Nov. 19, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Freshman guard Ashley Barlow (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) scored 14 of her team-high 17 points in the second half as the Notre Dame women's basketball team pulled away down the stretch for an 87-67 victory over Western Michigan on Sunday afternoon at the Joyce Center. The Irish shot a blistering .682 from the field (15-of-22) in the second half, knocking down four of their five three-point attempts, to bounce back well from Thursday's loss at Penn State.
Barlow was one of five Notre Dame players to score in double figures, with junior center Melissa D'Amico (Manorville, N.Y./William Floyd) chipping in 16 points and a team-best seven rebounds. Senior forward Crystal Erwin tallied a season-high 14 points, while junior guard Charel Allen (Monessen, Pa./Monessen) scored 12 points and senior guard Breona Gray (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman) added 10 points, eight in a game-changing 18-2 run early in the second half.
For the game, the Irish (3-1) posted a .534 field goal percentage (31-of-58) and came with 27 assists on their 31 field goals (against just 17 turnovers). Notre Dame also connected at a season-best 87 percent from the foul line (20-of-23), including a stretch of 18 consecutive made free throws after a miss in the game's first 75 seconds.
Western Michigan's Carrie Moore led all scorers with 18 points, but had only two points in the second half. Moore was coming off a school-record 41-point outing at Detroit two days earlier and was averaging a gaudy 32.3 points per game entering Sunday's matinee. Amanda Parker added 11 points, all in the second stanza, and Lindsey Brown corralled a game-high 11 rebounds for the Broncos (1-3).
Notre Dame stormed from the gate against Western Michigan, jumping out to a 14-4 lead when D'Amico scored the last of six early points in the game's initial 5:27. The Broncos battled back to within five, but a Barlow triple hiked the Irish lead back to double figures with 8:02 to go before halftime. However, Notre Dame then went cold from the floor and WMU took advantage, going on a 13-4 surge that got the visitors back within a point. The teams then traded buckets the rest of the period, with the Irish holding on to a slim 37-36 edge at halftime.
Western Michigan continued its rally in the opening moments of the second half, as Parker canned a three-pointer 28 seconds into the frame to force the first tie of the afternoon. The Broncos took their first lead just over a minute later when Sarah Dreher (who played her high school ball less than 10 miles north of the Notre Dame campus in Niles, Mich.) hit a transition layup. It remained a one-possession contest for either side for the next three and a half minutes, with Parker tying the game at 51-51 on her third trey of the half (this one of the banked-in variety) with 14:53 remaining.
The Irish then seized control of the contest with an 18-2 run, with Gray scoring eight points during the surge. Barlow then dropped the final hammer on WMU, drilling three-pointers on consecutive possessions 40 seconds apart and then adding a layup moments later to push the Notre Dame lead to 20 points, the first of four game-high margins the Irish would enjoy down the stretch.
Notre Dame will be off until after the Thanksgiving holiday, returning to action Friday at No. 19/20 USC. Tipoff time from the Galen Center is scheduled for 5 p.m. PT (8 p.m. ET in South Bend).
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame is off to a 3-1 start (or better) for the 10th time in the past 14 seasons ... the Irish topped the 80-point mark for the third time in four games this year, the first time they have had such a high-scoring stretch since Dec. 7-21, 2002, when they won at Arizona State (81-52), lost at DePaul (59-75), then won at home vs. Temple (84-61) and IPFW (82-54) ... Notre Dame scored 50 second-half points against Western Michigan, their first 50-point period since Jan. 16, 2005, when they hung 54 points in the opening half against Purdue at the Joyce Center ... the Irish posted a .534 field goal percentage, its best since Jan. 4, 2006, when they shot 56 percent from the floor in a loss at St. John's ... Notre Dame had 31 field goals, its highest mark since Dec. 17, 2005, when they sank 32 baskets in a win over Arkansas State at the Duel in the Desert in Las Vegas ... the Irish dished out 27 assists, their highest total since Nov. 12, 2004, when they had 29 assists in a victory over Illinois State at the Joyce Center in the first round of the Preseason WNIT ... Notre Dame shot .870 from the free throw line, their best outing from the charity stripe since Nov. 30, 2004, when they converted a school-record 18-of-18 foul shots at Valparaiso ... the Irish had five double-digit scorers for the first time since March 4, 2006, when they also had a double-figure quintet against South Florida in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship ... Notre Dame was credited with 15 steals, their fourth consecutive double-digit steal total ... the Irish also caused an opponent season-high 24 turnovers, the best effort by the Notre Dame defense since Jan. 2, 2005, when they forced 24 Seton Hall turnovers in a win at the Joyce Center ... in addition to her 17 points, freshman guard Ashley Barlow also came up with six steals, the most for an Irish player since Nov. 27, 2005, when Megan Duffy had six thefts against USC ... junior guard Tulyah Gaines handed out a career-high nine assists, one more than her previous best (set against Pittsburgh on Feb. 28, 2006 at the Joyce Center) ... senior guard Breona Gray tied her career best with five assists, previously hitting that mark against Purdue on Jan. 16, 2005 ... junior center Melissa D'Amico tied her season high scoring total (16 points, also vs. Central Michigan) and snared a season-best seven rebounds ... junior guard Amanda Tsipis swiped the first two steals of her career late in the second half.