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Notre Dame's Versatile Offense Meets Smothering Defense of Rutgers

Jan. 5, 2001

From the Associated Press

If Ruth Riley has her way, Rutgers will still be searching for a win over a ranked opponent.

Notre Dame’s 6-foot-5 center leads the third-ranked Fighting Irish against the swarming defense of No. 9 Rutgers at the Jordan Center on Saturday.

Notre Dame (13-0, 2-0 Big East) is shooting 50.2 percent from the field this season, led by Riley, who is converting 62.8 percent from the field. She leads the team with 16.2 points per game.

Riley scored a season-high 27 points and had eight rebounds as Notre Dame beat Virginia Tech 75-64 on Wednesday.

“Ruth Riley is one of the best post players in the country,” Virginia Tech coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “They build the team around Ruth and they have great role players.”

Guards Alicia Ratay and Niele Ivey are the perfect complements to Riley’s power game. Ratay and Ivey are averaging 14.2 and 13.9 points per game, respectively, as Notre Dame continues the best start in school history.

But Notre Dame must be careful Saturday, because Rutgers (8-3, 1-0) is desperate for a big win to show it is deserving of its lofty ranking. The Scarlet Knights, coming off a 58-51 loss to No. 2 Tennessee at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, are 0-3 against ranked foes this season.

Rutgers has the fifth-best scoring defense in Division I, allowing just 52.9 points per game. This should pose a serious challenge for Notre Dame, which is averaging 77.8 points. The Fighting Irish are shooting 53.8 percent from 3-point range.

Notre Dame’s defense has also been impressive, allowing just 54.5 points and 33.5 percent shooting. The Irish defense could have an easier time against Rutgers, which is averaging 65.2 points.

Senior guard Karlita Washington leads the Scarlet Knights with 13.7 points per game. Guard Tasha Pointer averages 11.3 points and leads the team in rebounds (5.5), assists (7.0) and steals (2.5).

Rutgers leads the all-time series with Notre Dame 7-6, including an 81-72 overtime win in last season’s Big East tournament.