February 3, 1999
By JR ROSS
Associated Press Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – It wasn’t exactly how Ruth Riley expected to follow up a school record 41-point performance.
Boston College held Notre Dame’s 6-foot-5 center to three first-half points and just two shots. But after Riley finally caught fire in the second-half as she finished with 18 to lead No. 6 Notre Dame to a 74-59 win over the 20th-ranked Eagles Wednesday night.
“Coming into this game it’s kind of hard for a player to realize and adjust that you’re not going to have a game like that every time and your shots are not going to fall every time,” Riley said. “It just took me a while to get back into things. … It was just a battle for me to stay focused and keep going at it.”
It took a while for the Irish (18-2, 10-2 Big East) to adjust to the Eagles as well. After winning its last four games by an average of 37.5 points, Notre Dame struggled to keep Boston College (17-4, 9-4) at bay most of the game.
The Eagles, playing mostly a zone defense, shut down the Irish inside and forced them to go to their usually reliable perimeter game. But the Irish were just 7-of-22 from 3-point range and shot 39 percent (25-of-65) from the field.
“BC plays tremendous defense. They took us out of our inside game,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw.
But Notre Dame compensated for its poor shooting by outrebounding Boston College 46-27, including 20 offensive rebounds, and extended its winning streak to nine games.
“Riley came out ready to go in the second half,” Eagles coach Cathy Inglese said. “The big thing was we gave them too many second shots.
“If we would have just given them one shot, it would have been a different ball game.”
Notre Dame jumped ahead 50-34 on a 14-3 run early in the second half, only to go scoreless for the next six minutes. Alissa Murphy pulled Boston College within 50-46 on a free throw but missed her second attempt.
Kelly Siemon’s layup on the ensuing fast break ended Notre Dame’s dry spell, and the Irish slowly built their lead back up to double digits.
“We let them back in it with poor defense,” McGraw said. “Fortunately, they never tied the game. Then we went into Ruth. When we started doing that, we were more successful.”
Danielle Green scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Irish, while Niele Ivey added 17. Ivey had 13 in the first half while the Eagles focused on Riley and forced her to the bench with two fouls.
“In the first half when Ruth was on the bench, she took over the scoring load, and that’s something she’s capable of doing any time,” McGraw said.
Murphy scored 20 points to lead Boston College, but the Irish held her to just one free throw over the final 5:45. Whitney Steele and Brianne Stephenson added 12 points apiece for the Eagles.
Notre Dame closed the first half on an 11-5 run to take a 35-25 lead at the half.