Nov. 1, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Behind a frenetic defense and a crisp offense, Notre Dame tipped off the 2007-08 exhibition season with a 90-38 rout of NCAA Division II member Southern Indiana on Thursday night before a crowd of 5,252 at the Joyce Center. The 52-point margin was the largest for the Irish in the preseason since at least 1993 and could be the biggest exhibition win in program history (further research is pending). It also is the 22nd consecutive preseason victory for Notre Dame and its 27th exhibition win in 28 outings during the past 15 years.
Sophomore center Erica Williamson (Charlotte, N.C./South Mecklenburg) led a potent inside attack for Notre Dame, scoring a game-high 18 points (7-10 FG) while adding six rebounds and four blocks in only 17 minutes of action. Freshman forward Devereaux Peters (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick) chipped in 16 points and seven rebounds off the bench, while senior center Melissa D'Amico (Manorville, N.Y./William Floyd) also bolstered the Irish post game in a reserve role with a double-double (11 points, game-high 10 rebounds) in 15 minutes. Notre Dame wound up outscoring the Screaming Eagles in the paint, 54-2 and shot an even 48 percent (36-of-75) on the night.
Not to be overlooked, sophomore guard Ashley Barlow (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) turned in a superb all-around effort with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting, four rebounds, five assists and five steals. Junior guard Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) also made her return to action after a year-long layoff with a torn ACL, finishing with eight points, seven rebounds and four assists.
As a team, Notre Dame was outstanding at the defensive end, forcing 37 USI turnovers and holding the Screaming Eagles to a .240 field goal percentage (12-of-50). The Irish also parlayed those 37 takeaways into 44 points at the offensive end. Carly Clendenen was the lone USI player to score in double figures, finishing with 11 points.
Notre Dame wasted little time in taking control of Thursday's game, scoring 16 of first 18 points in a little more than six minutes. Southern Indiana battled back to within 20-8 when Jasmine Baines hit a jumper with 11:41 left in the first half. The Irish then stepped on the gas and pulled clear of the Screaming Eagles, going on a 31-5 run to end the period.
The second half proved to be much of the same, as Barlow converted a fast break layup to hike the Notre Dame lead to 66-16 with 14:35 to play. The Irish would remain in front by at least 45 points the rest of the way, opening up its largest margin at 84-27 on a layup by freshman forward Becca Bruszewski (Valparaiso, Ind./Wheeler) at the 5:45 mark.
Notre Dame will play its second and final exhibition game Monday at 7 p.m. (ET) against Hillsdale at the Joyce Center, with free live video of the contest available on the official Irish athletics web site, UND.com. Tickets for that game, and all Notre Dame women's basketball contests this season, are on sale through the Irish Athletics Ticket Office (574-631-7356) or on-line at UND.com.
POST GAME NOTES: Prior to Thursday night, the largest victory margin for Notre Dame in an exhibition game since 1993 was 51 points, achieved twice before (96-45 vs. Ferris State in 2005; 88-37 vs. Estonia in 1998); preseason records are incomplete prior to 1993 ... the Irish are 6-0 all-time against Division II squads in exhibition play, including wins in each of their last five preseason outings ... Notre Dame has scored at least 80 points in its last eight exhibition games since a 78-45 win over Team Concept in 2003 ... Thursday marked the debut of a new promotion at the Joyce Center, with fans receiving coupons for a free McDonald's Big Mac if the Irish score at least 88 points; after reaching the 87-point mark with 3:26 left, the home crowd nearly went home hungry before Williamson let them off the hook on an old-fashioned three-point play with 11 seconds left.