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Women win big on road against Syracuse

Joe Hettler | Thursday, January 22, 2004

So much for struggling on the road.After starting the season with a 1-7 record on their opponent’s home court, the Irish destroyed Syracuse 64-35 Wednesday night at the Manley Field House to improve to 10-7 overall and 3-2 in the Big East conference.”We really played with a lot of confidence,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “I thought we came in with a lot of focus and intensity and we didn’t let up because of the way things have been going on the road. We couldn’t afford to.”The 35 points was the lowest point output Notre Dame has allowed to an opponent this season. The Orangewomen shot a season-low 23.1 percent (12-of-52), including a dismal 4 of 24 (16.7 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc. Notre Dame shot 46.4 percent from the field on 26-of-56 field goals. The Irish turned the ball over only 11 times and outrebounded Syracuse 47-26.Notre Dame forward Jacqueline Batteast continued her consistent play, tallying 12 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes. It was Batteast’s fourth straight double-double and seventh of the year. Ten of Notre Dame’s 12 players that dressed scored points against Syracuse, including 10 off the bench from Courtney LaVere. Le’Tania Severe added six points, six rebounds and five assistsNotre Dame jumped out to an 18-8 lead, but was up only six with less than three minutes left in the first half. But the Irish finished the half strong by doubling that lead to 28-16 at the intermission.Notre Dame’s lead reached 17 at 38-21 four minutes into the second half and kept growing from there. The Irish led by 20 points with 11 minutes remaining and 26 at the four minute mark before scoring six points in the last 2:30 to win by 29.The large margin of victory may have been a bit surprising considering Syracuse was coming off a win over Big East power Rutgers a few days earlier. “It was good because [Syracuse] just beat Rutgers and they were playing well,” McGraw said. “It’s just a great win for us.”Syracuse coach Keith Cieplicki was impressed with the way Notre Dame performed. “Notre Dame played well. Obviously they came on in the second half,” Cieplicki said. “We just didn’t make shots.”Notre Dame played a man-to-man defense for most of the game and contained reigning Big East Player of the Week Julie McBride to a horrendous 2-of-15 shooting, including missing all six of her 3-point attempts. She finished with only eight points and had five turnovers herself.Chineze Nwagbo led the Orangewomen with 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting and added six rebounds.”We worked on [man-to-man defense] a lot during the last couple of days’ and we played a very smart game defensively,” McGraw said. “We really talked well and guarded the 3-point shooting well and forced them to take contested 3s.”The Irish won’t have much time to enjoy this win as they face No. 23 Villanova (13-3) (3-2) Saturday at the Joyce Center at noon.