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    FIGHTING IRISH Notre Dame's Ruth Riley puts up a shot over San Diego's Maria Perez-Barris during the Irish victory, Friday.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Notre Dame's Ruth Riley puts up a shot over San Diego's Maria Perez-Barris during the Irish victory, Friday.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    March 17, 2000

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    By JR ROSS
    Associated Press Writer

    SOUTH BEND, Ind.- The Irish got sloppy in the first half and blew a big lead. They weren't about to do it again in the final period.

    Ruth Riley and Niele Ivey scored 14 points apiece as No. 5 Notre Dame beat San Diego 87-61 Friday night in the first round of the women's NCAA Mideast Regional.

    "There were a lot of things we were talking about at halftime. We didn't think we were doing much on defense and we had to pick it up," Riley said. "We needed to pick up our attitude in the second half."

    There wasn't any reason for Notre Dame (26-4) to have problems with 15th-seeded San Diego (17-13).

    The Toreros' tallest starter was 6 feet, while Notre Dame's front court features 6-5 Riley, 6-3 Julie Henderson and 6-2 Kelly Siemon.

    The Irish were wearing green rather than their usual gold home uniforms, and it was even St. Patrick's Day.

    But after going up 18 points in the first half, the Irish watched the lead slip into single digits after some sloppy play. Still, Notre Dame maintained a 20-point lead most of the second, even though all five starters played less than 27 minutes.

    "We have to play better if we want to go farther. We need to get that killer instinct," said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, whose team outrebounded San Diego 32-19. "We need to want the ball and want the rebound. I didn't think we played with intensity in the first half. To allow that many points is not good."

     

     

    Notre Dame broke open the game after San Diego closed to 44-33 less than two minutes into the second half. The Irish went on a 13-3 run punctuated by Danielle Green's floating finger roll to go up 57-36 with 15:05 left.

    The Irish cruised from there to set up a second-round game against George Washington (26-5) on Sunday. Siemon scored 13 and Green had 12 as every player on the Notre Dame roster scored.

    "Our goal tonight was not to let Ivey get open and she got two great looks early and put them down," San Diego coach Kathy Marpe said. "They were the better team."

    The Irish went up 31-13 11:00 into the game with Riley dominating inside. The All-American hit her first six shots as the Irish scored 22 points inside in the first half to San Diego's six.

    But then the Irish became sloppy, committing nine first-half turnovers. They lost their double-digit lead twice in the closing minutes of the first half before Siemon's putback at the buzzer gave Notre Dame a 42-31 lead.

    Susie Erpelding scored 19 to lead the Toreros, who shot 19-of-49 (39 percent). The Irish shot 28-of-44 (63 percent).

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