Sophomore guard Natalie Novosel scored a game-high 15 points, including seven in a game-changing 13-4 run to close out the first half, as Notre Dame tipped off its 10-day, three-game European tour with a 77-44 win over the French Junior National Team on Monday night in Paris.

Irish Roll To 77-44 Win Over French Junior National Team

May 11, 2009

PARIS – Junior forward Becca Bruszewski (Valparaiso, Ind./Wheeler) and sophomore guard Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) each scored a game-high 15 points, and sophomore forward Erica Solomon (Oak Park, Mich./Detroit Country Day School) added 11 points as the Notre Dame women’s basketball team opened its three-game European tour with a 77-44 win over the French Junior National Team on Monday night at Daniel Perault Gymnasium on the campus of the INSEP (Institute Nationale de Sport et Education Physicale) on the east side of Paris.

Solomon also chalked up game highs with six rebounds and two blocks, while Bruszewski grabbed five rebounds and knocked down 3-of-6 three-pointers, including all three tries from distance in the second half. Senior guard Ashley Barlow (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) chipped in a solid all-around night with nine points and game bests of five steals and four assists.

As a team, the Irish rode an aggressive defense that led to 23 steals and numerous other turnovers by the French side. Notre Dame shot 38.9 percent (28-of-72) from the field in the game, but did significant damage from beyond the arc, connecting at a .368 clip (7-of-19) outside the longer international three-point line of 20 feet, 6 inches.

Medelome Medenou scored eight points and Alexia Plagnard notched six points for the French Junior National Team, which is made up of 18- and 19-year-old players training to compete for their country’s senior national squad which regularly qualifies for both the European Championships and the World Championships.

It took a little more than one quarter for the Irish to get used to not only their surroundings, but also the unfamiliar international rules. Notre Dame misfired on its first five shots from the floor, and the teams traded the lead six times in the first period before a late bucket left the French on top, 18-17 through the first 10 minutes.

That lead lasted all of 28 seconds in the second quarter, as Solomon powered inside for a basket and senior guard Melissa Lechlitner (Mishawaka, Ind./South Bend St. Joseph’s) followed with a foul-line jumper one minute later, sparking an 8-0 Irish run to begin the period. The French rallied back to within 25-22 on a basket by Bettina Kadila at the 5:40 mark, but Notre Dame would cap the half on a 13-4 spurt to hike its lead to 38-26 at intermission. Novosel scored seven points in the run, including an old-fashioned three-point play with 2:44 remaining in the quarter.

The Irish defense slammed the door on any hopes for a comeback by France in the second half, holding the hosts without a basket for the first four minutes of the third quarter. Four different players drained three-pointers in the period, with Lechlitner and Bruszewski connecting early on, before Barlow, Bruszewski and sophomore forward Kellie Watson (Ionia, Mich./Ionia) dialed long distance, the latter triple coming with 26 seconds to go and giving Notre Dame a 63-38 lead going to the final period.

With the Irish perimeter game heating up, Solomon took advantage in the post with five points in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter. Senior center Erica Williamson (Charlotte, N.C./South Mecklenburg) then spelled her younger teammate on the blocks and tallied four points in the paint, while the Notre Dame defense continued to clamp down, holding France to just six points in the final stanza (on three field goals).

Following two days of sightseeing in Nice, France, Monte Carlo, Monaco, and Como, Italy, the Irish next will take the court on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. local time (1:15 p.m. Eastern) when it plays GEAS Sesto San Giovanni in suburban Milan, Italy. San Giovanni recently finished sixth in the 14-team Italian Lega A1, although the team is not expected to have its primary import players – WNBA veterans Ticha Penicheiro and Iciss Tillis – on hand for the game with the start of WNBA training camps on the horizon.

— ND —

Notre Dame 77, French Junior National Team 44
May 11, 2009
Daniel Perault Gymnasium • Paris, France

NOTRE DAME (77) – Erica Solomon 11 pts (4-8 FG, 3-4 FT), 6 rebs, 2 blk, 2 stl; Kellie Watson 6 pts (1-6 3FG), 3 asst, 2 rebs, 2 stl; Fraderica Miller 4 pts (2-4 FG), 4 rebs, 3 stl, 2 asst; Ashley Barlow 9 pts (3-8 FG, 2-2 3FG, 1-2 FT), 5 stl, 4 asst, 1 reb; Natalie Novosel 15 pts (6-12 FG, 0-2 3FG, 1-2 FT), 4 rebs, 4 stl, 1 asst; Melissa Lechlitner 7 pts (3-5 FG, 1-2 3FG), 3 asst, 1 stl, 1 reb; Lindsay Schrader 4 pts (2-12 FG, 0-1 FT), 3 reb, 2 asst; Becca Bruszewski 15 pts (5-10 FG, 3-6 3FG, 2-2 FT), 5 rebs, 3 stl, 2 blk; Alena Christiansen 0 pts (0-2 FG, 0-1 3FG), 2 rebs, 1 stl; Erica Williamson 6 pts (2-5 FG, 2-2 FT), 3 rebs, 1 blk, 1 stl. TEAM 28-72 FG (.389), 7-19 3FG (.368), 14-20 FT (.700), 31 rebs (9 offensive/22 defensive), 5 blk, 23 stl.