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ND Women’s Basketball: ND looks to bounce back

Jared Jedick | Tuesday, January 19, 2010

No. 4 Notre Dame looks to redeem itself in Big East play this afternoon against the Cardinals in Louisville, Ky., after a disappointing rout at the hands of top-ranked Connecticut. The 70-46 loss to the Huskies snapped the Irish’s 15-game win streak to open the season.

“We are looking to play anybody right now,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “We really need to have a bounce-back game. We need to play a game and then put that game in the past.”

The Irish (15-1, 2-1 Big East) will finally get an opportunity to see how they can deal with adversity, as they have not been put in the position to have to recover from a big loss — or any loss for that matter — this year.

“We have great leadership on this team, we had a great practice today and we are ready to leave this one behind us,” McGraw said.

The game against Louisville (10-7, 2-2) will be the third opponent for Notre Dame from last year’s Final Four. The Irish beat Oklahoma 81-71 on Nov. 28 and lost to Connecticut Saturday.

“Louisville is a very good team, a very athletic team,” McGraw said.

Things are still positive as they come into this game, as Notre Dame’s 15-0 start is the second-best in school history. Only Notre Dame’s 23-0 start during the Irish 2000-01 national title season was better.

Louisville is having a somewhat disappointing season this year after its dream run last year to reach their first its Final Four and national championship game before falling to Connecticut.

The Cardinals are returning only two of their starters from last year’s 34-5 team, but junior point guard Deseree’ Byrd is sidelined for the season with injuries.

“They definitely are a little inexperienced at the point, hopefully that is something we can take advantage of,” McGraw said.

The Cardinals are a strong team at home, posting a 5-1 record in Freedom Hall, and will present a stiff test for the Irish, especially coming off the tough loss to Connecticut.

“Louisville is a very tough place to play,” McGraw said.

In their last game Saturday, Louisville fought a tough loss 60-56 with No. 24 Georgetown, out-rebounding the Hoyas 37-35. The Cardinals were killed by all the turnovers they gave up, leading to 33 Georgetown points.

“They did turn the ball over quite a bit against Georgetown,” McGraw said. “We really need a game where we can be aggressive defensively and create some turnovers.”

The Irish will most likely look to exploit Louisville’s turnover problems, as Notre Dame is among the league leaders in turnovers produced in the Big East. Notre Dame is forcing 25.6 turnovers per game this season, including a 28.7 mark at home.

The Irish have caused at least 20 turnovers in 13 of 16 games this year.

In their last meeting with Louisville, the Irish used 26 points from Charel Allen to lead then-No. 14 Notre Dame to an 82-74 win over Louisville on Jan. 8, 2008, in Louisville.

“They played us to a close game two years ago, and hopefully we can win again,” McGraw said.

The Irish hope for a repeat of last year’s results when they tip-off at 7 p.m. tonight.