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ND Women’s Basketball: Squad readies for final warm-up before regular season tips off

Bill Brink | Monday, November 5, 2007

Notre Dame will play its final preseason game against Hillsdale at 7 tonight, four days after it defeated Southern Indiana 90-38 to win its 22nd straight preseason game.

There were plenty of positive signs for Notre Dame’s season in the win – the return of junior guard Lindsay Schrader, the play of freshmen Devereaux Peters and Brittany Mallory and a tough, aggressive defense. The Irish forced 37 turnovers in the game.

“The press didn’t work as good as I thought it would but I felt we made that adjustment at halftime and I felt we looked a little bit better in the second half,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said after the game.

Notre Dame will enter the season ranked No. 24 by the Associated Press. The team also received votes in the USA Today poll.

Hillsdale will give the Irish a true test of their defensive abilities. The Chargers lost only 17.1 turnovers per game last season, fewer than half the number the Irish forced against the Screaming Eagles.

Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference coaches picked the Chargers to finish second in the South Division of the GLIAC. Hillsdale finished 19-9 last season and 12-5 in the GLIAC. Forward Julie Slot, the team’s leading returning scorer and lone senior, was recently named to the GLIAC all-South Division team.

Graduation hit the Chargers hard this year – seven letter winners return, but seven more, including all five starters, graduated. Despite Slot’s preseason honors, she started only two games, averaged 14.1 minutes per game and scored 5.8 points per game.

Although the Chargers scored 6.2 more points per game than their opponents last season, they will have trouble outscoring an Irish offense that proved potent in its first game. Sophomore center Erica Williamson led the team with 18 points in 17 minutes, grabbed six rebounds – all offensive – and blocked four shots. Peters scored 16 points in 19 minutes and had two assists, two blocks and two steals. Schrader scored eight points and had four assists in her first game since the 2005-06 season.

McGraw said senior center Melissa D’Amico will start against Hillsdale in place of Williamson. D’Amico had 10 points in 15 minutes off the bench.

“We gave her the first start and [D’Amico] will start the next game,” McGraw said after the SIU game. “And then we’ll decide from there.”

McGraw said the rest of the starting lineup, comprised of Schrader, senior guards Tulyah Gaines and Charel Allen, and sophomore guard Ashley Barlow, will stay the same.

Mallory scored six points on two three-point shots, the only baskets she made in her 16 minutes on the floor. Mallory will give the Irish a legitimate outside threat this season, something they missed last year – when no Irish player made more than 33 percent of her three-point attempts. The Chargers perimeter defense allowed opponents only 4.6 three-pointers per game and held opposing teams to 30 percent from behind the arc.