Riley, Ratay lead Irish to victory in Wachovia Invite
By KEVIN BERCHOU
Winning is becoming habitual for the 11th-ranked Notre Dame women's basketball team. The Irish enjoyed an extremely successful weekend, upending ninth-ranked North Carolina by a score of 99-86, and Liberty 85-68 en route to being crowned champions of the Wachovia Women's Invitational Tournament.
Once again, the Irish women were sparked by the spectacular play of freshman sensation Alicia Ratay, and tournament MVP Ruth Riley. With the outcome of both contests still very much in doubt at the halfway point, the inside-outside duet of Riley and Ratay stepped to the forefront and took charge of the game's outcome.
It was Ratay who led the upset charge over the Tar Heels, netting a career-high 32 points, while shooting a scorching 80 percent from the floor. With her team up by a score of 42-39 at the half, Ratay turned a close game into a rout by scoring 13 points in a 23-4 run to open the second half. Ratay's big day saw her drain six three pointers and grab six rebounds.
With Riley being doubleteamed on the inside, Ratay was given several good looks at the basket, and failing to disappoint, she made good on six of her eight attempts from behind the arc.
Ericka Haney added 18 points and 14 rebounds in the win, while her backcourt mate, Niele Ivey, added a double-double of her own, tallying 17 points in addition to handing out 13 assists.
Motivated by their upset win over the Tar Heels, the Irish came out looking to bring home a tournament title as they met Liberty in the final. This time, with Liberty justifiably leery of Ratay's outside shooting touch, Riley saw the middle open up for her. For much of the game the Irish star had her way on the inside, taking over the game as the second half opened.
Riley poured in nine of her game high 32 points to spark the Irish on a 13-6 run as the second half got underway. Single-handedly turning a close game in her team's favor, Riley's strong play gave the Irish a 52-42 lead they would never relinquish.
Draining 12 of 14 shots from the floor, Riley made life miserable for the Lady Flames of Liberty, who saw their record fall to 2-3. The Irish, meanwhile improved to 4-1 with their victories over the weekend, and return to the court against interstate rival and No. 20 Purdue Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
All Sports Stories for Monday, December 6, 1999