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ND Women’s Basketball: Allen notches double-double in win

Joe Meixell | Monday, January 22, 2007

For the second game in a row, Notre Dame rode a strong performance by junior guard Charel Allen to topple a Big East opponent at the Joyce Center, this time beating Syracuse 83-55 Saturday.

“I’m just feeling really confident and my shot’s falling,” Allen said. “My teammates are looking for me so I’m taking my shots.”

Allen tallied 25 points to lead the Irish (13-5, 4-1 Big East) over the Orange (8-2, 2-5) in addition to grabbing 10 boards for the second double-double of her career. She was similarly impressive last Tuesday against St. John’s in an 83-65 Notre Dame win.

“Charel Allen is just playing great basketball right now,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “They came out in the box-and-one to start the second half and she didn’t flinch. She looked to take her shots and ended up with a double-double.”

The Orange hung close in the opening four minutes of the game, but the Irish went on a quick 7-0 run – with five points from Allen – to push the game out of reach.

One of the main highlights for the Irish from start to finish was their defense – something McGraw noted as a weakness earlier in the week. But against the Orange, McGraw saw everyone on the court forcing steals and fighting for loose balls.

“[Freshman guard Melissa Lechlitner] did a nice job with the double teams, and overall I thought everybody played pretty well defensively,” McGraw said in a post-game interview. “We didn’t rebound as well as we could have, that was probably the one thing that hurt us.”

McGraw was especially pleased with Allen’s play on the defensive end of the court. The junior finished with three steals and a block to go along with her double-double,

Lechlitner was the other standout performer for the Irish, with career-highs in points (18) and rebounds (6) off the bench. Lechlitner also helped run the offense effectively in her 32 minutes, notching six assists and not once giving up the ball – the second consecutive game she has finished without a turnover.

“I’m trying to run the team,” Lechlitner said. “I’m looking for my shot – today they were finally going in. I’m just looking for my teammates and trying to keep the turnovers low. I think it’s finally starting to come together for me.”

Lechlitner made her biggest play with 12:24 remaining in the game after the Orange used a nine-point run to shrink the Irish lead to 11 points, the smallest it had been since 7:18 remaining in the first half at 27-17. Lechlitner took the inbounds pass down the court and drove the lane, sinking a tough layup while being fouled. The conventional three-point play gave Notre Dame back momentum, as the Irish would continue to push the game farther and farther out of the Orange’s reach.

The Irish used tight ball control to control the tempo throughout the game, notching 11 steals while turning the ball over just 11 times. The Irish defense also caused problems for the Orange, who turned the ball over 20 times.

“We’re really doing a nice job taking care of the ball and we have veteran guards out there with [Breona Gray], Tulyah [Gaines] and Charel [Allen] in the starting lineup, and [Lechlitner] is not somebody who turns the ball over much,” McGraw said. “I think we’re playing within ourselves and I think that’s why we’re not turning the ball over.”