Dec. 22, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind./Washington HS) collected her third double-double of the year with 20 points and a season-high 13 rebounds, pacing Notre Dame to a 73-62 win over USC on Monday afternoon before a season-high crowd of 6,571 at the Joyce Center.
In a matchup featuring two of the nation’s top players, Batteast edged out USC’s Ebony Hoffman, adding four assists and three steals without a turnover in 37 minutes. The Irish backcourt of senior Le’Tania Severe (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Fort Lauderdale HS) and sophomore Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne HS) also turned in a solid performance, with each player scoring 12 points. All of Severe’s markers came in the second half, while Duffy added a game-high seven assists, the fifth time this season she has dished out five or more assists in a game.
Meghan Gnekow led four USC players in double figures with 20 points, while Hoffman logged a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.
After Gnekow buried a three-pointer to open the scoring, Notre Dame (5-4) went on a 7-0 run to take the lead for good. Batteast had five points in the early spurt, including her third three-pointer of the season. The Irish bumped their lead to 21-9 when sophomore forward Courtney LaVere (Ventura, Calif./Buena HS) hit a layup at the 9:57 mark.
USC (3-5), which was playing its second game in less than 48 hours, rallied back with a 7-0 run, capped by consecutive layups from Hoffman. The second bucket forced Notre Dame to burn a timeout after its lead was trimmed to 21-16 with 7:31 left in the first half.
From there, the Irish defense went to work, clamping down on the Women of Troy and not allowing a USC field goal for the remainder of the period. Notre Dame capitalized on their stellar play at the defensive end by going on a 15-2 run to end the first half, taking its largest lead at that point (36-18) to the dressing room.
The Irish got their edge up to a game-high 20 points at 42-22 when Severe converted a fastbreak layup at the 16:47 mark. USC countered with a 9-2 run in a span of only 1:13 and got within 13 points at the first media timeout of the second half. In what would be an ongoing trend in the period, Notre Dame rebuilt its 20-point lead midway through the second half, but the Women of Troy would not falter, cutting their deficit to 59-47 when Rometra Craig banged in a three-pointer with 6:46 to go.
Just when it seemed Notre Dame might be in trouble, the Irish held fast and went on a 10-4 run to grab a 69-51 lead with 3:05 remaining. USC tried desperately to come back one more time, but the clock was not working in favor of the Women of Troy, as Notre Dame hit four of six free throws in the final two minutes before Craig hit a last-second three-pointer to make the final margin 11 points, the closest USC would get since the 3:46 mark of the first half.
With the victory, Notre Dame improves to 5-1 all-time against the Women of Troy and picks up its 44th win in its last 46 non-conference home games. The Irish also are now 67-5 (.931) over the past four seasons when they lead at the half, including a 5-1 mark this year.
Notre Dame will take the next week off to enjoy the Christmas holiday before returning to the hardwood Monday, Dec. 29, when it takes on Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colo. Tipoff time from Moby Arena is slated for 7 p.m. (MT)/9 p.m. (ET).
— ND —