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ND Women’s Basketball: Tenacious defense leads to blowout

Bill Brink | Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Guard Ashley Barlow scored 18 points and had six assists and guard Charel Allen added 17 points as Notre Dame beat Canisius 93-47 Tuesday at the Joyce Center.

The Irish (5-1) kept the Golden Griffins offense from creating any momentum with a tenacious full-court press that helped it create 29 turnovers, 18 of which came in the first half.

“We like the press. We’re pretty good at it,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “That’s how we score a lot of points in transition. We like to play that way, we’re more comfortable playing this way.”

Canisius coach Terry Zeh said Notre Dame’s size and athleticism prevented the Griffins (3-2) from establishing their offense.

“We really struggled with their pressure as you could see,” Zeh said. “Our point guard is small and you have [Irish forward] Devereaux Peters at the top of that press, or any of their athletic players at the top of that press, and we couldn’t see over that at all. And when we did get it over the top we couldn’t attack and make them pay at all.”

The turnovers, Zeh said, came partly as a result of his team’s lack of depth and injuries.

“We’re young and injured right now,” he said. “For a team of our level to compete, you’ve got to take care of the basketball.”

Five Notre Dame players scored in double figures in the game. Along with Barlow and Allen, Peters scored 12 points and guards Lindsay Schrader and Brittany Mallory had 10 each.

The Irish jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first 1:28 of the game. Canisius failed to control the ball and the Irish deflected passes and put back offensive rebounds for easy lay-ins.

But the Golden Griffins battled back. Two lay-ups from center Laura Buetow and a three-pointer from guard Amanda Cavo helped Canisius take an 11-10 lead.

At this point, the Irish press took over. After a jumper by Schrader put the Irish ahead 17-11, Notre Dame went on an 18-4 run to make the score 35-15 midway through the first half.

“We just like to pressure the offense,” Allen said. “We want to force them into turnovers and that’s something we’re doing pretty well this year.”

Notre Dame led 49-22 at the half.

In the beginning of the second half, Schrader took the ball into the lane until the defense collapsed towards her. She then hit a wide-open Melissa D’Amico, who laid the ball in. Schrader lived in the paint all game and either found the open man when she drew extra defenders or made the defense pay by hitting the 10-foot jumper.

“She is really our best zone offensive player in the high post,” McGraw said. “She’s strong, the guards aren’t afraid to throw the ball to her because she’ll catch it, and she’s really good at seeing the floor and finding someone in there and pushing to make the shots. She’s really hard to guard in there.”

The Griffins had to deal with foul trouble. Point guard Brittane Russell had three fouls in the first half and guard Micayla Drysdale had four.

“Our foul trouble killed us because we really, really have no depth at all with the injuries we have,” Zeh said.

Notre Dame forced two timeouts in the first five minutes of the second half – one on an inbounds play and another in play – due to their tough defense.

McGraw said the Irish can do better.

“Overall I think we haven’t really scratched the surface of our potential yet,” McGraw said. “We can be a really formidable team when we have everybody going on all cylinders.”