Jan. 20, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Junior guard Charel Allen (Monessen, Pa./Monessen) posted her second career double-double with 25 points and a career-high-tying 10 rebounds, and Notre Dame turned in one of its better defensive performances of the season in an 83-55 BIG EAST Conference win over Syracuse on Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 6,831 fans at the Joyce Center. The Irish led virtually all the way, and held a double-digit advantage for much of the afternoon en route to their 10th win in the past 13 games.
Freshman guard Melissa Lechlitner (Mishawaka, Ind./South Bend St. Joseph's) had arguably the best day of her young career, registering personal highs with 18 points and six rebounds, as well as five assists without a turnover. Junior guard Tulyah Gaines (North Las Vegas, Nev./Cheyenne) nearly had a double-double of her own, finishing with 10 points and a career-high-tying nine assists, while freshman center Erica Williamson (Charlotte, N.C./South Mecklenburg) also came close to a double-double with eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Notre Dame (13-5, 4-1 BIG EAST) held Syracuse to an opponent season-low .356 field goal percentage and forced the Orange into 20 turnovers that were parlayed into 21 Irish points. Fantasia Goodwin scored a team-high 16 points, Nicole Michael added a double-double with 14 points and a team-best 10 rebounds, and Vaida Sipaviciute also scored 14 points for the visitors.
After the teams traded opening baskets, Notre Dame surged in front with 11 of the next 13 points, with Allen accounting for nine markers. Syracuse (8-12, 2-5) got back within seven points twice, the second coming at 18-11 on Goodwin's triple with 11:22 remaining in the first half. A minute later, the Irish had their first double-digit lead of the game, courtesy of two Allen foul shots. Another bucket exchange followed before Lechlitner gave Notre Dame a double-digit lead for good, moving her team in front 27-15 on a three-pointer at the 7:52 mark. The Irish took a 41-23 lead at halftime, the fewest points they have allowed to a BIG EAST opponent this season.
Allen's long jumper 17 seconds into the second half put Notre Dame up by 20 points. That margin remained for the next three minutes until the Orange went on a 9-0 run, getting within 49-38 on a jumper in the lane by Sipaviciute with 12:52 to go. However, Lechlitner converted an old-fashioned three-point play on the next Irish possession and SU never got closer than 13 points from then on. A game-ending 16-4 run helped Notre Dame finish with its largest margin of the day.
The Irish now embark on a three-game BIG EAST road swing, beginning Tuesday at 8 p.m. CT (9 p.m. ET) against No. 19 Marquette. The game will be televised live to a national audience from the Al McGuire Center via College Sports Television (CSTV), which is available on DirecTV (Channel 610) and numerous cable systems from coast to coast.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame moves to 20-2 all-time against Syracuse (winning its seventh in a row vs. the Orange), including a 10-0 record at the Joyce Center ... the Irish have scored 70 or more points in 17 of 22 series games vs. Syracuse ... the 28-point margin was the largest in the series since Jan. 21, 2004, when Notre Dame defeated the Orange, 64-35 in central New York ... the 28-point victory was the largest for the Irish against a BIG EAST opponent since Feb. 5, 2005, when they logged a 75-47 win at Pittsburgh ... Notre Dame is 39-3 (.929) all-time against New York schools, with a 21-0 mark at home ... for the fourth consecutive game, an Irish player posted a career scoring high vs. Syracuse -- Melissa Lechlitner did the honors this time with an 18-point performance ... Notre Dame's 11 turnovers were its second-lowest total of the season, just one more than the season-low 10 giveaways they had in their previous game vs. St. John's ... Charel Allen followed up her career-high 31 points vs. St. John's with 25 vs. Syracuse, becoming the first Notre Dame player with consecutive 25-point games since Feb. 16-19, 2002, when Alicia Ratay scored 25 points at Rutgers and 31 points in a home win over West Virginia ... Melissa Lechlitner also grabbed a career-high six rebounds (previous: five at Penn State on Nov. 16) and was turnover-free for the second consecutive game, dishing out 14 assists in that span ... Tulyah Gaines tied her career high with nine assists, matching the total she had vs. Western Michigan on Nov. 19.