Women's Basketball

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Riley Leads Notre Dame In Biggest Game Of Her Career
Ruth Riley and the Irish are National Champions!
 
Ruth Riley and the Irish are National Champions!

April 1, 2001

By R.B. FALLSTROM
AP Sports Writer

ST. LOUIS (AP) - In the biggest game of her career, the women's player of the year looked the part.

Notre Dame went to Ruth Riley all night in the NCAA final, and the 6-foot-5 center from tiny Macy, Ind., didn't disappoint. Riley had 28 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocked shots in the Irish's 68-66 victory over Purdue on Sunday night.

For the capper, Riley hit the clinching free throws with 5.8 seconds to go, leading the Fighting Irish to their first NCAA women's title.

"This is the only thing I wanted," Riley said. "To be able to share this with my teammates is unbelievable. ... We worked so hard that it was fitting to end the season this way."

Purdue ran post players in waves in an all-out effort to control Riley. The Boilermakers collapsed on her whenever she got the ball, and tried their best to get Riley into foul trouble by forcing the ball inside on the offensive end.

None of it affected the tournament's most outstanding player. Riley cleared the 1,000 career mark with her rebound total, and she was only four points shy of her season-best 32-point outing against Vanderbilt.

"She played a great game," Purdue All-American Katie Douglas said. "If she was not blocking a shot, she was altering a shot.

"She was getting a lot of rebounds, and it was just her night."

Riley, Notre Dame's lone in-state player in the all-Indiana final, was a constant source of offense for a team that went cold from 3-point range. Notre Dame made it to the final on the strength of 8-for-11 long-range shooting in the semifinals against Connecticut, but was 1-for-10 in the final against Purdue.

Alicia Ratay, Notre Dame's second-leading scorer with a 13-point average, was off her game and in foul trouble all night. Ratay, who had 20 points in the semifinals, was 1-for-6 and scored only three points, although her lone 3-pointer tied it at 62.

"I thought, 'Hallelujah!"' coach Muffet McGraw said. "It was such a big shot for her and I was pleased with her courage in taking the shot."

Riley picked up the slack, and she was there especially at the end. Taking a baseline feed from Ratay, Riley tied it at 66 with 1:01 to go.

With the score still tied, she was fouled with 6.8 seconds to go after catching a lob pass.

"I think everybody in the gym knew the ball was going to Ruth, and that's where it went," McGraw said.

The first free throw bounced in as she contorted her body, and she also bounced in her second shot.

Riley had been in this spot before, so it didn't bother her.

"As crazy as this might sound, I wasn't really nervous," Riley said. "I was in this situation against Connecticut and I didn't really come through.

"So you can say I shot a lot of free throws in between that game and today."

Notre Dame expected nothing less in the clutch.

"I felt really confident, actually," teammate Kelley Siemon said. "I thought was going to make both of them. I know Ruth's a great player who comes through in big situations, and obviously none bigger than this."

Riley's heroics made her coach a happy woman.

"I don't know when I've been this excited," McGraw said. "What can you say about Ruth Riley? What clutch on the free-throw line to make both of those free throws."

When Notre Dame fell behind 19-7 midway through the first half, Riley was the player who brought the Irish back.

Riley, who only had one point at that stage, scored 11 points in a span of 3:54 to cut the gap to 21-18.

 

 

Event Calendar

Delta

November 3
7:00 PM
Roberts Wesleyan
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)
November 11
7:00 PM
Central Michigan Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 14
7:00 PM
WNIT Quarterfinals
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 17
7:00 PM
WNIT Semifinals
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 20
3:00 PM
WNIT Final
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

CBS Sports Network
November 22
8:00 PM
UL-Lafayette
Houston, Texas (Campbell Center)
November 26
1:00 PM
TCU
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 30
9:00 PM
Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa (Carver-Hawkeye Arena)

BTN
December 4
1:00 PM
Valparaiso
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
December 7
7:00 PM
UConn
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN2
December 10
8:00 PM
DePaul
Chicago, Ill. (McGrath-Phillips Arena)
December 18
2:00 PM
Toledo
Toledo, Ohio (Savage Arena)
December 20
7:00 PM
Michigan State
East Lansing, Mich. (Breslin Center)

BTN
December 27
6:30 PM
Chattanooga
Chattanooga, Tenn. (McKenzie Arena)
December 29
7:00 PM
North Carolina State
Raleigh, N.C. (Reynolds Coliseum)

ACC Network Extra
January 2
7:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Atlanta, Ga. (McCamish Pavilion)
January 5
7:00 PM
Wake Forest
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
January 8
3:00 PM
Miami
Coral Gables, Fla. (BankUnited Center)

ESPN Flex
January 12
7:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Notre Dame, Ind.

ACC Network Extra
January 16
7:00 PM
Tennessee
Knoxville, Tenn. (Thompson-Boling Arena)

ESPN2
January 19
7:00 PM
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, Mass. (Conte Forum)
January 22
12:00 PM
North Carolina
Chapel Hill, N.C. (Carmichael Arena)

ESPNU
January 26
7:00 PM
Duke
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
January 29
12:00 PM
Virginia
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPNU
February 2
7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Va. (Cassell Coliseum)
February 6
7:00 PM
Louisville
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN2
February 12
1:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
February 16
7:00 PM
Clemson
Clemson, S.C. (Littlejohn Coliseum)
February 19
5:00 PM
Syracuse
Syracuse, N.Y. (Carrier Dome)

ESPN2
February 23
7:00 PM
Boston College
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
February 26
1:00 PM
Florida State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN2
March 17
TBA
NCAA First/Second Rounds
TBD
March 24
TBA
NCAA Regionals
TBD
March 31
TBA
NCAA Semifinals
Dallas, Texas (American Airlines Center)
April 2
TBA
NCAA Final
Dallas, Texas (American Airlines Center)

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