Notre Dame 66, Kent 41
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) _ Kent coach Bob Lindsay knew his team would have to duck the 1-2 punch of Notre Dame’s senior stars Katryna Gaither and Beth Morgan if they were to advance to the second round of the Pre-Season Women’s NIT.
The Golden Flashes ducked one Friday, but the second knocked them out of contention.
Center Gaither scored 25 points _ including 10 in a row to open the second half _ leading 20th-ranked Notre Dame to a 66-41 victory.
``We knew coming in that we had to control Morgan and Gaither, and I think we did a very good job on Morgan (9 points, 8 rebounds),″ Lindsay said. ``But Gaither was too athletic for our inside players.″
The 6-foot-3 senior started slowly, missing several easy shots. But a dismal start by Kent gave the Notre Dame star time to compose herself.
``I wasn’t playing under control early,″ Gaither said. ``But I saw the team was trying to get the ball to me so I decided I just had to do the job.″
Coach Muffet McGraw’s Irish took advantage of a 10-minute Kent scoring drought to open the game, and Gaither’s scoring spurt to open the second half put Bob Lindsay’s Golden Flashes away.
After Ashley Bland sank a 3-pointer for Kent to open the game, the Golden Flashes went scoreless for the next 10 minutes. The Irish ran off 20 straight points, capped by a layup and free throw by Gaither.
Kent scored the next 11 points, but the Irish countered with an eight-point run. Gaither scored 11 points for the Irish in the first half.
Kent, like Notre Dame, opening its season, was led by Carrie Templin’s 13 points.
The 41 points scored by Kent was the team’s lowest since 1983.
McGraw said her team had emphasized defense since it given up 94 points in their first exhibition game against the Lithuanian national team.
``Our zone was very effective tonight,″ she said. ``I think Kent came in expecting to see us playing man-to-man and we were ready to play it, too. But the zone worked so well we just stayed with it.″
Kent shot only 29 percent. Freshman Dawn Zerman had 11 points, including three 3-pointers.
Sheila McMillen added 13 for the winners while freshman point guard Niele Ivey was credited with eight assists in 21 minutes.