Nov. 20, 2005
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) – Megan Duffy scored 19 points, including four straight free throws in the final minute, for 15th-ranked Notre Dame. But Western Michigan’s Casey Rost almost stole the show.
Rost had a career-high 29 points in her first game in a year. Rost, who also made a career-high seven 3-pointers, had been sidelined by a knee injury.
Duffy hit all eight of her free throws attempts and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Notre Dame to a 71-68 victory and its fourth consecutive 2-0 start to a season.
“They’ve got a great team,” Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw said of Western (0-1), adding special praise for Rost. “I think she’s a great player, and she’s someone who’s really hard to guard.”
Notre Dame only trailed once, in the game’s first minute, but twice had its lead trimmed to one point in the second half – including on a 3-pointer by Rost with 11:50 left.
“We thought we were on her,” Duffy said, “and she just shot right over us.”
“What can you say about her?” Western coach Ron Stewart said. “I certainly didn’t think Casey Rost would be playing 40 minutes in the first game.”
But not even Rost could save the Broncos from their eighth consecutive loss to Notre Dame.
Freshman Lindsay Schrader scored 11 points for Notre Dame, reaching double figures in her second consecutive start, and reserve Courtney LaVere came off the bench to score eight of her 10 points in the second half.
Western’s Lindsey Brown had 16 points and Tiera Delahoussaye had 11.
The Irish, who won 27 games last year, have only one senior in their starting lineup: Duffy.
“We have to play hard no matter who we play,” McGraw said. “That’s the way our team is going to go this year. We don’t really have a go-to post player that we had in the past. And that makes it tougher on the guards. For us to win, we have to play great defensively and we have to rebound.”
The Irish outrebounded Western 39-37, although Western’s Amanda Parker had a game-high nine rebounds. Notre Dame also held Western to 34.3 percent shooting in the first half before Rost warmed up with 21 points in the second half, and forced 18 Western turnovers.
“Notre Dame is good, no question about it,” Stewart said.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Leading for all but the first 1:26 of Sunday’s contest, Notre Dame wins its road opener for the fourth consecutive season and seventh time in the past eight years … ND starts the season 2-0 for the third time in four years and 10th time in the 19-year Muffet McGraw era … the Irish improve to 8-0 all-time against Western Michigan, including a 3-0 record in Kalamazoo … Sunday’s margin was the closest in the eight-game series, topping a 68-62 Notre Dame victory spread on Dec. 8, 1982, also in Kalamazoo … the Irish have scored 70 points in seven of their eight all-time matchups with the Broncos … WMU tallied its highest point total ever against Notre Dame, exceeding the 65-point mark it had in a 94-65 loss to the Irish on Dec. 2, 1985, the clubs’ most recent contest at University Arena prior to Sunday; in fact all three of the Broncos’ 60-point games vs. Notre Dame have come in Kalamazoo … the Irish have won 10 consecutive games against Mid-American Conference opponents, a streak that dates back to 1995 … Notre Dame is 99-8 (.925) during the past six years when leading at halftime, having won 28 of its last 30 such games (2-0 this year) … Western Michigan guard Casey Rost tied a Notre Dame opponent record by canning seven three-pointers, with Connecticut’s Ann Strother the most recent foe to reach that total, doing so on nine attempts in a 65-59 Irish win on Jan. 30, 2005 in Storrs, Conn. … with two assists Sunday at WMU, senior guard Megan Duffy moved past former teammate Le’Tania Severe (2000-04) into seventh place on Notre Dame’s career assist chart with 386 handouts; Jeannine Augustin (1994-97) is up next for Duffy with 387 assists … with her next point, senior forward Courtney LaVere will reach the 900-point mark for her career (she had 10 points Sunday at Western Michigan) … LaVere also had two blocks against the Broncos and now is two away from becoming the eighth player in school history to record 100 career blocks.