Jan. 12, 2002
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Villanova guard Mimi Riley hit a turnaround jumper from the baseline with four-tenths of a second left, giving the Wildcats a 60-59 BIG EAST Conference victory over Notre Dame Saturday afternoon at The Pavilion in Villanova, Pa. The loss snaps a four-game winning streak for the Irish, who also dropped their first conference game of the season.
Junior guard Alicia Ratay scored a game-high 22 points and bagged a game-best seven rebounds for Notre Dame, which shot 46.9 percent from the field (22-49) and held a +14 rebounding edge (34-20) over the smaller Wildcats. Freshman forward Jacqueline Batteast added 14 points for the Irish before fouling out in the final two minutes.
Trish Juhline, making her first appearance in two months following surgery for a broken foot, led four Villanova players in double figures with 19 points. Riley and Katie Davis each tallied 12 points and Courtney Mix chipped in with 11 points to help the Wildcats end a six-game losing streak to the Irish and claim their fourth series win over Notre Dame. In fact, all four VU wins have come on the Villanova campus, with the last coming nearly four years ago on Jan. 28, 1998.
Notre Dame (9-6, 3-1 BIG EAST) made the first move in the game, jumping out to a 7-2 lead on a layup by junior center Amanda Barksdale at the 17:17 mark. Villanova responded by scoring seven of the next eight points, but the Irish came right back and built a trio of four-point leads, including a 15-11 edge on a Batteast layup midway through the period.
The Wildcats (9-5, 3-1) turned things around with a 12-4 run over the next five minutes, taking their largest lead of the game (23-19) on a three-pointer by Juhline with 5:29 to go before halftime. However, as quickly as the hosts moved in front, Notre Dame erased the deficit, as Ratay scored 10 of the last 12 points for the Irish, including 6-of-6 free throws, to form a 31-25 halftime lead for the visitors.
Notre Dame appeared ready to blow the game open at the start of the second half, going on a 7-2 run out of the locker room and taking a 38-27 lead on an old-fashioned three-point play by senior forward Ericka Haney with 17:18 to play. The Irish lead was still in double digits (44-34) just over three minutes later when Villanova reeled off nine unanswered points to get within one at the 9:29 mark.
Again, Notre Dame answered the challenge, going on an 11-2 surge behind eight consecutive points from Batteast, and grabbing a 55-45 lead on a three-pointer by the four-time BIG EAST Rookie of the Week with 6:46 remaining. However, the Wildcats clawed back yet again, scoring the next eight points to get within a basket at the four-minute mark. Layups by Haney and freshman center Teresa Borton rebuilt a 59-53 lead for the Irish with 1:50 to go. As it turned out, those would be the final points of the day for the visitors.
Following a Villanova timeout, the Wildcats cut the deficit in half when Mix turned in a three-point play and drew the fifth foul on Batteast. Notre Dame turned the ball over on its next possession and Riley pulled the hosts within 59-58 with 25 seconds to go. Villanova needed to foul twice to put the Irish into the bonus, eventually sending freshman guard Kelsey Wicks to the line with 20 seconds left. However, the Gillette, Wyo., native, who came into the game hitting 75 percent of her free throws, missed the front end of the one-and-one, setting up the final sequence of events.
The Wildcats initially turned to Mix for the late-game heroics, but her runner in the lane with six seconds left caromed off the rim and after a scramble under the basket, the ball squirted out of bounds and went over to Villanova with 2.6 seconds to play. After a Wildcat timeout, Riley took the inbounds pass on the right block, fumbled the ball momentarily, then blindly tossed in the game-winner over her right shoulder to hand the Irish their second buzzer-beating loss of the year.
Notre Dame will have a week to bounce back before continuing its three-game road swing Saturday at Providence. Tipoff time from Alumni Hall is slated for 2 p.m. (EST).
– ND –