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Irish women’s basketball team have week off before facing Providence

Joe Hettler | Tuesday, February 10, 2004

With the tank nearly empty, the Irish finally get a break.After playing at least one midweek game since Dec. 29, Notre Dame has the week off before facing Providence Saturday at the Joyce Center.”It’s a great thing,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “We’ve been going since Christmas break and this [break] couldn’t have come at a better time. We really need it. It could really rejuvenate us.”The team will not practice until ThursdayThe Irish (14-8, 6-3) are coming off a 51-45 loss at Seton Hall Sunday. The defeat dropped the team to third in the Big East, two games behind Connecticut for the conference lead.Notre Dame has beaten five straight ranked teams, is 10-0 at home this season and has used outstanding defense to shut opponents down. But the team has struggled to a 3-8 road record and hasn’t had consistent offensive production.McGraw said the team will work on offense during the two practices before the Providence game.”We’re really having trouble scoring,” McGraw said. “We’re holding the ball. No one is playing well in terms of scoring.”Notre Dame averaged only 64.8 points heading into its games against Georgetown and Seton Hall last week. The Irish scored 66 and 45 points in those games, respectively.The toughest part of Notre Dame’s schedule is now behind them, after facing Virginia Tech, Connecticut, Miami, Villanova and Boston College in a month. The Irish play no ranked opponents the rest of the season. Notre Dame faces three teams with losing records in their last five games.However, McGraw said no matter who the competition is, her team must improve on the road.”We didn’t handle Seton Hall,” McGraw said. “I’m concerned about us on the road. We’re trying to get everybody’s ‘A’ game, every night.”Sunday was a typical road game for the Irish. Despite playing excellent defense in the first half and holding the Pirates to just 17 points, the team couldn’t find any offensive rhythm and lost by six. No Notre Dame player scored in double figures for the game.”We’re playing well defensively, so we are in every game but we need to play equally as well on both ends,” McGraw said.After beginning the season with a difficult schedule, the Irish are looking to end the season strong and make a push for a higher seed in the Big East and NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame hosts the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament at the Joyce Center.