January 10, 1999
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw can always find something to improve upon, even after watching her team beat Providence 79-56 on Sunday.
Sophomore center Ruth Riley scored a career-high 36 points and added 13 rebounds, as No. 9 Notre Dame (12-2, 4-2) won its third straight Big East game.
“We concentrated on defense and then our offense goes to pot,” McGraw said. “But our plan was to jam the ball into Ruth and that was working so our guards just stayed with it.”
Sheila McMillen scored 11 and Niele Ivey 10 for the Irish. Monika Roberts and Dana Simonelli each scored 13 for Providence (2-11, 1-5).
The Friars played without their leading scorer, 6-foot-5 Dani Trippany, who was sidelined with a stress fracture. With Trippany out, the Irish were able to get the ball inside to Riley, who responded with 17 points and nine rebounds in the first half.
Riley picked up her second personal foul with 2:15 to go in the half and Providence reeled off six points to close to 39-35 at the half.
Roberts scored all 13 of her points in the first half for the Friars, who shot 54 percent before the break.
“We talked about that at halftime,” McGraw said. “I was disappointed with that 54 percent number. We didn’t do a good job of rotating defensively.”
They didn’t need to, as long as Riley was in the game. Her free throw with 9:10 remaining established her single-game high, surpassing her 29 points against Syracuse last season.
Providence coach Jim Jabir was philosophical about the loss.
“We are like roughnecks coming out of the woods to play here,” he said. “Notre Dame has a lot of talent and has used that talent well, but our kids scrapped and played very hard.”