2001 Big East Tournament, 3rd Round:
Notre Dame 67, Virginia Tech 49
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com 3/5/01
Storrs, CT -- The Hokies held Notre Dame's Ruth Riley, the Big East Player of the Year, to just 2 points, but the Fighting Irish used a 17-0 first half run to put this game out of reach.
Tech came out and took an early 6-4 lead, with all six points coming from senior forward Tere Williams, but the Irish responded with a 9-0 run to take a 13-6 lead. After Tech's Emily Lipton hit a three-pointer to make it 13-9, the Irish scored 17 straight points to put themselves up 30-9. Notre Dame took a 36-17 lead into the half.
Tech started out strong in the second half to make it 40-25, but Notre Dame recovered and stayed out of reach, eventually opening it up to 67-45 with 3:40 to go. The Hokies scored the last four points of the game for the final margin.
Virginia Tech simply could not solve Notre Dame's defense. The Irish opened in a man-to-man defense, but after Williams's brief flurry of points, they switched to a zone, and Tech went ice cold. For the game, the Hokies shot 17-64 from the field (26.6%), including just 3-16 (18.8%) from three-point range. The Irish had 9 blocked shots, including 5 by Riley.
Notre Dame Coach Muffet McGraw said, "We prepared to play 40 minutes of man-to-man today. We went to the zone to just see how it looked and it looked so good we decided to stay with it. It has been our best defense all year long and we did a good job of doubling down."
"We are certainly a better shooting team than we indicated tonight," Tech Coach Bonnie Henrickson said after the game. "When your three leading scorers are 3-for-30 when you go in the locker room it is a bad night. We didn't get a lot of good looks, and the good looks we got we couldn't get it to drop."
Tech succeeded in holding Riley scoreless from the field. She went 0-4 from the field and got both of her 2 points from the free throw line in the second half. But it made no difference, as she clamped down defensively inside, and her teammates picked up the scoring slack.
Williams led Tech with 15 points, but she was just 5-22 from the field, and she was the only Hokie in double figures. "I just couldn't finish," Williams said. "I had good looks, and even on Ruth I made a move on her and got an open look to the basket, but I couldn't finish the shot."
Tech is now 21-8 on the year and awaits an NCAA Tournament bid. After Sunday's 2nd round victory over Villanova, Tech was 24th in the RPI ratings, and the Hokies should be picked for the Big Dance.