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Defense holds Eagles

Heather VanHoegarden | Monday, February 2, 2004

Notre Dame (13-7, 6-2 Big East) used another stellar defensive effort Saturday to remain undefeated at home with a 52-50 win over No. 23 Boston College (14-4, 4-4 Big East).Megan Duffy led the Irish with 16 points, three assists, three rebounds and four steals in 40 minutes of action. Le’Tania Severe also scored 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting and didn’t commit a turnover in 39 minutes to lead the Irish to their sixth victory over a top -25 team this season.”I thought that Megan and Le’Tania played especially well today, and I think, coming off the Miami game, they really had great focus and played really well at both ends,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “Thankfully, they did score, because we really struggled to score.” Severe, who came into the game averaging 7.5 points per game, was able to slash and create for the Irish.”The drive was there a lot, so I just took what the defense gave me,” Severe said. “I think that we were having a little trouble scoring, and I knew I had to provide some type of a spark.”The Irish defense was up to the challenge against a Boston College team that came into the game averaging 72.3 points per game. The win marks the sixth victory in seven games for Notre Dame, and in all six victories, the Irish have held opponents to 50 points or less. The Irish defense has allowed just 171 points in the last four games.The score of Saturday’s contest remained close throughout the game. Duffy hit a three-pointer to make it 14-10 in favor of the Irish, which proved to be the biggest lead of the game for either team. Notre Dame was also able to force the Eagles into 14 first-half turnovers, holding them to 22 points despite shooting 43.5 percent from the field.”I’m just really pleased with the way they’ve come through this stretch [of ranked teams],” McGraw said. “It’s really been a great defensive stretch for us.”The Irish defense was also able to hold the Eagles’ leading scorer, Jessalyn Deveny, to 13 points on 4-for-11 shooting. Boston College’s other star guard, Amber Jacobs, was held to 10 points on 4-for-15 shooting. Kathrin Ress, however, chipped in 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting. The Eagles shot 40 percent for the game, and the game almost slipped way from the Irish at the end.After tying the game at 42 with 7:31 to go, Notre Dame missed eight free throws.But with 14 seconds left, Jacqueline Batteast hit one of two free throws to give the Irish a two-point lead. Boston College got the rebound on the second shot, but Jacobs was unable to hit an open, possible game-winning three-point attempt with five seconds to go.”I thought this game was critical for us,” McGraw said. “It really gave us just an added bonus going into the postseason. I think we’re a top-25 team.”Courtney LaVere added 11 points for Notre Dame, who remains undefeated at home this season (9-0).”We really wanted to take care of our home court this year,” McGraw said. “I think mental toughness is something that last year people questioned … and this year I think we’ve proven, time and time again, that we are a very, very tough team. That was an incredibly physical game, and I thought we responded very well.”