Feb. 26, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Freshman forward Courtney LaVere scored 10 of her team-high 14 points in the second half, pacing five Notre Dame players in double figures as the Irish led all the way in a 77-69 BIG EAST Conference win over Pittsburgh Wednesday night at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame is now 12-0 all-time against the Panthers, who are one of four conference schools never to have defeated the Irish.
Senior guard Alicia Ratay chalked up her first double-double of the season, and the fifth of her career, with 12 points and a season-high 11 rebounds. She also canned a pair of three-point field goals to tie Sheila McMillen’s school record for career treys — both currently stand at 249.
Sophomore center Teresa Borton followed up her career-high effort against Connecticut with 13 points and six rebounds against Pittsburgh. Freshman guard Megan Duffy turned in the best offensive performance of her young career with 12 points, including 9-of-10 free throws. Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast rounded out the double-digit scoring parade with 10 points and eight rebounds. Wednesday marked the sixth time this season the Irish have had five double-figure scorers in a game.
Mandy Wittenmyer led all players with 23 points for the Panthers, who lost for the sixth time in their last seven outings. Haley Harguth added 19 points and Laine Selwyn notched her sixth double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds for Pittsburgh.
Wednesday’s game was a physical one that saw the teams whistled for a combined 49 fouls, while attempting a whopping 63 free throws. Notre Dame tied a season high by making 30 of 37 free throws (.811), topping the 75-percent mark at the foul line for the 11th time this season. The Irish also won the rebounding battle by a 39-30 count, improving to 13-2 this season when they hold the edge on the glass.
Notre Dame (16-9, 8-6 BIG EAST) came out smoking to start the game, opening up a 15-3 lead on an old-fashioned three-point play by Ratay with only 4:31 elapsed. However, as it would do all night long, Pittsburgh rallied and put together a 16-4 run of its own to tie the game at 19-19 just past the midway point of the first half. That would be the only tie of the night, although the Panthers doggedly stayed with the Irish the rest of the game.
Using a 13-1 run over the final 5:49 of the period, Notre Dame assumed a 38-24 lead at halftime. Slowly, Pittsburgh whittled the lead to six, as Wittenmyer knocked down a jumper in the lane with 10:57 left for a 45-39 deficit. Batteast then countered with a pair of tip-ins, sandwiched around two free throws from junior guard Le’Tania Severe, to restore a double-digit lead for the Irish, which they would maintain for the balance of the contest.
Pittsburgh (11-14, 3-11) made one last push in the final minute after Notre Dame had emptied its bench, going on an 11-5 game-ending run. Harguth nailed back-to-back three-pointers in the spurt, but it went for naught as the Irish buried five of six free throws to preserve the important conference victory.
Notre Dame will close out the home portion of its 2002-03 schedule Saturday at 4 p.m. (EST) when it plays host to Seton Hall at the Joyce Center. Prior to the game, the Irish will honor their two senior players, Ratay and Karen Swanson, as well as their two senior managers, Ned Holland and Kelly Landers.
— ND —