May 16, 2009
ROME, Italy - Senior guard Ashley Barlow (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) scored a game-high 18 points and all 10 Notre Dame players in uniform broke into the scoring column (four in double figures) as the Irish closed out their three-game European tour unbeaten after a convincing 94-39 victory over Italian professional squad, Athena Basket, on Saturday night at Altero Felici Arena in Rome.
Barlow connected on 7-of-9 shots from the field, including 4-of-5 from the longer international three-point line (20 feet, 6 inches) to spark the Notre Dame offense. Senior center Erica Williamson (Charlotte, N.C./South Mecklenburg) chalked up 13 points and six rebounds, senior guard Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) had 12 points and a game-high eight rebounds and senior guard Melissa Lechlitner (Mishawaka, Ind./South Bend St. Joseph's) chipped in with 10 points for the Irish.
As a team, Notre Dame shot a tour-best 52.1 percent from the floor (38-of-73), including a sharp 6-of-13 (.462) from beyond the arc. The Irish also kept their hosts in check from the defensive end with a concerted effort that yielded 17 steals and 48 rebounds, including 23 offensive boards.
Martina Renzetti had a team-high 10 points and was the only double-figure scorer for Athena Basket, an Italian Lega B team that recently finished its season in fourth place and reached the semifinal round of the playoffs for advancement into the Lega A2 (Italy's second-highest classification).
After Renzetti scored the game's opening basket with 14 seconds elapsed, Notre Dame went to work, scoring 10 unanswered points in the next 2:37 to move in front for good. Barlow knocked a pair of three-pointers, while Schrader and Williamson sprinkled in buckets during the run. Renzetti came back with two free throws and a baseline jumper to get the Italians within 10-6 at the 6:16 mark, but Williamson's conventional three-point play sparked a 14-0 Irish run, while the hosts managed just two foul shots during the remainder of the quarter. Lechlitner capped the spree with three consecutive scores, the last on a fast-break layup following a wicked crossover move in the open court that left her defender flailing at air.
Notre Dame's defense was superb in the second quarter, as the Irish limited Athena Basket to only two field goals in the entire 10-minute period (and one of those came in the final minute of the frame). Meanwhile, Notre Dame outscored its hosts, 18-4 to open the stanza, using a pressure defense that yielded numerous run-outs and fast-break opportunities. Sophomore guard Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) converted a pair of free throws with 44.2 seconds left in the quarter boosted the Irish lead to 47-18 at halftime.
Athena Basket hung tough in the opening moments of the second half, as the teams traded scores for the first three minutes. However, Lechlitner ignited the Notre Dame offense with back-to-back drives down the lane for layups, and the Irish were off on a 16-5 run in the final 6:51 of the period. The Italians had four field goals in the quarter, including their only three-pointer of the night by Fabiana Di Lernia with 3:52 remaining.
The onslaught continued in the fourth quarter, as Notre Dame tallied 20 of the final 24 points to win going away. The Irish substituted liberally in the second half, with all 10 players seeing 10 minutes of court time during the course of the final two periods.
The Notre Dame travel party will enjoy two days of sightseeing in Rome, including visits to the Colosseum and Roman Forum on Sunday, as well as The Vatican on Monday. The Irish are scheduled to return home on Tuesday afternoon. For more information and added features about the Notre Dame women's basketball team's European tour, please visit its special on-line tour web page at http://www.und.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/europe-blog-2009.html.
Notre Dame 94, Athena Basket 39
NOTRE DAME (94) - Erica Solomon 3 pts (1-3 FG, 1-2 FT), 3 blk, 2 stl; Kellie Watson 9 pts (3-5 FG, 1-2 3FG, 2-4 FT), 7 rebs, 2 asst, 1 stl; Fraderica Miller 4 pts (2-4 FG), 6 rebs, 2 stl, 2 asst; Ashley Barlow 18 pts (7-9 FG, 4-5 3FG), 3 rebs, 3 asst, 2 stl; Natalie Novosel 6 pts (2-7 FG, 0-1 3FG, 2-2 FT), 6 rebs, 1 stl; Melissa Lechlitner 10 pts (5-10 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-2 FT), 2 rebs, 3 asst, 3 stl, Lindsay Schrader 12 pts (6-12 FG), 8 rebs, 3 asst, 1 blk, 1 stl; Becca Bruszewski 9 pts (3-9 FG, 0-3 3FG, 3-3 FT), 5 rebs, 5 asst, 2 stl, 1 blk; Alena Christiansen 9 pts (2-4 FG, 1-1 3FG, 4-4 FT), 5 reb; Erica Williamson 13 pts (6-10 FG, 1-2 FT), 6 rebs, 3 stl, 1 asst. TEAM 38-73 FG (.521), 6-13 FG (.462), 13-19 FT (.684), 48 rebs (23 offensive/25 defensive), 19 asst, 5 blk, 17 stl, 23 fouls.