7:00 PM ET, March 1, 2005
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. (AP) -- If No. 10 Notre Dame plays the way it did against Seton Hall in its regular-season finale, the Irish aren't going to go far in the Big East Conference women's tournament.In a game that Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw felt was ugly beyond belief, the Irish got 14 points and nine rebounds from freshman Charel Allen and overcame a school record-tying low point total for a road game in posting a 41-35 victory over Seton Hall on Tuesday night."I thought that set the game back about 100 years," McGraw said after Notre Dame (25-4, 13-3) clinched the second seed in the conference tournament behind No. 9 Rutgers (23-5, 14-2) "That was ugly to watch, ugly to coach and I can't even say it was great defense."The defense was good, but My God, I don't how many layups did we miss," McGraw added. "That was not what we wanted heading into the Big East tournament."The 41 points tied the school record set in a 66-41 loss at Marquette in 1978, the first year of women's basketball at Notre Dame. The record low for a game at home was set last year, when the Irish beat Villanova 38-36.Until Tuesday night, McGraw had felt her team was peaking, particularly after recent win over West Virginia.All that changed with one game.The Irish shot a season-low 22 percent from the field (13-of-59) and they struggled against a gutty Seton Hall team that now has lost 10 conference games in the regular season."I am just disappointed in our upperclassmen," McGraw said after the Irish won for the 12th time in 13 games. "We all took the night off on the same night and we are not going to go far in the tournament if we do that again."Notre Dame edged Connecticut in the tiebreaker to determine the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, which starts on Saturday in Hartford. After a first-round bye, the Irish will play on Sunday against the winner of the West Virginia-Pittsburgh. Seton Hall will play St. John's in a first-round game on Saturday.Jacqueline Batteast, the conference's second-leading scorer, finished with 11 points on 4-for-16 shooting.Ashley Bush had 19 points and 11 rebounds for Seton Hall in her final home game."I thought we did a great job defensively," Seton Hall coach Phyllis Mangina said. "...We had our opportunities to win this game and let it slip away."Asia Carroll hit two late 3-pointers for the Pirates (14-13, 6-10), with the last getting them within 36-31 with 1:11 to go.Allen then iced the game with four late free throws."When your leading scorer and rebounder is a freshman, you have to be happy with that," McGraw said.Down 17-15 at the half, Notre Dame took the lead for good with a 7-0 spurt that came during a span where the officials changed a 3-pointer by Bush into a two-point basket.The switch cut the lead to 19-18 and Allen hit two free throws to put the Irish ahead 20-19. Batteast then scored the next five points, hitting one of two free throws, a shot in the lane and a layup for a 25-19 lead with 14:16 to play.Seton Hall twice cut the lead to four points, but Batteast hit a jumper to ignite a seven-point spurt that Megan Duffy capped with her only basket of the game.Bush almost single-handedly gave Seton Hall a 17-15 halftime lead. She scored 11 points and frustrated Batteast with her tough defense, limiting the conference's second-leading scorer to two points on 1-of-5 shootingNotre Dame did not score in the final 7:31, and it had only two points in the final 10:09 in matching its season-low for a half.Despite having no fouls, Batteast played 14 minutes and several times seemed upset. After being pulled for the second time in the half, she had an animated discussion with assistant coach Jonathan Tsipis.The Irish shot 18.8 percent, hitting 6-of-32 shots and turning the ball over eight times.
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