Feb. 7, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Less than 90 seconds were all that separated Notre Dame from a comeback for the record books. However, it was still enough time for Villanova to put together a rally of its own.
Wildcat forward Jenna Viani scored five of her game-high 22 points in overtime, including three important free throws as Villanova slipped out of the Joyce Center with a 69-65 victory over Notre Dame before a Tuesday night crowd of 6,347 fans. The loss thwarted an Irish bid to match the second-largest comeback win in NCAA history (and the largest in BIG EAST Conference annals) -- league member Marquette came back from 21 down at West Virginia on Jan. 21, while Dartmouth did likewise in an overtime win at Siena on Jan. 3. The NCAA record is 22 points, set by Oregon vs. Arizona on March 4, 2000.
The Irish had four players score in double figures for the second consecutive game, led by freshman guard Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett HS), who tossed in 16 points and shared team-high honors with six rebounds. Senior guard Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne HS) once again displayed the heart of a champion, finishing with 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals while playing all 45 minutes, her 10th complete game of the year and second 45-minute outing.
Sophomore guard Charel Allen (Monessen, Pa./Monessen HS) played a pivotal role in Notre Dame's second-half comeback, scoring all 14 of her points in the final 20 minutes of regulation, connecting on 7-of-10 shots in that span. Senior forward Courtney LaVere (Ventura, Calif./Buena HS) logged her third consecutive double-digit game with 12 points and five rebounds.
Viani paced a quartet of Villanova players in double figures, with all-BIG EAST forward Liad Suez-Karni registering a triple-double (14 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists), the first by an Irish opponent in more than 17 years. Kate Dessart Mager and Jackie Adamshick tallied 10 points apiece for the Wildcats, who shot a Notre Dame opponent season-high .456 (26-of-57) from the field.
The Irish (14-8, 5-6 BIG EAST) found themselves behind nearly from the opening tip, as Adamshick hit a jumper 47 seconds into the contest. A Schrader jumped tied matters, but Viani's three-point play pushed Villanova in front at the 18:29 mark. From there, the lead pinballed between two and four points during the next eight and a half minutes, with the Irish getting as close as 16-14 on Duffy's jumper with 12:40 remaining in the first half.
The Wildcats (13-8, 4-6) then mounted a 16-4 run, with Dessart Mager scoring six points to highlight the spurt. A pair of free throws by Schrader in the final moments of the first half only slightly cut into the margin, as Villanova took a 32-20 lead to the locker room. In the first half, Notre Dame made six of its first 10 shots, but closed the period by making only three of its final 18 attempts. The Irish also had seven turnovers, compared to three for the Wildcats, who came into the game leading the nation in fewest giveaways (10.5 per game).
Fortunes didn't appear to get any better for Notre Dame in the first 3:29 of the second half, as Villanova went on an 11-2 run and opened up its largest lead of the night at 43-22 on Dessart Mager's layup. That's when the Irish went to work, going on a stirring 30-9 run over the ensuing nine minutes and change, tying the score at 52-52 on Schrader's three-point play with 7:14 to go.
Suez-Karni came back less than a minute later with a three-point play of her own, but Notre Dame kept charging and when Allen canned a jumper in the lane with 2:08 remaining, the Irish had their first lead of the night at 58-56. Notre Dame then blanked Villanova on its next possession, but with the lead and the ball inside the last two minutes, Duffy saw her pass on the left wing slip through the hands of Allen and the Wildcats converted on their next trip down, as Viani tied the game on a layup at the 1:09 mark.
Allen tried to put her team back in front, but Adamshick blocked her jumper in the paint with 40 seconds to go. Villanova then opted not to call a timeout, and Viani came through again, slashing to the basket for a layup and a 60-58 edge with 22 seconds remaining. Notre Dame then tried the same strategy with success, as Duffy took the inbounds pass and raced down court, driving the left side and putting in the game-tying layup with 11 seconds to go. Adamshick got off a shot with two seconds left, but it missed and her attempt at a putback came after the horn, sending the game to overtime.
Adamshick redeemed herself in the extra session, putting Villanova ahead to stay on a layup with 23 seconds gone. Viani followed with another basket a minute later with the teams then trading two free throws. Duffy tried to bring Notre Dame back one last time, burying a three-pointer from the top of the key with 36 seconds to play. The Irish then chose to foul Viani, but she made both charities to rebuild a three-point lead with 22 seconds left. Notre Dame's last opportunity went by the boards when Duffy's three-point attempt, under heavy pressure from three Wildcats, was short and Viani corralled the rebound. She then sank one of two free throws to provide the final margin.
The Irish will return to the court Sunday at 4:40 p.m. CT (5:40 p.m. ET in South Bend) when they travel to No. 17/15 DePaul for a BIG EAST Conference battle with the Blue Demons. The game, which will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 from the DePaul Athletic Center, is a rematch of the Jan. 17 encounter between the clubs at the Joyce Center, won by Notre Dame, 78-75.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame tied a school record with its third overtime game of the season, equalling the mark set by the 1995-96 club during its first season of BIG EAST Conference play (the Irish also went 1-2 in OT games that year) ... prior to this season, Notre Dame was 2-0 all-time in BIG EAST regular-season overtime games, but the Irish now have lost their last two outings in extra time ... Notre Dame is 6-5 all-time in OT games at the Joyce Center, having lost three of four since a five-game winning streak from 1983-2004 ... the Irish have lost five of their last seven games vs. Villanova, but still lead the all-time series, 13-8 ... Tuesday's loss was just the second in eight career matchups with the Wildcats in South Bend, with the other a 48-45 decision on Feb. 26, 2002 (snapping ND's school-record 51-game home winning streak) ... that 2002 loss also was the only other time Notre Dame has lost a February home game since joining the BIG EAST (now 36-2 in 11 seasons) ... the past six regular-season game between Notre Dame and Villanova have been decided by a grand total of 17 points (2.8 ppg.) and all six have been in doubt inside the final minute of regulation, although this was the first-ever OT game between the schools ... in the historically low-scoring series, Tuesday's game marked the first time both sides topped the 60-point mark since Dec. 12, 1998 (a 63-62 Irish win at the Joyce Center) ... three of Notre Dame's six BIG EAST losses have been decided by four points or less, with two coming in overtime (South Florida and Villanova; St. John's was a three-point margin in regulation) ... the Irish have played in eight games decided by five points or less this year, going 5-3 in those games ... between the ND men's and women's basketball teams, 14 of 20 BIG EAST games have been decided by six points or less, with six going to overtime (and two men's contests going double-OT); the Irish women are 3-3, while the men are 0-8 in these games, although the past five men's games have come down to the final shot in regulation ... the 30-9 second-half run by Notre Dame was its largest of the season, topping a 27-8 game-ending charge at Indiana on Nov. 23 ... the school record for a comeback win is 16 points, set on March 30, 2001 against Connecticut in the NCAA Final Four (semifinals) at the Savvis Center in St. Louis (ND trailed 47-31 with 2:02 left in the first half; won 90-75 en route to program's first NCAA title) ... since turning the ball over 22 times in a Jan. 24 loss at Rutgers, the Irish have committed just 49 turnovers in the ensuing four games, an average of 12.25 per game; Tuesday vs. Villanova, Notre Dame had seven turnovers at the half, then did not commit another until 5:04 remained in regulation, finishing the game with only 10 giveaways) ... Notre Dame had at least three double-digit scorers for the 16th time this year (12-4 record) ... the triple-double by Villanova's Liad Suez-Karni was the first by a Notre Dame opponent since Jan. 24, 1989, when DePaul's Diana Vines amassed 23 points, 11 rebounds and 12 steals in an 83-62 Blue Demon victory in Chicago; it's also the first triple-double at the Joyce Center by any player since Feb. 15, 1990, when Notre Dame's Sara Liebscher had 17 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a 99-58 rout of Detroit ... senior forward Courtney LaVere has put together her first string of three straight double-digit scoring nights since the first three games of last season (Nov. 12-17, 2004) vs. Illinois State (18), Nebraska (11) and Duke (13) in the Preseason WNIT -- her career-long streak is eight games from Feb. 23-March 25, 2003); in her last three games, LaVere is averaging 14.7 ppg. with a .724 field goal percentage (21-of-29) ... LaVere also moved into 19th place on the Irish career scoring list with 1,071 points, passing Carrie Bates (1,060 points from 1981-85) ... senior guard Megan Duffy scored in double figures for the seventh consecutive game and 18th time in 22 games this season ... freshman guard Lindsay Schrader cracked double digits for the third time in four games and is averaging 13.5 ppg. in that span.