarding [Ellis],” McGraw said. “I think that was one of the things we did pretty well. We did a pretty good job on her.”

But forwards Christina Quaye and Efueko Osagie-Landry added 12 and 15 points, respectively, to help bolster the Golden Eagle offense.

Notre Dame’s bench was also not the strong presence it has been in recent games. Against Marquette, the freshman trio of center Erica Williamson and guards Barlow and Lechlitner were effectively shut down, providing the Irish offense only 17 points off the bench.

“Our bench has been excellent this year and tonight they weren’t,” McGraw said. “Ashley Barlow gave us a lift early, but nobody really played well. We just didn’t do anything well.”

After the loss, McGraw said that there was not one single thing the Irish could do to improve after their performance against Marquette before a matchup with No. 5 Connecticut.

“You look at a game like that where you didn’t do anything right, so you feel like you’re stuck back at ground zero,” she said. “But I just think everybody’s got to come ready to play.”