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ND Women’s Basketball: Just enough

Jared Jedick | Monday, February 1, 2010

The No. 3 Irish began their New York/New Jersey road trip on Saturday with a 74-73 nail-biting win against Big East foe Syracuse.

Senior guard and captain Ashley Barlow sank a 3-pointer with 34.2 seconds left in the game to seal the win.

“That 3 was so big,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said Saturday at the post-game press conference. “We ran a play for her to get it and we executed it well, screened it well. Despite my screaming the entire half to stop shooting the three, she just kept her poise and made it.”

Notre Dame (19-1, 6-1 Big East) held a commanding 53-39 lead at halftime against the Orange (16-5, 3-5 Big East), before watching that lead slip away to a two-point deficit with less than a minute to go in the second half. Syracuse began the second half with a 21-5 scoring advantage to erase the Irish lead.

The Orange defense was stifling in the second half, holding the Irish to 25 percent shooting from the floor. Syracuse also held the advantage in points in the paint 38-20 in the period, and outrebounded the Irish 49-34.

“Defensively, we could not guard the ball,” McGraw said. “They got to the line 37 times. We did a poor job containing the ball, and we did a poor job on the boards.”

The Irish nailed eight 3-pointers in the first half, but the 3-point well dried up in the second half, with Notre Dame going just 2-of-12 in the period. The cold shooting sparked Syracuse on its second half run, which gave them a legitimate shot at sneaking away with the victory.

But the Orange were killed by 25 turnovers, a hallmark of this year’s Irish squad, and poor shooting from the line. Syracuse also missed 14 free throws.

Despite the sloppy play, Syracuse held a 73-71 advantage after a senior forward Juanita Ward hit a field goal with an and-1 for a 3-point play with less than a minute to go in the game.

That’s when Barlow stepped up to make her game-winning shot with 34.2 seconds to go in the game. The shot was particularly remarkable because of the Irish’s inability to hit the 3-ball in the second half. Barlow had missed her previous four before the game-winner.

“We just had to stay with it,” Barlow said. “We did not hold our heads down.”
Barlow matched her season high in points with 19. Freshman guard Skylar Diggins also matched her season high with a team-leading 21 points.

The Orange got one last chance to take back the lead before the end of regulation when a missed 1-and-1 from senior guard Lindsay Schrader and a held ball gave Syracuse the ball with less than a second to go. The Orange could not convert and the Irish extended their winning streak to four.

“We just really did not play our game, and yet despite all the foul trouble and ice-cold shooting in the second half, we managed to hold onto the win,” McGraw said.

The win was Notre Dame’s 22nd against the Orange in 23 all-time meetings.
Notre Dame will travel to Piscataway, N.J., for another matchup tonight against Big East mainstay Rutgers (12-9; 4-3 Big East).

Rutgers is led by senior guard Brittany Ray, who paces the team with 15.3 points per game. Ray is the only Rutgers player in double digits, however, as the next highest scorer is sophomore guard Khadijah Rusidan with a 7 points per game average.

The Scarlet Knights also lost to Syracuse earlier this year 66-79.
Tip-off is at 7:30 pm in the Louis Brown Athletic Center.