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ND Women’s Basketball: Team set to take on rival Purdue

Molly Sammon | Friday, December 3, 2010

With two days left to work out a few kinks before in-state rival Purdue comes to the Purcell Pavilion Sunday, the No. 16 Irish are hoping to build on Thursday’s 76-65 loss to Baylor.

“We always have a good game against Purdue,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “It’s a lot of Midwest kids that know each other really well. The Purdue game is always a big game on our schedule.”

With a 4-1 record, Purdue has flirted with a national ranking but has not been able to break into the top-25 yet this season.

“Purdue is a team that’s getting votes in the top-25 poll, and they’re a fairly young team, similar to us,” McGraw said.

After playing four games in six days at a relatively busy time of the academic year, the Irish (5-3) are excited about the time off to practice.

“You don’t get time to practice when you play a lot of times. Now we have time to practice,” McGraw said. “We’re looking forward to getting back in the gym.”

The loss against No. 2 Baylor gave the Irish good insight as to what they will need to work on to ensure they can send the Boilermakers back to their bus with their second loss of the season.

“I think there are quite a few fundamentals we need to improve on. The guards need to take better care of the ball, we had too many turnovers. We’re going to work on defense, too,” McGraw said.

Though the Irish have their work cut out for them, the Baylor game showed enough strong areas that the Irish will be bringing to the court against Purdue.

“We played well in spurts and we shot the ball well, too,” McGraw said. ” I feel like we have the pieces, but we’re struggling to putting it together for 40 minutes. I’m really confident that we’re going to.”

Notre Dame boasts a competitive relationship with the Boilermakers as the two met 10 years ago in the national championship game, which the Irish won, 68-66.

The Boilers lost to Maryland Thursday for their first loss of the season, a 56-55 defeat that shattered their six-game win streak.

Though a 4-1 record gives Purdue a good confidence boost heading into the game at Notre Dame, its season has not been particularly easy. Boilermaker Drey Mingo was hospitalized for bacterial meningitis, which caused Purdue’s athletic director to cancel the team’s trip to Cancun. They missed out on an appreciable portion of their season due to Mingo’s illness.

“It’s going to be a big game, and we’re all hoping for a good crowd,” McGraw said.

Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday. The game will be aired on ESPN2.