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ND Women’s Basketball: Irish open the regular season with two big victories

Kevin Brennan | Monday, November 21, 2005

Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw opened the regular season on a high note, recording her 500th career win Friday night.

Notre Dame defeated Michigan 55-45 at the Joyce Center in the team’s home opener. The No. 15 Irish followed that up with another victory Sunday, downing Western Michigan 71-68 on the road.

Notre Dame 71, Western Michigan 68

Senior point guard Megan Duffy led the Irish Sunday, scoring 19 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Freshman guard Lindsay Schrader chipped in with 11 points, while senior forward Courtney Lavere added 10 points off the bench.

While happy to come away with a win, McGraw was disappointed with the way her team played against Western Michigan – particularly on the defensive end.

“I was really disappointed in our defense,” McGraw said. “We gave up 68 [points] to this team today. That is obviously about 18 more than we want to give up.”

The Irish had trouble dealing with Western Michigan’s perimeter shooting. The Broncos shot 42.3 percent from three point range in the game.

Guard Casey Rost spearheaded Western Michigan’s perimeter assault, scoring 29 points and connecting on 7-of-10 shots from beyond the arc.

“She was the best player on the floor,” McGraw said. “We couldn’t guard her. We couldn’t stop her.”

Rost’s hot shooting kept the Broncos in the game, despite the fact that Notre Dame only trailed in the opening minutes. With 11:50 left, Rost hit a three to bring the Broncos within one point.

McGraw was confident the Irish would prevail down the stretch, though, thanks to the clutch play of the team’s second-year captain.

“I wasn’t worried because I thought they would foul [Duffy] and she would make free throws,” McGraw said. “And that’s pretty much what happened.”

Duffy was 8-of-8 from the line for the game. She connected on four free throws with less than a minute remaining to seal the victory for the Irish.

Notre Dame 55, Michigan 45

McGraw’s 500th victory came Friday night thanks in large part to the two areas she felt her team needed to improve on heading into the season – defense and rebounding. The Irish held Michigan to 45 points and just 32 percent shooting, while out-rebounding the Wolverines 54-33.

“I was really pleased with the rebounding, especially in the second half,” McGraw said. “They only had one offensive rebound at halftime, which was awesome. And then to hold them to nine offensive boards for the game, I thought that was just a great job we did.”

Michigan held Duffy to just three points in the game, but two young players led the way for the Irish. Sophomore Charel Allen scored 16 points, and freshman Lindsay Schrader posted 10 points and a game high 14 rebounds. McGraw was thrilled to see her two young guards step up.

“Charel Allen was the player of the game on the offensive end,” McGraw said. “And I thought [Schrader] was the defensive player of the game. She did just a great job – 14 rebounds. I mean, that’s how we won the game.”

Reserve forward Ta’Shia Walker paced the Wolverines with 16 points and nine rebounds. The Irish struggled to defend Walker in the post all game.

McGraw was happy with the way the team played. The coach said she hoped Notre Dame’s problems in the game could be attributed to the fact that it was the season opener.

“I think it was mostly the first-game jitters,” McGraw said. “The first game is always a tough one and Michigan had had two games already. So I think it was just that.”