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ND Women’s Basketball: Allen leads Irish to victory

Jay Fitzpatrick | Thursday, December 6, 2007

Charel Allen refused to lose.

With 0.8 seconds remaining in overtime, the Notre Dame guard nailed a 15-foot jumper to give the Irish an 86-84 win over Bowling Green Wednesday night.

“They tried to double team her, she just kept the ball and kept her poise. She watched the clock, watched it tick down and shot it pretty much right at the buzzer,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said in a phone interview after the game. “I thought it was an outstanding effort at the end of the game.”

After the ensuing in-bounds play failed to give the Falcons a quality scoring chance, Notre Dame celebrated its second straight overtime win over Bowling Green. Last year’s match-up in the Joyce Center ended in an 85-81 Irish win.

Prior to the game-winning shot, Allen had fouled Falcons point guard Kate Achter with the Irish holding onto a two-point lead. Achter nailed both free throws to tie the game, but then Allen responded with more dramatics.

Earlier in overtime, Allen took a pass from Irish guard Tulyah Gaines beyond the arc and nailed her first 3-point basket of the night – three of her 17 points – to put the Irish up 83-80. Falcons forward Crystal Murdaugh sank two free throws, but Irish guard Melissa Lechlitner could not match her on the other end of the court, hitting only one of her shots to keep Bowling Green within two points.

But in the end, Allen’s final shot was the one that mattered.

McGraw said she thought Allen started off uncharacteristically slow, but picked up her game in the second half.

“She really came on I thought in the second half,” McGraw said.

In the final minutes of regulation, Irish guard Lindsay Schrader kept the Irish ahead by scoring six straight points for Notre Dame to give the Irish a 74-69 lead with only 1:04 remaining.

“They were playing zone. We got to her in the post. She was able to take it to the basket and she got some really good looks,” McGraw said of Schrader. “She made some really huge plays in there to keep us going and she did a great job on the boards.”

Schrader finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds for the game’s only double-double.

But a 3-point basket for Falcons guard Sarah Clapper and two fouls on Irish guard Ashley Barlow gave Bowling Green back those five points, tying the score with 17 seconds remaining.

Notre Dame played for the last shot and gave the ball to Allen with the game on the line. But Falcons center Tara Breske blocked Allen’s attempt to send the game to overtime.

Notre Dame held 10-point leads in both halves but was never able to put the Falcons away. McGraw said one part of the reason for this is that the Falcons are a better team than most on Notre Dame’s early schedule.

“But playing at home, they had a big crowd, a lot of noise,” McGraw said. “They’re undefeated so they had confidence and they had more confidence because we let them stay in the game with us.”

Another reason the Irish could not put away Bowling Green in the first half was the play of freshman guard Lauren Prochaska. She came into the game shooting only 31 percent from beyond the arc but went 5-for-5 from 3-point land Wednesday en route to scoring 18 points.

The freshman was a non-factor in the second half after notching her fourth foul only 17 seconds into the second period and her fifth with 2:59 left in regulation.

Prochaska was one of four Falcons in double figures Wednesday night, along with guard Kate Achter (20 points), Murdaugh (14) and Breske (10).

Notre Dame had three players in double-digit scoring other than Allen and Schrader: forward Devereaux Peters (14 points), guard Brittany Mallory (12) and Barlow (10).

“We can score. The problem is: Can we stop people?” McGraw said. “Barlow didn’t have a great game but managed to get 10 points. … But then you’ve got two freshmen in double figures with Brittany and Devereaux.

In the first half they made a lot of big shots for us.”

Early in the first half, Bowling Green amassed an eight-point lead on Notre Dame before the Irish fought back. Down 22-17 with 10:03 to play, Notre Dame tore off a 10-0 run, marked by back-to-back 3-pointers from Mallory – McGraw’s perimeter specialist.

“Her shots were key for us in that run in the first half,” McGraw said. “She’s doing her job. She’s doing what we want her to do.”

But after her team’s biggest road win of the season, McGraw still feels her team has a lot to work on.

“I was really disappointed in our defense,” she said. “Especially in the first half we were not able to guard them at the 3-point line at all. The noise was so loud we were not able to communicate at all and we lost them sometimes.

“We’ve got a lot to work on defensively.”