Women's Basketball

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Notre Dame-Vermont Preview
Devereaux Peters at Monday's press conference (AP)
 
Devereaux Peters at Monday's press conference (AP)

March 23, 2010

Irish NCAA Tournament Central
NCAA 1st/2nd Rounds at ND Central

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (AP) - Vermont's victory over Wisconsin in the NCAA tournament opening round wasn't satisfying enough.

The 10th-seeded Catamounts (27-6) want more after getting the first tournament win in school history. They want their first trip to the Sweet 16. They want their first win against a top 10 team. They want to beat second-seed Notre Dame (28-5) on its home floor Tuesday night.

"Every step you take, you think you're going to be happy with that step. But once you achieve that step, you want the next step," Vermont coach Sharon Dawley said Monday. "We all said if we can just win that (America East) championship and go the NCAA we'd be happy. Then we said if we could win that first-round game, we'd be happy. Last night we said, 'If we can make the Sweet 16, we'll be happy."

While the Catamounts are seeking their first trip to the NCAA regional semifinal, the Fighting Irish are seeking their eighth trip in 14 years. Yet it was Notre Dame that looked nervous in its opening-round game Sunday night in front of their own fans.

The Irish turned the ball over on their first possession, made just one of their first six shots and continually lost track of Cleveland State's best shooter, Kailey Klein, as she scored 21 straight points for the Vikings. Notre Dame led the 15th-seeded Vikings by just three points with four minutes left in the first half and looked like a team worried about getting knocked out of the tournament on its home court for a second straight year.

Center Erica Williamson said Notre Dame just needed to get some jitters out after not playing in nearly two weeks.

"We stumbled a little, obviously, with turnovers in the first half, but we definitely rebounded in the second," she said.

 

 

Coach Muffet McGraw believes the Irish might have been too hyped to play after sitting through the first game. She said her team seemed tired by the time they reached the first timeout.

"We were a little bit drained because of the adrenaline rush of the whole tournament and I think we played tired in the first half," she said. "Overall, we were a little sluggish."

It was a stark contrast to the Catamounts, who sang and danced their way through pre-game warmups and shimmied on the sideline during the game.

"I just think that's part of our team identity," guard Courtnay Pilypaitis said. "We all know that if we're happy and we've got smiles and dancing we just play better."

Dawley said it's just the team's personality.

"They have to be high-fiving. They have to be dancing. It sounds crazy. But when you find something that works, you go with it," she said.

The Catamounts said it helped that they played a challenging non-conference schedule with games against Connecticut and Nebraska, which are both No. 1 seeds in the tournament, and also played fourth-seeded Oklahoma State, eighth-seeded Dayton, ninth-seeded North Carolina State and 10th-seeded Hartford.

Vermont went 3-5 against those teams, facing Hartford three times, but is 2-19 all-time against Top 25 teams. The two wins came against No. 22 Boston College in 2007 and against No. 21 Hartford in the America East title game on March 13. Notre Dame finished the regular season ranked No. 7.

The Catamounts say winning an NCAA tournament game already was huge for the school. One more victory would be even bigger.

"It's expanding our horizons in women's basketball, because men's hockey and men's basketball have done very well for themselves over the past five or 10 years," forward Alissa Sheftic said. "We've certainly had some ups and downs. We've been to the NCAA tournament before, but this is a new experience for us playing in the second round. So this is about moving forward, moving up and growing as a team, as a program."

If Vermont can just make it to Kansas City, the Catamounts will be happy. For now.

Event Calendar

Delta

February 1
W, 68-61
Duke
Durham, N.C. (Cameron Indoor Stadium)
RECAP

ESPN2 - Big Monday
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Watch ESPN
Live Stats
February 4
W, 82-46
North Carolina State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)
RECAP

WatchND
ESPN3
February 7
W, 66-61
Louisville
Louisville, Ky. (KFC Yum! Center)
RECAP

Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
WatchND
WatchESPN
Live Stats
February 14
1:00 PM
Miami
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC-Regional Sports Networks package
Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
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Pink Zone/Play4Kay Game
February 18
7:00 PM
Wake Forest
Winston-Salem, N.C. (Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum)

Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
WatchND
February 22
7:00 PM
Florida State
Tallahassee, Fla. (Tucker Center)

ESPN2 - Big Monday
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WatchND
February 25
7:00 PM
Clemson
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
WatchND
February 27
1:00 PM
Boston College
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
WatchND
Senior Day
March 2
TBA
ACC First Round
Greensboro, N.C. (Greensboro Coliseum)

ACC-Regional Sports Networks package
Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
March 3
TBA
ACC Second Round
Greensboro, N.C. (Greensboro Coliseum)

ACC-Regional Sports Networks package
Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
March 4
TBA
ACC Quarterfinals
Greensboro, N.C. (Greensboro Coliseum)

ACC-Regional Sports Networks package
Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
March 5
TBA
ACC Semifinals
Greensboro, N.C. (Greensboro Coliseum)

ESPNU
Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
March 6
TBA
ACC Championship
Greensboro, N.C. (Greensboro Coliseum)

ESPN
Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
March 18
TBA
NCAA First Round
Campus sites

ESPN/ESPN2
Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
March 19
TBA
NCAA First Round
Campus sites

ESPN/ESPN2
Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
March 20
TBA
NCAA Second Round
Campus sites

ESPN/ESPN2
Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
March 21
TBA
NCAA Second Round
Campus sites

ESPN/ESPN2
Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
March 25
TBA
NCAA Regional Semifinals
Selected sites

ESPN/ESPN2
Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
March 26
TBA
NCAA Regional Semifinals
Selected sites

ESPN/ESPN2
Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
March 27
TBA
NCAA Regional Finals
Selected sites

ESPN/ESPN2
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March 28
TBA
NCAA Regional Finals
Selected sites

ESPN/ESPN2
Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
April 3
TBA
NCAA National Semifinals
Indianapolis, Ind. (Bankers Life Fieldhouse)

ESPN/ESPN2
Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
April 5
TBA
NCAA National Championship
Indianapolis, Ind. (Bankers Life Fieldhouse)

ESPN
Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND

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