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ND Women’s Basketball: ND beats Michigan in fourth straight blowout

Joe Meixell | Monday, December 3, 2007

With 13:05 remaining in the second half, Notre Dame guard Ashley Barlow stole the ball from Michigan guard Jessica Minnfield and passed it up court to guard Lindsay Schrader, who then dished it behind her back to point guard Tulyah Gaines for a layup.

It was just that easy Sunday night in a game the Irish eventually won 77-46, their fourth straight victory of at least 30 points.

Gaines finished the game with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting, including just her second career 3-point shot. She was one of four Irish players in double figures.

“Tulyah runs our team. I think [we’re] where we are right now because she is the heart and soul of our team,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “She’s poised and gets the team to do exactly what she wants.”

Guard Charel Allen finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Schrader had 11 points, and forward Devereaux Peters tallied 10 points and three steals.

McGraw said her team’s depth was one of the reasons the squad has been able to dominate opponents this season.

“Because of the depth, we can sub more,” McGraw said. “So if somebody looks tired we can take them right out and the can rest up a little bit and come back in. So I think that makes them play harder when they’re in there, knowing that they play five or six minutes at a stretch and then they can get a rest.”

Gaines said the depth allows her to get open more often and take more shots.

“It always helps to not have to take care of the ball, but just having that depth really helps that team overall,” she said.

Michigan traded baskets with Notre Dame early in the game before the Irish went on an 11-0 run that didn’t end until Wolverines center Krista Phillips hit a free throw with 9:21 left in the first half. Phillips was one of only four Wolverines to score in the first half. In the opening 20 minutes, the Wolverines shot just 6-of-20 from the floor, including 1-of-9 from beyond 3-point land.

McGraw said her team is comfortable in the zone defense, which is why she used it along with a press throughout most of the game. She also said that the Wolverines’ poor 3-point shooting meant she did not have to make any serious defensive adjustments during the contest.

Phillips, who entered Sunday’s matchup averaging 10.5 points per game, netted only nine before fouling out with 7:46 remaining. Phillips committed fouls on the perimeter instead of staying in the low post like Wolverines coach Kevin Borseth wanted.

McGraw said the Irish were fortunate to get Phillips in early foul trouble – she committed her fourth infraction just 2:22 into the second half – and that Notre Dame’s two post players, senior Melissa D’Amico and sophomore Erica Williamson, did a good job against her.

“I thought [D’Amico] played very well tonight. We worked on when they were switching out, she would go down and take the guard down low and she did a good job of that early on,” McGraw said. “Both of them defensively were a big presence on [Phillips]. The shots she made didn’t even always come against them.”

Notre Dame pulled away for good in the second half, especially when Phillips was on the bench. But the Irish played sloppily late in the game, giving up open shots and lacking the defensive intensity they had displayed earlier.

“[Michigan] had 15 [turnovers] at halftime and they only had seven in the second half. And I think when we watch the film we’ll see that we weren’t quite as intense on the defensive end as we needed to be,” McGraw said.

Notes:

uThe official attendance for Sunday night’s game was 10,825, the fourth largest in school history.

“It was a huge factor,” McGraw said. “I thought the freshmen looked a little nervous, they wanted to play so well for the crowd.”

uSenior guard Amanda Tsipis appeared in her sixth game this season and, with 30 seconds remaining, nailed her first career 3-pointer to give the Irish a 77-46 win.