McGuirk Arena was filled to capacity as Notre Dame came rolling into Mount Pleasant on Thursday night.
Central Michigan fed off that energy, holding its own against the No. 5 team in the nation.
Head coach Sue Guevara said she really liked how the fans showed up and provided a high-octane environment to play in.
“You could feel their energy,” Guevara said. “They were really into the game. I loved the fact that we got our little three signs. It was great; it was a really good crowd.
Large home crowds have always played a key role in igniting the home town team and providing much-needed energy. Guevara said she enjoyed seeing her team put forth a good effort in front of a crowd that was really excited about the game.
“I was really happy that the student sections were pretty full,” she said. “They were really into the game. I knew we were going to have a good crowd, I just wanted our team to perform well, so the fans will come back. I think we have a pretty good basketball team. I think we can compete for a championship in the MAC.”
CMU junior guard Niki Diguilio said she thinks the crowd had a big factor throughout the game.
The electric environment and the crowd’s passion for the game were also noticed by the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said she thought games like this are great learning opportunities for her team.
“It was great preparation to play in a place like this for some of these tough venues we’re going to face this year,” McGraw said.
Notre Dame senior guard Skylar Diggins said playing in an environment like this was good for her team.
“I think it was great to get a win against a team in a tough atmosphere and that plays very well at home,” she said.
Notre Dame has been shooting 50 percent from the field all season, but CMU held them to just 35.4 percent Thursday – a strong effort against a top-level team that was just in the national title game last season.
Guevara said, despite the loss, and with there being no moral victories, she thought the team played with great passion and effort.
“I thought the girls did great,” Guevara said. “I thought that our kids played their guts out. I thought we rattled the cage of the Irish.”
The team will be put to the test again as they travel to Purdue for a 2 p.m. tipoff on Sunday.