Jan. 23, 2005
By TOM COYNE
AP Sports Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Notre Dame had the better second half Sunday. Jacqueline Batteast made sure of that.
After sixth-ranked Rutgers held Notre Dame to its lowest scoring half of the season (20 points) in the first half, the 11th-ranked Irish held the Scarlet Knights to their lowest scoring half (16 points) in the second. Batteast had two more points in the second half than the Knights, finishing with 27 points to lead the Irish to a 63-47 victory on Sunday.
"I think Batteast decided they weren't going to lose. She put this team on her back," Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said.
Batteast scored the first 12 points of the second half to get the Irish (16-3, 4-2 BIG EAST) back into the game, then added six more points during a 23-0 run that put the game away.
"Twenty-three points? That's crazy," Stringer said. "It was like, 'What the heck is going on?"
The Scarlet Knights (13-4, 4-1) looked to be too quick for the Irish in the first half, jumping to a 13-point lead. But in the second half, Notre Dame's zone defense was too much for the Knights, repeatedly forcing them to take bad shots to avoid shot-clock violations.
"Once we took care of the ball better and locked down on 'D,' the game seemed to go our way," Batteast said. "For as bad as we played, we could have been blown out in the first half. We made the adjustments, and that was enough to win the game."
The victory was the 400th for Irish coach Muffet McGraw at Notre Dame. She improved her record at Notre Dame to 400-152, and is 488-193 overall.
"It feels great to win this game," McGraw said. "It was a really important win."
In the first half it looked as if she would have to wait a game to get it. The Scarlet Knights turned 16 turnovers into 19 points. But the Irish turned the ball over just five times in the second, while the Knights turned it over eight times, leading to 10 points for the Irish.
But Stringer said the biggest problem was that the Knights didn't play good team basketball.
"We needed help on Batteast," she said.
The Scarlet Knights, who shot 47 percent in the first half and led by as many as 13, shot just 17 percent in the second.
"We didn't take control of the game," said Chelsea Newton, who led Rutgers with 18 points.
Batteast was the only Irish player in double figures, but Megan Duffy had a career-high 11 assists, including eight in the second half, and Crystal Erwin added nine rebounds. Cappie Pondexter added 17 for Rutgers.
Stringer stayed in the locker room 45 minutes after the game talking with her team.
"It was instructional, informative and getting into them," Stringer said. "I'm not happy with this."
She blamed her seniors for the loss.
"You don't have an 11-point lead and have this happen, and it did," she said. "I blame my leadership."
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame registers its third win over a top-10 opponent this season (also No. 6 Duke and No. 10/9 Ohio State), and the 21st top-10 win in school history ... the Irish are 4-2 against ranked opponents this season, having also defeated No. 20 Purdue, while falling to No. 15 Michigan State and No. 16 Connecticut ... Notre Dame snaps a three-game losing streak vs. Rutgers, defeating the Scarlet Knights for the first time since Feb. 16, 2002 (57-52 at Piscataway, N.J.) ... it's also the second-fewest points Notre Dame has ever allowed to Rutgers -- the Irish beat the Scarlet Knights, 67-46 on Jan. 6, 2001 at the Joyce Center ... Notre Dame rallied from a 13-point first-half deficit to claim the win, its first comeback from a double-digit deficit since March 1, 2003, when the Irish climbed out of a pair of 12-point holes to down Seton Hall, 62-60 at the Joyce Center ... the 13-point comeback also is the largest for Notre Dame since Jan. 8, 2003, when the Irish erased a 14-point second-half margin at West Virginia to record a 66-59 victory ... Notre Dame has shot better than 45 percent from the floor in its last three games and is 8-0 this season when it reaches that mark ... after being held to a season-low 20 first-half points (22 at Dayton Dec. 9), the Irish limited Rutgers to an opponent season-low 16 second-half points (19 by Seton Hall Jan. 2) ... the 23 consecutive points scored by Notre Dame in the second half tied for the fifth-longest run of unanswered points in school history and the most since a 26-0 run to open a win over Dayton on Dec. 13, 2003 at the Joyce Center ... Rutgers logged a Notre Dame opponent season-high 14 steals (13 by Ohio State on Nov. 20) ... after matching their game average of 16 turnovers in the first half, the Irish had only five giveaways after the break and finished two shy of their highest turnover total of the year (23 at USC on Nov. 26) ... senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast matched the second-highest point total of her career, scoring 27 points in a game for the fourth time (also Marquette on Dec. 19, and last year vs. Auburn and Middle Tennessee); Batteast also outscored Rutgers by herself in the second half (18-16) ... junior guard Megan Duffy dished out a career-high 11 assists (eight in the second half with just one turnover), one more than her previous best of 10 set vs. Washington on Dec. 11 ... Duffy has registered at least six assists in six consecutive games and is averaging 7.5 assists per game and has a 2.14 assist/turnover ratio (45 assists, 21 turnovers) in that stretch ... sophomore forward Crystal Erwin collected a career-high nine rebounds, topping her old personal standard of eight boards vs. Seton Hall on Jan. 2 ... freshman guard Charel Allen scored at least eight points for the fourth consecutive game and is averaging 10.3 points per game with a .483 field goal percentage (14-for-29) in that time ... Irish head coach Muffet McGraw picked up her 400th win in 18 seasons at Notre Dame; she has a 400-152 (.725) record under the Golden Dome and a career mark of 488-193 (.717) in 23 years of college coaching.