Lady Irish survive first-round scare
By By SCOTT NOVAK / Niles Daily Star
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The Notre Dame Fighting Irish fended off a strong challenge from Southwest Missouri State Sunday afternoon at the Joyce Center.
The Lady Irish had to work overtime to defeat the upset-minded Lady Bears, 69-65.
Notre Dame will take on Middle Tennessee State Tuesday night at 7.
Notre Dame, which struggled against Southwest Missouri State's zone defense, hit four of six free throws in the final minute to seal the victory.
Notre Dame (20-10) built up a 65-59 lead in overtime only to see Southwest Missouri State's Jenni Lingor can back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the Lady Irish lead to 67-65.
The Lady Irish were all business in the early going, building up a 23-9 first-half lead before Southwest Missouri State called a timeout with 12:10 remaining.
Southwest Missouri State coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson challenged her team during the timeout and asked if they were "scared," according to one player. Abrahamson-Henderson noted that that was just a "word" she uses to motivate her team. She never really believed that they were scared or intimidated by the Lady Irish.
The Lady Bears (28-4) tightened up their zone defense, which seemed to stifle the Notre Dame offense.
Over the next 10 minutes Southwestern Missouri State clawed its way back into the contest, outscoring the Lady Irish, 16-8.
Leading 31-25, Notre Dame stopped the bleeding and took a 33-27 lead into the locker room at the intermission.
Jacqueline Batteast led all scorers with 17 points. Megan Duffy added 16 points, while Courtney LaVere and Le'Tania Severe each added 11.
Kari Koch and Lingor each had 15 points for the Lady Bears.
North Carolina went 0-13 from three-point range in a 67-62 loss to Middle Tennessee State Sunday afternoon in the opening round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.
The Tar Heels (24-7) made a late run at Middle Tennessee (24-7), but came up short in the end as Keitha McClinic and Patrice Holmes made three out of four free throws in the final 24 seconds to secure the victory.
Middle Tennessee hit 5-of-20 three-pointers. North Carolina outscored Middle Tennessee from inside the arc, 27-26.
North Carolina outrebounded Middle Tennessee, 46-37, but it was points off of turnovers that was the real key.
Middle Tennessee scored 20 points off of 17 North Carolina Turnovers compared to 10 points for the Lady Tar Heels off of Middle Tennessee's 14 miscues.
After a slow start, Middle Tennessee State turned it on in the final 10 minutes of the first half to take a 35-26 advantage into the lockerroom at the half.
North Carolina, which had a decisive size advantage, failed to use it during the opening 20 minutes.
While the Tar Heels were ice cold from the field, Middle Tennessee State used a balance attack to erase an early deficit and take control of the contest in the final five minutes of the opening half.
Freshman forward Krystle Horton spearheaded the Middle Tennessee attack as she scored a trio of baskets midway through the first quarter which allowed the Lady Raiders to catch the Tar Heels.
Horton finished the first half with 10 of her 16 points. Holmes led the Lady Raiders with 18 points. McClinic finished with 13 and Tia Stovall 12.
Camille Little, who also scored 10 first half points, finished with 18. Nikita Bell was the only other Lady Tar Heel to reach double figures with 14.