Sunday, November 16, 2008

Notre Dame Women's Basketball 62, LSU 53

Editor's Note: Scroll down for a recap of the ND-Navy football game.

Notre Dame's women's basketball team kicked off their season on national television Sunday in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic. The 14th/16th ranked Irish took on the 22nd/24th ranked LSU Lady Tigers on the Tigers' home court.

Both teams looked rusty for the first 10 minutes of the game, but started to get into a groove after that. It was a close contest all the way, but Notre Dame pulled away in the second half and held on to win 62-53. The Irish won thanks to solid free throw shooting and a pressure defense that really rattled the young LSU team.

Ashley Barlow, the tough-as-nails scrapper with the sweet shot and great all-around game, is now expected to be Notre Dame's go-to scorer. She didn't disappoint in this contest, finishing with 19 points.

The Irish started with Barlow andMelissa Lechlitner, and Lindsay Schrader at guard, Becca Bruszewski at power forward, and Erica Williamson at center. But Williamson saw limited playing time in this one, as Devereaux Peters spent most of the game at one forward position, and Burszewski and freshman Erica Solomon rotating at the other forward spot. Freshman Natalie Novosel also came in occasionally to give the three guards a breather.

Schrader finished with 13 points and Peters 12. Peters has the height of a power forward (6'2") and the game of a slashing small forward. The ESPN announcers said several times that it will be hard to keep Peters out of the starting lineup, and it's hard to disagree with that sentiment.

Solomon looked good on offense and rebounded well on both ends of the floor. Her defense needs work, but this was only her first game at the collegiate level. Erica Williamson returned late in the game to provide much needed post presence on defense.

Overall, this was a sloppy game, but in the end Notre Dame showed why they're in the top 20 in both polls. Once their offense got going, it worked smoothly - cuts to the basket were turned into easy layups, and those layups were actually made. Free throws continue to be a source of strength for this team. When they needed some momentum, the Irish turned up the pressure and it led to turnovers and easy points.

It was a good start to the season for this Notre Dame team. They went into a hostile environment against a ranked opponent for their first game of the season, and they came away victorious.

The Irish women's basketball next plays on Wednesday at 7:00, in their home opener against Evansville.