7:00 PM ET, November 23, 2005
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- Notre Dame guard Megan Duffy had seen enough.After watching the Fighting Irish struggle for nearly 30 minutes, Duffy decided to put away unranked Indiana by herself.She scored 12 of her career-high 26 points in the final 10 minutes and teamed with Charel Allen during a decisive five-minute stretch midway through the second half to lead Notre Dame (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 13 AP) to a 74-61 victory Wednesday night."I wanted to put the team on my back and just go hard," Duffy said. "It was kind of hard to get in the flow of this game because there were so many stoppages, but at the end, I wanted the ball in my hands so we could get it done."Notre Dame (3-0) won its third game in six days and its third straight in the series between the instate rivals, who had not met since Dec. 11, 1996.Foul trouble made it tough for the Irish right from the start. Center Melissa D'Amico played only nine minutes Wednesday, while forward Crystal Erwin managed only 21 minutes.The Irish also lost starting guard Tulyah Gaines with a sprained right ankle 2:15 into the contest. Gaines did not return and coach Muffet McGraw said it was doubtful Gaines would play Sunday against Southern Cal.So Duffy, a senior point guard, had to do more than usual. Besides setting up teammates Breona Gray and Allen for open shots, Duffy hit 8-of-15 shots including 3-of-6 from 3-point ranged and rallied the Irish from a 51-47 deficit with 10:42 remaining."We wanted to keep the ball in her hands," McGraw said. "We wanted Megan to get the first look and then run our offense. When the [shot] clock got down to 12 or 15 seconds, we wanted the ball back in Megan's hands."Gray, who replaced Gaines, finished with 14 points while Allen added 11, and the Irish shot 66.7 percent from the field in the second half to pull away.The difference was Duffy."If you have a great point guard, you're going to have a great team," Indiana coach Sharon Versyp said of Duffy. "She executed, she got our players off-balance. Notre Dame is really great because of her."Despite playing most of the first half without starters Cyndi Valentin and Angela Hawkins, Indiana (0-2) still was in position late to upset a ranked opponent for the first time since Jan. 12, 2003.Jenny DeMuth, who has torn the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee twice in the last 13 months, finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds and kept Indiana close. Freshman Whitney Thomas added 14 points and 12 rebounds.But it wasn't enough for the Hoosiers.Notre Dame used a 15-4 run midway through the first half to build a 32-23 lead, but DeMuth led Indiana back.The Hoosiers closed to 36-32 at the half, then went on a 15-4 spurt early in the second half to take a 51-47 lead.Allen responded with a driving layup, set up by a nifty pass from Duffy, then pumped her fist. Allen's teammates took the cue, scoring two more baskets to reclaim the lead.Then Duffy got started. She hit back-to-back 3-pointers to break a 55-55 tie, and her solid shooting and decision-making never allowed Indiana to challenge again."I'm really pleased with the way we're playing right now," McGraw said. "I think we're just now starting to gel offensively. Defensively, we've still got some work to do. But it's great to see we can dig down when it gets tough and not hang our heads."
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