Feb. 17, 2007
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Junior guard Charel Allen (Monessen, Pa./Monessen) scored eight of her game-high 26 points in Notre Dame's 21-0 second-half run as the Irish pulled away from Providence after the break and posted an 82-65 BIG EAST Conference victory on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Hall in Providence, R.I. It's a season-high fifth consecutive win for Notre Dame (18-8, 9-4 BIG EAST), which moved into sole possession of fourth place in the conference standings with just one week remaining in the regular season.
Allen made a bit of history on Saturday, becoming the first Notre Dame player in nearly 10 years to score 25-or-more points in three consecutive games. Katryna Gaither was the last Irish cager to pull off that rare feat, scoring 25+ points in the last four games of her career during Notre Dame's run to the 1997 NCAA Final Four (vs. Texas, Alabama, George Washington and Tennessee). The reigning BIG EAST Player of the Week, Allen lived up to those accolades and then some, going 9-of-14 in Saturday's win at Providence and capping off a week that saw her average 25.5 points and 5.5 rebounds with a .588 field goal percentage in two Irish road wins.
However, Allen was just part of a balanced scoring effort for Notre Dame, which got a particularly strong performance from its freshmen. Guard Melissa Lechlitner (Mishawaka, Ind./South Bend St. Joseph's) scored 16 points and delivered a team-high four assists in a reserve role, while center Erica Williamson (Charlotte, N.C./South Mecklenburg) chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds and guard Ashley Barlow (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) carded eight points and a game-high nine rebounds. Junior center Melissa D'Amico (Manorville, N.Y./William Floyd) also scored in double figures for the second consecutive game, finishing with 11 points.
Chelsea Marandola paced Providence (13-13, 3-10) with 24 points and nine rebounds, while Shauna Snyder added 11 markers, including the 1,000th point of her career. However, Notre Dame held the Friars to an opponent season-low .324 field goal percentage and owned a sizeable 45-36 edge on the glass. In addition, the Irish once again were sharp at the foul line, connecting at a 77.8 percent clip (28-of-36) on the day.
Alumni Hall has been a difficult place for Notre Dame to play in recent years, and it appeared that trend would continue on Saturday, as PC scored the first five points and eventually took a 16-10 lead when Marandola canned a long jumper with 12:42 left in the first half. The Irish battled through turnover problems in the opening 20 minutes and never led by more than two points, while the Friars controlled much of the early tempo. However, in a sign of things to come, Notre Dame closed the first half on a 10-3 run, getting six points from Allen in the spurt to take a 39-36 halftime lead.
Whatever was said in the Irish locker room at the break, it should be recorded and played at every game. Notre Dame came charging from the gate, ripping off 21 unanswered points in the first 7:58 and not allowing Providence to score a single point until Brittany Dorsey made two foul shots with 11:03 remaining in the second half. The Friars also misfired on their first 12 field goal attempts of the period, while the Irish made seven of its first 10 shots in that same span. Snyder finally broke the PC shooting drought with a foul-line jumper at the 10:37 mark (going over the 1,000-point level in the process), but by then, Notre Dame was in complete control, leading 61-40. The Irish got the lead as high as 67-42 before a late three-pointer by Providence's Ashley Etheridge helped the hosts close the final margin to 17 points.
The Irish will return to the Joyce Center next week for their final two home games of the season, beginning Wednesday with a 7 p.m. (ET) contest against Georgetown. Tickets for that game, as well as next Saturday's Senior Day game vs. No. 23 Rutgers (noon ET tipoff), are still available and can be purchased through the Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office (574-631-7356), by clicking here, or by visiting the Joyce Center Gate 10 ticket windows on game day.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame matches its win total from all of last season and exceeds its BIG EAST Conference victory count from 2005-06 ... the 82 points scored by the Irish are the most they have tallied on the road since Feb. 23, 2002, when they posted an 86-66 win at Georgetown ... it's the ninth 80-point game of the season for Notre Dame ... the current five-game winning streak for the Irish is their longest since they opened last year with six consecutive victories ... Notre Dame improves to 15-0 all-time against Providence (8-0 at Alumni Hall) and have won 13 of those games by double figures ... the Irish logged their highest point total against the Friars since a 90-60 win at Alumni Hall on Feb. 1, 2000 ... Notre Dame's 15-game series win streak vs. PC is its longest active string against a BIG EAST Conference opponent ... the Irish are 70-17 (.805) in February games since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, including an active eight-game win streak that dates back to last season ... Notre Dame had four double-digit scorers for the fourth consecutive game, rising to 8-1 this season when having a double-figure scoring quartet ... the Irish are 15-1 this year when they are either leading or tied at halftime ... with 960 career points, Charel Allen is on the verge of becoming the 23rd player in program history to score 1,000 career points ... Erica Williamson posted her sixth double-digit scoring game of the year and first since a 10-point night at Pittsburgh on Jan. 31 ... Melissa Lechlitner also earned her sixth double-figure scoring game this season (and second in three games), coming two points shy of her season high set vs. Syracuse on Jan. 20.