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ND Women’s Basketball: Career game brings Irish win

Joe Meixell | Monday, December 10, 2007

Ashley Barlow had the best game of her college career when Notre Dame needed it most.

The sophomore guard finished Saturday’s 61-48 win over Purdue with a career-high 22 points – 19 of which came in the second half.

With the Irish (8-1) down 36-32 with 12:40 left in the game, Barlow nailed a 3-point jumpshot to bring the Irish within one. After a turnover from Boilermakers guard FahKara Malone, Irish guard Brittany Mallory found Barlow open for another 3-point basket 35 seconds later to give the Irish the two-point lead.

Barlow would add two steals and another jumper in the next minute to put even more distance between Notre Dame and Purdue.

“I thought that [Barlow] took over the game in the second half,” McGraw said. “Back-to-back 3-pointers, her defense was exceptional, she got some steals. She really just made things happen in a stretch in the second half and really put the game firmly in control in the second half by us.”

Barlow’s performance was especially important because Notre Dame’s leading scorer – guard Charel Allen – only shot 5-of-13 from the floor for 10 points. Barlow’s second-half performance picked up the slack and propelled the Irish to the win.

McGraw said Allen does not always have to be the team’s top scorer, as was the case last season.

“I think that’s the great thing about this team is our balance and our depth. And we have so many different weapons and everybody is out there every night trying to contribute in some way,” McGraw said. “You know, when you have different players with that kind of talent and Ashley steps up, it takes the pressure off of everybody.”

The coach added that she felt Allen’s defensive performance and her eight rebounds and six assists were incredibly important to the Irish effort.

The Irish sank into Purdue’s slower style of offense in the first half and were down 25-20 going into the intermission. Early in the second half, the Boilermakers stretched their lead to eight points – the largest Purdue lead of the game.

But the Irish offense came alive in the second half, outscoring Purdue 41-23. The 48 points allowed against the Boilermakers was the lowest score ever in the rivalry and was due to the teams play in its zone defense, McGraw said.

“To hold them under 50, I thought was a great thing to do. And our zone was really, really good. I was pleased because we played about 39 minutes of zone,” she said. “And we’ve worked on it quite a bit, and so I was happy to see it work really good.”

One key part of the zone was to shut down Boilermakers forward Lakisha Freeman. Freeman entered Saturday’s game scoring 14.1 points per game, but the Irish zone held her to 1-of-9 from the floor with her only basket coming from beyond the arc.

“I thought the zone was really where she was,” McGraw said. “We kept her on the perimeter and didn’t really give her the driving lanes, and I thought that worked well for us.”

One player the Irish struggled against was Boilermakers center Danielle Campbell. Campbell finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and six blocks but failed to score in the paint because of the Irish zone.

The win was Notre Dame’s sixth straight since falling to Maryland 75-59 on Nov. 16. In nine previous trips to Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Notre Dame has failed to come out with a victory. But now McGraw knows what it feels like to get the win.

“It was great. It feels good to finally know that I can go there and win,” she said.