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Irish overpower Syracuse

Heather VanHoegarden | Thursday, January 20, 2005

After a big win against No. 24 Purdue, Notre Dame wasn’t quite ready for a letdown Wednesday.

Despite a slow start, the No. 11 Irish were able to pull away for a 74-61 win over Syracuse in New York Wednesday night.

Jacqueline Batteast had 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting for the Irish (15-3, 3-2 Big East), who snapped their two-game Big East losing streak with the win.

“I am really pleased with our offense, and I think we’re improving,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “But I would just like to see us play a little better defense.”

The Irish were led in the first half by Courtney LaVere, who played 35 minutes off the bench. LaVere scored 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting, all in the first half, to spark the Irish. She even hit the one shot she took from beyond the arc.

“I thought Courtney gave us a great lift off the bench,” McGraw said. “She was really ready to play. She did a great job attacking. I thought that was just a great performance for her.”

LaVere also pulled down 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the year.

“I think she was just a little more comfortable [without the brace],” McGraw said.

However, the Irish started off slow, falling behind 15-9 with 12:57 to play in the first half after missing a few easy shots and turning the ball over.

But Batteast hit a jump shot to start a 14-0 Notre Dame run, and the Irish led 23-15 with just over nine minutes to play in the first half.

The Irish were able to extend their lead to 43-30 at halftime, behind LaVere and point guard Megan Duffy, who had 13 first half points. As a team, Notre Dame shot 49 percent from the field in the first half, including 3-for-3 from long distance.

In the second half, it was Syracuse (10-6, 2-3) who came out fighting. With 11:04 to play, Syracuse’s Chineze Nwagbo converted on a three-point play that sent Batteast to the bench with her fourth foul. Notre Dame missed its next five shots, but Syracuse could not take advantage. With 5:20 remaining, the Orange cut the lead to 59-54, but that was as close as Syracuse would come.

Notre Dame went on a 7-0 run behind five points from Batteast, closing the door on the Orange for good. The Irish finished the game on a 15-5 run.

“Defensively, I think we have a lot of work to do,” McGraw said. “We have a lot of work to do in our man-to-man. We just need to keep getting better.”

Notre Dame forced 19 turnovers, leading to 28 points. They also dominated on the boards, outrebounding Syracuse 40-27, including 17 on the offensive end.

“We really attacked the basket and were able to hold them down, so I thought that was good,” McGraw said.

Freshman reserve Charel Allen also had a career high 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting for the Irish, one game after she was 2-for-10 from the field against Purdue. Duffy finished with 17 points to go along with six assists, five rebounds and four steals.

For Syracause, Nwagbo finished with 15 points and five rebounds. Coleman had 16 points, Jessica Richter, 14, and Vaida Sipaviciute added 10 points, six rebounds and eight blocks.

The loss snapped the Orange’s two-game winning streak in the Big East.