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ND Women’s Basketball: Irish easily defeat Hoyas

Bill Brink | Thursday, February 22, 2007

Center Melissa D’Amico had 15 points and seven rebounds during Notre Dame’s 73-48 home victory over Georgetown Wednesday in a game characterized by stifling defense and sharp offensive production. Guard Charel Allen, the high scorer for the Irish in each of the past six games, had only 11 points. The focus of the offense was on D’Amico, who was 6-of-8 from field goal range and hit 3-of-4 free throws. “Mel’s playing really well, she’s shooting the ball better than anyone on the team,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “We need to get her the ball more. Tonight was a time I though we looked for her a little bit more and we found her.”Although D’Amico had improved in the past two games, she was coming off a rough stretch.”I told myself not to get down,” she said. “We won a couple of big games. My teammates have confidence in me, and my coaches do.”The Irish doubled up Georgetown on points in the paint, scoring 36 to the Hoyas’ 18. Part of that can be attributed to Notre Dame’s defense, which kept the ball outside of the arc for a good portion of the game. “We did a nice job in man-to-man, I thought, pressuring the ball,” McGraw said. Even when the Hoyas got the ball inside, they had little success. Georgetown shot 33.3 percent from field goal range, the second-lowest percentage for an Irish opponent this season. Only Providence shot worse, hitting 32.5 percent of their field goal attempts on Feb. 17. Guard Melissa Lechlitner also had a strong performance, scoring 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting. “As the season goes on, you get more reps in, you get more comfortable,” Lechlitner said. “I’m looking for my shot, and my pull up is really starting to fall. It’s a confidence and comfort thing.”Notre Dame laid down the law early, employing a full-court press from the Hoyas’ first offensive possession. The press was effective; two quick turnovers helped the Irish jump out to a quick 11-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game. The Hoyas’ first points came with five minutes gone in the first half on a jumper from guard Shanice Fuller.Turnovers plagued the Hoyas early. They couldn’t get an offensive possession together before losing the ball. “[Forcing turnovers is] the thing we do best,” McGraw said. “There’s been three teams that didn’t turn the ball over twenty or more times against us this year. Our pressure’s been good, our presses have been good, and we’re just really active defensively.” Notre Dame’s 29 forced turnovers were the second-most for the team this season. The Irish forced 30 against Michigan on Dec. 1.The only way Georgetown could run any semblance of an offense was when Notre Dame’s defense was not entirely set – an instance that, even with the Irish full-court press, did not happen often. To offset this, the Hoyas tried to increase the pace of their offense, which to some extent worked. They drew some offensive fouls, but were unable to convert many of the attempts – Georgetown shot just 37.5 percent from the line in the first half. Hoyas guard Kristin Heidloff started running the court and pushing the tempo, but the Irish defense kept the ball on the perimeter and made getting the ball in the paint almost impossible.The only thing keeping Georgetown in the game was their perimeter shooting. Georgetown was 7-of-16 from three-point range on the night, led by guard Kate Carlin, who hit five and led the Hoyas with 15 points.At one point, the Hoyas went on a 16-3 run to bring the score to 22-13, thanks to free throws and three-pointers by Heidloff, Carlin and guard Meredith Cox. After that, the Irish went on a 10-5 run to close out the half. “I don’t know if I’ve ever had a team overachieve as much as this one has,” McGraw said. “I’m so proud of where we are.”