Women's Basketball

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Irish Can't Get By UConn
Niele Ivey fights for a loose ball with UConn's Sue Bird, left, and Svetlana Abrosimova in the first half Saturday.
 
Niele Ivey fights for a loose ball with UConn's Sue Bird, left, and Svetlana Abrosimova in the first half Saturday.

Feb. 26, 2000

Box Score

By DONNA TOMMELLEO
Associated Press Writer

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Sue Bird didn't want to talk about her first half.

But everybody wanted to talk about her second.

The sophomore point guard scored nine of her 14 points in the final three minutes Saturday as Connecticut beat fifth-ranked Notre Dame 77-59, ending a 20-game winning streak by the Irish and clinching its seventh straight Big East regular-season title.

"Sue Bird didn't make a shot until it was time to win the game and then she made every shot," said UConn coach Geno Auriemma.

His counterpart agreed.

"I think Sue Bird was the difference in the game," said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw.

Down by as many as 16 in the second half, the Irish battled to within six with 4:46 left on a pair of Alicia Ratay free throws. UConn worked the lead back to 10 on two free throws from Shea Ralph and a Tamika Williams' hook shot. That's when Bird took over and took advantage of a flagging Notre Dame defense.

"They were very tired, you can tell," said Bird, who went scoreless in the first half. "We knew it was time to bear down and make some plays."

She made them all, scoring the next nine points over a 2-minute stretch and when the dust settled, UConn had a 71-57 lead with 1:15 to play.

"Sue came out like she always does and takes over the game," said backcourt mate Shea Ralph, who led the Huskies with 17 points.

The loss was the first in the conference for the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish (24-3, 15-1 Big East). UConn (26-1, 15-0 Big East) clinched the top seed in next weekend's conference tournament.

The Huskies' full-court pressure tripped up the Irish from the start, and a swarming post defense shut down Notre Dame's Ruth Riley. The 6-foot-5 Riley picked up two quick fouls and spent most of the first half on the bench.

 

 

"I knew exactly where to turn her and who was coming to help," said UConn center Kelly Schumacher. "It's hard when you're double teamed in the post. I know."

Riley fouled out with 6:47 left in the game and was held to four points, 12 below her average.

"I think I didn't play that smart," said Riley. "You can't come out and play just half a game, especially against Connecticut."

Ralph had six points in UConn's opening 8-0 run, giving the Huskies a lead they would not relinquish. Notre Dame shot just 28 percent in the first half, and managed just two field goals in the first nine minutes. The Irish put together a mini-run of 6-0 on 3-pointers from Niele Ivey and Ratay to cut the deficit to 22-15 with 4:20 left.

The Huskies went on to take a 33-19 lead at the break.

"I thought we panicked and were intimidated," said McGraw. "We didn't play our game in the entire first half."

Ratay and Ivey led the Irish with 17.

Event Calendar

Delta

November 3
7:00 PM
Roberts Wesleyan
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)
November 11
7:00 PM
Central Michigan Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 14
7:00 PM
WNIT Quarterfinals
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 17
7:00 PM
WNIT Semifinals
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 20
3:00 PM
WNIT Final
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

CBS Sports Network
November 22
8:00 PM
UL-Lafayette
Houston, Texas (Campbell Center)
November 26
1:00 PM
TCU
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 30
TBA
Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
December 4
1:00 PM
Valparaiso
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
December 7
7:00 PM
UConn
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN2
December 10
TBA
DePaul
Chicago, Ill. (McGrath-Phillips Arena)
December 18
2:00 PM
Toledo
Toledo, Ohio (Savage Arena)
December 20
TBA
Michigan State
East Lansing, Mich. (Breslin Center)
December 27
TBA
Chattanooga
Chattanooga, Tenn. (McKenzie Arena)
December 29
7:00 PM
North Carolina State
Raleigh, N.C. (Reynolds Coliseum)

ACC Network Extra
January 2
7:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Atlanta, Ga. (McCamish Pavilion)
January 5
7:00 PM
Wake Forest
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
January 8
3:00 PM
Miami
Coral Gables, Fla. (BankUnited Center)

ESPN Flex
January 12
7:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Notre Dame, Ind.

ACC Network Extra
January 16
7:00 PM
Tennessee
Knoxville, Tenn. (Thompson-Boling Arena)

ESPN2
January 19
7:00 PM
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, Mass. (Conte Forum)
January 22
12:00 PM
North Carolina
Chapel Hill, N.C. (Carmichael Arena)

ESPNU
January 26
7:00 PM
Duke
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
January 29
12:00 PM
Virginia
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPNU
February 2
7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Va. (Cassell Coliseum)
February 6
7:00 PM
Louisville
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN2
February 12
1:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
February 16
7:00 PM
Clemson
Clemson, S.C. (Littlejohn Coliseum)
February 19
5:00 PM
Syracuse
Syracuse, N.Y. (Carrier Dome)

ESPN2
February 23
7:00 PM
Boston College
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
February 26
1:00 PM
Florida State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN2
March 17
TBA
NCAA First/Second Rounds
TBD
March 24
TBA
NCAA Regionals
TBD
March 31
TBA
NCAA Semifinals
Dallas, Texas (American Airlines Center)
April 2
TBA
NCAA Final
Dallas, Texas (American Airlines Center)

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