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ND WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Teams take on Big Ten opponents in weekend matchups

Heather VanHoegarden | Friday, December 2, 2005

Notre Dame (5-0) hits the road Sunday to face the first of its next two Big Ten opponents, games that should help it prepare for Big East conference play which begins in January.

The No. 12 Irish face Wisconsin (4-1) in the first of two straight road games against the Midwest conference. Notre Dame faces Purdue on Wednesday, as well.

The Irish come off a 74-55 win against Iona at the Joyce Center on Tuesday, a game they won without head coach Muffet McGraw. McGraw stayed home with an illness, and associate head coach Coquese Washington led the team in her place. Washington is a 1992 graduate of Notre Dame, where she played basketball as well, and has been an assistant coach since 1999.

Washington said Thursday afternoon that she was unsure if McGraw would be healthy enough to coach the Irish for Sunday’s game, and that it would be a “day-to-day” situation.

But Washington acknowledged the Badgers would be a tough opponent, playing in the Big Ten.

“The Big Ten and the Big East are both quality conferences,” Washington said. “Anytime you play a Big Ten team, you know you’re going to have a competitive game.”

In 2003, the last time these two teams met, the Irish came out on top at the Joyce Center 82-64, behind 25 points from Megan Duffy and 22 points from Courtney LaVere.

The two players are now the co-captains of this year’s Irish squad, both as seniors.

Meanwhile, the Badgers are led by sophomore guard Jolene Anderson, who won gold this summer, like Duffy, playing for a United States team. Anderson played for the U-19 World Championship Team, while Duffy won gold with the World University Games Team.

Last weekend, Anderson, who is averaging 16.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2.2 steals per game, and fellow guard Janese Banks were named all-tournament at the Rainbow Wahini Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, where the Badgers reached the championship final. There they lost to Big East member No. 17 DePaul, 76-57.

And the Badgers have a quick turnaround before the Irish come to town. Tonight they face another Big East team, Marquette, at the Kohl Center before facing Notre Dame on Sunday.

Washington said she expects to face a tough Wisconsin team at a place that draws well for women’s basketball. And as a result, she wants Notre Dame to have a better first half than it did against Iona, when the Irish led just 36-28 against the Gaels.

“We want to open up a little stronger than we did against Iona,” Washington said. “Playing on the road is tough. They’ve got a great arena and pretty good fan support. But I’m hoping we can come out with a lot of energy and get on the boards.”

Tipoff is set for 1:30 p.m. on Sunday in Madison, Wisc.