9:00 PM ET, November 18, 2005
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Most of Notre Dame coach's Muffet McGraw's previous 499 career victories looked a lot better than win No. 500.She will take the 55-45 victory Friday night over Michigan just the same. Especially after seeing Charel Allen return from a knee injury in last year's NCAA tournament to lead the Irish (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today; No. 15 AP) with 16 points and Lindsay Schrader get 10 points and 14 rebounds in her debut."I've had the opportunity to coach so many great people and I've had great assistant coaches," McGraw said. "There are a lot of great people who helped me get here."McGraw became the 27th women's coach with 500 wins and the 10th to accomplish the feat before turning 50. Three other active Big East coaches also won 500 before 50: Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer, Connecticut's Geno Auriemma and Villanova's Harry Perreta.After the victory, McGraw walked into the stands and hugged the Rev. Edward Malloy, who retired as university president in June, just as she had after winning the NCAA tournament in 2001."It's really an honor to be coaching at Notre Dame," she said. "I'm just so thankful, and that's why I went to Father Malloy first."She also hugged her husband, Matt, her son, Murphy, athletic director Kevin White and then began hugging her players as the crowd gave her a standing ovation and held up signs with the No. 500 on them.It looked for a while like she might have to wait for the milestone victory with the Irish offense struggling. But Allen scored inside with 13:39 left to start a 12-3 run, during which she scored six points as the Irish went ahead 42-38. The Irish opened a 49-43 lead when Allen hit a 16-footer."I thought Allen was the player of the game on the offensive end and Lindsay was the defensive player of the game," McGraw said.Allen missed several easy shots in the first half, but finally got going in the second half."The coaches told me to keep shooting and they would eventually go in," she said.The 14 rebounds by Schrader were the most by an Irish player since Jacqueline Batteast had 18 against Connecticut nearly three years ago. Melissa D'Amico added 10 points for the Irish. Ta'Shia Walker led Michigan with 16 points and nine rebounds, making her first six shots before missing the final four."I thought our kids played hard and our defense kept us in the game," Cheryl Burnett said. "Our strategy going in was to stop their post play, which I don't think we did a good job of and to stop [Megan] Duffy, which we did a very good job of."The Irish outrebounded the Wolverines 54-33.
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