Jan. 5, 2005
By TOM COYNE
AP Sports Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Notre Dame's easy victory wasn't enough to please coach Muffet McGraw.
The fourth-ranked Fighting Irish beat Syracuse 75-58 on Wednesday night and never let the Orange get closer than 11 points in the second half, but McGraw was still unhappy with her team's lack of intensity.
"We've been ranked in the Top 25 for some time now," she said. "We've really held our poise and played well. I think that tonight was the first time we had a letdown."
Breona Gray, Teresa Borton and Megan Duffy each scored 17 points for the Irish. Gray shot 6-for-12 and finished with a career-high point total. Borton shot 6-for-7, and the Irish outscored Syracuse 28-18 in the paint.
"We were fortunate that Breona and Teresa had spectacular games," McGraw said. "They came ready to play, shot the ball and did a lot of great things. We need to get the whole team on that level. It's disappointing that our leaders didn't play like that."
The Fighting Irish (13-1, 2-0 Big East) broke the game open with a 16-3 run in the first half and are off to their best start since opening 23-0 in 2000-01, their NCAA championship season.
Syracuse (8-5, 0-2) fell to 0-13 against Notre Dame in Big East play and 2-17 overall.
Gray, held scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting Sunday against Seton Hall, was determined to play better against Syracuse.
"I just wanted to show up and bring it," she said.
Jacqueline Batteast added 15 points and seven rebounds for the Irish, who outrebounded the Orange 45-37. Only two other players scored for Notre Dame.
Jessica Richter shot 5-for-13 from 3-point range and finished with a career-high 17 points for Syracuse. The Orange made a season-high nine 3-pointers on a season-high 29 attempts.
Lauren Kohn added 11 points and Amanda Adamson had 10.
Syracuse shot 31 percent, its second-worst outing of the season. That still wasn't good enough for McGraw, who was especially irritated at Notre Dame's defense against Syracuse's 3-point shooters.
"Our scouting report had them listed as the shooters, but I think we forgot to read it," she said.
Syracuse coach Keith Cieplicki was pleased with his team's outside play.
"I can't say it was by design, but shooting 31 percent (from 3-point range) is good," he said. "Notre Dame is a very good defensive team and we thought we would take the first good shot we got."
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame improves to 17-2 all-time against Syracuse, including a 9-0 record at home ... the Irish also have won all 13 regular-season BIG EAST Conference games against the Orange and 14 of their last 15 overall vs. SU ... Notre Dame also topped the 70-point mark against Syracuse for the 15th time in the 19-game series ... the Irish have won 82 of their last 100 regular-season BIG EAST games and continue to hold the best regular-season winning percentage in conference history (.818, 126-28) ... Notre Dame is 33-2 (.943) all-time against teams from the state of New York, including a 17-0 record at the Joyce Center ... the Irish grabbed 45 rebounds, their second-highest total of the season (49 vs. Nebraska on Nov. 14) ... Notre Dame had four double-figure scorers for the fifth time this season and first since Dec. 11 vs. Washington ... the Irish had 22 assists on 26 field goals, their fourth 20-assist game of the year ... during its current six-game winning streak, Notre Dame has recorded an average victory margin of 17.5 ppg., holding opponents to 47.3 ppg., a .284 field goal percentage (99-for-349) and a .230 three-point percentage (26-for-113) ... in addition, during their last six games, the Irish have trailed in the second half for only 4:07 of 120 minutes (3.43 percent) and never by more than a single point (all on Dec. 19 at Marquette) ... furthermore, the Irish have led by a double-digit margin for the entire second half in each of their last three games ... sophomore guard Breona Gray set new career highs with 17 points, five free throws and seven free throw attempts, while tying personal bests with six field goals, seven rebounds and four assists -- ironically, Gray had a (then) career-high 11 points when Syracuse visited the Joyce Center last season ... senior center Teresa Borton scored a season-high 17 points ... senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast started for the 100th time in her career and extended her current streak of starting assignments to 77 in a row.