Notre Dame shakes off rust from long layoff

DEKALB, Ill. (AP) -- Jacqueline Batteast proved to coach Muffet
McGraw that Notre Dame could play after a long layoff.

Batteast scored 21 points to lead the Fighting
Irish (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today; No. 6 AP) to a 73-49 win over Northern Illinois on Thursday night.

Notre Dame (11-1) hadn't taken the court since Dec. 19 and McGraw
was concerned that her team would be rusty.

"I was worried we might lose our edge," she said.

Batteast sparked an early 12-0 run that gave the Irish a 17-6
lead. The Huskies (2-8) cut Notre Dame's lead to seven points
several times in the first half, but could get no closer.

The Irish led 36-26 at halftime and opened the second half with
a 20-9 run. The Irish improved to 5-0 on the road.

Northern Illinois guard Stephanie Raymond, who led the Huskies
with 15 points, was not overly impressed with Notre Dame.

"Yeah, they were ranked. Big deal," Raymond said. "They're
No. 6 in the country and there are people who don't even know who
Northern Illinois is, and we were only down 10 at the half. So what
does that say? We just came out in the second half not ready to
play and never got back in a groove."

Reserve guard Tulyah Gaines added 12 points for the Irish, and
Notre Dame's bench outscored the Huskies' reserves 25-11. The Irish
also outscored Northern Illinois 28-8 in the paint.

Kristin Wiener added 14 for the Huskies, who struggled with
their shooting.

"You're not going to win many ballgames, especially one against
a team that's ranked No. 6 in the country, when you're only
shooting 23 percent from the floor," Northern Illinois coach Carol
Hammerle said.