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    Fighting Irish And Golden Panthers Meet In Orange Bowl Fab Four

    FIGHTING IRISH Coach Muffet McGraw has women's basketball on the verge of a return to the Top 10.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Coach Muffet McGraw has women's basketball on the verge of a return to the Top 10.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Dec. 17, 1999

    Notre Dame faces Florida International in the Orange Bowl Fab Four on Sunday, hoping for a victory that could lead to a return to the top 10 of the AP poll.

    The 11th-ranked Fighting Irish (5-2) fell four spots in the poll, dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since Nov. 16, 1998. Since that time, the Irish have been ranked 20 of the 22 weeks in the top 10 of the poll.

    Notre Dame, whose only losses this season are at Illinois and Purdue, finally defeated a Big Ten team with an 84-54 win over Michigan State last Saturday.

    The Irish rebounded from their loss to the Boilermakers by posting their largest margin of victory this season.

    "We always come back well after a loss," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "We came out hard today. That was the best game we've played all year long."

    Niele Ivey had 14 points and 11 assists, while Ruth Riley scored 18 points for the Irish.

    "I'm trying to be more of a leader," Ivey said. "I've always had the ability to score. This year, I'm focusing on getting everyone else going."

    Florida International (2-2), which won its first two games, dropped its second in a row last Sunday, 64-55 at New Mexico.

    Trailing for most of the second half, Florida International closed to within 57-55 on Cheryl Moody's basket with 2:40 left to play, but the Lobos scored the final seven points of the contest.

    Gergana Slavtcheva led the Golden Panthers with 17 points and seven rebounds, and Viktoria Nagy added 14 points and six rebounds.

    "We were happy to come out here, in front of a hostile environment, and play as well as we did," said Florida International coach Cindy Russo. "A lot of our kids grew up tonight and played a very good ball game, but we fell short at the end."

    The game marks the first meeting between the teams.

    No. 4 North Carolina State and Miami meet in the first game of the Fab Four.

     

     

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