SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- St. John's played Notre Dame tougher
than ever. It still wasn't enough.
Crystal Erwin had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Megan Duffy
added 14 points and 10 assists, leading the Irish (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) to a
72-65 victory over St. John's on Wednesday night. The Irish
improved to 15-0 all time against St. John's (14-4, 3-4), but the
seven-point margin of defeat was the closest ever for the Red
Storm. Twice before they had lost by 13.
"We've made such progress, but we really want to win a game
like this," St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico said. "When you
lose a game like this it's tough to say, 'You gave a great effort'
because everyone is disappointed."
Jacqueline Batteast added 10 points and 10 rebounds, giving the
Irish (17-3, 5-2 Big East) three players with double-doubles for
the first time since they accomplished the feat against Michigan
State in 1995.
Kia Wright led St. John's with 23 points, including 17 in the
first half, and 10 rebounds for her first career double-double.
"She was unstoppable in the first half," Notre Dame coach
Muffet McGraw said. "We didn't have anyone who could guard her."
Tara Walker had 16 points for St. John's and Greeba Barlow added
The double-doubles were firsts for Erwin and Duffy, while
Batteast moved alone into second place on Notre Dame's career list
with 37, including five this season. Batteast also had four blocked
shots. Teresa Borton added 12 points, seven rebounds and three
The Irish started the game with little intensity -- just as they
had before beating then-No. 6 Rutgers on Sunday -- falling behind by
eight points and trailing 35-31 at halftime.
"I think we came out flat today. I don't know why," McGraw
said. "Coming off a good win took a lot of our energy. We all knew
we should have won this game, and thought (St. John's) knew it too.
The problem was they didn't."
The Irish came out more aggressive in the second half, using a
19-4 run early in the second half to take control.
Duffy started the run with a 3-pointer, but the key was improved
defense. The Irish held St. John's to 2-of-19 shooting during the
stretch, forcing one shot clock violation and four turnovers.
The Irish outplayed St. John's inside in the second half,
outscoring the Red Storm 22-14 and winning the rebounding battle
"We focus as a team on rebounding and that's what I focus on,"
Erwin said. "That's what the team needs in order to win."