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Women’s Basketball: A Higher Standard

Laura Myers | Monday, January 18, 2010

No. 1 Connecticut has made a habit of making top-10 teams look overmatched.
On Saturday night, No. 3 Notre Dame was just its latest victim.

The Irish (15-1, 2-1 Big East) fell to the Huskies (17-0, 5-0) in a 70-46 decision Saturday at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn. The game marked Notre Dame’s first loss of the 2009-2010 season as well as Connecticut’s 56th straight victory.

The Huskies have played 10 games against top-10 opponents during its win streak and has won those games by an average of almost 27 points. This season, the team’s average margin of victory is 38 points.

“We were expecting them to be that good,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “They played well I thought, especially the first eight minutes of the game. They really came out and took charge. I expected that we would play a little better.”

A steal and a resulting layup by senior guard Ashley Barlow tied the score at two just a minute and a half into the game. However, the Irish would not score again until a Barlow jumper with 13:34 to go in the first half. Eight minutes in, the Huskies had pulled out to an insurmountable 24-4 lead, and they went into halftime leading 42-19.

Notre Dame played Connecticut more evenly in the second half, holding the Huskies to 9-of-26 shooting and turning the ball over just six times as opposed to 13 turnovers in the first half. The Huskies outscored the Irish 28-27 in the second half.  

“We gathered our poise, came in and did some good things,” McGraw said. “We played a little better defense, we rebounded better. We were back on our heels when we got 20 points down, and it took a lot to come out of it.”

Connecticut’s Tina Charles set the tone for the Huskies, scoring 17 points in the first half and 23 in the game, as well as grabbing 13 rebounds. Maya Moore came in right behind Charles with 20 points and 11 rebounds.

Junior forward Devereaux Peters led the Irish in scoring with 12 points while Barlow had 10. Guards freshman Skylar Diggins and senior Lindsay Schrader, who average double-digits, scored just six points each as the Irish were held to 26.9 percent shooting in the game.

 “I think that they played really good defense, they played great pressure defense and so when we were open, maybe we rushed some of it,” McGraw said. “I can’t really say what the problem was, we obviously just shot poorly and I think there’s going to be games when that happens. Maybe we’re pressing a little too much, trying too hard.”

Notre Dame will not have a long time to recover from the loss, as it travels to Louisville to take on the Cardinals Tuesday night.

“We definitely need to work on that and really pick up the pieces and figure out how to move on, which is something we can do,” McGraw said. “We’re a very good team, but we didn’t play well.”

Tip-off will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Louisville’s Freedom Hall.

Sophomore guard Fraderica Miller was unable to play Saturday due to tendonitis in her knee and will have surgery today. She will be out three to four weeks.

“It’s disappointing,” McGraw said. “It’s just a scope, which isn’t as bad as losing a full season, but it’s still disappointing.”

Miller has averaged 2.2 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.15 steals in 13 games this season.