November 21, 1998
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Seven days, two top 10 teams, three wins.
Not bad a bad first week for No. 11 Notre Dame, which blew out No. 6 Duke 84-57 on Saturday.
“We’ve looked at this season as a season of opportunity,” said Notre Dame coach Muffett McGraw, whose squad beat then-No. 6 UCLA 99-82 to open the season. “We looked at our schedule and every time we turn around we’re playing another ranked team.
“We feel that for us to be ready in March we have to see these teams early. It gives us a chance to see where we are.”
The Blue Devils are still trying to figure out where they are after watching Notre Dame (3-0) center Ruth Riley burn them for 20 points and 18 rebounds, while Irish guard Danielle Green had 20 points and 15 boards. It was the second time the Blue Devils have been beaten badly by a ranked team since they were ranked No. 4 in the preseason poll.
“We can’t really say we’ve played real well against good teams if we really haven’t shown what kind of team we are,” said center Michele VanGorp.
Duke (1-3) trailed by double figures most of the game, but was able to cut the Notre Dame lead to four points early in the second half.
The Irish responded with a 21-7 run over the next seven minutes – including 10 points from Green – to go up 63-43 with 9:30 left. The Blue Devils would get no closer than 21 points the rest of the way.
“I was in some early foul trouble, and I was feeling kind of down, like I let the team down,” said Green, who drew two quick fouls in the first half. “But the coaches told me just to be ready and go out in the second half and play my game. And the second half came along, and I just had a lot of energy.”
Duke struggled with foul trouble during Notre Dame’s second-half run. Starters VanGorp and Lauren Rice, along with Rochelle Parent, all drew their fourth personal fouls during the run. VanGorp later fouled out, unable to handle Riley inside.
“We both had the same game plan. It was one end for Ruth and one end for Michele,” McGraw said. “Fortunately, Ruth was able to stay out of foul trouble and, I thought, held her position real well. Ruth won the battle of the big guys.”
Notre Dame opened the game with a 16-3 run, capped off by Kelley Siemon’s layup with 14:43 to go. The Irish extended their lead to 30-10 when Siemon hit two free throws seven minutes later.
But Riley, who also tied a school record with eight blocks, went to the bench with two fouls, and Duke went on a 20-6 run to pull within six points when Georgia Schweitzer hit a jumper from the left side.
With Riley on the floor, VanGorp was just 1-of-9 to open the game. But with Notre Dame’s center on the bench, VanGorp scored nine points to finish the first half with 11.
VanGorp finished with 17 points to lead the Blue Devils, while Krista Gingrich and Payton Black had 10 each.
The Blue Devils were hampered by the loss of Peppi Browne, who averages 14.7 points and 7.7 rebounds, less than two minutes into the game after she and Green collided while diving for a loose ball. Browne was helped off the court with back spasms and did not return.
Browne’s injury was the latest in a string for the Blue Devils that have hampered them early in the season and kept several players out of practice and conditioning drills.
“We ran out of gas,” said coach Gail Goestenkors. “We’re not in very good shape right now. We’re not in game shape.”