Jan. 17, 2009
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - No. 10 Notre Dame missed some easy shots, didn't play defense as well as coach Muffet McGraw would have liked and still came away with a victory over St. John's. Barely.
The Fighting Irish, who led by as many as 11 in the second half and trailed by as many as five with 9:40 left, held on for a 70-67 victory when Lindsay Schrader deflected a 3-pointer by Kelly McManmon in the corner as the buzzer sounded.
The St. John's bench jumped up thinking McManmon, who fell down, was fouled, but there was no call.
McGraw, who criticized the Irish (15-2, 4-1 BIG EAST) for playing poor defense for a second straight game, said her team defended well at the end.
"We were switching on all the screens and Lindsay was able to just keep her hands up and get a little bit of a deflection," she said.
St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico let out a sound of disgust when asked if she thought it was a clean block.
"We will have to watch the film on that, but I have to decline to comment," she said. "But I'm very interested to see the film. I don't want to question the officials' call until I see the film."
The Irish, who led 34-27 at halftime, extended the lead to 40-29 early in the second half on a three-point play by Erica Williamson. But with the Irish missing eight straight shots, the Red Storm (13-4, 1-3) used a 12-0 run to take their first lead. The Red Storm went ahead 52-48 when Monique McLean, who led St. John's with 17 points and eight rebounds, hit a 3-pointer midway through the period.
The teams traded the lead five times in the last six minutes, including four times on four possessions. The final time came when Erica Solomon scored inside with 1:24 left to give the Irish a 67-66 lead. St. John's failed to keep up when De'Shena Stevens, who finished with 11 points, missed inside and Solomon came up with the rebound.
"I saw a lot of their shirts under the basket and all of a sudden Rock (Solomon) came away with the ball," McGraw said. "I don't know how she got it. That was just an incredible rebound, and they were just pounding us on the boards at that point."
Solomon, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds, then made a free throw with 26 seconds left to give the Irish a 68-66 lead.
Sky Lindsay made a free throw with 14 seconds left for St. John's to cut the lead to 68-67. Ashley Barlow, who finished with 13 points, made a pair of free throws with 13 seconds remaining to give the Irish the three-point lead.
Schrader added nine of her 13 points in the final 8:07 and Becca Bruszewski also had 13.
"We made some huge plays down the stretch to win the game, which was really important for us to do after losing the lead," McGraw said.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame improves to 17-2 all-time against St. John's, including 9-0 at the Joyce Center ... four of the past five series games have been decided by 10 points or fewer, with the teams splitting those four nailbiters ... Notre Dame has scored at least 66 points in 17 of 19 series games vs. St. John's, winning all 17 times ... the Red Storm scored a series-high 67 points, one more than they totaled in a 66-63 win over the Irish on Jan. 4, 2006, in Queens ... Notre Dame rises 43-4 (.915) all-time against New York schools, including 23-0 at home, although this was just the third single-digit margin in those 23 victories ... the Irish extend their current Joyce Center winning streak to 12 games ... St. John's was one of eight Notre Dame opponents to be receiving votes in this week's Associated Press poll (in addition to four others who are ranked in the Top 25) ... Notre Dame fielded four double-figure scorers for the fourth consecutive game and the 10th time this season (9-1 record) ... for some reason, the Irish also love playing during the afternoon, when they are 10-0 this season ... Notre Dame's six three-pointers were the most the Irish have knocked down in a game since Nov. 29, when they canned a season-high nine treys in a 78-72 win over #24 Michigan State ... the seven three-pointers by St. John's were a Notre Dame opponent season high, one more than Evansville made on Nov. 19 ... the Red Storm's .368 three-point percentage also was an Irish opponent season high, edging out the .364 ratio achieved twice before (most recently on Tuesday by Marquette) ... St. John's had an opponent season-high 14 steals, three more than the totals posted by LSU (Nov. 16) and Vanderbilt (Dec. 30) ... junior guard Melissa Lechlitner tallied a season-high six assists and is averaging 5.0 assists in her last four games (with a 1.82 assist/turnover ratio) ... Lechlitner also logged her second career complete game, going all 40 minutes to match her ironman performance on Dec. 13 at Valparaiso ... senior guard Lindsay Schrader tied her season high with five assists and is averaging 4.3 assists over her last three contests ... for the 10th time in her career (and second time in as many games), junior guard Ashley Barlow tied her personal best with three three-pointers ... freshman forward Erica Solomon was one rebound off her season (and career) high set on Dec. 2 at Eastern Michigan.