Feb. 22, 2000
* Coach McGraw
* R. Riley
* E. Haney
By JR ROSS
Associated Press Writer
NOTRE DAME– Muffet McGraw says No. 5 Notre Dame wasn’t looking past Miami to a showdown with top-ranked Connecticut this weekend.
The problem, she said, was that the Irish still hadn’t gotten over their high from beating Rutgers in overtime last weekend.
Ruth Riley scored 36 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead Notre Dame through a sometimes sluggish performance in beating Miami 83-68 on Monday, extending the nation’s longest winning streak to 20 games.
“We did what we had to do when we had to do it and now we can get ready for the big game on Saturday,” McGraw said.
Notre Dame (24-2 overall, 15-0 Big East) plays at No. 1 Connecticut on Saturday for the conference title. The Irish are 0-10 against the Huskies since joining the Big East and have never won the conference crown.
The Irish looked like anything but one of the top two teams in the Big East as Miami (11-14, 5-9) tied the game at 36-36 less than a minute into the second half after trailing by as many as 12 points in the first period.
Then Riley took over.
Up 49-45, the Irish went on a 17-5 run that Riley kick-started by hitting two free throws, blocking a shot and then converting a three-point play. She had 13 points and one assist in the run.
“That was the thing that we kept telling our kids, that we can’t let Ruth get into the paint and be there, because she didn’t have to make an offensive move. She just caught the ball and made the turn,” Miami coach Ferne Labati said.
The 6-foot-5 Riley gave the Hurricanes – whose tallest player is 6-3 – problems in the post. Center Martha Brodley and forward Alicia Hartlaub fouled out trying to guard Riley, and forward Alicia Osth had four fouls.
That put Riley at the line, where she was set school records with 18 free throws and 23 attempts. The latter was also a league record.
“I don’t know if I was really looking to draw contact. I was just looking to get a good turn and a good angle on the basket,” Riley said. “I felt like I forced a couple shots early in the first half and got blocked a couple times. I just wanted to change that in the second half and be a little more aggressive in attacking the basket.”
Riley had to carry a team that seemed sluggish three days after beating Rutgers 78-74. Freshman Alicia Ratay had 26 points against Rutgers, including two 3-pointers that put the game into overtime. But she had just five points against the Hurricanes, while Niele Ivey, who averages 10.8 points, had just three.
Ericka Haney also picked up the slack with 15 points, more than twice her 6.6 average.
“I just think that Rutgers game was so spectacular and the finish that we’ve been kind of on a high since that game,” McGraw said. “I don’t think it was in anyway looking past Miami, looking to Connecticut. I think we were still thinking about Rutgers.
“It was really hard to get that intensity and emotion because we were really drained after that game.”
Osth finished with 16 points for the Hurricanes, and Dalia Clarke – who also had four fouls – had 15.