After struggling offensively for the first half, Notre Dame (Green Pond) heated up in the third quarter to turn the game around and pull out a 44-34 win over Northwestern.
The Lady Crusaders made just five of 26 shots in the first half and went 0-for-9 from three-point range to fall behind by nine points. They made five of eight three-point shots in the third quarter and six of 12 shots from the field.
At the same time, they dug into their man-to-man defense after halftime and didn't allow a Northwestern field goal until the final two minutes of the third period.
"We got out of our zone defense and we decided just match up with them and play man to man," said Notre Dame head coach Josh Kopp. "I think that raised our intensity level there in the second quarter into the third quarter."
Northwestern held a 21-12 lead after the first half but that evaporated when the Crusaders scored the first 13 points of the third quarter to take a 25-21 lead.
Three-different Crusaders (Leigh Ann Lively, Shannon Moran and Lexi McGivern) hit three-pointers during the 13-0 run, while Moran added the other four points at the line.
McGivern and Lively each hit another three to complete a 19-1 run that gave Notre Dame a 31-22 lead with 1:59 to go in the third quarter.
"We couldn't make any shots in the first half and in the third quarter we really shot the lights out," Kopp said. "That's what we talked about at halftime. We knew we were getting open looks. The shots would fall eventually. We have good enough shooters that if they get open looks they're going to hit those shots."
Notre Dame finished the third quarter with a 33-26 lead and never let Northwestern any closer.
"They started in a zone and we did a good really good job against the zone," said Northwestern head coach Chris Deutsch. "Then they got out and went halfcourt man to man defense and we really struggled. You've got to give them credit. I thought we played a good 16 minutes, but we didn't play a good full game."
Northwestern jumped out to an early lead behind seniors Nycole Everett and Jenny Gulick. Everett scored all eight of her points in the first quarter, while also pulling down five rebounds in the period. Gulick scored five of her 10 points in the first period as the Lady Tigers led 15-7 after eight minutes.
Notre Dame turned up the defensive intensity in the second quarter and the Tigers managed just six points. But with the Crusaders still struggling with their shots, Northwestern was able to hold onto its lead until after intermission.
Lively, a three-year starter who was playing her second game after missing eight with an ankle injury suffered over Christmas break, scored a game high 15 points.
The win keeps Notre Dame (10-6, 7-4) in the thick of the Colonial League wild card race. The loss leaves the Tigers (6-10, 5-6) still searching for three more league wins that will secure a district playoff berth.
"It is a tough loss," Deutsch said. "We thought this was an important game. We've still got to win three. We have five league games left. On any given night anybody can beat anybody else."
Spirk 0-0-0-0, McGivern 2-0-6-6, Azzalina 0-2-2-2, Lively 5-3-5-15, Pierzga 1-2-3-4, Moran 3-6-6-13, Gorman 2-0-0-4, K. Busalacchi 0-0-0-0, A. Busalacchi 0-0-2-0. TOTALS: 13-13-24-44.
Gulick 4-0-1-10, Landrigan 1-0-0-2, Jones 3-2-4-8, Suter 0-0-0-0, Kemmerer 1-2-2-4, Nemes 0-0-0-0, MacLaughlin 0-0-0-0, Heydlauf 0-0-2-0, Everett 3-2-2-8, Albright 0-2-4-0. TOTALS: 12-8-15-34.
Notre Dame 7 5 21 11 - 44
Northwestern 15 6 5 8 - 34
Three pointers: Notre Dame - McGivern 2, Lively 2, Moran 1; Northwestern - Gulick 2.