Dec. 4, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Some people contend that athletes see their production drop off in their second year, producing what is called the “sophomore jinx.” At least for one night, Megan Duffy and Courtney LaVere were having none of that.
The two Notre Dame sophomores combined for 47 points on 17 of 28 shooting (.607), helping the Irish snap a two-game losing streak with an 82-64 win over Wisconsin Thursday night before a crowd of 5,868 at the Joyce Center. It was Notre Dame’s 42nd non-conference home win in its last 44 opportunities, dating back to the 1994-95 season, and it was the first Irish victory over a Big Ten Conference opponent since April 1, 2001, when Notre Dame defeated Purdue, 68-66 in the NCAA championship game in St. Louis.
Duffy poured in a career-high 25 points, including 19 in the first half, and wound up making eight of her 12 shots and six of 10 from three-point range. Her previous career best was 14 points, which she set last Sunday at third-ranked Tennessee. In fact, when combining her second-half output at UT and her first half vs. Wisconsin, Duffy tallied 33 points and made 12 of 16 shots, including six of eight three-pointers. On top of all that, the Dayton, Ohio, native matched her career high with seven assists against Wisconsin and turned the ball over just once in a crisp 35 minutes of action.
Meanwhile, LaVere was locked down for much of the first half, but followed her classmate’s lead in the second stanza, erupting for 18 of her season-high 22 points to go along with nine rebounds. Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast also narrowly missed a double-double, finishing with nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Emily Ashbaugh led three Badgers in double figures with 16 points, while Ashley Josephson dropped in 15 points and Ebba Gebisa contributed 13 points. In addition, UW’s Stephanie Rich handed out a career-high 12 assists, the first double-digit assist night for a Notre Dame opponent since Tasha Pointer had 10 assists for Rutgers on Feb. 17, 2001.
As a team, Wisconsin (2-3) shot the ball well, hitting at a 49 percent clip on the night. The Badgers were especially hot in the first half, connecting on 13 of 23 shots (.565) in the opening 20 minutes. That sharp shooting led to an early 11-6 lead for UW at the 14:43 junction and had the Joyce Center crowd buzzing. However, Notre Dame wiped out that deficit by going on a 12-2 run over the next five minutes, taking an 18-13 lead on a three-pointer by senior Jeneka Joyce.
The Badgers gamely hung with the Irish, rallying to tie the score twice later in the period, the second coming at 24-all with 4:17 remaining. Notre Dame then closed the half on a 12-5 spurt to take its largest lead to that point at 36-27 heading into the dressing room.
After scoring just four points on two of six shooting in the opening period, LaVere came out determined early in the second half, scoring the first seven Irish points. Wisconsin didn’t budge and the lead was just nine points (47-38) after the Badgers’ Jordan Wilson hit a layup with 17:19 to play. Notre Dame then mounted another charge, scoring 11 of the next 14 points, with LaVere and junior Katy Flecky each knocking down a pair of baskets, to build up a 58-41 lead at the 14:25 mark. LaVere wound up hitting six of her first seven shots in the second half and was seven of 10 in the period.
Wisconsin made a final push down the stretch, getting as close as 73-60 when Josephson buried a jumper with four and a half minutes to go. The Irish then sealed matters with a mini 9-2 run, taking their biggest lead of the night at 82-62 with 32 seconds left. With the win, Notre Dame now is 86-3 (.966) over the past nine seasons when scoring at least 80 points, and the Irish are 65-5 (.929) since the 2000-01 campaign when they lead at the half.
Notre Dame (3-3) heads back out on the road Sunday when it visits the Pacific Northwest for a 1 p.m. (PT) contest at Washington. The game will be broadcast live to a nationwide television audience on Fox Sports Net, including Fox Sports Chicago. It will be the fifth road game in seven outings for the Irish this season, with all five coming against teams that currently are ranked or receiving votes in the polls (Washington is getting votes this week).
— ND —