March 15, 2001

From the Associated Press

GAME: No. 16 Alcorn State (21-10) vs. No. 1 Notre Dame (28-2).
REGIONAL: Midwest, first round.
TIME: Saturday, 1:37 p.m. EST.
SITE: Joyce Center, South Bend, Ind.

Notre Dame, led by Player of the Year Ruth Riley, will try to extend its 36-game winning streak at the Joyce Center as it plays host to Alcorn State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Riley, a unanimous All-American selection and winner of the Naismith Award as the nation’s top player, is not the only player capable of leading the Irish to what coach Muffet McGraw hopes is the team’s first NCAA title.

The Irish also have a third-team All-American in point guard Niele Ivey. Her backcourt partner, Alicia Ratay, has made a nation-leading 53.8 percent of her 3-point shots.

Alcorn State finished the season with four straight wins, including an 86-74 victory over Grambling State in the Southwestern Athletic Conference title game on March 10 to advance to its second straight NCAA tournament.

Cherea Wood punctuated her selection as the league tournament’s most valuable player by scoring 34 points and pulling down 12 rebounds.

Wood, Alcorn State’s top scorer, helped lead the Lady Braves to their unlikely NCAA berth after they started the season 0-5.

Lady Braves coach Shirley Walker says the team is happy to be making its second straight NCAA appearance, but knows it faces a very tough opponent.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us, but we’re excited to be going to South Bend,” Walker said. “The only thing we can do is stay within our system and do the best we can. We’ve played against some powerhouses before. We’ll have a lot going against us, we know that. We’ll try to play good defense and hang with Notre Dame.”

PROBABLE STARTERS: Notre Dame – F Kelley Siemon (11.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg), F Ericka Haney (11.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg), C Ruth Riley (17.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg), G Alicia Ratay (13.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg), G Niele Ivey (12.2, 7.0 apg). Alcorn State – F Wood (16.8 ppg,7.6 rpg), F Aja Wellington (7.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg), G Queriston Haynes (8.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg), G Daisha Reed (9.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg), G Kamrica Turk (5.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg).

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Notre Dame – At-large bid, Big East Conference. Alcorn State – Automatic bid, Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament champion.

ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Notre Dame – 10-7, 7 years. Alcorn State – 0-1, 1 year.