Nov. 29, 2005
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw missed her milestone 700th career game as coach Tuesday night because of illness. Luckily for her, though, Megan Duffy was feeling just fine.
Duffy scored 13 of her 21 points during a decisive 16-4 run early in the second half, pacing 11th-ranked Notre Dame to a 74-55 victory over Iona, giving the absent McGraw her career 504th victory.
“It’s just one of those nights where it’s tough when you play without your head coach,” associate head coach Coquese Washington said. “In the first half, we were all a little nervous.”
Duffy, who was just 2-of-10 shooting in the first half, hit a 3-pointer early in the second half to get the Irish (5-0) and herself going. She hit her next four shots as well, including a pair of 3s, to extend Notre Dame’s lead to 52-36.
“I just had to keep being aggressive,” Duffy said. “I missed a few shots in the first half, good shots, wide open, and Coquese told me to stay aggressive.”
Washington, a Notre Dame assistant since 1999, said she didn’t know McGraw wouldn’t make it to the game until shortly before the start. Asked what she thought when she heard she would be running the Irish, she said: “I can’t say that in public. Needless to say, I miss coach McGraw.”
The Irish (5-0) led by as many as 12 in the first half, but the Gaels (2-1) scored the first two baskets of the second half to cut the lead to 36-32. That’s when Duffy got the Irish going.
“Our goal was obviously to have Notre Dame shoot the ball from the outside,” Iona coach Anthony Bozzella said. “That was our plan and certainly at that point Duffy said, ‘I’ll shoot it’ and made a few which opened it up. It forced us out of a couple of things we wanted to do defensively.”
Lindsay Schrader added 14 points and Courtney LaVere and Melissa D’Amico had 10 points each for the Irish. Toni Horvath led the Gaels with 14 points and Martina Weber had 11 points and nine rebounds, although she had just two points and two rebounds in the second half.
“Part of it was fatigue. Part of it was good defense,” Bozzella said.
Washington thought Notre Dame’s defense was key in the second half after leading just 36-28 at halftime.
“I felt like we came out and played a lot more pressure defense and that defense led to offense in the second half,” she said.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame improves to 5-0 this season, its second 5-0 start in as many years and the fifth in school history … the Irish log their largest margin of victory this season and their fourth double-digit win in five outings to date … Notre Dame tied its season-high point output (also at Indiana on Nov. 23) and logged its fourth consecutive 70-point game, the first time the Irish have topped the 70-point mark in four straight games since Dec. 4-22, 2003 … Notre Dame closes out the month of November unbeaten for the second consecutive season and extended its current winning streak in the year’s penultimate month to 12 games and 23 wins in the past 28 November outings … Tuesday night’s game was only the second in the Notre Dame-Iona series and the first since a 69-65 ND win on Dec. 19, 1980; that’s a dormant period of 24 years, 11 months and nine days, which makes it the longest hiatus between games in school history (11 days longer than the break between series matchups between the Irish and IPFW) … Notre Dame raises its all-time record vs. New York schools to 36-2 (.947), including a 19-0 mark at the Joyce Center (17 of those wins by double figures) … the Irish have led or been tied at the half in all five games this year … Notre Dame had four double-digit scorers for the second consecutive game and have had at least three in double figures in all five games this year … senior guard Megan Duffy notched her second 20-point game of the season and seventh of her career — Duffy also reached the 900-point barrier for her career (now with 909) and the 400-assist plateau in her tenure (exactly 400) … Duffy has 14 assists and one turnover in her last three games (111 minutes) … freshman guard Lindsay Schrader turned in a strong night with a season-best 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting in only 22 minutes … sophomore center Melissa D’Amico nearly posted her second double-double in as many games with 10 points and eight rebounds — prior to this season, she had one career double-digit game, but she has three in five games this year … senior forward Courtney LaVere is averaging 10.5 ppg. off the bench in her last four outings and is shooting .652 (15-of-23) from the floor in her last three games … freshman forward Chandrica Smith had three points, two rebounds and a steal, the first stats of her college career … three Irish players saw their first action of the season — sophomore Amanda Tsipis and freshman walk-ons Brittney Bolden and Christine Trezza.