PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Notre Dame came to town leading a swarm of killer bees, and for the second time in two weeks, Providence ended up getting stung.
The Irish freshmen class combined for 48 points and Notre Dame picked up 47 points from its bench to post a 69-41 BIG EAST Conference win over Providence Saturday afternoon before 1,750 fans at Alumni Hall. The victory was the 10th in as many lifetime meetings for the Irish against the Friars, and Notre Dame improved to 5-0 all-time at Alumni Hall, the only school to be undefeated at the Providence arena with a minimum of three games played.
A trio of young bees put the sting on the Friars to bolster the Notre Dame attack. Freshman forward Jacqueline Batteast scored a team-high 14 points, while freshman guard Allison Bustamante tallied a career-best 12 points and freshman center Teresa Borton registered her first career double-double with 11 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Le’Tania Severe highlighted a superb effort by the Irish reserves, scoring 13 points, while freshman guard Kelsey Wicks nailed three of her four three-point attempts and matched her career high with nine points.
Providence (8-10, 2-4 BIG EAST) got a game-high 15 points from Michal Epstein and a game-best 10 rebounds from Dani Trippany. However, the Friars struggled mightily from the field in the contest, shooting just 23.3 percent (14-60) and making only one of 20 three-point attempts (5.0 percent) on the day.
Early on, it didn’t appear PC would have many worries, as the Friars bolted out to a pair of eight-point leads, the second coming on a fast-break layup by Epstein with 14 minutes left in the first half, forcing Notre Dame to burn its second timeout of the period. However, the role reversal began moments after the timeout, as Bustamante canned a three-point field goal to kick-start a 19-2 Irish run which gave the visitors a nine-point lead, its largest of the opening stanza, with 7:12 remaining in the half.
The Friars briefly stemmed the tide, putting together a 11-1 run of their own to retake a 25-24 lead at the 3:17 mark. But, Notre Dame closed the first half on an 8-2 charge to seize a 32-27 edge heading into the locker room. The Irish also gave a preview of things to come late in the period, holding Providence to just three field goals over the final 14 minutes after the Friars had made six of their first 13 shots in their early spurt.
Notre Dame (10-6, 4-1) nudged its lead into double figures three times in the opening seven minutes of the second half, but Providence got back within eight points each time, the last coming on a bucket by Quiana Copeland with 13:21 to go. Leading 42-34, the Irish then put the game on ice with a 20-2 run over the next nine minutes, holding the Friars to just a single field goal during that span. In fact, Providence made just five baskets in the entire second half, including two in the last 13:21 of the contest.
The Irish will wrap up their three-game road trip Monday at 3 p.m. (EST) when they battle No. 1 Connecticut at the Hartford Civic Center. The game, which features one of the top budding rivalries in the nation, will be televised live on ESPN.
— ND —