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ND Women’s Basketball: Trojans take early lead in home win

Eric Retter | Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Notre Dame attacked first, but played catch up the rest of the way, as Southern California handed the Irish their second loss of the year 69-58 Friday night in Los Angeles, Calif.

After the Irish jumped ahead 2-0, the Trojans went on a 10-2 run and Notre Dame never recovered. The Irish (3-2) often struggled to put points on the board despite forcing 27 turnovers and surrendering 19.

In the first half, Notre Dame twice cut the lead to one, the second time coming when senior forward Crystal Erwin hit the second 3-pointer of her career with 7:19 left in the half to make the score 19-18. The Irish could never get over the hump, however, and went into the half trailing 30-24.

Early in the second half, the Irish cut the Trojan lead to 34-31, but Southern California again responded to the Notre Dame threat, going on an 8-0 run that gave it a comfortable 42-31 lead.

The Trojan offense executed a balanced attack that saw four of its five starters score in double figures. Guard Eshaya Murphy led all players with 15 points and 17 rebounds, and guards Jamie Hagiya and Hailey Dunham and center Chloe Kerr each finished with 12 points.

“They’re a very talented team,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “We did a poor job of guarding them. Every team has players that we’re going to try and key on, and if we can handle them it’ll make our job a little easier.”

Guard Charel Allen led the Irish with 13 points and eight rebounds, and freshman center Erica Williamson finished with 12 points and nine boards.

Overall, however, the Irish were outrebounded 54-38.

“We really made it hard on ourselves by giving them so many second chance opportunities,” McGraw said. “Rebounding is a problem. It’s been a problem all year and it’s going to continue to be a problem because we lack the discipline or desire to block out.”

Notre Dame also struggled at the free throw line. The Irish shot just 7-of-17, while the Trojans were 16-of-25 from the line, and they made 11 of their last 14. McGraw, however, does not anticipate that free throw shooting will be an issue as the season progresses.

“I think free throws is a strength of ours,” she said. “Everyone except Erica [Williamson, who is shooting just .286 from the line] is shooting a really high percentage, so I think we’ll do well from the line.”

The Irish will be back in action Tuesday against Richmond. The Spiders are 2-4 beating Bucknell 57-40 to snap a four-game losing streak.

They will be led by guard Christina Campion, who is averaging 12 points and 5.5 rebounds a game.

Notre Dame has three players averaging double figures in scoring including Allen (14.6) and guards Tulyah Gaines (11.2) and Ashley Barlow (10.4).

Coming off the loss, McGraw hopes to see more offensive patience and consistency.

“We’re going to play the same way that we’ve been playing,” she said. “We just have to come out and play our game. We’re really looking for improvement.”