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ND Basketball: Women beat Pirates, 41-35

Joe Hettler | Wednesday, March 2, 2005

After an impressive win against West Virginia Saturday, Irish coach Muffet McGraw wanted her team to keep its momentum heading into the final regular season game against Seton Hall Tuesday night.

Scoring 41 points wasn’t what McGraw had in mind.

Despite shooting a dismal 22 percent from the field and tying its lowest road game point total in school history, Notre Dame snuck past Seton Hall 41-35 Tuesday evening. The Irish (25-4, 13-3) clinched the No. 2 seed in next weekend’s Big East Tournament with the victory. Rutgers defeated Villanova 51-39 Tuesday to secure the conference title and top seed with a 23-5 overall record and 14-2 mark in Big East play.

Charel Allen had 14 points and nine rebounds for Notre Dame, while All-American Jacqueline Batteast struggled most of the night, finishing with 11 points on just 4-of-16 shooting.

“We just weren’t ready to play,” McGraw said. “I thought we played pretty well defensively but we needed somebody to step up and make shots in the post and none of our post were able to do that. It was really disappointing.”

Post players Batteast, Courtney LaVere, Teresa Borton and Crystal Erwin combined to shoot an anemic 7-of-35 for the game, while guards Megan Duffy and Breona Gray were just as bad, going 1-of-7 and 2-of-9, respectively.

“[Seton Hall was] blocking our shots and they played really well defensively,” McGraw said. “We just had a hard time making shots. We have to stay tough. You’re going to have nights when the balls not going in the basket and you’ve got to stay with it, you’ve got to keep working.”

Allen was the difference for the Irish. She finished 3-of-6 from the field, but more importantly, drained all eight of her free throw attempts, including four down the stretch that sealed the victory.

“I thought Charel Allen was player of the game,” McGraw said. “She was the one who really won the game for us.”

“I was just trying to take what they were giving me and doing whatever I could,” Allen said. “I’m glad we got this game out of our system.

Everyone has a game like this, so I’m glad this game came during the regular season and not during tournament time.”

Ashley Bush paced the Pirates with 19 points and 11 rebounds, but no other Seton Hall player scored more than six points. Seton Hall (14-13, 6-10) will face St. John’s in the first round of the conference tournament on Saturday.

The Irish are off until Sunday at 6 p.m. when they face either West Virginia or Pittsburgh in the Big East quarterfinals in Hartford, Conn.

The Irish edged Connecticut for the second seed, despite the Huskies beating West Virginia 71-41 Tuesday.