Nov. 12, 2004
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Notre Dame had one of its best offensive games of the past two seasons. Coach Muffet McGraw still wasn’t completely happy.
She was pleased to see six players score in double figures for the 10th-ranked Irish in their 92-73 victory over Illinois State on Friday night in the opening round of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT. She wasn’t happy to see the Redbirds score that many points or shoot 45 percent.
“I don’t care how many points we score. It’s all about the defense,” McGraw said.
The Irish did play some good defense in the first half, forcing 18 turnovers that led to numerous easy baskets.
“They scored so many points off our turnovers, it seemed like every turnover led to a fastbreak or layup with them,” Illinois State coach Robin Pingeton said.
Courtney LaVere led the Irish with 18 points and Megan Duffy added 15 points and eight assists. Charel Allen scored 14 points in her first college game, Jacqueline Batteast added 13, Teresa Borton had 11 and Crystal Erwin added 10 as the Irish had six players in double figures for the first time since 1999.
“It’s great to see the rest of them score like they did, especially Courtney,” McGraw said.
Every Irish player who played scored except Tulyah Gaines, who played just 5 minutes after being fouled and hitting her head on the floor.
She was being held overnight in the campus infirmary as a precautionary measure.
Katie Donovan led Illinois State with 25 points, while Holly Hallstrom had 23 and Ashley Sandstead added 13.
The Irish scored more than 90 points just once last season, a 93-58 win over Miami on Feb. 25. But like their coach, the Irish were more concerned about their defense.
“We focus on defense here,” LaVere said. “To allow them to have that many, we’re not too happy with that.”
Notre Dame had five players 6-foot-1 or taller playing at least 8 minutes, while the Redbirds had just three women that height play that much. The Irish, who shot 53 percent, outscored the Redbirds 48-32 in the paint and had a 40-34 rebounding advantage.
“Give Notre Dame a ton of credit,” Pingeton said. “They’re very good, very athletic and they play well as a team.”
— ND —
POST-GAME NOTES: With the victory, Notre Dame advances to the quarterfinals of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT, where it will play host to Nebraska Sunday at 7 p.m. (ET) at the Joyce Center — the Huskers defeated Western Illinois, 74-71 on Friday night … Notre Dame had six players score in double figures for the first time since Jan. 23, 1999 (a 99-60 win vs. St. John’s at the Joyce Center) … Notre Dame scored 48 points in the first half, its highest output in the opening 20 minutes of a game since Nov. 26, 2002, when the Irish rang up a school-record 61 points to tip off a 107-65 win over Cleveland State … Duffy’s eight assists were one shy of her career, set last season on Dec. 7 at Washington … LaVere’s five assists tied her career high, previously set in that 2002 win over Cleveland State … Erwin picked up her second career double-figure scoring game, complementing the career-high 13-point effort she had last season on Dec. 13 vs. Dayton; she also had a career-high six rebounds, one more than her previous best that she set four times last year … Charel Allen’s 14 points are the most by an Irish freshman in her debut game since LaVere had 18 against Cleveland State in 2002 … Breona Gray made her first career start and tied her career high with six rebounds (vs. Marquette on Jan. 1, 2004) … Notre Dame extends its home winning streak to 21 games, tying Delaware State and Southwest Missouri State for the sixth-longest active streak in the country … the Irish won their ninth consecutive season opener and are 15-3 in season openers during the 18-year Muffet McGraw era … Notre Dame also picked up its seventh win in the past eight regular-season tournament games (only blemish was a 67-63 OT loss at #20 Colorado last year in the WBCA Classic championship game) … the Irish have now won 10 consecutive games over current Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) teams and are 24-2 all-time against that league (11-1 at home) … the Irish now have won 39 consecutive home games when they are ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll and they are 43-2 all-time at the Joyce Center as a top-10 team … Notre Dame has won 48 of its last 50 non-conference home games, dating back to the 1994-95 season … the Irish drew 6,190 fans to their season opener, their 52nd consecutive home game with at least 5,000 fans in attendance.