Notre Dame explodes past Jackson 57-44
Saturday, December 22, 2001
When it came down to crunch time, Notre Dame did all the crunching.
Fourteen seconds into the fourth quarter, the Lady Bulldogs led their rival Jackson by five points.
Less than four minutes later, Notre Dame, the second seed, led by 20.
And with that spurt, Notre Dame advanced to the HealthSouth Holiday Classic with an impressive 57-44 victory Friday night.
Notre Dame will take on top-seeded Poplar Bluff for the championship at 7 tonight.
"That was a nice game," said Notre Dame coach Jerry Grim. "In the second half, the kids dominated."
Notre Dame (7-1) needed overtime to dispose of Jackson by three points earlier this year.
During that key stretch in the fourth quarter Friday night, Notre Dame hit seven of its nine shots. The Lady Bulldogs scored at least one point on their first nine possessions. They forced three turnovers which led to six points and they held the Lady Indians (5-3) without a field goal in four attempts.
When the run started, Notre Dame led 39-34. By the time, the junior varsity players were inserted, the score was 57-37.
"We started moving the ball well," said Notre Dame center Deana McCormick, who led Notre Dame with 17 points and 11 rebounds. "When we move the ball well, we get good shots and we've got good shooters."
McCormick was one of three Notre Dame players in double figures. Lisa Millham hit three 3-pointers and scored 13 points. Ashley Millham scored 10.
Ashley Millham, though, was most impressive on the defensive end. She and teammate Courtney Vickery helped hold Jackson's Jenna Leet to just three points.
Leet, who came into the tournament averaging 19 points, had virtually no open looks and Notre Dame held her scoreless until Jackson's first basket of the fourth quarter.
"When you play her straight up and she forces some shots, she can take some bad ones," said Grim. "That's what you have to try to do with her. But there's not many nights you're going to hold her down. Last time we played them, she got a lot of back doors and Ashley and Courtney did a good job tonight of not overplaying her, just playing good defense."
Jackson led 12-10 after the first quarter, but Notre Dame took a 22-21 lead into halftime.
Notre Dame outscored the Lady Indians 17-11 in the third quarter to build a 39-32 lead. Leet scored on Jackson's first possession of the fourth quarter, pulling her team to within five, but the Lady Indians would get no closer.
No player scored in double figures for Jackson. Whitney Werner and Jessica Venable each had eight.
"We've got to get more physical with the body," said Jackson coach Ron Cook. "We have to learn to hold our own. Strength-wise, we can't match up with about anybody. But Notre Dame played well. They've got a good team."
Poplar Bluff, which defeated Cape Central 58-45 in the other semifinal, defeated Notre Dame by three points earlier this year.
"We're confident but we know it's going to be hard to beat them," McCormick said.
Poplar Bluff has won the HealthSouth Classic four straight years.