March 8, 2009
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -Laura Kurz had 21 points and 11 rebounds and Villanova beat No. 20/17 Notre Dame 58-47 Sunday in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST tournament.
Lisa Karcic added 11 points for the Wildcats (19-12), whose victory over the Irish in the regular season earned them the fourth seed in the tournament.
Villanova hit just two of its first 14 shots and trailed by four at halftime, but opened the second half with an 18-8 run.
“Basically the coach became un-brain dead and started posting (Kurz) up,” said Villanova coach Harry Perretta, who shared the conferences coach of the year honors with UConn’s Geno Auriemma.
Consecutive 3-pointers from Heather Scanlon gave Villanova a 39-33 lead with 13 minutes left, and Kurz’s first 3 put her team up 50-41 with just over 3 minutes left.
“I missed my first five or six shots, but I knew I had to keep shooting,” Kurz said. “I try to keep a short-term memory and I always think that my next shot is going in.”
The Wildcats were 10 of 25 from 3-point range. Notre Dame attempted just five 3-pointers and made one.
Villanova will be making its 12th appearance in the semifinals. The Wildcats have won the tournament three times, the last in 2003.
The Irish jumped out to an 15-5 lead, but the Wildcats kept in close by going inside to Kurz, who had eight first-half points. Her kickout to Siobhan O’Connor for a 3-pointer cut the lead to 23-21 with 16 seconds left in the first half. But Lechlitner hit an 18-foot jump shot at the halftime buzzer to give the Irish a 25-21 lead.
“With Kurz on the block, we tried some different things with double teaming her,” said Lechlitner. “She’s a great passer and would find the open shooter and when she didn’t she would just drive.”
Villanova and Notre Dame each went 10-6 in the BIG EAST this season. The Wildcats came in unranked, but were seeded higher than Notre Dame because they beat the Fighting Irish 55-48 in January.
Perretta said he believes the win should secure and NCAA berth for the Wildcats, who will play either South Florida and top-ranked Connecticut in the semifinals.
“My personal feeling is that we kind of like got that weight off our shoulders and will just show up and play,” Perretta said.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame has its four-game winning streak snapped … all eight Irish losses this season have been by 12 points or fewer, with Notre Dame holding the lead or a possession to tie/take the lead in the second half of seven of those defeats … this marked the first time the Irish lost after holding a double-digit lead since last year’s BIG EAST quarterfinals, when Pittsburgh rallied from a 12-point first-half deficit to down Notre Dame, 64-53 … the Irish fall to 15-10 all-time against Villanova, with the Wildcats winning both matchups this year (the third time VU has posted back-to-back series wins over Notre Dame) … the series also is tied 2-2 in the BIG EAST Championship, with all four games coming in the quarterfinal round (Villanova has won the past two conference tournament meetings in 2003 and 2009) … for just the third time in 20 games this season, the Irish lose when leading at the half (also Dec. 10 at Michigan and Jan. 13 at Marquette) … Notre Dame falls to 13-2 this season when outrebounding its opponent, with both losses coming to Villanova, and the Irish are 10-2 when holding their opponents to fewer than 60 points (also both losses to VU) … Notre Dame was held to a season-low 47 points, one fewer than its output in the regular-season matchup at Villanova (a 55-48 Wildcat win) … the Irish were credited with a season-low three assists, four fewer than their previous low set twice before (most recently at Villanova on Jan. 24) … Notre Dame continues to protect the ball well, committing 15 turnovers or fewer for the seventh consecutive game … junior guard Ashley Barlow moved into 10th place on the Irish career steals list with exactly 200 thefts, passing Letitia Bowen (199 from 1991-95) and closing to one behind Jeannine Augustin (1993-97) for ninth place … Barlow also now has 84 career three-pointers, putting her one back of Sherri Orlosky (1990-94) for ninth place on Notre Dame’s all-time list … Barlow converted her second four-point play of the season with 1:34 left in the game; the Irish had gone six years without one prior to Barlow’s four-pointer on Feb. 22 at Connecticut, a game also played at Hartford’s XL Center … Notre Dame will now await the announcement of the 64-team NCAA Tournament field, scheduled for Monday, March 16 at 7 p.m. (ET) on ESPN; the Irish are one of 16 host schools for first- and second-round games in this year’s tournament, and should they be selected, they would play a first-round game at the Joyce Center on March 22 (time TBA) … tickets for the 2009 NCAA Tournament games at Notre Dame are available by contacting the Irish athletics ticket office (574-631-7356), stopping by the Joyce Center ticket windows (second floor of Gate 1) during weekday business hours, or by going on-line to the tickets page of the official Notre Dame athletics web site, www.UND.com/tickets … more information on the NCAA Tournament games at the Joyce Center also can be found on-line through the special Notre Dame tournament web page at www.UND.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/09-ncaa-regional-central-nd.html.