Early in the game it appeared that the Eagle guards were badly overmatched by the Irish but the Eagles recovered quickly and the game remained close throughout most of the first half. In fact, with only 1:24 remaining before the break the game was knotted at 24-24 and Notre Dame actually had several two-point leads.
Over the final minute, however, the Irish exploded for seven straight points behind the solid 3-point shooting of senior guards Sharise Calhoun and Ashley Sujkowski. Both players hit medium range 3s to provide their team with a surprising seven-point halftime advantage given the closeness of first half play.
“Those are shots we can live with,” Notre Dame coach Rhett Boyd said. “Those are from capable 3-point shooters but they’re not great 3-point shooters. When you are trying to protect on the inside you’re going to give something up. We are willing to give up that shot up. Given them (Central) credit. They knocked it down.”
The Lady Irish used the momentum gained during the first half’s closing minute to propel them to jump out fast in the second half. Scoring five of the first seven second half points the Irish suddenly turned what had been a close game into a 10-point lead, 36-26, and the game quickly developed into a mild rout.
In the first half the Eagles were getting some good looks at the basket. Eagle senior Mackenzie Strall, a transfer from Central Catholic, led the Eagle attack in the first half with nine points but in the second half the situation was much different. The Irish defense tightened considerably. For example, Strall did not score another point for the Eagles until the 1:02 mark of the fourth quarter.
Said Irish coach Steve Pfahler: “I thought we confused them a little bit when we went to our straight man package instead of trapping all the time. They were looking for traps that weren’t there and I think we did a better job of controlling them that way.”
Providing a big boost for the Irish last night was senior Ashley Frazier. Frazier, who started most of last season for Central, has been coming off the bench this year so far and Pfahler has been pleased with Frazier’s performance in that role.
“She (Frazier) has come off the bench like Nowacki did last year,” the coach said. “She came off the bench and gave us a lift and tonight she gave us a tremendous lift and we needed it. We were very flat to start the game. My hats off to Notre Dame. They played very, very well. We knew they would come in and play a very emotional game.”
The Lady Irish offensive attack was led by Calhoun with 15 points. Also scoring in double figures for the Irish were junior Brianna Jones with 12 and senior Lauren Farell with 10. Jones also pulled down 8 rebounds.
Meanwhile the Eagles received 12 points and 13 rebounds from their star freshmen Erica Donovan. Strall finished with 11 points after scoring 9 points in the first half.
Boyd, who saw his team lose for the first time this season, was circumspect in the loss.
“When you lose a player like (Lalor), you’re going to take a hit, especially right away,” Boyd said. “But the situation is what it is. It’s unfortunate, but we’re not going to cry about it, and we’re not going to make excuses for it. We were prepared and we played hard. Central played better tonight.”
The Central win extends their record to 10-0.