Dec. 28, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Freshman guard Ashley Barlow (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) came off the bench to score a career-high 21 points and grab a game-best nine rebounds as Notre Dame stormed from the gate and rolled to a 94-55 win over Prairie View A&M on Thursday afternoon at the Joyce Center. Barlow also went a perfect 13-for-13 at the free throw line, tying a school and arena record for foul shooting in a game, as the Irish led from the opening tip to the final horn on the way to their sixth win in the past seven games.
Junior center Melissa D'Amico (Manorville, N.Y./William Floyd) turned in an efficient performance with 17 points in 18 minutes, while freshman center Erica Williamson (Charlotte, N.C./South Mecklenburg) collected a career-high 15 points, eight rebounds and four blocks in a reserve role. Junior guard Tulyah Gaines (North Las Vegas, Nev./Cheyenne) charted 13 points and junior guard Charel Allen (Monessen, Pa./Monessen) symbolized Notre Dame's balanced performance with 11 points, eight rebounds, a career-high-tying five steals and four assists.
As a unit, the Irish (9-3) shot 51.6 percent from the floor and forced Prairie View A&M into 28 turnovers, logging a season-high 18 steals along the way. Notre Dame also dominated on the boards by a 43-31 count and narrowly missed posting their first 40-point victory in more than four years.
Gaati Werema and Angel Smith scored 13 points apiece for the Lady Panthers (2-8), who have dropped eight in a row -- all on the road -- since opening the season with a pair of victories.
Having played only twice in the past three weeks, but coming off a slim one-point victory at Valparaiso in its last outing, Notre Dame left little to chance with Thursday's game. After a brief 3-3 tie in the game's first two minutes, the Irish surged out to a double-digit lead when D'Amico converted a layup for a 13-3 edge at the 14:41 mark. That was just part of a massive 26-5 run that boosted the Notre Dame edge past 20 points before the game was even 10 minutes old. An 11-3 run to close out the first half gave the hosts their largest lead to that point at 48-19 going to the locker room.
Notre Dame's first-half success was due to a solid mix of offensive execution and defensive intensity. The Irish forced the Lady Panthers into 17 turnovers in the period, converting those miscues into 17 points. Notre Dame also shot 48.6 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, while holding PVAMU to a .304 field goal percentage in that same span.
Prairie View A&M regrouped during halftime and made a brief charge during the first four minutes of the second half, outscoring the Irish, 14-7 to get within 22 points (55-33). However, Notre Dame's freshman second unit of Barlow, Williamson and guard Melissa Lechlitner (Mishawaka, Ind./South Bend St. Joseph's) came on to calm the waters, sparking the Irish on a 14-5 run that pushed their lead over 30 points for the first time. The Lady Panthers never got closer than 28 points the rest of the way, with Notre Dame hiking its advantage to a game-high 41 points on two occasions down the stretch.
The Irish will continue their run of three games in six days when they travel to Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday for a 2 p.m. (ET) contest with No. 4 Tennessee at Thompson-Boling Arena. The game will be televised live to a regional cable audience on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame's 94 points were the most scored by the Irish since Nov. 26, 2002, when they downed Cleveland State, 107-65 at the Joyce Center ... that game also marked the last time Notre Dame had a larger margin of victory than they did on Thursday vs. Prairie View A&M ... Ashley Barlow's 13-for-13 free throw performance tied Ruth Riley's school and arena records, set on Jan. 15, 2001 in a 92-76 victory over top-ranked Connecticut; ironically, Riley was in attendance on Thursday, working as a color commentator on the Notre Dame radio broadcast ... the Irish held the Lady Panthers to 55 points, their second-best defensive effort of the year (54 by Indiana on Dec. 3) ... PVAMU's .368 field goal percentage tied a Notre Dame opponent season-low, previously set in the Dec. 19 game by Valparaiso ... the Irish recorded a season-high 18 steals, their highest theft total since Nov. 22, 2004 when they notched 20 steals vs. Colorado State ... Notre Dame's defense caused 28 turnovers, the 10th time in 12 games they have come up with 20-or-more takeaways ... the Irish logged season bests of 28 free throws made and 34 attempts ... Notre Dame did not make a three-pointer for the first time since Jan. 31, 2006 (0-of-4 at Syracuse) ... the Irish had five double-figure scorers for the third time this year (also Western Michigan and Richmond) ... Notre Dame topped the 80-point mark for the fifth time this year, the most 80-point games the Irish have had in one season since 2000-01, when they did so on 15 occasions ... Notre Dame held PVAMU to 19 first-half points, the fewest by an Irish opponent in one half since Jan. 21, 2006, when Georgetown scored 18 points in the opening 20 minutes of a 54-52 Notre Dame win ... Melissa Lechlitner's six assists and four steals were personal highs ... the Irish improve to 33-5 (.868) against first-time opponents in the past 12 seasons, including a 13-1 (.929) record since 2000-01.