Jan. 5, 2000
By JR ROSS
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - West Virginia put all of its energy into shutting down Notre Dame center Ruth Riley.
But that didn't leave the Mountaineers much with the rest of the Irish.
"We didn't move on the pass. We were a step behind all day," West Virginia coach Alexis Basil said. "We spent too much time on Riley and Ratay."
The Irish (10-2, 1-0 Big East) tried to pound the ball inside to the 6-foot-5 Riley with mixed success. Employing mostly a zone defense, West Virginia collapsed two and three players on Riley every time she got her hands on the ball and managed to hold her to nine points, well below her 15.5 average, and an uncharacteristic 4-of-12 shooting.
With Riley struggling, the Irish went to their guards, Ratay, Green and Niele Ivey.
When not driving the lane - contributing to Notre Dame's 42 points in the paint - they helped harass West Virginia into 22 turnovers, which were turned into 27 points.
They also forced the Mountaineers (5-7, 0-2) to throw up some ugly outside shots. West Virginia was just 26.5 percent from the field, including 2-of-17 from 3-point range, and trailed by as many as 32 points in the second half.
"They fast-breaked us and they killed us in the paint," Basil said. "When you shoot 25 percent from the floor, you're not going to win a lot of games, overmatched or undermatched."
Val Zona led West Virginia with 12 points and Mandy Ronay had 10.
Still, despite dominating West Virginia in almost every category, the Irish
weren't particularly sharp. They shot 8-of-26 to open the game and needed a
20-0 run over the final five minutes of the first half to blow the game open
with a 41-18 halftime lead.
"I was really disappointed with our focus tonight," said Irish head coach Muffett McGraw, who is 7-0 against West Virginia since Notre Dame joined the Big East. "I think we looked like we were bored. We really just didn't feel like playing tonight."
The Irish, who committed 20 turnovers, only got 20 points from their reserves - 10 from Green - even though only one starter played more than 25 minutes.
"We've got to have the killer instinct, and right now we don't have that," Green said. "I'm not putting West Virginia down or anything, but we never should've allowed a team like this to be able to compete with us.
"It goes back to our second unit. Our first unit is getting the job done, but the second unit is not with it right now."