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ND WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Batteast, Borton to be honored

Joe Hettler | Friday, February 25, 2005

What started four years ago with six, ends Saturday with just two.Jacqueline Batteast and Teresa Borton, the only two remaining players from the 2005 recruiting class, play their final game at the Joyce Center this weekend against West Virginia at 2 p.m. when the No. 10 Irish (23-4, 11-3 Big East) face the Mountaineers (16-9, 7-7).Batteast and Borton will be honored before Notre Dame’s conference matchup on Senior Day. The pair has seen its class dwindle from six to two after Allison Bustamante, Kelsey Wicks, Katy Flecky and Jill Krause all left the Irish program.”I thought it was pretty cool that six of us came in, and I would be always thinking about how Senior Night would be with people coming out and how long it would take,” Batteast said. “But now, it’ll be pretty quick.”But for Irish coach Muffet McGraw, what the 2005 class lacks in numbers they make up with performance and leadership.”You can tell from the success of our team how good our leadership has been this year,” McGraw said of Borton and Batteast.Batteast, an All-American last season, has continued to lead the Irish on both ends of the floor this year. She averages 17.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game and passed Alicia Ratay for fourth on the all-time scoring list with 20 points against Georgetown on Feb. 12.Borton has battled through injuries to help Notre Dame in numerous ways. She is third on the team with an 8.6 scoring average and grabs 5.9 boards per game. Her presence in the paint has opened up Notre Dame’s offense and created more scoring opportunities.The two, along with guard Megan Duffy, serve as the team’s tri-captains and have been the voice of the Irish in 2004-05. Batteast said she and Borton set a goal before their senior campaign and they plan on attaining it.”Right now we’re the class of ’05 and we are really, really trying to leave this program how we found it – after a national championship,” Batteast said. “We’re trying to go to the Final Four, and we’ve taken care of business so far so well see how it goes.”Notre Dame has been impressive in nearly every game, knocking off seven top 25 opponents and avoiding any bad losses. If the Irish finish the season strong, they will be in a good position for a No. 2 or No. 3 seed when the NCAA Tournament bracket comes out.But right now, Batteast and Borton are focused on beating West Virginia. The Mountaineers have won three straight games and spanked Providence 99-59 Feb. 22. Meg Bulger, the sister of St. Louis Rams quarterback Marc Bulger, paces West Virginia with 20.5 points per game, while teammates Sherell Sowho and Yolanda Paige add 12.6 and 11.3 points, respectively. Paige also tallies more than nine assists per game, first in the nation.”[Bulger] is a great, great shooter,” McGraw said. “We have a lot of concerns about our ability to guard her. She’s playing really well.”A hot West Virginia team will not be the only challenge Notre Dame faces Saturday, especially for Batteast and Borton. The team’s only seniors must deal with the emotions of playing in front of the Irish faithful for one final game.”I got a little emotional the second-to-last game when they made the announcement that the last game was coming,” Batteast said. “So I hope I’ll be OK.”Borton agreed.”I think its been the best season so far during my four years,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed all my teammates and I think we have a great atmosphere here with the team chemistry. … It’s going to be a little emotional, I’m guessing because I’ve had so many good memories here.”