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ND WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Borton gives Irish experienced leadership

Heather VanHoegarden | Thursday, February 24, 2005

Teresa Borton had a choice in 2001 – play for defending champion Notre Dame or play for the team who had won it all the year before, the Connecticut Huskies.Borton chose Notre Dame, and since she has been with the Irish, the team has played seven games against Connecticut, splitting the season series with the Huskies the past two years.”It’s been pretty exciting every time we get to play them,” Borton said. “Sometimes we win, and sometimes they win. That shows that it was a really competitive choice because both teams are great basketball programs, but I think we have much better academics.”In her final year in an Irish uniform, Borton has emerged as one of the team’s most consistent performers. The 6-foot-3 center is averaging a solid 8.8 points per game, third on the team behind only All-American Jacqueline Batteast (17.7 points per game) and point guard Megan Duffy (11.7 points per game). Borton is also second on the team in rebounding with 5.9 per game, behind Batteast’s 6.6. She is also fourth in the Big East with 1.59 blocks per game.But Borton, who will play her last home game at the Joyce Center Saturday afternoon, doesn’t see herself as a star on this Notre Dame team.”I consider myself a role player,” Borton said. “I do little things. I’m not the star player, but that’s all right, I don’t like that role. Getting a win – that makes me happy.”Borton, who was highly touted coming out of high school, has finally found a way to play through the aches and pains of college basketball. As a junior last year, the center had preseason surgery to correct Haglund’s Deformity, a bone protrusion in the heel that affects the Achilles tendon in the ankle. She has not missed a game through her four years, but this year, she said she has handled her aches and pains the best.”I feel that I have to realize that I’m going to be injury prone and chronic pain, and I have to play through that,” Borton said. “I think I’m stronger, maybe healthier. I still have the pains, but I’m used to it.”Batteast, the only other senior on the Irish roster, said her teammate has taken the pressure off of her this season.”T’s really done a lot,” the All-American said. “I’m only averaging about 6.5 rebounds this year because she’s getting a lot more. She’s been more of a presence down on the block, she’s been scoring and she’s been consistent this whole year”Borton, whose 56.7 field goal percentage would lead the Big East if she had made enough shots to qualify, leads the Irish by example, as she is one of the less outspoken leaders on this Notre Dame team.”I think most of the time Megan [Duffy] is more of the vocal leader, just because she’s the point guard, she’s a natural leader,” Borton said. “I’m more of a quiet leader, I believe, as a post, so hopefully they follow my lead just by my actions and not by my speech.”And after averaging just 5.8 points and four rebounds per game last year, the senior is having the most fun since she made the choice between Connecticut and Notre Dame four years ago.”I think it’s been the best season so far in my four years,” Borton said. “I really enjoy all my teammates, and I think we have a great atmosphere here with the team chemistry.”