Dec. 18, 2000
By TOM COYNE
Associated Press Writer
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw had to search hard to find anything wrong with her team’s performance.
“We missed a couple of shots. We turned the ball over. We did something wrong, I know we did,” she said after the third-ranked Irish beat Western Michigan 84-54 Monday night.
With her team winning games by an average of 24.9 points, McGraw has been hard-pressed to find problems, but she was determined to try.
“We didn’t get to the foul line much. We didn’t get a lot of 3s. That’s what they did. They did a good job of taking away the 3-point shot,” McGraw said.
The Irish, who average more than six 3-pointers a game on 11 attempts, were only 3-of-6 against Western. But they never really needed to shoot 3s.
The Irish (9-0) held Western (1-5) to a season-low 29.5 percent shooting, including 17.6 percent shooting in the second half and never trailed.
Western coach Ron Stewart said even though he showed his team tape of the Irish, it was hard to prepare the Broncos for how good Notre Dame is.
“They found a way to win the two close games they’ve had, but the other games have been somewhat devastating,” he said. “They are that kind of team.”
Alicia Ratay scored 21 points, making nine straight baskets after missing her first three shots.
Ratay made her first basket, an 8-foot jumper, with 5:34 left in the first half to make it 30-21. She followed that with a 12-foot jumper on Notre Dame’s next possession, had an assist to Kelley Siemon on a give-and-go for a layup, then hit a 3-pointer to give the Irish a 37-21 lead.
“We really had a slow start and got it going after a while,” Ratay said. “We picked it up defensively and offensively turned it on.”
The Broncos started the second half by making just two of nine shots, while the Irish made 11 of 13, using a 25-10 run to open a 72-40 lead. Ruth Riley scored seven points in the run and Ratay had 10, capping the run with a 3-pointer with 12:45 left.
Ratay, who entered the game leading the nation in 3-point field goal percentage at 66.7 percent, made all three of her attempts against the Broncos.
“She’s about as good a 3-point shooter as I’ve ever seen,” Stewart said.
The Broncos shot 2-for-9 during Notre Dame’s outburst.
Riley had 15 points and three blocked shots, Kelly Siemon had 16 points and five rebounds and Ericka Haney scored 10 points.
The Irish, who won their ninth straight and 28th consecutive home game, shot 54.4 percent, the fourth time this season they have shot better than 50 percent.
Sarah Hurrle and Karen Deurloo each scored 15 points for the Broncos, who shot a season-low 29.5 percent. Kristin Koetsier, slowed by foul trouble, scored 10.
The Irish had a 43-37 rebounding edge and eight blocked shots. Amanda Barksdale had five blocks in 14 minutes.
At the end, McGraw finally admitted there weren’t too many things she could criticize.
“We executed pretty well and I thought we did a lot of things well,” she said.