Jan. 2, 2002
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Junior guard Alicia Ratay scored a season-high 23 points and canned seven three-point field goals to spark a record-setting night for Notre Dame as the Irish held off Miami, 69-65, Wednesday night at the Knight Sports Complex in Coral Gables, Fla. It was the BIG EAST Conference opener for Notre Dame, which also picked up its first road win in six tries this season.
Ratay was 7-of-9 from three-point range, tying her career high for treys in a single game (at Rutgers, Feb. 19, 2000). As a team, the Irish knocked down a school-record 13 three-pointers on 24 attempts, breaking the previous mark of 12 set against St. John’s on Feb. 28, 1998. Notre Dame also shot a season-best 52.1 percent from the field, the second consecutive game in which the Irish have established a season-high field goal ratio.
Freshman forward Jacqueline Batteast continued her strong play, notching her seventh double-double of the season, and fifth in as many games with 12 points and 13 rebounds, along with a career-high six assists. Sophomore guard Jeneka Joyce came off the bench to score nine points and hand out a season-high four assists, while freshman guard Allison Bustamante, playing in her hometown before an enthusiastic band of supporters, scored a career-high eight points and made 3-of-4 field goals, including a pair of three-pointers.
Chanivia Broussard scored a team-high 22 points for Miami (8-4, 1-1 BIG EAST), which lost to Notre Dame for the sixth consecutive time and 12th time in 14 career meetings. Sheila James added 17 points and six steals for the Hurricanes, who amassed an opponent season-high 17 steals, but struggled from the three-point line, hitting just four of 22 attempts from long range.
Batteast opened the scoring with a three-pointer 44 seconds into the game, giving an indication of things that were to come for the Irish. Notre Dame built a trio of five-point leads in the first four minutes, but Miami rallied and took its first lead at 14-12 on a trey from James. However, Batteast countered with a triple of her own, igniting a 12-2 Irish run that gave the visitors a game-high eight-point lead with 9:41 left in the half.
The Hurricanes made another charge and fought back to take a 31-30 lead when Broussard made the first of two free throws at the 4:21 mark. Ratay and Broussard then traded three-pointers and Miami would end up preserving its edge at halftime, taking a 36-35 lead to the dressing room.
The hosts came out swinging to start the second half, scoring six of the first eight points to open up their largest lead of the night (42-37) on a bucket by Meghan Saake with 16:53 remaining. After the two teams went scoreless for the next two and a half minutes, Ratay caught lightning in a bottle, hitting three consecutive three-pointers in a two-minute stretch to reverse the momentum and give the Irish a 46-44 lead with 12:10 to play.
Two possessions later, Bustamante drilled a triple from the right wing to cap a 13-2 Notre Dame run and give the Irish a six-point edge with 10:44 to go. But, Miami would not go quietly, closing to within a basket four times over the next five minutes, the last coming at 58-56 on a Saake jumper. Ratay hit her seventh three-pointer with 2:21 left to bump the Notre Dame lead back to eight, but Broussard and Saake hit shots to pull the Hurricanes within 64-60 with 1:30 remaining.
On the ensuing possession, Joyce was fouled but missed the front end of her one-and-one opportunity. Batteast was there to corral the offensive rebound and the Irish worked the ball to Bustamante, who drained a critical three-pointer with 1:17 left to quash the final Miami comeback and give Notre Dame its 46th win in its last 51 BIG EAST games, dating back to the 1999-2000 season.
The Irish (7-5, 1-0) will open the home portion of their conference schedule Saturday when they take on Providence at 1 p.m. (EST) in the Joyce Center. Notre Dame is 49-3 (.942) against BIG EAST foes at home, including an active 24-game winning streak going back to the 1998-99 campaign. The Irish also will be seeking to extend the nation’s longest home winning streak, which currently stands at 44 games.
– ND –