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ND Women’s Basketball: Hot offense ready for Eagles

Bill Brink | Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Success breeds inspiration, apparently. Notre Dame’s hot start this season has the players raring for more, Irish coach Muffet McGraw said.

“It’s like we can’t wait to play another game,” McGraw said.

No. 15 Notre Dame comes back home to play Georgia Southern today at 7 p.m., three days after hitting triple digits against Boston College on the road.

Notre Dame’s offense over the past two games has been scorching. The Irish (3-0) averaged 99 points against Evansville and Boston College. Forward Becca Bruszewski scored at least 18 points in both games, and at least five Irish players hit double figures in both games.

“I think we try to get even better,” McGraw said. “I feel like we are playing with a

lot of confidence, we are having fun, and everybody’s contributing.”

The Eagles (3-1) started their season strong as well. Their only loss came against No. 20 Auburn on Nov. 19. Their defense, like that of Notre Dame, has not allowed many points. Against the Eagles, Brewton-Parker managed 44 points, and UNC Asheville scored only 39. Georgia Southern also defeated Florida Atlantic on Nov. 17.

This season, the Eagles have attempted 83 3-pointers and made 31 of them, an average of 7.8 per game. McGraw said she was happy about the way her team defended the 3-point line against Boston College.

“I was very pleased with the defense to only hold them to 2-for-6, and one of those was late in the game,” she said.

Eagles guard Ashley Melson leads the Eagles with 14.8 points per game, but the team spreads points around well. Five players average over 6.8 points per game.

So far for the Irish this year, four players – Bruszewski, Mallory and guards Ashley Barlow and Lindsay Schrader – average in double figures.

The defense has held up its end of the bargain as well. The Fighting Irish have not allowed more than 61 points this season and have forced 25.7 turnovers per game. Opponents struggled to score as well – Notre Dame held them to 38 percent shooting from field goal range.

McGraw said she liked the play of center Erica Williamson, who guarded Boston College center Carolyn Swords during Sunday’s game. Swords, who is 6-foot-6, shot 8-for-14 from the field and had 16 points and seven rebounds against the Irish.

“She did some good things at BC and showed improvement, even from last year,” McGraw said. “She took over the game at one point and had a nice stretch of minutes against a very good post player.”

Notre Dame has created much of its success off of turnovers. So far, the Irish have forced an average of 25.7 turnovers per game and parlayed those possessions into fast-break points. Georgia Southern turns the ball over 19.3 times per game, 2.8 fewer than their opponents.

Guard Brittany Mallory shot 5-for-5 from the floor and 3-for-3 from 3-point range against Boston College on her way to 14 points. The Irish as a team hit 7-of-8 3-pointers