Dec. 6, 2000
- Coach McGraw
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Notre Dame wasn’t perfect Wednesday night. But it sure looked that way.
The Irish scored the first 15 points in the first half, the first 10 in the second half and permitted the second fewest points in school history in a 64-33 victory over Villanova.
“We were a little more focused tonight,” center Ruth Riley said. “We have to go out there and play every game as hard as we can. We want to make an impact in the Big East.”
Notre Dame – off to its best start in school history at 7-0 – looked every bit as good as its No. 4 ranking in its Big East opener.
Riley scored 14 points and had 10 rebounds, while Niele Ivey added 11 points and 10 assists as the Irish extended their school-record home winning streak to 26 games.
“She’s playing extremely well,” coach Muffet McGraw said of Ivey. “She’s driving the team. It’s the best basketball of her career.”
Notre Dame came within eight points of the school record for fewest points allowed set in a 68-25 victory over NAIA Grace College on Jan. 31, 1978.
“Before the game we talked about being more intense on defense and being more aware and communicating more,” Ivey said. “We did a better job tonight and we’re continuing to get better.”
Notre Dame stopped Villanova (5-2, 0-1) cold at every turn.
The Wildcats’ dreadful numbers were 20.3 percent shooting from the floor, just 13 baskets and a miserable 1-of-18 from 3-point range.
“We’ve been shooting the ball poorly,” Villanova coach Harry Peretta said. “We haven’t been executing very well. We didn’t get many good shots at all. Out of 64 shots, maybe 40 were good shots.”
Villanova opened the game by missing its first nine shots to fall behind 15-0.
Until Brandi Barnes put in a layup with 5:47 left in the half, three Irish players – Riley, Ericka Haney and Alicia Ratay – each had more baskets than the Wildcats.
“They play very intelligent defense, they switch on the screens very well,” Perretta said. “Their defense is very intelligent.”
“Our offense is geared to react to that, if you saw very few times we got a backdoor cut. In the first half we got a couple of layups. But the point is if you do it once out of every seven times, it’s not very good execution.”
Notre Dame opened the half by scoring the first 10 points to extend its lead to 42-21.
Barnes led Villanova with eight points.