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ND Women’s Basketball: Irish start slow, finish strong to defeat St. John’s

Joe Hettler | Thursday, January 27, 2005

This is not the way Muffet McGraw and the Irish prefer to win basketball games.For the second straight game, Notre Dame played a sloppy first half only to bounce back with a much-improved second half en route to another victory – this time 72-65 over visiting St. John’s.”We’re trying to play great every night,” McGraw said. “We didn’t do that tonight.”On Sunday, the Irish trailed Rutgers by 11 at halftime but outscored the Scarlet Knights 43-16 in the second half on their way to a convincing victory. On Wednesday against St. John’s, Notre Dame couldn’t find its rhythm early and trailed 35-31 at halftime.But the Irish began the second half with a 23-8 run to take a 54-43 lead with 11:33 remaining in the game and outscored St. John’s 41-30 in the final 20 minutes. The Irish led by as many as 15 in the second half.Crystal Erwin paced the Irish with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Jacqueline Batteast added 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Megan Duffy had 14 points and 10 assists as Notre Dame improved to 17-3 and 5-2 in the Big East. It was the first time since December of 1995 that three Notre Dame players tallied double-doubles. St. John’s, who was led by Kia Wright’s 23 points, dropped to 14-4 and 3-4 in conference play.The Irish were down as many as eight in the first half as Wright scorched Notre Dame for 18 first-half points on 6-of-12 shooting. Erwin led the Irish with 10 points at the break.”We came out and we weren’t really intense and they were very intense,” Batteast said. “They were ready to play so we we’re playing catch-up for the rest of the half. They just took a lot out of us. We weren’t ready to play from the beginning.”Notre Dame finally took the lead for good at the 16:21 mark when Erwin missed a lay up, then grabbed the rebound and dished off an assist to Teresa Borton to put Notre Dame in front 40-39.The Irish extended their lead to as many as 15 with 2:40 remaining before the Red Storm fought back with two 3-pointers in the closing minutes.”I was really disappointed in our defense,” McGraw said. “Overall, we just didn’t play a really smart game. I think we definitely didn’t play the kind of defense we played in the last game and that was discouraging to me.”Despite outrebounding a smaller St. John’s team 49-42, the Irish felt they continued to struggle on the boards, especially on the offensive end where the Red Storm had a 21-20 advantage. “I would say if you checked the stats that would be the 19th straight game we’ve given up a lot of offensive rebounds. We’ve struggled in that category all year. We have not been a good rebounding team all year long. It’s going to hurt us down the stretch. We’re going to be finding ourselves heading back home in March because we can’t rebound.”The Irish leave Saturday morning for Hartford and face Connecticut for a 7 p.m. matchup Sunday evening. The Huskies beat the Irish 67-50 at the Joyce Center on Jan. 12.

Notes: Erwin had a career-high 10 rebounds and Duffy had her seventh straight game with at least six assists. She also had 11 assists against Rutgers on Sunday.

The Irish are now in sole possession of fourth place in the Big East, a half game ahead of Villanova.

NOTRE DAME 72, St. John’s 65at the JOYCE CENTER NOTRE DAME (17-3, 5-2)Batteast 5-8 0-0 10, Erwin 6-10 2-9 14, Borton 5-7 2-2 12, Duffy 3-14 6-7 14, Gray 3-7 2-2 8, Gaines 0-1 0-0 0, Allen 3-8 2-3 8, D’Amico 0-1 0-0 0, LaVere 3-7 0-0 6ST. JOHN’S (14-4, 3-4)Clark 1-7 2-2 4, Kurtosi 0-2 1-2 1, Wright 8-22 4-6 23, Walker 6-15 3-3 16, Barlow 5-15 0-0 12, Jones 0-1, 0-0 0, Dukes 2-4 1-1 5, Thompson 0-1 0-0 0, Chambers 2-5 0-0 4

1st 2nd TotalNOTRE DAME 31 41 72 Opponent 35 30 653-point goals: Notre Dame 2-6 (Duffy 2-6), St. John’s 7-19 (Wright 3-7, Barlow 2-7, Walker 1-4, Dukes 1-1). Fouled out: None. Rebounds: Notre Dame 49-20 (Batteast, Erwin 10), Opponent 42-21 (Wright 10). Assists: Notre Dame 21 (Duffy 10), St. John’s (Wright, Barlow 4). Total fouls: Notre Dame 10, St. John’s 19.