Feb. 16, 2001
From the Associated Press
Led by a surging Ruth Riley, Notre Dame looks to continue its domination of the Big East in a matchup with No. 11 Rutgers at the Louis Brown Athletic Center on Saturday.
The top-ranked Irish (23-0, 12-0 Big East) have been explosive all season against league opponents, outscoring Big East foes by an average of 21.1 points a game.
Riley, named Wednesday as one of the 15 finalists for the Naismith Player of the Year Award, has been equally dominant in conference play, averaging 22.0 points and 9.1 boards.
The senior All-American continued that trend on Wednesday night, notching her fourth straight double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds in Notre Dame’s 75-61 win at Syracuse.
Riley, who has averaged 23 points in Notre Dame’s past 11 games, is making things easy for her teammates, perhaps too easy according to Irish coach Muffet McGraw.
“We’re very dependent on Ruth, maybe a little too much right now,” McGraw said. “But teams have to do something to stop Ruth, and that opens things up for other people.”
One of those other weapons for the Irish is sophomore shooting guard Alicia Ratay.
While Riley is leading the team in scoring with 19.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game, Ratay is adding 13.4 points and 4.9 boards per contest, in addition to leading the nation in 3-point shooting at 55.7 percent (49-for-88).
Notre Dame was impressive in its first outing against Rutgers this season, winning 67-46 at the Joyce Center on Jan. 6. The Irish have won three of the last four meetings to even the all-time series at 7-7.
“I think we played intimidated and it looked like it,” Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said after the January loss to Notre Dame. That defeat was the Scarlet Knights’ first conference loss of the seas on, an outcome they would like to repay, especially after the pounding they just endured.
Rutgers (17-6, 9-3) is hoping to rebound from a 70-45 rout at No. 2 Connecticut on Wednesday night. The Scarlet Knights were held scoreless in the first 7:10 and never recovered.
Stringer, whose team has not beaten a top 10 opponent in five tries this season, was more upset with her team’s effort than the final margin of victory.
“I wish that I would have seen a little more fight,” Stringer said. “A little more fire.”
Rutgers, 4-2 all-time against Notre Dame at home, is 10-0 at the Brown Athletic Center this season, winning those games by an average margin of 22.8 points.