January 2, 1999
WASHINGTON (AP) – Notre Dame’s defense kept one of the nation’s top scorers off the board in the first 10 minutes. By then, the game was pretty much over.
The Fighting Irish held Katie Smrcka-Duffy to one first-half basket, and Sheila McMillen was 6-for-8 from 3-point range and scored 22 points as No. 7 Notre Dame led from start to finish in Saturday in a 93-61 victory over Georgetown.
Notre Dame (10-2, 2-2 Big East) opened the game with a 15-2 run and smothered Smrcka-Duffy with a zone defense. Smrcka-Duffy, a former Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year with N.C. State and averaging 22 points coming into the game, threw up an early air ball and didn’t take another shot until a 3-point play with 9:52 remaining to account for all of her first-half points.
“We wanted one person guarding her, and somebody else running at her,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. “I thought we did that really well.”
Smrcka-Duffy scored 12 points in the second half, after the game was well out of reach, to finish with 15 for the Hoyas (6-5, 0-3). Angry Georgetown coach Pat Knapp said Smrcka-Duffy didn’t get her shots because the Hoyas’ defense was “terrible, nonexistent” and suffered from a “lack of effort.”
“All the John Woodens in the world who think they know how to get her the ball don’t …” Knapp said. “Because if we defend and rebound, she will get the ball on the open floor and you will see more opportunities develop.”
Danielle Green added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Irish, coming off a 78-65 upset loss at Boston College on Wednesday.
“The sign of a good team is how they respond to a loss,” McGraw said. “I think we responded today.”
Notre Dame shot 53 percent and scored many of its baskets in transition as the Irish defense held the Hoyas to 27 percent shooting – only 19 percent in the first half. The Irish led 43-27 at the break.
Notre Dame, playing the last of four straight road games, has won 11 of 12 games against Georgetown – including the last nine.
Georgetown, outrebounded 50-36, has dropped consecutive games against ranked teams. The Hoyas lost 79-67 at No. 13 Rutgers on Wednesday.
“Things can even out in this league very quickly if you stay poised and keep your focus,” Knapp said. “There’s no reason to panic at all.
“What I am angry about are the hustle plays defensively that we did not make and the lack of executing certain defensive fundamentals.”