ND Women’s Basketball: Team earns free Big Macs for fans
Jay Fitzpatrick | Friday, November 2, 2007
With 11 seconds to play, the crowd of 5,252 at the Joyce Center Thursday night finally got what it wanted: a Big Mac.
The crowd erupted when Irish center Erica Williamson’s layup gave Notre Dame its 89th point – one more than was needed for everyone at the game to receive a coupon for a free McDonald’s sandwich.
She would add a free throw for a traditional three-point play, giving Notre Dame a 90-38 win over Southern Indiana Thursday.
It was the most exciting part of a game the Irish dominated from the opening tip.
“We’re talking about a team in Notre Dame that has, I think, every opportunity and ability to go as deep as they want to go,” Screaming Eagles coach Rick Stein said. “That was a real deep and exciting team that we had a chance to play there.”
Irish coach Muffet McGraw was happy with her team’s first game.
“I thought we did a lot of things well,” McGraw said. “I thought [Irish senior guard Tulyah Gaines] did a really good job of getting the team ready to play and we came out and it took a little while for us to get in gear, but I think we came along pretty quickly.”
One of the highlights of the Irish exhibition was the play of its three freshmen – guard Brittany Mallory and forwards Devereaux Peters and Becca Bruszewski.
“I think you’re going to see some great depth and we are going to be, I think, a really great team when we get firing on all cylinders,” McGraw said.
Peters was the main star of the Irish rookie class Thursday, scoring 16 points with seven rebounds, two blocks, two steals and two assists in only 19 minutes.
“Devereaux did a nice job inside with the rebounding, with the blocked shots, [she] was able to get some rebounds and score,” McGraw said.
Even though this was her first college game, Peters said, her teammates helped get her ready to play.
“Obviously I was excited. I have a lot of great teammates. It’s just exciting to get out there and play for the first time,” Peters said. “I wasn’t too nervous for whatever reason. I don’t know why, just mostly excited to get out there.”
Peters has gelled well with her team on the court already. At the 4:27 mark in the first half, Irish guard Ashley Barlow tossed up a pass to Peters, who laid it in.
“We’ve been working on that a little bit. It’s just great to have great teammates, it’s easy to get along with them and work well with them,” Peters said. “Everyone’s always looking out for each other, so it’s easy to develop good team chemistry with them.”
Mallory, who was recruited to be the team’s three-point specialist, finished with six points off 2-of-7 shooting, with both shots made from behind the three-point line.
“That was really exciting, hitting my first three,” Mallory said. “I know my dad was listening so he’s probably pretty happy about that. But I’m glad I could hold up to Coach’s words and do what I came here to do.”
Bruszewski racked up time late in the game, finishing with two points and two boards in 13 minutes.
Another good sign of things to come for the Irish was the return of guard Lindsay Schrader, who missed all of last season with a knee injury.
“It’s just great to see Lindsay back on the court after the year off. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw her out on the floor doing some things well,” he said. “I was really pleased with her play.”
Schrader said it was a thrill to hear her name called over the Joyce Center PA system.
“I guess I was just really, really excited. But then again, I don’t know, I wasn’t satisfied with the way I played,” she said. “But I don’t ever thinking I’m ever going to be satisfied with the way I played. But the win is all that matters.”
Schrader still played the entire game with a knee brace. She only needs to wear it for another nine days before she can finally take it off, she said. She also said her knee did not bother her during Thursday’s win.
“It feels great. I did not have a problem with that at all. It wasn’t sore, it was perfect,” Schrader said.
But even though Notre Dame played seemingly perfect, forcing 37 turnovers and allowing just 38 points, Peters feels the team still hasn’t peaked.
“This is only the beginning,” she said. “We’re only going to go up from here.”
Williamson started for the first time in her career. McGraw said she earned the spot over returning junior center Melissa D’Amico due to her play in the preseason.
“Those two are both playing well. They’re both giving us different things. And I think Erica had a little bit of a lead on Mel these last couple of weeks,” she said.
McGraw said D’Amico will start in Monday’s exhibition against Hillsdale. McGraw will decide whether Williamson or D’Amico will be the permanent starter based on Thursday and Monday’s games.