Nov. 3, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Sophomore forward Courtney LaVere (Ventura, Calif./Buena HS) scored a game-high 21 points to lead four Notre Dame players in double figures as the Irish opened their 2003-04 season with an 85-65 exhibition victory over Northwest Sports on Monday night at the Joyce Center.
LaVere connected on 10 of 14 shots from the field and added seven rebounds for Notre Dame, while junior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind./Washington HS) rang up a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. However, the most pleasant surprise of the evening may have come from sophomore point guard Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne HS), who also posted a double-double with 12 points and 13 assists in 34 minutes of action. The last time an Irish player had that many handouts in a regular-season game was Dec. 4, 1999, when Niele Ivey registered 13 assists in a win over North Carolina.
Junior forward Katy Flecky (Lone Tree, Colo./Highlands Ranch HS) contributed a balanced performance for Notre Dame, finishing with 12 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals. As a team, the Irish shot 52.5 percent from the floor (31 of 59), a figure which is all the more impressive considering Notre Dame misfired on nine of their first 10 shots in the opening five minutes of the game. The Irish also won the battle on the boards, 48-37, and had 27 assists on their 31 field goals in a strong display of team basketball.
Erin Thorn scored a team-high 21 points and Reshea Bristol added 11 points for Northwest Sports, which falls to 0-2 on its college exhibition tour. Both Thorn and Bristol currently are playing for WNBA teams, with Thorn on the New York Liberty roster and Bristol competing for the Charlotte Sting.
Both teams appeared to be stuck in neutral early in the contest, although Northwest Sports used some solid passing to pick up a handful of layups and take a 12-7 lead with 14:24 remaining in the first half. Notre Dame chipped away at its deficit before taking the lead for the first time at 18-17 on a pair of free throws by senior guard Le’Tania Severe (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Fort Lauderdale HS) at the 12:01 mark. That helped ignite an 18-8 Irish run that put the hosts in front 34-25 six minutes later.
Northwest Sports got as close as six points when Kristen Pool hit one of two free throws coming out of the last media timeout of the first half. However, Notre Dame scored eight of the last 12 points in the period and took a 45-35 lead to the dressing room. After their early shooting struggles, the Irish closed out the first half smoking, hitting 15 of their last 22 shots from the floor (a .682 clip).
Notre Dame slowly expanded its lead to begin the second half, getting the margin up to 62-43 on a jumper by Batteast at the 11:26 mark. Northwest Sports made one last charge and got within 11 points (69-58) on a three-pointer by Thorn five minutes later. That would be the last opportunity for the visitors, as the Irish ended the game on a 16-7 run, pushing the lead over 20 points in the final two minutes.
The news was not all good for Notre Dame, as senior guard Monique Hernandez (Rio Rancho, N.M./Cibola HS) went down with a foot injury midway through the second half and did not return. Hernandez had three points and six rebounds in her first game with the Irish in nearly two years. Her injury will be re-evaluated by team trainers on Tuesday.
The Irish will play their second and final exhibition game on Sunday, Nov. 9 when they take on Team Concept at 1 p.m. (ET) at the Joyce Center.
— ND —