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Women’s Basketball: Sliding Hoyas to visit streaking Irish

Bill Brink | Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Riding a five-game win streak, Notre Dame welcomes struggling Georgetown, who has lost nine of its last 10 games, to the Joyce Center tonight at 7 p.m.

Notre Dame (18-8, 9-4 Big East) is 13-1 this season at home and faces a Georgetown team (12-14, 2-11 Big East) that is 1-6 in conference road games and second to last in the conference overall.

The biggest challenge for the Irish will be the inside play of the Hoyas – led by junior forward Kieraah Marlow, who leads the team with 16.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

“Our game plan is still kind of undecided about how we’re going to attack them,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said in her bi-monthly conference call. “But we certainly know they can shoot the ball from the perimeter as well as score from the inside.”

Notre Dame will attempt to offset Georgetown’s post play with center Melissa D’Amico, who averaged 13 points in her last two games after scoring only two total points in the three previous games.

“I’m really pleased with Mel. I didn’t start her because of the small lineup at Villanova, and she responded really well,” McGraw said.

D’Amico came off the bench and scored 15 points, then went on to score 11 against Providence. McGraw also noted that D’Amico’s opportunities were limited.

“I think the thing about Mel is we’re throwing her the ball a little bit more, and that’s been our problem all year. We just haven’t looked to the post enough and used our post game as much as we could have,” she said.

Freshmen Erica Williamson will be another roadblock slowing the Hoya’s post play. She recorded 10 points, seven rebounds, a block and a steal against Providence. Georgetown’s last win came in the final seconds against Villanova on Feb. 3. The Hoyas are last in the Big East in defensive rebounding, with 23.5 per game, and are second to last in points scored per game, at 58.3 per game. Notre Dame, by contrast, leads the Big East in free throw percentage, at 77 percent, and in steals, with 11.2 per game. They are second in the league with a +4.15 turnovers per game margin.

Notre Dame sits by itself in fourth place in the Big East, in position for a bye in the Big East tournament. McGraw sees positives both in getting the bye and playing a first-round game.

“I think you want to, just for the sake of the NCAA Tournament,” she said. “You’re letting people know that you’re one of the top four teams in the league. But you have a chance to maybe get an extra win if you don’t get the bye.”

Last January Notre Dame edged past Georgetown 54-52 when Hoya senior guard Kate Carlin’s three-point shot fell short.

“They gave us a lot of problems last year. We had a very difficult game with them out there,” McGraw said. “We had a little bit of a lead and they had a shot to win it at the end of the game. It’s a team that we are very focused on right now.”