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Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 1, 2001
Irish off to best start
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Ericka Haney got off to a great start Sunday, helping Notre Dame to its best start.
Haney scored 16 of her 18 points in the first half and added 12 rebounds as third-ranked Notre Dame beat Rice 80-40 to improve to 12-0 for the first time.
It was Notre Dame's 29th consecutive home victory and gave coach Muffet McGraw 300 wins at the school.
"I think it's really a great thing for the program," said McGraw, who was handed a bouquet of flowers by her son as she left the floor. "I don't think you do anything in this game by yourself."
Haney was in charge early, scoring 10 of Notre Dame's first 13 points as the Irish pulled out to a 13-9 lead with 13:20 left in the first half.
"You'd think from the first half we didn't respect Ericka Haney," Rice coach Cristy McKinney said, "and that's not true."
Haney, a junior, insisted she wasn't concerned with scoring.
"I told a couple of my teammates I was going to have a career high today in rebounds," said Haney, who wound up two short. "I was really intense about my rebounding. Whatever I got offensively was extra."
Ruth Riley added 18 points, and Niele Ivey had 13 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists for Notre Dame, which used a 27-8 run to end the first half with a 40-17 lead.
Kara Liggett led Rice with nine points.
Rice shot 23 percent from the field (14-of-62); Notre Dame shot 44 percent (28-of-64).
"We just didn't make any shots," McKinney said. "We put ourselves in a hole early, and then everything snowballed."
Notre Dame outrebounded the Owls 58-36, a statistic that jumped out at McKinney.
"A lot of that's effort," McKinney said. "Notre Dame gave a great effort on the boards, and we didn't give that same effort."
NO. 9 LA. TECH 62, ARKANSAS ST. 59: Ayana Walker took over down the stretch as visiting Louisiana Tech got its 21st consecutive win over Arkansas State.
Walker scored eight straight points, including a layup with 4:11 left that broke a 53-53 tie and put the Techsters ahead for good. Walker played all 40 minutes and scored 23 points.
Brooke Lassiter had 11 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists for Louisiana Tech, which extended its Sun Belt winning streak to 37 games. The Techsters have won the past eight regular-season conference championships.
Jolie McKeirnan had 19 points and nine rebounds and Keeshia Evans scored 16 points for Arkansas State. The Indians shot 30 percent (17-of-56) but had a 46-41 rebounding advantage and outscored Louisiana Tech from the free-throw line 20-10.
NO. 11 PENN ST. 66, OHIO ST. 63: Kelly Mazzante scored 26 points, and Maren Walseth's 15 points included a tiebreaking free throw with three seconds left for visiting Penn State.
After Ohio State tied the score at 63 on Tomeka Brown's two free throws, Walseth was fouled trying to put back a missed shot. Walseth made the first free throw and missed the second, but Lisa Shepherd got the rebound. Shepherd was fouled and made both attempts from the line.
Mazzante went 10-of-18 from the field, including 3-of-5 on three-pointers, and had 10 rebounds. Katrena Carr added 10 points for Penn State.
NO. 21 XAVIER 78, BUTLER 67: Taru Tuukkanen had 21 points and nine rebounds for host Xavier.
Jennifer Phillips, Nicole Levandusky and Reetta Piipari each had 15 points for the Musketeers. Phillips has scored in double figures in her past 20 games.
Levandusky, Xavier's career steals leader with 311, had eight steals and eight rebounds. Piipari had 11 assists.
Xavier started the first four minutes with a 13-4 run capped by a layup by Phillips. The Musketeers took their biggest lead when Levandusky's jump shot made it 43-30 with more than five minutes left in the first half.
NO. 24 VANDERBILT 84, VERMONT 66: Hillary Hager led five players in double figures with 18 points for host Vanderbilt.
Zuzana Klimesova had 17 points, Ashley McElhiney 15, Chantelle Anderson 13 and Jenni Benningfield 11.
Vermont scored first, but McElhiney answered with a three-pointer to put the Commodores on top for good. They led 44-33 at halftime and by 81-59 after a layup by Klimesova with 2:54 left.