Feb. 25, 2006
CINCINNATI - Sophomore guard Tulyah Gaines (North Las Vegas, Nev./Cheyenne) picked the perfect time for the best game of her young college career, posting her first-ever double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds to help Notre Dame register a critical 75-66 overtime win at Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 1,072 fans inside Fifth Third Arena. Gaines also was responsible for sending the Irish (16-10, 7-8 BIG EAST) to their school-record fourth overtime game of the season, hitting the game-tying layup as time expired in regulation.
Senior co-captains Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne) and Courtney LaVere (Ventura, Calif./Buena) displayed expert leadership against the Bearcats, each scoring a game-high 17 points. Duffy had 10 of her markers in overtime, including 8-of-8 at the foul line, and now has scored in double figures in 11 consecutive games. Meanwhile, LaVere added seven rebounds and a season-high four blocks (one off her career best) while knocking down 8-of-11 shots from the floor.
Freshman guard Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) also made big contributions for Notre Dame, scoring five of her 11 points in overtime and coming up with the two biggest assists of the game -- to Gaines for the game-tying layup and then to LaVere for an old-fashioned three-point play with 2:07 left in OT that put the Irish ahead for good.
Treasure Humphries and Karen Twehues scored 14 points apiece for Cincinnati (17-9, 7-8), while Michelle Jones added 11 points and nine rebounds. The Bearcats won the battle on the boards, 41-38, but Notre Dame shot a sharp 49.1 percent from the floor (.571 in the second half and overtime) and was strong from the foul line when it counted, going 16-of-19 (.842) in the second half and OT session.
Saturday's contest was a tight affair throughout, as the teams combined for 13 ties and 15 lead changes. Neither side led by more than six points at any time in regulation, with Notre Dame going on a 6-0 run to take a 28-22 lead on two foul shots by Gaines with 1:24 left in the first half. Despite a layup in the closing minute by Humphries, the Irish still took a four-point lead to the locker room.
Cincinnati stormed from the gate in the second half, scoring 10 of the first 14 points and grabbing a 34-32 lead on Jones' jumper in the paint at the 13:55 mark. However, Duffy answered with a three-pointer with a little more than 12 minutes left, and the Irish were either tied or in front from that point forward until the final minute of play. A jumper by sophomore guard Charel Allen (Monessen, Pa./Monessen) at the 4:06 juncture boosted the Notre Dame lead to 53-47 and forced a UC timeout.
After that break, the Bearcats responded with six consecutive points, the last on a bucket by Jones that tied matters at 53-all with 1:36 to go. LaVere hit a putback in the lane 22 seconds later to rebuild a two-point Irish lead, but Twehues then knotted the score again on two foul shots with 46.8 seconds left in regulation. Notre Dame had a chance to go back in front, but Schrader had her baseline jumper rattle out and Cincinnati tied up the rebound, getting the ball on the alternating possession.
Following a timeout, UC looked inside for Jones, but Allen knocked the ball free -- directly into the hands of Humphries, who canned a tough off-balance jumper with 2.4 seconds remaining. Irish head coach Muffet McGraw then called her own timeout and diagrammed a game-tying play -- LaVere whipped a three-quarter court baseball pass to Schrader, whose touch pass to Gaines was perfect, and the speedy guard drove all the way in for the equalizer as the horn sounded.
The teams traded the lead five times and were tied once during the first half of the overtime period, with Humphries squaring the score at 62-all on the second of two free throws with 2:18 left. On Notre Dame's next possession, Schrader found LaVere knifing down the lane and the veteran forward converted a layup in traffic and was fouled by Jones. LaVere drained the ensuing free throw, igniting an 11-2 Irish run that featured a foul line jumper by Schrader, followed by eight consecutive free throws from Duffy in the final 42 seconds to secure the win.
Notre Dame will close out the 2005-06 regular season Tuesday at 7 p.m. (ET) when it plays host to Pittsburgh at the Joyce Center. Prior to the game, the Irish will pay tribute to their graduating seniors -- Duffy, LaVere, managers Meghan Callahan and Luke Hoover, and video assistant Janelle Tretter.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame played its school-record fourth overtime game of the season, breaking the old mark of three set by the 1995-96 Irish squad ... all four of Notre Dame's OT games have come against BIG EAST Conference opponents (Marquette, South Florida, Villanova and Cincinnati), setting a new league record for regular-season overtime contests in BIG EAST play (previous: three on three occasions, most recently by Boston College and St. John's in 1990-91) ... prior to this season, Notre Dame had gone to OT just twice in BIG EAST regular-season action (defeating Seton Hall in 1995-96 and Rutgers in 1999-2000) ... the Irish were facing Cincinnati for the first time in more than 14 years and second time ever, following a 67-58 ND win on Feb. 13, 1982 in South Bend ... Notre Dame is 15-3 (.833) all-time when playing a new BIG EAST Conference opponent for the first time (7-1 on the road), with this marking the fourth time the Irish have started a BIG EAST series with an overtime affair (also Marquette, USF and Seton Hall in 1995-96) ... Notre Dame had been shooting 66 percent from the free throw line in the final two minutes of regulation plus overtime this season, but went 10-for-11 (.909) at the charity stripe when it counted most at Cincinnati; senior guard Megan Duffy's 8-of-8 effort makes her 38-of-40 (.950) in such situations this year ... the Irish had at least three double-digit scorers for the eighth consecutive game and 20th time in 26 outings this season ... Notre Dame's 28-24 halftime lead was its first at the break since Feb. 4 vs. Providence -- the Irish are 12-2 this season when they are ahead going to the locker room ... Notre Dame topped the 70-point mark for the second game in a row, the first time it has done that since a five-game stretch from Nov. 20-Dec. 4 ... the Irish continue to protect the basketball well, with Saturday being the seventh time in eight games they have had 15 or fewer turnovers ... Notre Dame shot better than 43 percent from the field for the sixth time in seven games ... sophomore guard Tulyah Gaines set new career highs with 14 points (previous: 12, twice, last vs. Seton Hall on Jan. 7), 11 rebounds (previous: nine vs. West Virginia on Feb. 26, 2005) and eight free throws made (tied previous mark set against Seton Hall on Jan. 7) ... Gaines is the fourth different Irish player to notch a double-double this year, joining freshman guard Lindsay Schrader (two), sophomore center Melissa D'Amico (one) and junior forward Crystal Erwin (one); curiously, all four players did not have a collegiate double-double prior to this season ... Duffy's current 11-game double-figure scoring streak not only remains a career best, but also is the longest in a single season since Jacqueline Batteast had a 12-game run early in her freshman campaign of 2001-02 (Batteast also had a 16-game double-figure scoring streak that crossed between the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons) ... Duffy's 17 points boosted her into 14th place on the Notre Dame career scoring list with 1,228 points, passing Letitia Bowen (1,219 from 1991-95); ironically, Bowen was in attendance at Saturday's game, along with her husband, Xavier head coach (and former ND assistant coach) Kevin McGuff ... senior forward Courtney LaVere also moved up a spot on the Irish all-time points list, now with 1,109 points to surpass Danielle Green (1,106 from 1995-2000) for 18th in Notre Dame history ... LaVere's four blocks were the most by an Irish player in a game since Teresa Borton had five vs. West Virginia on Feb. 26, 2005; LaVere also rose to sixth place on the school's career blocks list with 134 swats, passing Shari Matvey who had 133 from 1979-83.