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Monday, May 20, 2024
The Observer

ND Women's Basketball: Simply business

The Irish weren't about to get caught looking ahead. Lindsay Schrader made sure of it.

The senior captain scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for her third double-double of the season and led No. 3 Notre Dame (15-0, 2-0 Big East) to an 81-64 win over South Florida (9-7, 0-3) Tuesday night.

"I thought overall our veteran team at the end of the game found a way to win," Irish coach Muffett McGraw said. "I thought we kept our poise down the stretch and did some great things."

The game was much closer than the final score would indicate. The teams swapped leads five times throughout the contest, and Notre Dame was ahead by just three points with 7:42 left in the game. However, the Irish outscored the Bulls 19-5 in the last eight minutes to widen the margin.

"Me and [senior guard Melissa Lechlitner] just looked at each other then [and] we just told each other, ‘we're fine, we're going to be ok,'" Schrader said about the close contest. "We knew that we were going to win the game. I think it's just experience, the way we present ourselves, the way we carry ourselves at the end of the game."

The Bulls were first to score, but the Irish then scored eight straight to lead 8-2 early in the game. However, South Florida kept it close and went into halftime down six points, 37-31. 
Forward Sequoyah Griffin led the Bulls with 16 points and five assists. In the first half, the Bulls shot 50 percent from the floor, but they shot just 41.4 percent in the second half.

"I'd like to give them some credit but I also think we could have played better defensively," McGraw said. "They were open when they made a lot of their shots and that's because our defense was getting screened."

Senior guard and captain Ashley Barlow scored nine points and had 11 rebounds in the game, and sophomore Natalie Novosel scored 12 points, tying a season high. Novosel had five of her points in the final seven minutes as the Irish built their lead.

"We're on our home court," freshman guard Skylar Diggins said. "We didn't want it to be that close."

Notre Dame will play No. 1 Connecticut in a nationally televised game Saturday, and the attention put the team in danger of overlooking the Bulls.

"I thought that was going to be a difficult game with the Connecticut game kind of looming in the background," McGraw said. "… I didn't want to mention the word. But if you're listening to anything, if you turn on ESPN you're going to hear about it. If you walk through the building you're going to hear about it."

The game will tip-off Saturday at 9 p.m. in Storrs, Conn.

Sophomore forward Erica Solomon has decided to forego the rest of the season in order to focus on academics.
"Looking at our post depth, she really didn't want to let the team down," McGraw said. "She really wanted to red shirt the whole year, but we needed her and she wanted to be there for us. Now she can really concentrate on what she needs to do."