Feb. 1, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Preseason Naismith Award candidates Alicia Ratay and Jacqueline Batteast each scored a game-high 21 points to lift No. 24 (ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame to a 69-64 BIG EAST Conference win over West Virginia Saturday night before a crowd of 6,975 at the Joyce Center. The victory snapped a school-record four-game home losing streak for the Irish and pushed their all-time series mark against the Mountaineers to 11-0.
Batteast added six rebounds, a team-high five assists and a career-best four blocked shots for Notre Dame (12-7, 4-4 BIG EAST). Meanwhile, Ratay scored 16 of her points in the first half, en route to tying her season-high scoring output (21 at Valparaiso, 12/4). Sophomore center Teresa Borton made all seven of her shots and finished with 14 points. Her perfect field goal percentage tied for the second-best shooting performance by an Irish player in Joyce Center history (Sandy Botham was 9-for-9 from the field against Evansville in 1986).
Kate Bulger led three WVU players in double figures with 15 points. Liz Holbrook tallied 12 points and Michelle Carter picked up second consecutive double-double (and third of the season) with 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Irish seized the early lead against the Mountaineers, but could not shake the pesky visitors. West Virginia (11-7, 0-7) twice rallied to tie the score before Notre Dame took its largest lead of the first half at 32-25 on a pair of Batteast free throws with 5:28 remaining in the period. However, the free throw line would be the only source of offense for the Irish over the final seven minutes, as the Mountaineers closed the period on a 12-3 run to take a 37-35 lead at the break.
A baseline jumper by Holbrook 45 seconds into the second half boosted the West Virginia lead to four points. From there, Notre Dame went on a 19-5 run, sparked by 11 points from Batteast, to take a 54-44 lead with 10:19 to play. Sherell Sowho hit for five straight points to cut the WVU deficit in half, but the Irish answered with an 11-4 charge to put the Mountaineers on their heels. Freshman guard Megan Duffy closed out the win by canning all four of her free throws in the final 24 seconds.
Notre Dame will be back on the Joyce Center hardwood Wednesday night when it plays host to Georgetown at 7 p.m. (EST). The Hoyas are 12-6 this season (3-4 in BIG EAST play) following their 56-53 win at Seton Hall this afternoon.
— ND —