Nov. 13, 2007
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Ashley Barlow scored 18 points, Charel Allen added 16, Notre Dame (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today, No. 23 AP) jumped to a 28-point lead in the first half and cruised to a 78-59 victory over Western Kentucky on Tuesday night in the second round of the Preseason WNIT.
Notre Dame (2-0) dominated throughout, opening its big lead with Western Kentucky's top two players, Crystal Kelly and Dominique Duck, sitting much of the half because of foul trouble. The Irish shot 51 percent in the first half while the Lady Toppers (1-1) shot 31 percent.
The Irish, who had 98 points in their opening-game victory against Miami of Ohio, scored 50 in the first half but couldn't keep up the pace in the second half.
The Lady Toppers fell to 2-12 against ranked opponents since the start of the 2002-03 season. Western Kentucky, which shot 54 percent in its 90-73 victory over East Tennessee State in the opener, shot 38 percent against the Irish. The Irish defense forced two shot-clock violations, a held-ball call and 26 turnovers.
The Irish will play No. 3 Maryland on Friday at 7 p.m. (ET). The Terrapins beat Delaware 91-43 on Tuesday night.
Notre Dame was in control from the start, with Barlow hitting a 3-pointer 28 seconds in to ignite a 15-3 run by the Irish. The two teams then traded baskets for the next seven minutes, but the Irish used a 15-2 run to put the game away.
The Irish went ahead by as much as 66-34 when Brittany Mallory scored on a fastbreak layup. The closest the Toppers got was 76-58 in the final minute.
Kelly, the Toppers' leading scorer last season at 24.1 points, had seven points in 21 minutes, ending a 49-game streak of scoring at least 10 points. Duck, who averaged 11.8 points, was held to seven points in 26 minutes. Kenzie Rich led the Toppers with 15 points and Whitney Ballinger added 14. Melissa Lechlitner added 12 points for the Irish.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame improves to 9-1 all-time in the Preseason WNIT and advances to the semifinals of the tournament for the third time in as many appearances (also 1996 and 2004) ... the Irish now are 35-5 (.875) against first-time opponents since joining the BIG EAST Conference (1995-96) and 15-1 (.938) since the start of the 2000-01 season, with an 8-0 home record and current 10-game winning streak ... Notre Dame did not trail at any point in Tuesday's game, and with the exception of a 3-3 tie for a 22-second span in the first half against WKU (18:21 to 17:59), the Irish have been ahead from wire-to-wire in their first two games this season ... working back to the two exhibition games, Notre Dame has had four different players from three different classes lead the team in scoring this season -- sophomore center Erica Williamson (Southern Indiana), senior guard Tulyah Gaines (Hillsdale), junior guard Lindsay Schrader (Miami-Ohio) and sophomore guard Ashley Barlow (Western Kentucky) ... sophomore guard Melissa Lechlitner tied her career high with four steals, matching the mark she originally set on Dec. 28, 2006 vs. Prairie View A&M ... during the past 18 regular-season games (dating back to last season), Notre Dame has not committed more than 19 turnovers in a game, including 15 or fewer in its last four outings ... the Irish will be facing Maryland for the first time since Jan. 10, 1987 (the year before Muffet McGraw took over as Notre Dame's head coach) -- the Terrapins defeated the Irish, 69-48 at the Joyce Center, taking a 3-1 lead in the all-time series.