November 14, 1998
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Whenever UCLA threatened, Niele Ivey and Danielle Green were there to answer.
With Notre Dame’s 6-foot-5 center Ruth Riley on the bench most of the second half in foul trouble, the guard tandem of Ivey and Green dominated No. 6 UCLA from the perimeter as the No. 17 Irish beat the Bruins 99-82 Saturday in the season opener for both teams.
Ivey scored 25 points and handed out 11 assists – both career bests – while Green scored 23 in the school’s 400th win.
“I thought Niele and Danielle were outstanding,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “I thought Niele was the first one to step up. When Ruth fouled out and they cut it to six, Niele hit the big shots.”
UCLA, which trailed by double digits for most of the game, threatened only once in the second half, cutting the Irish lead to six points while Riley sat on the bench with four fouls. Her absence opened up the middle for Maylana Martin and Melanie Pearson, who scored from the lane to cut Notre Dame’s lead to 54-48 four minutes into the period.
But Ivey answered a minute later, scoring nine points in a 43-second span, including two 3-pointers sandwiched around a runner in the lane, putting the Irish ahead 64-50. The Bruins didn’t get closer than nine points the rest of the way.
“I was open. I thought I might as well take a chance, and it helped to build momentum,” Ivey said.
While Green and Ivey scored career-bests offensively, they also confounded the UCLA backcourt, helping to force 30 turnovers.
“We started out slow and allowed them to get their confidence,” UCLA coach Kathy Olivier said. “They have some good outside shooters and good quickness. They have a good mix. We struggled with that.”
The Irish took control with 5:21 left in the first half, opening up their first double-digit lead at 32-21 on Green’s runner in the lane and subsequent three-point play.
“I just wanted to come out and play my game within the system,” Green said. “I wanted to play a smart game and stay in control because I have a habit of going out of control, and I was on tonight.”
The Bruins closed within nine points on LaCresha Flanning’s full-court drive in the final 10 seconds. But then Ericka Haney made a 3-pointer at the buzzer, putting the Irish ahead by 12.
Martin registered her 40th straight game in double figures with 26 points, while Pearson finished with 21 after scoring a career-best 30 points in a double overtime loss to the Irish last season.
Despite playing less than two minutes in the second half before fouling out, Riley finished with 10 points. She was one of three Irish players who fouled out as the teams combined for 53 fouls and 55 turnovers.