Nov. 3, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind./Washington) scored a game-high 23 points to lead four players in double figures as the 11th-ranked Irish posted a comfortable 84-52 exhibition victory over Premier Sports on Wednesday evening at the Joyce Center. It was the 16th consecutive exhibition victory for Notre Dame, which is now 21-1 in preseason games, dating back to the 1993-94 season.
Batteast knocked down nine of her 14 shots from the field, while adding five rebounds and four steals in just 25 minutes. Junior guard Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne) turned in a solid all-around game with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists, canning three of her five three-point attempts in the contest.
All four Notre Dame freshmen also saw their first collegiate action on Wednesday night. Guard Charel Allen (Monessen, Pa./Monessen) scored 10 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, while center Melissa D’Amico (Manorville, N.Y./William Floyd) made all five of her shots and also finished with 10 points. Guard Tulyah Gaines (North Las Vegas, Nev./Cheyenne) ran a smart floor game, chipping in four points, six rebounds (five of which were offensive), three assists and three steals.
For the game, the Irish shot 44.6 percent from the floor (33-74), including a sharp 53.8 percent from the three-point line (7-13). Notre Dame also won the rebounding battle, 47-36, and had 21 assists against only 12 turnovers.
Lisa Cline led Premier Sports with 14 points, while Tomeka Brown and Kenosha Chastang each contributed 11 points for the exhibition club. Wednesday’s game was the first on a five-game college tour for Premier Sports, which next visits Virginia Tech on Sunday.
As one would expect from the first game of the season, both teams showed quite a bit of rust in the early going. Notre Dame, which was ranked 11th in the preseason ESPN/USA Today coaches poll released earlier on Wednesday, had numerous good looks at the basket in the first half, but had most of its shots rim out. Meanwhile, Premier Sports provided a stern test in the opening moments and trailed by only six points at 22-16 on Cline’s basket with 5:21 left in the first half.
Batteast then ignited the Irish offense, hitting a jumper 15 seconds later and coming up with a steal on the ensuing possession to start a 16-5 Notre Dame run. Duffy’s runner on the break capped the surge and helped the hosts take a 38-24 lead into halftime.
As it turned out, that would be the closest Premier Sports would get for the rest of the night. Notre Dame scored 13 of the first 17 points in the second half and only briefly saw its lead dip below 20 points after that. Gaines hit a pair of free throws with 50 seconds to play, giving the Irish their largest lead of the night (84-50) and putting the exclamation point on an encouraging debut performance for Notre Dame.
The Irish won’t have much time to gather themselves, as they return to the Joyce Center hardwood Saturday at noon (ET) for their second and final exhibition game against the Hoosier Lady Stars. A touring team based in Indianapolis, the Lady Stars also opened their exhibition season Wednesday night, losing at Xavier, 87-60. The Lady Stars will visit Butler Thursday night before coming to South Bend.
— ND —