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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

Women's basketball: Second-half surge pushes Irish

After going into the locker room with just a 3-point lead over Providence, Notre Dame scored the first 21 points of the second half en route to a dominating 82-65 road win Saturday.Notre Dame (18-8, 9-4) held Providence (13-13, 3-10) scoreless for the first 8:57 of the half until Friars guard Brittany Dorsey hit a pair of free throws to make the score 60-38. Providence did not score its first field goal until 10:37 in the half, when Shauna Snyder sank a jumper at the free-throw line, pushing her over the 1,000 point mark for her career.In the opening nine minutes of the half, the Irish shot 7-of-10 from the floor while the Friars were 0-of-12. "We switched to zone, we played mostly man in the first half, and [the switch] worked pretty well," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "They missed some shots, we rebounded well and we didn't give them any second chance opportunities."Irish guard Charel Allen was crucial to Notre Dame's second half success, scoring eight points in the first eight minutes of the half. Allen finished with 26 points - the third straight game she has topped 25 points. Allen became the first Notre Dame player who has scored upward of 25 points in three straight games since Katryna Gaither scored 25 in the first four rounds of the 1997 NCAA Tournament."[Allen has] been amazing the last few weeks," McGraw said. "She's shooting the ball well. She's taking good shots, she's not forcing things. She's scoring in the offense. She's patient - the team is looking for her and yet not exclusively. She's been just phenomenal."Despite Notre Dame's second- half domination, the opening period was much more of a back-and-forth battle. Friars guard Chelsea Marandola took control of the first half, scoring 14 points with four boards and three assists. Providence led for most of the stanza, and had a 33-31 lead with less than four minutes to play.Allen nailed every shot she took down the first-half stretch, sinking two free throws and two jumpers to put the Irish up three. Allen led all scorers with 26 points, but Notre Dame's offense was split between its entire lineup. Four Irish players finished in double figures, as freshman guard Melissa Lechlitner scored 16, junior center Melissa D'amico had 11 and freshman center Erica Williamson finished with 10. Freshman guard Ashley Barlow finished with eight points and nine rebounds. Notre Dame's freshmen once again outplayed the opponents bench, outscoring the Friars reserves 34-11."I thought Melissa Lechlitner gave us a huge lift off the bench," McGraw said. "She did a good job of looking to score, doing what she can do running the offense, running in transition. And I thought Erica came in and did a good job on the boards. And Ashley made some great contributions also."After the convincing win, McGraw still felt that the Irish had some work to do, especially on the defensive end of the court."We've played a lot of man-to-man recently and so it was good to see our zone work today," she said. "Our press wasn't as good, I think we need to work on that a little more."Notre Dame returns to the Joyce Center to finish out its home schedule this week with a game against Georgetown Wednesday and another with Rutgers Sunday.