Dec. 29, 2003
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Junior center Teresa Borton (Yakima, Wash./West Valley HS) logged season highs of 14 points and nine rebounds, and senior guard Le’Tania Severe (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Fort Lauderdale HS) added 13 points, including two big free throws with 3.1 seconds left to help Notre Dame defeat Colorado State, 63-59 on Monday night at Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Colo. It was the first true road win in five opportunities this season for the Irish, who now have won three in a row and four of their last five games.
Borton made six of her 10 shots from the field and played a career-high 37 minutes, including the final 4:29 with four fouls. Severe did much of her damage at the free throw line, hitting nine of 11 foul shots and all six of her charity tosses in the second half. The Notre Dame bench also played a pivotal role in the victory, outscoring their CSU counterparts by a 20-3 margin.
For Colorado State, it marked the second narrow loss to Notre Dame in as many meetings. The Irish won last year’s matchup at the Joyce Center, 46-45, and all three games in the series have been decided by a combined total of 11 points (3.7 ppg.). Lindsay Thomas led a trio of Rams in double figures with 18 points, along with a game-high 13 rebounds. Melissa Dennett contributed 14 points and Joy Jenkins added 12 points for Colorado State.
Unlike its previous two games, Notre Dame fell behind early as the Rams bolted to a 7-2 lead and widened their advantage to 13-7 on a jumper in the lane by Dennett with 12:32 left in the first half. As it turned out, that would be Colorado State’s largest lead of the night and it didn’t last long as the Irish went on an 8-0 run, capped by two Borton free throws, to assume a 15-13 lead at the 9:40 mark.
Colorado State (6-4) regained its footing and the upper hand moments later, piecing together a 12-5 run to build up a five-point lead with just over three minutes left in the first half. Thomas had five points and Jenkins chipped in with four points during the spurt. The Rams would maintain their lead until the closing seconds of the period, when Borton found senior guard Jeneka Joyce (Topeka, Kan./Washburn Rural HS) on a weakside layup with 17 seconds left to forge a 26-26 tie at the intermission.
Notre Dame (6-4) came out focused to start the second half and it showed, as the Irish opened the period on an 18-7 run, highlighted by a pair of three-pointers from Joyce, to take their largest lead of the night at 44-33 with 13:49 remaining. However, as quickly as that lead ballooned, it disappeared nearly as fast, with Jenkins and Annika Walseth banging down three-pointers and Dennett adding five points inside to spark an 11-2 Ram charge.
Holding a slim 46-44 lead with 9:47 to go, Notre Dame held fast and never let Colorado State move in front. Borton twice gave her team a six-point lead with layups inside, but eventually CSU whittled the margin to a single point when Thomas hit two free throws to make it 55-54 at the 4:28 junction.
Again, the Irish mettle was tested and again, they passed as Severe hit a fastbreak layup and two free throws before junior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind./Washington HS) made a breakaway layup and was intentionally fouled by Walseth with 2:43 left. However, Batteast missed both of the ensuing charities and Notre Dame could not capitalize on the resulting possession. CSU made the visitors pay for their transgression, as Thomas knocked down a jumper in the lane and Vanessa Espinoza followed with a pull-up three-pointer in transition to cut the margin to 61-59 with 56.7 seconds to play.
The Irish had a chance to ice the win on their next possession, but sophomore guard Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne HS) misfired on her long jumper and the Rams came away with the basketball and a chance to tie or win the game. Following a CSU timeout, Jasai Ferrucho got open on the right baseline, but her jumper went long and Batteast was there to collect the rebound. The Irish hit Severe with the outlet pass and she was fouled by Thomas with 3.1 seconds left. The Notre Dame captain then put the capper on a thrilling Irish win by coolly draining both of her free throws as the raucous Moby Arena crowd of 2,701 tried in vain to distract her.
Notre Dame will return home for its next game on Thursday afternoon (New Year’s Day) when it plays host to Marquette at the Joyce Center. Tipoff time is slated for 2 p.m. (ET) and the first 1,500 fans in attendance will receive Irish basketball combination magnets. Tickets may be purchased at the door or by calling the Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office at (574) 631-7356.
— ND —