SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Nothing came easy for Notre Dame against
The Fighting Irish (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today; No. 13 AP) turned the ball over 20 times,
struggled from the free-throw line down the stretch and scored in
spurts, yet managed to beat the Trojans (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today; No. 24 AP) 73-62 Sunday.
"We'd kind of like to have one where it just looked good and
felt good the whole game," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "But I
think that's the way it's going to be for us this year."
McGraw was most pleased that the Irish didn't let the mistakes
get them down.
"In the end, when we just couldn't make a free throw. We had
possessions where we couldn't make a rebound, I thought we just
kept battling," she said. "I think that was one of the turning
points for this young team. One of our worries was that when they
made a lot of mistakes, they might put their heads down."
The Trojans trailed only 63-60 with 3:11 left, but were 1-of-9
from the field down the stretch. The drought included two air
balls, and they missed front ends of two one-and-ones.
"We forced them to take some contested shots," McGraw said.
The Irish (4-0) pulled away despite missing six straight free
throws in the final minutes. Lindsay Schrader drove end-to-end for
a layup to give the Irish a 65-60 lead and start the decisive run.
Megan Duffy, who had 19 points, followed with a layup off one of
her six steals. Notre Dame ended its poor shooting from the
free-throw line, making 6-of-7 to put the game away.
Melissa D'Amico had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Irish for
her first career double-double. Courtney LaVere had 16 points and
Charel Allen added 13.
Chloe Kerr led USC with 15 points and 11 rebounds, Camille
LeNoir had 12 points, Eshaya Murphy had 11 and Jamie Hagiya had 10.
USC shot just 31.9 percent.
"If we could have shot around 36 percent, who knows?" USC
coach Marl Trakh said. "You have to execute the last few minutes
of the game. You have to make big shots, and Notre Dame did that."
It was the second straight road loss for the Trojans (2-2), who
were 6-7 on the road last year.
"Being young, you need veterans on the road," Trakh said.
"We'll have that next year."