December 2, 1998
By JR ROSS
Associated Press Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – After Toledo closed the first half with a 10-0 run, Notre Dame’s Sheila McMillen did exactly what she’s expected to do – she took over.
The Rockets closed within one in the opening minutes of the second half, but the senior then led No. 6 Notre Dame on an 18-3 run over the next five minutes, going 3-of-3 from the 3-point line, as the Irish beat Toledo 82-64 Wednesday.
“In the first half, we were a little bit flat. At halftime we were talking about how we needed to come out in the second half and set the tempo, come out and get a run going early,” said McMillen, whose 23 points led the Irish to the first 6-0 start in school history. “It’s a great feeling for a shooter. Fortunately, I was able to hit the 3s in the second half to kind of give us a lift and get the momentum going.”
McMillen’s accuracy from the outside also opened things up in the middle for 6-foot-5 center Ruth Riley, who scored 15 points and grabbed 17 rebounds as the Irish dominated Toledo (3-3) inside. The Irish held a 54-38 rebounding edge, and Riley registered five blocks as Notre Dame held Kim Knuth to 17 points, 11 below her average.
“It’s obvious that we just got pounded on the boards,” said Toledo coach Mark Ehlen, who called Riley a “vacuum cleaner” on the boards. “It’s something we were preaching at halftime. I was preaching all during the second half. Yet time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time again, they got second, third, fourth and fifth shots.”
Sherisha Hills and Danielle Green had 12 points apiece for Notre Dame, while Niele Ivey had 10 as the Irish registered their 15th straight win at home. That tied the school record that dates back to Notre Dame’s Dec. 6, 1997 loss to Connecticut, which visits the Joyce Center on Tuesday. Green also had 13 rebounds.
“Ruth and Danielle did a nice job in there,” said Notre Dame coach Muffett McGraw. “They rebounded extremely well. Ruth seemed to get every rebound, and the ones she didn’t get, Danielle got.”
Notre Dame opened up its first double-digit lead of the game on Hills’ 3-pointer with 7:25 left in the first half and led by as many as 14 four minutes later. But Toledo closed the half with a 10-0 run as the Irish turned the ball over on their final five possessions of the half. The Irish had 13 first-half turnovers but only two in the second half.
“They packed the zone in on Ruth, and we turned the ball over way too much,” McGraw said. “But credit the defense for making those errors.
“We came out the second half with more intensity and shot the ball extremely well from the perimeter.”