March 4, 2006
HARTFORD, Conn. – Senior All-America guard Megan Duffy scored all 16 of her points in the second half, including the last eight of the game, to lead Notre Dame to a 73-66 win over South Florida in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship Saturday night at the Hartford Civic Center. Freshman guard Lindsay Schrader finished with 14 points for the 10th-seeded Fighting Irish (18-10), sophomore guards Tulyah Gaines and Charel Allen each had 12 points and senior forward Courtney LaVere added 10 points for Notre Dame, which will face No. 2 seed (and seventh-ranked Connecticut) Sunday at 6 p.m. (ET) in the BIG EAST quarterfinals. College Sports Television (CSTV) will broadcast the game live to a nationwide cable audience (available on most cable systems and via DirecTV Channel 610).
Shantia Grace led the Bulls (19-11) with 24 points and was 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Jessica Dickson, the nation’s leading scorer added 16. Dickson’s jumper in traffic with 4:34 left put the Bulls up 64-61, but it was all Duffy and the Irish after that.
After a Allen layup got the Irish to within a point, Schrader put them up for good at 65-64 with a pair of free throws with 3:19 left. Duffy drove the lane for a layup on Notre Dame’s next possession. She then added a pair of free throws for a 69-64 Irish lead. Grace hit a layup for the Bulls with 1:45 left for their final bucket.
Duffy, the BIG EAST’s leading free throw shooter (and 11th in the nation), was perfect down the stretch hitting 6-of-6 to ice the game. The Bulls had their chances in the final minute, but threw the ball away twice beneath their basket.
Grace hit three 3-pointers to help the Bulls rally from a six-point deficit midway through the first half. Rachael Sheats’ pullup jumper with 4:20 left capped an 11-2 South Florida run and gave the Bulls their biggest lead at 28-20.
But the Irish weren’t done either.
Schrader hit a layup to kick off an 11-3 run late in the first half. Down by two points with two seconds remaining, the Irish inbounded in their own backcourt and went the length of the court in two passes to tie it at the buzzer. Allen threw a halfcourt pass to LaVere, who found junior forward Crystal Erwin underneath the basket. Erwin hit a layup at the buzzer to tie it at 31-all at the break.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame has advanced to the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals in each of their 11 seasons in the conference (1996-present). The Irish also have won at least one BIG EAST Championship game in nine of their 11 tourney appearances (only “one-and-done” trips came in 2002 and 2004). Notre Dame now is 14-10 (.583) all-time in BIG EAST Championship play … the Irish lead the all-time series with South Florida, 3-1. Saturday’s game was the first postseason meeting with the Bulls in any sport. USF also is the 12th different opponent for the Irish in its history at the BIG EAST Championship … Notre Dame improves to 19-4 (.826) against Florida schools, including a 12-1 (.923) record away from home … the Irish continue to play well in close games, moving to 10-4 (.714) this season in games decided by 10 points or less … Notre Dame is 10-5 (.667) away from home this season (7-5 road, 3-0 neutral) … Notre Dame picks up its second win in seven all-time games at the Hartford Civic Center. The Irish also won their BIG EAST quarterfinal match-up with West Virginia last year, 70-59 … Notre Dame is 3-0 in its green uniforms this season, with all three wins coming in the last three Irish road games (West Virginia, Cincinnati, USF). The Irish are 8-4 (.667) all-time when sporting the greens (4-1 regular season, 4-3 postseason) … Saturday’s win over USF marked the eighth time this season Notre Dame has been tied or trailed in the final 11 minutes and come back to post the victory … Notre Dame’s five double-digit scorers vs. South Florida tied a season high set back on Dec. 18 vs. #22/21 Utah in the title game of the Duel in the Desert at Las Vegas. The Irish have had three or more double-figure scorers in each of their last 10 games and 22 times in 28 games this season. Notre Dame is 16-6 with at least three 10-point scorers and 7-2 when they have at least four reaching double digits … the Irish are 14-2 this season when either leading or tied at halftime … Notre Dame has scored 70+ points in its last four games, its longest run since a five-game stretch from Nov. 20-Dec. 4 … the Irish won the rebounding battle, 39-34, their first plus-margin on the glass since Feb. 4 vs. Providence. Notre Dame is 11-2 this season when it outrebounds the opposition … the Irish late-season penchant for ball protection now has seen them commit 15 or fewer turnovers nine times in the past 10 games (only exception: 16 vs. Connecticut on Feb. 19); Notre Dame is averaging just 12.2 turnovers in its last 10 outings … senior All-America guard Megan Duffy extended her personal double-digit scoring streak to 13 games … sophomore guard Tulyah Gaines scored in double figures for the fourth time this season (second in the past three games); in the last four games, Gaines is averaging 10.3 ppg., 6.8 rpg. and 4.8 apg. … freshman guard Lindsay Schrader collected her 13th double-digit scoring game of the year and seventh in the past 10 games (12.6 ppg. in that span) …sophomore guard Charel Allen has scored in double digits eight times in the past 10 outings, averaging 11.0 ppg. over that time … senior forward Courtney LaVere has come alive down the stretch with her seventh double-digit point game in the past nine contests (11.8 ppg. in that time); LaVere’s recent shot-blocking prowess continued vs. USF with four swats, giving the Irish co-captain 13 in her last three games (4.33 per game)and moving her into fifth place on Notre Dame’s career blocks list with 143, two more than All-American Katryna Gaither had from 1993-97.