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ND Women’s Basketball: Familiar Foe

Jay Fitzpatrick | Tuesday, January 22, 2008

After notching the 10th triple-digit score in school history, Notre Dame returns to the Joyce Center tonight to face a familiar foe.The Irish take on DePaul at 7 p.m. – a team that Notre Dame faced three times last season. The two squads had a home-and-home series last season and played again in the first round of the Big East tournament last March.Notre Dame (15-3, 3-1 Big East) also plays DePaul twice this year; the Irish will travel to Allstate Arena outside Chicago on Feb. 24.Despite all that familiarity Irish coach Muffet McGraw said that she did not think the experience against DePaul last year will make much of an impact in tonight’s game.”They’re a tough team for us to guard. They score a lot of points; they’re really good in transition. They shoot a lot of threes,” McGraw said. “They’re kind of like us in that they want to run, but they shoot a lot of threes in transition whereas we don’t shoot as many.”One player that gave Notre Dame trouble in the three games last year was guard Allie Quigley, who averaged 21 points in the contests.”She’s somebody that we definitely need to know where she is all the time,” McGraw said.Quigley has played well all season. She has 20 consecutive games in double figures dating back to last season and is averaging 18.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game so far in 2007-08.Despite Quigley’s offensive output, McGraw said that she isn’t doing anything specific in practice to shut her down. Instead, she is focusing on the team’s man-to-man defense.Both teams will look to push the tempo of the game by running fast-paced offenses. The Irish average 79.4 points per game this season, and the Blue Demons score 82.2. DePaul also shoots 33 percent from 3-point land, while the Irish defense has allowed conference foes to shoot 38.5 percent from beyond the arc.McGraw said that she has not changed her practice plans this week to fit specifically against DePaul, but instead has worked on keeping the offense consistent.”We’re starting to gel a little bit and I just hope we can keep that going,” she said.One key to Notre Dame’s success will be the play of its bench, including freshmen Brittany Mallory and Devereaux Peters. Peters has been a force off the bench for the Irish this season, with 8.6 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game and totals of 38 blocks and 34 steals. Peters’ biggest flaw, McGraw said, is simply her inexperience. The 6-foot-2 forward has fouled out of every conference game except Notre Dame’s 69-58 win over Villanova on Jan. 16. “She’s just making a lot of freshman mistakes. She wants to contribute, so she’s trying to do whatever she can,” McGraw said. “I think she probably gets a little frustrated with herself when she fouls out.”McGraw recruited Mallory as a 3-point specialist, but the freshman only shot 21.8 percent (12-of-55) from 3-point distance before entering Big East play. Since then, the guard 7-of-15 from behind that ar, and her confidence continues to grow.”We’ve encouraged her to keep shooting the ball, we want her to shoot the 3, and it’s been really successful, but mostly because she feels her confidence has really soared,” McGraw said.