ND Women’s Basketball: Irish play first game sans Peters
Deirdre Krasula | Wednesday, February 13, 2008
With changes in Notre Dame’s lineup, tonight’s game against Marquette at 7 in the Joyce Center will give younger Irish players the opportunity to prove they deserve playing time.
No. 16 Notre Dame’s 81-66 win over No. 15 Pittsburgh showed improvement in Notre Dame’s defense, but it came at a heavy price. Early in the second half, freshman Devereaux Peters collapsed to the court, shaking in pain. According to MRI results released Monday the freshman tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee.
Peters played a dynamic role in Notre Dame’s full-court press, but Irish coach Muffet McGraw said Tuesday she still feels confident in her defense.
“Really we don’t have to change anything that we’re doing,” McGraw said. “It’s just a question of who’s going to get more playing time. So it’s a great opportunity for Brittney [Mallory], for Becca [Bruszewski] and for Mel [D’Amico].”
McGraw also believes the injury might be a blessing in disguise – an opportunity for the freshman to learn from observing.
“I think it can be a real positive for a player and I think she will learn a lot from watching and listening,” McGraw said.
The Irish defense looked like a renewed squad against Pittsburgh as it managed to defend the three better and keep the Panthers to 31 percent shooting from the field.
Despite dramatic improvements on defense, the Irish allowed the Panthers to grab 30 offensive rebounds. However, McGraw said her team should perform well against Marquette.
“After playing so well against Pitt, I think our defense is much better,” McGraw said. “We still need to work on rebounding, but at least we are guarding the 3-point line better.”
Bruszewski will likely see more playing time. The freshman took over when Peters left the court Sunday and added 10 points for the Irish. Melissa Lechlitner also had a big game against the Panthers, finishing with 12 points.
Even though the Irish defense is looking strong, McGraw realizes her team can’t take the youthful Marquette lightly. Junior guard Krystal Ellis and freshman guard Angel Robinson will combine to form a forcible threat for the Golden Eagles. But that isn’t the Golden Eagles’ only strength; the Irish recognize Marquette as a well-rounded team.
“[Ellis is] one of the best players in the league, so you always have to know where she is,” McGraw said. “But I think that their team, they’re all capable of, on any given night, any of them having a big game. They’ve got some really good young players. I think they’re really starting to gel as a team.”
The Irish and the Golden Eagles have a storied history and the two teams will face off for the 33rd time tonight – the longest running series in the Notre Dame program’s history. Notre Dame leads the series 27-5.