Lady Braves no match for top-seeded Notre Dame

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 18, 2001

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Surrounded by green on St. Patrick’s Day, Alcorn State basketball coach Shirley Walker gave her team a green light to shoot the 3-pointer, and it kept the Lady Braves in the game for about 10 minutes. After that, the No. 1-seeded Irish displayed their vast array of offensive weapons and put the game out reach in a 98-49 NCAA Tournament first-round win here on Saturday.

Notre Dame’s early 2-3 zone defense was no match for the long-range shooting of Alcorn State. The Lady Braves made three 3-pointers in the first five minutes to take a 13-11 lead.

Then came the defensive adjustment by the Irish, and Notre Dame went on a 15-0 run in the next four minutes.

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On offense the Irish took advantage of their height. All-American center Ruth Riley scored the first four Irish points and ended up scoring a game-high 16.

&uot;We wanted to go inside early and I thought we were effective doing that,&uot; said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, whose squad improves to 29-2 and advances to a second-round matchup with Michigan on Monday at 7 p.m. The Wolverines beat Virginia 81-71 in overtime. &uot;But their shooting really surprised us and forced us out of zone which we really didn’t want to come out of the 2-3.

&uot;I was a little disappointed that I didn’t go to (man-to-man) earlier. I just kept hoping we would get out on the shooters. And I thought (Taresha) Coleman was the one that made us get out of it when she came off the bench. I thought she played extremely well.&uot;

Coleman, playing less than an hour away from her hometown of Benton Harbor, Mich., led Alcorn State, which finishes the season with a 21-11 record, with 15 points on five 3-pointers.

&uot;I had a lot of family as well as friends here. It was a great experience. It definitely feels good to be here at home,&uot; said Coleman. &uot;We came out and we played hard. I think in the first 10 minutes of the game we gave Notre Dame a good run. We made them have to make an adjustment which is a good thing for us.&uot;

Notre Dame put together another run, this time outscoring the Lady Braves 19-1 in the last 7:20 of the first half.

Alcorn shot just two free throws in the first half while Notre Dame went 11-of-12 from the charity stripe. &uot;We didn’t get into the bonus in the first half and I thought that was a big key for us in man-to-man,&uot; said McGraw.

The Irish outscored Alcorn State 26-0 in the paint in the first half. Riley scored 12 of her 16 before halftime.

&uot;I thought because I had such a height advantage I was expecting the double team,&uot; said Riley. &uot;It’s something I’ve faced most of the year so I knew it was coming. My teammates were looking for me so I was fortunate.&uot;