Nov. 20, 2004
By TOM COYNE
AP Sports Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Jacqueline Batteast scored seven points in Notre Dame's game-ending 12-0 run and the No. 11 Irish rallied to beat No. 10 Ohio State 66-62 in the Preseason WNIT championship game Saturday night.
Batteast finished with 32 points on 11-of-23 shooting from the field and blocked a potential tying 3-pointer by Caity Matter with 2 seconds left.
The Irish, who beat No. 6 Duke in the semifinal Wednesday, beat top 10 teams in back-to-back games for the first time since beating No. 1 Connecticut and No. 9 Purdue in the Final Four to win the national championship in 2001.
The Irish (4-0) were trailing 62-54 with 4:39 left when Batteast, who was 10-of-12 from the free-throw line, made a pair of free throws to start the comeback.
Batteast converted a three-point play with 3:59 left to cut the lead to 62-59. Megan Duffy, who had 15 points, hit a 3-pointer to tie it and Batteast put the Irish ahead for good on a 12-foot jumper that bounced twice off the rim before falling in.
The Buckeyes (3-1), who set a Preseason WNIT single-game record with 13 3-pointers against Bowling Green and set a tournament mark with 27 3s in the four-game tournament, missed their final two 3-point attempts. First, Matter missed an attempt from the top of the key, then had her final shot blocked by Batteast.
Batteast also scored 10 straight points midway through the first half to give the Irish a 21-12 lead.
But Ohio State, which trailed 29-25 at halftime, appeared to have the game under control as Jessica Davenport scored 14 of her 23 points in the second half and dominated in the middle. She also was 9-of-9 from the free-throw line, but was held without a point after scoring inside over Teresa Borton with 6:42 left.
Ashley Allen hit a 3-pointer to give the Buckeyes a 60-54 lead, and Matter, who had 13 points, drove in for a layup to make it 62-54.
But Ohio State missed its final eight shots down the stretch and turned the ball over four times.
POST GAME NOTES: With the victory, Notre Dame wins its first regular-season tournament title since the 2001 Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge ... Notre Dame also earns the third Preseason WNIT title for a BIG EAST Conference team in the event's 11-year history, joining Connecticut's crowns in 1997 and 2001 ... the Irish now have won 10 of their last in-season tournament games, only losing at 20th-ranked Colorado, 67-63 in the title game of last year's WBCA Classic ... senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast was named the Most Valuable Player of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT, while junior guard Megan Duffy earned a spot on the all-tournament team ... Notre Dame stretches its home winning streak to 24 consecutive games (sixth-longest active run in the nation) and has won 51 of its last 53 non-conference home games ... the Irish have now played back-to-back top-10 opponents twice in their history and have won all four games in that scenario (vs. #1 Connecticut and #9 Purdue at the 2001 NCAA Final Four; vs. #6 Duke and #10 Ohio State in the 2004 Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT) ... Notre Dame has recorded 32 victories over ranked opponents in the past six-plus seasons ... the Irish also have 20 wins over top-10 opponents in their history (three in the past 23 games alone, after also besting #4 Connecticut, 66-51 in January at the Joyce Center) ... Notre Dame is 10-4 (.714) all-time when it is ranked and playing host to another ranked team ... Notre Dame played its 800th game this season, improving its all-time record to 552-248 (.690) in less than 28 seasons of varsity action ... the Irish are 80-7 (.920) since 2000-01 when they have the lead at halftime ... Batteast's 32 points were not only a career high, but the most by an Irish player since March 26, 2001, when Ruth Riley had 32 points vs. Vanderbilt in the NCAA Midwest Regional final ... Batteast also moved into 10th place on Notre Dame's career scoring list with 1,401 points, passing Shari Matvey (1,373 from 1979-83) ... Duffy had six assists tonight, giving her six-or-more assists in three of her first four games ... Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw now needs just six wins to pass Digger Phelps for the most victories ever by an Irish basketball coach (men's or women's) -- McGraw has a 388-149 (.723) record in 17-plus seasons under the Golden Dome.