Wildcats Defeated In NCAA First Round

March 23, 2003

AP Sports Writer

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Alicia Ratay scored nine of her 20 points in a 15-0second-half run that sent 11th-seeded Notre Dame to a 59-47 victory overArizona on Sunday night in the first round of the East Regional.

Notre Dame (20-10) frustrated sixth-seeded Arizona and its 6-foot-5 freshmancenter, Shawntinice Polk, with a collapsing zone defense and moved into asecond-round game Tuesday night against the Kansas State-Harvard winner.

Courtney LaVere added 15 points for the Irish, who survived a poor game byseason scoring leader Jacqueline Batteast. Batteast never got untracked andscored only three points on 1-for-16 shooting.

Arizona (22-9) shot a season-low 23.3 percent (17-of-73) and that playedright into Notre Dame's hands. The Irish didn't have to extend their defenseand were able to keep two or three defenders around Polk, who had 14 points and16 rebounds but was only 4-of-14 from the field.

Krista Warren led Arizona with 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, not enoughto keep coach Joan Bonvicini from losing in the first round for the first timein 14 NCAA tournament appearances.

Notre Dame was struggling to score and trailed 37-34 with 12 minutes leftwhen Ratay, who had been scoreless in the Irish's last game, got her teamgoing.

Ratay hit a 3-pointer from the left side to tie it, then made a free throwto put the Irish ahead and the lead grew from there. Ratay nailed a 3 from theright side, Teresa Borton scored on a hook in the lane and Ratay sank two freethrows.

Two straight baskets inside by LaVere made it 49-37 with 4:48 left andfinished the run. Arizona went scoreless for 8� minutes and never got closerthan nine the rest of the way.

Arizona had last played on March 10 and Notre Dame had been idle since March9. The effects of the long layoffs showed as both teams shot poorly, werecareless with the ball and generally were ineffective on offense for longstretches.

Much of the game was a series of wild misses from point-blank range andairballs from the perimeter. Arizona's frustration came to a head late in thegame when Dee-Dee Wheeler, who was 3-for-20, had to hoist up a 40-footer thatfell well short to try to beat the shot clock.

Notre Dame scored the final six points of the first half to take a 23-21lead, but Arizona went back ahead at 25-23 on rare baskets by Wheeler and Polkearly in the second half. There were four more lead changes before Ratay, whohad only four points at halftime, started her surge.

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