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ND Women’s Basketball: Seniors honored, lead big win

Laura Myers | Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It was a storybook night for Notre Dame’s senior class.

In front of a sell-out Senior Night crowd, the No. 7 Irish defeated Marquette 82-67 in a performance buoyed by the team’s five seniors.

Senior captain Melissa Lechlitner, who hails from Mishawaka and has spent her entire basketball career in the area, scored a career-high 23 points to lead the team.

“It’s always nice when your shots are falling,” Lechlitner said. “Senior Night is always an emotional night. I wasn’t sure how I was going to come out.”

Fifth-year senior and captain Lindsay Schrader played in her first game since spraining her left ankle on Feb. 14. In 20 minutes of action, she scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds.

Missing the game “was not even a question,” she said.

Senior captain Ashley Barlow added 11 points, three rebounds and two steals.
Senior walk-on and crowd-favorite Alena Christiansen, playing in her first career start, grabbed the first rebound of the game and scored its last two points.

While senior forward Erica Williamson did not manage her Senior Night goal of shooting — or even attempting — a 3-pointer, she added two points, three rebounds, three assists and one steal to the Irish effort.

“It was our class, the five of us,” Lechlitner said. “We were just trying to have a good time.”
It was Notre Dame’s first win since the Feb. 14 game against DePaul. Without Schrader, the Irish (24-3, 11-3 Big East) fell to then-No. 22 St. John’s and then-No. 12 Georgetown on the road.

“It was just great being able to throw it to Schrader when we needed a bucket,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said.

Notre Dame got off to a slow start against the Golden Eagles (14-13, 5-9), who went up 4-0 early in the game.

“I thought, ‘Oh, gosh, we look like we have the past couple of our games,’ where were feet were in mud defensively,” McGraw said.

A layup by Williamson and the first of Lechlitner’s four 3-point shots put Notre Dame ahead 10-6 three and a half minutes into the game. The Irish would not trail the Golden Eagles again for the rest of the game.

Freshman Skylar Diggins, playing off of the bench because of the senior starting lineup, entered the game 3 minutes in and had an immediate impact on the defensive effort.
Diggins finished the game with eight points, six rebounds and a career-high nine assists.
“She is unbelievable,” Schrader said.

Forward Jessica Pachko and guard Courtney Weibel each had 15 points to lead the Golden Eagles. Pachko also contributed eight rebounds as Marquette out-rebounded Notre Dame 40-37.

The Irish will travel to South Orange, N.J., Saturday to take on Seton Hall before wrapping up their regular season at home Monday against No. 1 Connecticut.
Monday’s game is expected to be Notre Dame’s sixth sellout of the 2009-10 campaign. Prior to this season, the Irish had six total sellouts.