Sunday, February 11, 2007

Notre Dame Women's Basketball 78, DePaul 70

Editor's note: Had I remembered that Saturday's ND hockey game was on Sports Time Ohio, I could have covered that too. Whoops. The Irish tied Nebraska-Omaha 2-2 one night after beating UNO 4-2.

DePaul led for the first 14 minutes of this game. But Notre Dame used a few extended scoring droughts by the Demons to take a 32-26 halftime lead over DePaul.
ESPN2 was supposed to show this game as part of their "February Frenzy" event, which meant jumping between several games, a la what CBS does during March Madness. ESPN2 strived to show only games that would be interesting to the national audience, including Tennessee blowing out Kentucky, and a battle between powerhouses Miami and Boston College (and by "powerhouses," I mean "two teams with a combined 3 wins on the season"). After showing the end of a thrilling East Carolina game (I actually say that with no sarcasm), The Deuce switched to ND-DePaul with 6 minutes left in the game.
By that point, Notre Dame's lead was quite comfortable, floating around an 8 point margin. You have to like the Muffet McGraw's offense. Whereas Mike Brey uses screens and set plays to open up jump shots, McGraw's plays work to open up easy layups. If you're going to create a shot for someone, why not create the easiest shot possible? It's a good thing, too: The women were 0 for 8 from three point range; had they stuck to the long jumper, this game likely would have been a loss. And this year the women are actually making their layups! (Nothing against the men, it's just the offense I prefer to run.)
Taking shots in the paint also puts you on the free throw line a bunch. The Irish were 26-38 from the charity stripe, while the Demons were only 8-13.
Personal favorite Ashley Barlow put up 13 points in her first career start. You may look at Barlow and think, athletic player known for her defense and rebounding, and only a freshman - she can't possibly be a good free throw shooter, right? False. Barlow leads the team at 89% from the line. I may have also found another personal favorite in Melissa Lechlitner. Lech had 13 points, 3 steals, and 2 highlight-reel assists. She's another very athletic player and a smart and creative passer. She'll be fun to watch in the years to come.
Charel Allen picked up her third career double-double with 25 points and 13 boards; practically a career day for the woman who has become a team leader. And her knee must be healthy again, too. There were a few tense moments in this one, and after playing 38 minutes she was no doubt winded, but Allen proved to be a tough player by fighting through any pain that may have been there.
Crystal Erwin added 9 points and 8 boards, while Tulyah Gaines had 12 points and a team-high 5 assists.