Hoosiers Defeat In-State Rival Notre Dame, 54-51
Dec. 3, 2006
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Junior Nikki Smith scored 18 points, 12 of which came in the second half, to lead all players as the Indiana women's basketball team defeated Notre Dame, 54-51, in the Joyce Center on Saturday, Dec. 3.
"Our team played exceptional basketball today," head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. "We beat a very good team. I have a lot of respect for Coach McGraw and what she has done here. Notre Dame has great fans and hopefully we can grow the IU fan base into something similar."
Nikki Smith scored the Hoosiers' (7-1) final basket of the game with just 35.5 seconds remaining in play to give IU the three point advantage. She was joined in double-figures by sophomore Kim Roberson who tallied 12.
With the Hoosiers trailing 51-48 with 4:11 left to play, Roberson picked up a steal and layed it in to cut the lead to just one point at the 3:48 mark. Following a time out, senior Leah Enterline picked up her seventh and eighth points of the game on a basket with 2:47 remaining to give IU back the lead. The Hoosiers came up with two key plays down the stretch on defense, as Roberson drew a charge with just a minute left to get the ball back and set up Nikki Smith's jumper, and following two consecutive Notre Dame timeouts, senior Sarah McKay held onto the ball in a scramble under the Fighting Irish basket to keep the ball in IU control with 6.7 seconds to play.
The Hoosier defense held the Fighting Irish (5-3) to just 22.6 percent (7-of-31) shooting from the floor in the first half of play, with the last Notre Dame field goal of the stanza coming with 9:09 left. Notre Dame's final five points of the half came from the free throw line. The Fighting Irish scored five straight points to take a 13-10 lead with 14:00 remaining, but the Hoosiers then rattled off six points of their own, four of which came from McKay, to take back the lead and hold it for good at the 11:34 point. IU's largest lead of the half came on the heels of a pair from the charity stripe by Enterline at the 6:11 mark, and the Hoosiers headed into the locker room with a 27-22 advantage.
Notre Dame came out firing to start the second half, picking up five points in the first two minutes to take a 29-27 lead at the 17:59 mark. The Hoosiers came back to tie the score at 33-33, but the Fighting Irish went on a 10-0 run over the next three minutes to open up their largest lead of the game of eight at 41-33 with 11:54 remaining. Not to be outdone, IU then rattled off a 9-0 run of its own over two minutes to retake the lead at 42-41 with 9:54 left in play. Six of the points during that run came from Nikki Smith. The two teams traded points back and forth before the Hoosiers were able to close out the game in the closing minutes.
Indiana shot 41.7 percent (20-of-48) from the floor in the contest while holding Notre Dame to 34.5 percent (20-of-58). The Hoosiers have held their opponent to less than 40 percent shooting in six of the last eight games. The Fighting Irish won the battle of the boards, 41-27.
Sophomore Whitney Thomas led IU with nine rebounds, seven of which came on the defensive end. She also had three steals in the win. Enterline had five assists and three defensive boards to go along with her eight points.
Notre Dame was led by Charel Allen with 17 points and she was followed by Melissa D'Amico picked up a double-double with 15 points and a game-high 10 rebounds in the contest.
The Hoosiers continue their three-game road trip at Bowling Green on Wednesday, Dec. 6. Catch all the action live as Mike Hensinger calls the game from Bowling Green, Ohio. Tipoff against the Falcons is set for 7 p.m. (ET).
Postgame Indiana Quotes
On the strategy for the game: "We went about what we wanted to do. We knew they were an incredible rebounding team. Although Notre Dame dominated the boards, we got the ones that mattered."
On the difference between the first and second halves: "We stuck to our defense in the first half the game, which helped create our offense. In the second half, we seemed to step in some quick sand a little bit, but we regained our confidence and were able to push the ball and guard with aggression."
On having a young team in an intense environment: "Our players are always mentally tough. We just go out and play basketball. Our team understands that mistakes will be made, but you can't worry about what you can't control."
Junior guard Nikki Smith
On playing with more confidence: "The coaches and the team believe in what I can do, and I gain confidence from that. I just continue to feed off of that."
Senior guard Leah Enterline:
On the game in general: "It was definitely an intense environment. We tried to stay focused on our defense. We wanted to shut down their penetration. They have great penetrating guards that aren't afraid to go into the paint."
"We wanted to really play good defense, and that helped create our offense."
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