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ND Women’s Basketball: Irish win fourth straight

Bill Brink | Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A tough defensive performance and strong play by center Melissa D’Amico and guard Charel Allen led Notre Dame to its fourth straight win, 75-58 at Villanova Tuesday.

“It’s always a difficult place to play, at Villanova,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said during her post-game press conference. “We were fortunate to come out with a victory tonight.”

The Irish started out hot, taking a 6-0 lead, but the Wildcats battled back to lead the game 11-8.

That would be the last lead they would have.

Jump-started by an Allen 3-pointer, Notre Dame went on an 11-point run and never looked back.

Allen came out firing, scoring 13 of her 25 points in the first eight minutes of the game. She also took – and made – the only Irish 3-point attempt of the first half.

“I thought Charel Allen played an exceptional game tonight,” McGraw said.

D’Amico, who had totaled just eight points her last five games and was riding a three-game streak without a field goal, bounced back with 15 points in 18 minutes.

On the defensive end, Notre Dame forced 20 turnovers, resulting in 22 Irish points. It was the 18th time in 25 games that Notre Dame has forced 20 or more turnovers.

“We did a good job of getting turnovers and turning those into points at the other end,” McGraw said. “Our transition offense is where we were able to break the game open,”

Villanova had no such defensive prowess. The Irish turned the ball over only 8 times, a season low.

Notre Dame led 34-25 at the half, and Allen had scored 15 of her 25 points on 7-of-10 shooting

“I thought we executed well, especially on the offensive end of the floor,” McGraw said.

In the second half, Villanova closed the gap, at one point trailing by 3. Forwards Stacie Witman and Jackie Adamshick, who led the Wildcats with 16 points each, combined for 12 quick points in the first five minutes after the break.

But after that point, the Irish steadily increased their lead, due in part to their ability to get to the free throw line. Notre Dame made 10-of-14 free throws, while Villanova finished 4-of-6.

Irish freshman Ashley Barlow started her second consecutive game and scored 15 points. Although the freshman did not make a field goal until 12 minutes into the second half, McGraw said Barlow’s defense and stamina during her 38 minutes on the floor was a big part of the win. Barlow was also 5-for-7 from the charity stripe.

For the second consecutive game, the Irish had four players in double figures. Senior guard Breona Gray rounded out the group, scoring 10 points and sinking both 3-pointers she attempted.

Notre Dame was choosy but effective with its outside shooting, making 3-of-5 on the night. Villanova, by contrast, took 19 3-pointers and made only four.

Notre Dame improved to 17-8 overall and 8-4 in the Big East. The win was the second conference road win for the Irish this season.