Lechlitner leads ND to 82-67 win over MarquetteFeb 24, 2010 - 3:15 AM By TOM COYNE AP Sports Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind.(AP) -- Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw sat down at her post-game news conference and let out a sigh of relief.
"Welcome back Lindsay Schrader," she said.
The Fighting Irish (24-3, 11-3 Big East), who had lost two straight road games against ranked opponents with Schrader sitting out with a sprained left ankle, beat Marquette 82-67 on Tuesday night as Schrader had 17 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes of play and Melissa Lechlitner had a career-high 23 points. McGraw said Schrader was only allowed to play 20 minutes by the team trainers.
"We squeezed every second we could get out of her," McGraw said. "She had a fantastic game."
McGraw was concerned when Marquette hit 3 of 4 shots to open the game and the Irish defense looked like it did in the losses at St. John's and Georgetown last week.
"I thought, 'Well, gosh, we look like we've looked the last couple of games where our feet were in mud defensively,"' she said.
Lechlitner, though, helped the Irish get going. After turning the ball over on Notre Dame's initial possession and then missing their first three shots, the Irish made eight straight during an 18-2 run that gave it an 18-6 lead.
Lechlitner made back-to-back baskets during the run, hitting a 3, then a jumper to give the Irish a 12-6 lead. She later drove inside for another score during the run. The Golden Eagles narrowed the lead to 24-19 when Courtney Weibel made a 3-pointer. But a three-point play by Lechlitner and another 3-pointer by her helped spark a 15-3 spurt, giving the Irish a 41-24 lead at halftime.
An 11-2 run by the Golden Eagles early in the second half cut the lead to 48-37, but the Irish quickly answered with a 10-2 spurt that included another 3-pointer by Lechlitner.
"She shot the ball extremely well," McGraw said. "She just did some really good things to get us going."
Marquette coach Terri Mitchell said the Golden Eagles lost track of Lechlitner at times.
"She made us pay for it," she said.
Lechlitner was 8 of 13 shooting, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range. She credited Skylar Diggins, who had a career-high nine assists, with getting her open looks.
She said she wasn't surprised the Irish struggled without Schrader even though they are a veteran team.
"Lindsay's been our go-to player all year," McGraw said. "I was disappointed, honestly that other people haven't stepped up in her absence."
The Irish held their senior night Tuesday even though they still have a game remaining at home Monday against top-ranked Connecticut. McGraw said the decision to switch senior night had more to do with the game Monday being televised than the opponent.
"It's hard to do it on a night of a TV game," she said. "There's going to be enough hype that night that we don't have to worry about the seniors. We thought this was a good idea."
Ashley Barlow added 11 for the Irish. Weibel and Jessica Pachko had 15 points each for Marquette and Angel Robinson had 11.
McGraw wasn't totally happy with her team's play, especially about being outrebounded again and with Notre Dame's defense.
"We were up 20 and they got back in the game," she said. "We just needed to settle down a little bit. I think it was a good win for us."
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