March 4, 2001
By DONNA TOMMELLEO
AP Sports Writer
STORRS, Conn. (AP) – With or without Ruth Riley, No. 2 Notre Dame was too much for Georgetown.
Riley, the Big East player of the year, had a comfortable courtside view Sunday of the Fighting Irish’s 89-33 victory, the most lopsided win in Big East tournament history. Coach Muffet McGraw was able to rest her starters early and often.
“We are exactly where we want to be right now,” McGraw said. “The way we’re playing at both ends of the floor, getting good production off the bench … I couldn’t be happier.”
Niele Ivey scored 14 of her 16 points in the first half for Notre Dame (27-1, 15-1 Big East). Teammates Kelley Siemon and Alicia Ratay had 14 points each.
The 6-foot-5 Riley logged just 15 minutes and finished with nine points and seven rebounds. Her understudy, sophomore Amanda Barksdale, had a team-high six blocks and nine rebounds, as the Irish dominated the boards, 45-25. Notre Dame outscored Georgetown 83-16 in the post.
“We’ve worked a lot with Ruth not being on the floor,” McGraw said. “Niele and Kelley are really playing well and we knew we were going to get a lot of good shots and score in transition. Plus, Mandy (Barksdale) gave us a huge lift defensively.”
Ivey was 3-of-5 from behind the arc, all in the first half. Notre Dame leads the conference in 3-point accuracy, and made 56 percent on 9-of-16 shooting Sunday.
The 56-point margin was the biggest in tournament history. Georgetown struggled with its own dubious numbers. The Hoyas’ 10-point first half was the worst ever in the tournament.
The two last played on Feb. 24, resulting in an 12-point Notre Dame win. This one was never close.
“To break it down and analyze it is the last thing on my mind,” said Georgetown coach Patrick Knapp. “Notre Dame shot the ball better compared to the first game and it didn’t go in for us.”
Rebekkah Brunson, the conference’s rookie of the year, led Georgetown (16-14) with 16 points.
Brunson hit a quick turnaround jumper to open the game. The Hoyas then missed their next 18 shots, and with seven minutes left in the opening half, had shot just 6 percent.
At the same time, the Fighting Irish were heating up. Two baskets by Erica Haney and a jumper by Riley in a 71-second stretch put the Irish up for good. Ratay hit Notre Dame’s six 3-pointers in the half. Her final 3-pointer gave the Irish a 35-4 lead 3:37 before the break.
Georgetown ended a 16-minute field-goal drought on a jumper by Santia Jackson on the next possession.
The Hoyas shot 25 percent for the game, hitting 13-of-53 from the floor. Brunson was 6-of-13. Hoya scoring leader Katie Smrcka-Duffy had two points on 1-of-8 shooting and hit her only bucket with 2:32 left.
“Whenever the ball was thrown to me, Notre Dame had a person right there,” Smrcka-Duffy said. “Anytime you lose it’s bad, so the score isn’t what matters.”