Feb. 7, 2007
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - For a while it looked as though Angel McCoughtry might outscore Notre Dame by herself.
She couldn't, though. Not even with the help of her 17th-ranked Louisville teammates. After making her first seven shots - including five 3-pointers - the Irish switched from a zone defense in the first half to a box-and-one and McCoughtry went 3-of-8 the rest of the way. The Irish then used a 16-0 run late to beat the Cardinals 64-55 Wednesday night.
"It was all about the defense. That's what got us going," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said.
Louisville coach Tom Collen said the Cardinals lost their composure.
"I think the second half we failed to execute," he said. "They turned us over. They brought the crowd in the game. When they brought the crowd in the game, I think we splintered a little bit."
The Irish (15-8, 6-4 Big East), who trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half, were down 48-43 after Chauntise Wright scored inside with 9:30 left. But Charel Allen, who led Notre Dame with 21 points and seven rebounds, hit a shot from 17 feet, then found Tulyah Gaines to trigger a decisive 16-0 run. Allen scored eight points during the burst.
Allen credited teammates for setting screens that allowed her to get open.
"I'm going to take the shot when I'm open. It just felt good most of the time," she said.
McCoughtry scored 19 points in the first half to lead Louisville (21-3, 7-3), but was held to just 10 points in the second half by Breona Gray.
"We needed a little more pressure on her and limit her touches and that is where Bre is outstanding," McGraw said. "I think she's the best defender in the conference. She just went out there and didn't let her get the ball."
McCoughtry, who had more points than the Irish for much of the first half, said she was hoping her teammates would make some shots and take some of the attention off her. But they couldn't.
After being outrebounded 16-11 in the first half, the Irish outrebounded Louisville 23-12 in the second half. The 29 rebounds were a season-low for the Cardinals. Their previous low of 38 came against Pittsburgh.
The Irish improved to 12-1 at home this season. The victory was their second home win against a ranked team this season. Notre Dame beat then-No. 10 Purdue 67-58 on Dec. 6, wearing jerseys with green borders in both games. The jerseys weren't the only thing that reminded McGraw of the Purdue game.
"We had that atmosphere," she said. "I think the crowd felt it. When we got close, the crowd really helped us and that really spurred us on."