Jan. 9, 2002
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Four days is a short time to learn lessons in college basketball, but in the case of Notre Dame, it proved to be long enough.
After nearly letting a 19-point lead slip away in Saturday’s win over Providence, the Irish jumped out to a similar advantage Wednesday night against Seton Hall. However, this time around, Notre Dame didn’t let off the gas, keeping the visiting Pirates at arm’s length the entire game and posting a 79-45 BIG EAST Conference win before 6,975 fans at the Joyce Center.
The victory extended Notre Dame’s home winning streak to 46 games, the longest active string in the nation. The Irish also picked up their 26th consecutive home win over a BIG EAST opponent and improved to 51-3 all-time against conference foes at the Joyce Center.
The Irish (9-5, 3-0 BIG EAST) also picked up their seventh win in the last eight games thanks to a season-high .580 field goal percentage (29-50) and a +20 edge (46-26) in the rebounding column. The Notre Dame bench also came alive in the victory, outscoring their Seton Hall counterparts by a whopping 47-11 count.
Junior guard Alicia Ratay led three Irish players in double figures with 18 points. Freshman center Teresa Borton continued to scorch the nets in conference play, tying a BIG EAST rookie record by going 7-of-7 from the field and scoring 15 points. In three league games this season, the Yakima, Wash., native is shooting 90 percent (18-20) from the field and is averaging 14 points per game.
Two other freshmen made significant contributions in the win. Rookie guard Allison Bustamante made all four of her shots from the field (including two three-pointers) and scored a career-high 11 points in 11 minutes. Meanwhile, freshman guard Kelsey Wicks tallied eight points and a career-best 10 rebounds in the victory. In fact, 11 of the 12 players in uniform scored for the Irish, including freshman guard Jill Krause, who notched her first career basket on a turnaround jumper with less than four minutes to play.
Charlene Thomas led Seton Hall with 13 points and Susan Murray added 12 points for the Pirates, who lost their 10th consecutive game to Notre Dame and fell to 8-6 this season (0-3 in the BIG EAST).
The Irish led virtually the entire way, shaking free from an early 2-2 tie and jumping to a 19-9 lead on a layup by Ratay with 9:20 remaining in the first half. Following a Seton Hall basket, Notre Dame put together a 14-2 run over the next six minutes, capped by a pair of Ratay free throws at the 3:18 mark. A short jumper by Borton in the waning moments of the period gave the Irish their biggest lead to that point (39-18) going into halftime.
Seton Hall tried to mount a charge to open the second half, scoring the first seven points and forcing Notre Dame to burn a timeout, leading 39-25 with 18:05 to play. However, that would be as close as the Pirates would get. Bustamante scored all 11 of her points and Borton added 10 markers as the Irish steadily built their advantage to a game-high 35 points (71-36) on a trey from Bustamante with 4:34 remaining.
Notre Dame now gets set to begin a stretch of three consecutive BIG EAST road games beginning Saturday at noon (EST) at Villanova. That contest will be televised live from The Pavilion in Villanova, Pa., on the BIG EAST Television Network, which includes Fox Sports Chicago, Fox Sports New York, Fox Sports New England, Fox Sports Florida and Comcast Sports in Philadelphia.
– ND –