December 12, 1998
By JR ROSS
Associated Press Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – After losing to top-ranked Connecticut by 25 points this week, No. 6 Notre Dame was looking for someone to take out its frustrations on.
This wasn’t what they were hoping for.
Danielle Green banked in the game-winner with 15.7 seconds left and the Irish survived a five-minute scoring drought in the second half to beat Villanova 63-62 on Saturday.
“I don’t think it was so much emotional as frustration,” Notre Dame coach Muffett McGraw said. “We were anxious for another game. We really wanted to just come out and pound somebody, and Villanova is not the answer. They’re not the kind of team you can do that to because they slow the ball down so much.”
Mimi Riley and Brandi Barnes both had chances to win the game for the Lady Wildcats (4-5, 0-1 Big East) in the final seconds but put up airballs from within 3 feet. Notre Dame center Ruth Riley then pulled down Barnes’ miss as time ran out.
The Irish (7-1, 1-1) had problems with Villanova’s slower style after playing run-and-gun against Connecticut on Tuesday. Notre Dame committed 18 turnovers and never seemed to get into the rhythm of its offense, shooting 41 percent (13-32) in the second half after shooting 57 percent (13-of-23) in the first half. Notre Dame’s second half offensive woes included three scoring droughts of 2:54, 3:15 and 4:42.
“We play a deliberate game where we try to cut down their number of attempts at the basket,” Villanova coach Harry Perretta. “We try to make them value every possession. That’s just the way we play. It’s not as much stopping their offense. … It’s the idea of not letting them get 75 shots. If they get 75 shots and shoot 47 percent, we get killed.”
The Irish led by as many as 13 in the second half but were only up by six with 7:35 left before their final scoring drought began. Villanova tied the game at 56-56 on Shanette Lee’s free throws with 3:08 to go.
Notre Dame broke the scoreless streak on Green’s layin on its next possession and then held on to win.
Green scored 18 to lead Notre Dame, while Riley had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Sheila McMillen had 12 for the Irish.
Barnes led Villanova with 18, while Jenea Skeeter and Lauren Pellicane both had 15. Pellicane was 5-of-9 from 3-point range, including one with 2:28 left that gave the Wildcats their first lead of the game since midway through the first half.
The Irish looked sluggish in their first half and played uninspired basketball until the final four minutes of the first half, when they went on a 12-4 run.
“I think the style of play is a lot different than Connecticut,” McMillen said. “With Connecticut, we expected a fast-paced game, and against Villanova, we knew they wanted to slow down the game a lot. It’s kind of hard to get our game going because we like the fast-paced game. It’s hard to do that when they’re trying to slow it down and we’re trying to speed things up.”