Jan. 12, 2009
2008-09 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 16
#10/4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (14-1 / 3-0 BIG EAST) vs. Marquette Golden Eagles (10-6 / 1-1 BIG EAST)
DATE: January 13, 2009
TIME: 8:00 p.m. CT
AT: Milwaukee, Wis. – Al McGuire Center (4,000)
SERIES: ND leads 28-5
1ST MTG: MU 66-41 (2/3/78)
LAST MTG: ND 99-76 (2/13/08)
TV: CBS College Sports (live) (Ann Schatz, p-b-p / Tammy Blackburn, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: UND.com
TICKETS: (414) 288-4668
- Notre Dame has opened BIG EAST play with three consecutive wins for the first time since 2001-02.
- Five of the past six games between Notre Dame and Marquette have been decided by a combined 29 points (5.8 ppg.).
No. 10/4 Notre Dame Heads To Marquette Tuesday Night
Bolstered by one of the best starts in school history, No. 10/4 Notre Dame will face a familiar foe on Tuesday when it visits Marquette for an 8 p.m. (CT) BIG EAST contest that will be televised live to a national cable audience by CBS College Sports. The Irish and Golden Eagles have met more often than any other opponent in Notre Dame history, with Tuesday marking the 34th edition of the rivalry.
The Irish (14-1, 3-0) stretched their current winning streak to a season-high-tying seven games this past Saturday with an 84-63 win over Georgetown at the Joyce Center. For the second time in three games, Notre Dame led from the opening tip to the final horn, using a 10-0 run early in the second half to put the Hoyas away for good.
Junior center Erica Williamson led the way for the Irish, scoring a career-high 21 points (on 7-of-9 shooting) and grabbing a season-best 10 rebounds for her third career double-double and first of the season.
- Notre Dame is ranked 10th in this week’s Associated Press poll and was fourth in last week’s ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll (new poll to be released Tuesday).
- Marquette was not ranked last week.
A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
Following two seasons of impressive growth and development, Notre Dame has constructed a firm foundation upon which to build its next championship contender. The Irish enter the 2008-09 season on the heels of a seventh trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 and a highly-competitive effort in that regional semifinal that has players, coaches and followers optimistic that even greater success may be on the horizon.
Notre Dame has three starters and seven monogram winners returning this season from a squad that ranked among the top 10 in the country in scoring offense (8th – 76.2 ppg) and scoring margin (10th – +14.6 ppg) a year ago. The Irish also have many of the pieces back from the ’07-08 club that led the BIG EAST in steals for the second consecutive year (school-record 397, 11.68 per game) and forced an opponent-record 737 turnovers.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that Notre Dame’s present upward mobility has coincided with the arrival of its current junior class, including guards and co-captains Ashley Barlow and Melissa Lechlitner. Barlow earned honorable mention all-BIG EAST status last year and is the team’s top returning scorer (12.1 ppg), while also setting the defensive tone with a team-high 68 steals last season. Meanwhile, Lechlitner (5.5 ppg, 2.6 apg) assumes the mantle of leadership from the point guard position after two consistent years as a reliable understudy to Tulyah Gaines.
The Irish also should benefit from the veteran experience and guidance of senior guard and co-captain Lindsay Schrader, who joined Barlow on last year’s BIG EAST honorable mention squad after logging 10.3 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game. She earned similar status this fall in preseason voting by the conference coaches and gives Notre Dame a unique blend of toughness and determination that has become the common thread running through the team’s recent resurgence.
The Irish sophomore class proved to be an exceptional complement to their predecessors last season, led by forward Devereaux Peters (9.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.0 bpg), who was a BIG EAST All-Freshman Team choice despite missing the final 11 games of the year with a knee injury. Guard Brittany Mallory (6.3 ppg, 34 3FG) joined Peters on the conference’s all-rookie squad, while forward Becca Bruszewski (5.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg) may be the team’s most improved player heading into this season after a scintillating three-game NCAA Tournament performance that included a season-high 16 points against both SMU and Tennessee.
Potent Notables About The Irish
- Notre Dame is among the nation’s winningest programs during the past 12 seasons (1996-97 to present), ranking seventh with 306 victories.
- Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past eight seasons. This year, the program has averaged 7,150 fans for its first six home games. The Irish also have drawn 5,000-or-more fans to 116 of their last 118 home games, including six Joyce Center sellouts of 11,418 (most recently on Dec. 7, 2008 vs. Purdue).
- The Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as seven Notre Dame players have been selected in the past eight seasons. Charel Allen was the most recent Irish player to be chosen, going to the Sacramento Monarchs in the third round (43rd overall pick) of the 2008 WNBA Draft. Allen, Megan Duffy (New York) and Ruth Riley (San Antonio) all were active in the league during the ’08 season, with all three teams making the playoffs (San Antonio made the WNBA Finals, while New York was the Eastern Conference runner-up). Three of Notre Dame’s eight WNBA alums have won a total of four league championships — Riley won a pair of crowns with the Detroit Shock (2003 Finals MVP, 2006), Coquese Washington toiled for the 2000 Houston Comets, while Jacqueline Batteast was Riley’s teammate on the ’06 title-winning squad in Detroit.
- For the third year in a row, the Irish posted a perfect 100-percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR), according to figures released by the NCAA in October 2008. Notre Dame also was one of only four teams with a perfect ’07 GSR to advance to the 2008 NCAA Sweet 16 (joining Oklahoma State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt). Furthermore, since Muffet McGraw became the Irish head coach in 1987, every Notre Dame women’s basketball player that has completed her athletic and academic eligibility at the University has graduated (a 57-for-57 success rate).
A Quick Look At Marquette
Nothing beats championship experience and Marquette has got a ton of that knowledge, as the Golden Eagles bring back 10 letterwinners and four starters from last year’s club that rolled to the WNIT title, winning at Michigan State in the championship game.
After a 5-0 start, MU (10-6, 1-1) has been trading wins and losses during the past eight games, most recently dropping a 65-55 decision at Seton Hall this past Saturday. Sophomore guard Angel Robinson scored a game-high 21 points for the Golden Eagles, but she was the only player to score in double figures for Marquette, which shot 32.8 percent in the contest.
Robinson leads the Golden Eagles in scoring (13.9 ppg.) and assists (3.6 apg.), while senior All-America guard Krystal Ellis ranks second on the squad in scoring (13.4 ppg.), while leading the way in steals (2.2 spg.) and three-pointers made (22).
Head coach Terri Mitchell is in her 13th season at Marquette, having compiled a 248-136 (.646) at the school. She is 1-8 all-time against Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-Marquette Series
No series in Notre Dame history has been played more frequently than its rivalry with Marquette. The Irish and Golden Eagles will meet for the 34th time on Tuesday, with Notre Dame holding a 28-5 edge in the series (10-4 in Milwaukee).
Notre Dame and Marquette first met in the inaugural season of Irish women’s basketball (1977-78) and played almost annually through 1995, including shared stints in the North Star (1986-88) and Midwestern Collegiate (1989-91) conferences. The non-league series resumed in 1999-2000 and continued annually through the Golden Eagles’ admission to the BIG EAST in 2005-06.
The Last Time Notre Dame And Marquette Met
Tulyah Gaines got Notre Dame’s defense going, then she got going offensively.
Gaines stopped Marquette’s Krystal Ellis after she burned Notre Dame for 13 points in the first eight minutes. Then Gaines scored a season-high 22 points to pace the Irish offensively in a 99-76 victory on Feb. 13, 2008, at the Joyce Center.
Ellis scored 13 points as Marquette jumped to an early 23-17 lead on 10-of-15 shooting. But the Fighting Irish switched to a box-and-one defense, with Gaines guarding Ellis, and went on a 21-1 run. The Golden Eagles went more than nine minutes without a basket. Ellis had just one shot the rest of the half and finished the game with 18 points.
The only other player in double figures for the Golden Eagles was Courtney Weibel, who scored 11 of her 14 points in the second half.
Gaines was 10-of-15 shooting, repeatedly drove for layups. Charel Allen added 13 points and the Irish shot a season-high 64 percent. Marquette had not allowed an opponent to shoot better than 49 percent all season.
Marquette, which bounced back from a 19-point deficit against Cincinnati a week earlier, trailed 45-31 at halftime. The Golden Eagles closed to 13 points early in the second half, but the Irish quickly answered with a 7-0 run.
The Irish, who led by as many as 32, didn’t make a basket in the final 3:58 as they failed to become the first team in 13 years to break 100 against Marquette.
The Last Time Notre Dame And Marquette Met In Milwaukee
Efueko Osagie-Landry scored 15 points and Krystal Ellis added 12 to lead No. 17 Marquette to an 71-62 victory over Notre Dame on Jan. 23, 2007, at the Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee.
Christina Quaye had 12 points for Marquette, which won its third straight game and defeated the Irish for the first time since Dec. 1, 1992, snapping a string of 10 consecutive losses in the series.
After trailing the entire game, Notre Dame closed the gap to 52-48 when Allen hit two free throws with 7:27 remaining.
Marquette then went on an 11-4 run to grab a 63-52 lead with 3:42 remaining when Osagie-Landry grabbed a rebound and scored. She was fouled on the play and hit the free throw. It was the third time during the run that Marquette grabbed an offensive rebound and scored.
Notre Dame could get no closer than seven points the rest of the way when Breona Gray hit two free throws with 35.6 seconds remaining.
Marquette hit five of eight free throws, including three by Osagie-Landry, down the stretch.
The Golden Eagles pulled ahead in the first half, but Notre Dame cut the halftime lead to 31-29 on a three-pointer by Crystal Erwin.
Other Notre Dame-Marquette Series Tidbits
- Notre Dame has won 27 of the past 29 games in the series after Marquette won three of the first four meetings (twice in Milwaukee, once in South Bend). The Golden Eagles’ most recent series win came in 2007 (71-62 at the Al McGuire Center) and was their first since Dec. 1, 1992 (66-62, also in Milwaukee).
- Five of the past six games in the series have been particularly close, with the Irish winning four of the five by an average margin of 5.8 points per game. However, only once in the 33-game series has a contest gone to overtime — a 67-65 Notre Dame victory in 2006 (won on a Megan Duffy layup at the horn).
- The 28 victories and 33 series games both are school records. Dayton, Detroit, Valparaiso, and Notre Dame’s most recent opponent, Georgetown, all are tied for second on the series wins list (22), while Notre Dame has played DePaul 31 times for second on that list.
- With Marquette’s arrival in the BIG EAST for the 2005-06 season, the Irish and Golden Eagles have been members of the same conference three times. Previously, the teams shared affiliations for two-year periods in the North Star (1986-88) and Midwestern Collegiate (1989-91) conferences. The NSC now is defunct, while the MCC was renamed the Horizon League. Notre Dame is 10-1 against Marquette in conference play, going 4-0 in both the NSC and MCC, and 2-1 in the BIG EAST.
- Marquette has topped the 70-point mark four times against Notre Dame. Conversely, the Irish have scored at least 70 points against the Golden Eagles 22 times, all in the past 27 meetings.
- MU tied its series high with 76 points in last year’s 99-76 Irish win at the Joyce Center. The 99 points also were the most for Notre Dame since Dec. 21, 1990 (a 109-56 win in South Bend).
- Four of Marquette’s five series wins have come in Milwaukee, most recently in 2007.
- The MU record books also include two additional Golden Eagle victories, both of which came in 1976 (52-47 on Feb. 4 in Milwaukee; 45-41 on Feb. 28 in South Bend), and both of which were played prior to Notre Dame’s program elevating to varsity status (as an AIAW Division III entity) in 1977-78.
Getting Off On The Right Foot
Notre Dame is off to a 3-0 start in BIG EAST play for the sixth time in its 14-year conference membership (1995-96 to present), but the first time since 2001-02.
In each of their five prior 3-0 BIG EAST starts, the Irish have gone on to finish no lower than second, either overall or in their division (when the conference featured divisional play from 1995-96 through 1997-98).
Notre Dame is 18-5 (.783) in true road games during the past two seasons. In addition, the past four road losses for the Irish have been decided by 10 points or fewer, including a 63-59 overtime loss at Michigan on Dec. 10 (the only blemish on Notre Dame’s record to date this season).
The Irish recently completed a four-game road swing, their longest regular-season trip since early in the 2002-03 season, sweeping games at Charlotte (68-61), No. 20/19 Vanderbilt (59-57), Seton Hall (66-60) and DePaul (86-62). It’s the first time Notre Dame won four consecutive games, all on the road (opponent’s home floor) since Jan. 7-19, 1991, when the Irish won at Butler (80-64), DePaul (81-66), Loyola-Chicago (66-55) and Marquette (91-73) in succession during Notre Dame’s first full week as a ranked team in program history.
A Start We Can Believe In
Notre Dame’s 14-1 start is the second-best 15-game debut in school history. The only time an Irish squad started better than this year’s club was 2000-01, when Notre Dame opened the season with a school-record 23 consecutive wins en route to the program’s first No. 1 ranking and eventually, its first national championship.
Four of Notre Dame’s wins this season have come against AP Top 25 opponents, marking the first time in school history the Irish have registered four non-conference Top 25 victories in the regular season. The four ranked wins also currently represent half of the BIG EAST’s eight Top 25 wins during the 2008-09 non-conference schedule (no other league school has more than one Top 25 non-conference victory this season).
What’s more, of the nine teams ranked ahead of Notre Dame in this week’s Associated Press poll, none has more wins over ranked opponents than the Irish (through Sunday night’s action). In fact, only North Carolina even has as many road Top 25 wins as Notre Dame at this point in the season (Stanford has a pair of neutral-site ranked victories on its resume).
Novosel Named BIG EAST Freshman Of The Week
Freshman guard Natalie Novosel has been chosen as the BIG EAST Conference Freshman of the Week, it was announced Monday by the conference office. Novosel joined forward Kellie Watson as Notre Dame’s two-time recipients of the award this season. This marks the first time the Irish have ever had two players chosen as BIG EAST Freshman of the Week multiple times in the same season.
Novosel averaged 15.5 points and 5.0 rebounds with a .667 field goal percentage (10-of-15) last week, helping the Irish extend their winning streak to a season-high-tying seven games.
The Lexington, Ky., native tied her season (and career) high with 18 points (on 6-of-10 shooting) last Tuesday at DePaul, while her seven rebounds were one off her personal best. This past Saturday at home against Georgetown, she chalked up 12 points (on 4-of-5 shooting) and four rebounds.
Born To Run
Notre Dame has used some impressive scoring streaks to take command in several games this season. In fact, the Irish have fashioned eight game-changing runs during which they have outscored their opponent by at least 12 points.
Furthermore, Notre Dame has manufactured three streaks of at least 16 consecutive points this season, including a 27-0 blitz in the second half of its win over Georgia Southern on Nov. 25. That marked the second-longest run of unanswered points in school history, topped only by a 31-0 run in the first half of a win over Pittsburgh on Jan. 18, 1997, at the Joyce Center.
New Kids On The Block
It may not be exactly the way Irish head coach Muffet McGraw envisioned it prior to the season, but Notre Dame’s freshman class has been getting some valuable on-the-job training this year.
With season-ending knee injuries to sophomores Devereaux Peters and Brittany Mallory, the Irish bench now basically consists of the four-player freshman class — forward Erica Solomon and Kellie Watson and guards Natalie Novosel and Fraderica Miller.
Yet, despite their relative lack of experience at the college level, all four players have made solid contributions to Notre Dame’s 14-1 start. Three of the four have scored in double figures at least twice (Novosel-5, Solomon-5, Watson-2), with both Watson and Novosel also twice being named the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week (Watson – Dec. 1 & 8; Novosel – Dec. 29 & Jan. 12).
What’s more, those three aforementioned players each are averaging at least 16 minutes per night, while the speedy Miller has emerged as Notre Dame’s go-to defensive stopper, averaging more than one steal per game in her 10 appearances this season.
Notre Dame’s knack for quick player development should come as no surprise — the Irish have developed five BIG EAST All-Freshman Team selections in the past two seasons alone (including Peters and Mallory last year), the most of any team in the conference.
Piping Hot Turnovers
After forcing an opponent-record 737 turnovers (21.7 per game) last season, Notre Dame is at it again this year, causing 322 turnovers (21.4 per game) through 15 games.
Nearly half of those turnovers have come via Irish steals, with Notre Dame registering 157 thefts (10.5 per game) after leading the BIG EAST Conference in that category each of the past two seasons.
Long Distance Defense
One of the focal points of Notre Dame’s preseason workouts was improving its three-point defense, after opponents shot .355 from beyond the arc last year. So far, it would appear that emphasis in practice has paid off.
Notre Dame is 19th in the country (and third in the BIG EAST) in three-point percentage defense this season, holding opponents to a .254 percentage (54-of-213) from long range. What’s more, in the first 15 games, the best any Irish opponent has managed to connect from outside of the 19-9 arc was the 36.1-percent efficiency posted by Seton Hall (4-of-11) on Jan. 3.
Wearing The Collar
Notre Dame held DePaul’s leading scorer, Deirdre Naughton, scoreless in its victory on Jan. 6, marking the first time in Naughton’s three-year career she had been shut out (she came into the game averaging 18.3 ppg.).
The last time the Irish blanked the opponent’s leading scorer was Dec. 22, 2001, when Notre Dame kept Marquette’s Rachel Klug out of the scorebook in a 60-33 win at the Joyce Center (Klug was averaging 13.7 ppg. at tipoff).
Spreading The Wealth
Notre Dame has seen eight different players lead the team in scoring this season, with six of the Irish leading scorers registering a career-scoring high — Becca Bruszewski at Boston College (18), Brittany Mallory vs. Georgia Southern (19), Kellie Watson vs. Michigan State (18), Natalie Novosel at Eastern Michigan (18), Melissa Lechlitner vs. Purdue (19) and Erica Williamson vs. Georgetown (21). The other team-leading scorers this season have been junior guard Ashley Barlow, who has set the pace for the Irish four times, and senior guard Lindsay Schrader, who has posted three team-high scoring games.
For the season, 10 of the 12 players on Notre Dame roster have scored in double figures at least once, with freshman guard Fraderica Miller aiming to join that club (along with walk-on junior guard Alena Christiansen, who was added to the Irish roster on Dec. 19).
More On The Balance Beam
Notre Dame was ranked among the top 50 in 12 of a possible 18 NCAA team statistical categories (as of Monday). Included in that count are four top 25 rankings, paced by a No. 5 rank in field goal percentage (.473) and a No. 12 rank in scoring offense (76.1 ppg.).
At the same time, not a single Irish player is appearing in the top 50 of the 10 NCAA individual statistical rankings — senior guard Lindsay Schrader is closest with a No. 55 ranking in field goal percentage as of Monday (.516).
Nostradamus In High Heels
With the Irish trailing at No. 20/19 Vanderbilt, 36-24, at halftime on Dec. 30, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw calmly walked into the locker room and assured her team that they were about to pull off one of the greatest comebacks in school history. As it turned out, she was right on the money.
After the Commodores expanded their lead to 18 points on two occasions (the last at 46-28 with 15:56 to play), Notre Dame went to work, blitzing Vanderbilt with a 22-0 run over the next 8:40 to take the lead. VU tied the game at 50-50, but the Irish then went on top for good on a layup by sophomore forward Becca Bruszewski with 4:06 left, capping the improbable rally.
The previous school-record comeback had been 16 points, which took place on March 30, 2001, at the NCAA Women’s Final Four in St. Louis, when Notre Dame erased a 47-31 deficit late in the first half and charged past Connecticut, 90-75 on the way to the program’s first national championship.
Notre Dame is ranked 10th in this week’s Associated Press poll, moving up two spots from the previous three weeks’ rank. It is the 30th consecutive AP poll appearance for the Irish, who moved into the Top 10 for the ninth time in the past 13 seasons (1996-97 through 2008-09) with their No. 8 ranking on Dec. 8.
Notre Dame has been ranked in the AP poll for 169 weeks during the program’s 32-year history, with every one of those appearances coming in the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88). McGraw ranks 13th among all active NCAA Division I head coaches for weeks in the AP poll, and also stands 25th all-time in that category.
In addition, the Irish earned their 29th consecutive ranking in last Tuesday’s ESPN/USA Today/WBCA coaches’ poll, rising to a season-high fourth after standing sixth the previous two weeks. It’s the highest ranking for Notre Dame in the coaches poll since the week of Jan. 5, 2005, when the Irish checked in at No. 3. The Irish have appeared in the coaches’ poll for 160 weeks during its history (all coming during McGraw’s tenure).
More Polling Data
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is one of 24 people in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history who have both played for and coached a team that has appeared in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Besides her 169 AP poll appearances while coaching at Notre Dame, McGraw was the starting point guard at Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) as a senior in 1977, helping the Hawks rise to No. 3 in the nation. Of the 24 people on this list, 13 currently are NCAA Division I head coaches (see accompanying chart).
Last year, the Irish tied a school record with 10 wins by 30-or-more points. It would seem Notre Dame is intent on challenging that mark this season, having won four games this season by at least 35 points — a first in school history.
Just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, the Irish posted two of the larger winning margins in the program’s record books, rolling to a 48-point victory at Boston College (102-54), followed by a 49-point win at home over Georgia Southern (85-36).
In fact, the only time Notre Dame logged a larger combined margin of victory in consecutive games than its Thanksgiving Eve 97-point spread was Nov. 24-25, 1989, at the UCF Rotary Classic in Orlando, Fla., when the Irish downed Liberty (113-35) and host Central Florida (81-61) by a combined 98 points.
Game #15 Recap: Georgetown
Junior center Erica Williamson scored a career-high 21 points and No. 12/4 Notre Dame held Georgetown to 32 percent shooting to beat the Hoyas, 84-63 on Saturday night at the Joyce Center.
Notre Dame (14-1, 3-0 BIG EAST), which has won seven consecutive games, led by double digits for much of the first half. The Hoyas (11-4, 1-1) used a 15-9 run to close to 32-25 at halftime and cut the lead to 32-27 when Adria Crawford made a pair of free throws a minute into the second period.
Moments later, though, the Irish went on a 10-0 run to take a 48-31 lead when freshman forward Kellie Watson made a three-pointer. The Hoyas never got closer than 12 again.
Williamson, who also had a season-high 10 rebounds, finished with a career high for points for the second consecutive game. She had 20 at DePaul on Tuesday.
Monica McNutt scored 16 and Morgan Williams added 14 for the Hoyas.
Noting The Georgetown Game
- Notre Dame rises to 10-4 (.714) in BIG EAST home openers, including wins in eight of their last 10 tries.
- Notre Dame extends its home winning streak to 11 games, with its last loss at the Joyce Center coming on Jan. 27, 2008 (81-64 vs. Connecticut).
- The Irish match their longest winning streak of the season, having also won seven in a row to open the year.
- Notre Dame’s 52 second-half points were one off its season-high total in a single half (53 in the 2nd half at Boston College on Nov. 23).
- The 22 assists for the Irish were one off their season high, achieved twice before (last at Boston College).
- Notre Dame improves to 23-2 all-time against Georgetown (12-0 at the Joyce Center), with the 23 series wins being the second-most against one opponent in school history (Marquette – 28).
- Since they joined the BIG EAST in 1995-96, the Irish are 19-1 against Georgetown and have held the Hoyas to less than 70 points in 18 of those 20 contests (18-0 record).
- Notre Dame matched its season high with 23 turnovers (Dec. 10 in overtime loss at Michigan).
- The Irish have held 14 of 15 opponents to 63 points or fewer this season (78-72 win over #24 Michigan State on Nov. 29 at the Joyce Center).
- For the second consecutive game, Williamson set her career scoring high with 21 points, adding a season-best 10 rebounds and three blocks on the way to her third career double-double (first since Feb. 16, 2008, at Syracuse, when she had 14 points and 11 rebounds).
- Williamson also is the first Irish player to log 20 points and 10 rebounds in a game since March 23, 2008, when Ashley Barlow chalked up 20 points and 12 rebounds in a 75-62 win over SMU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in West Lafayette, Ind.
- For the third time this season and fourth time in her career, Barlow dished out a career-high-tying six assists, most recently hitting the mark on Nov. 29 vs. Michigan State.
Peters, Mallory Out For Season
Sophomores Devereaux Peters and Brittany Mallory will miss the remainder of the 2008-09 season after each player suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee. Peters’ injury occurred in the first half of Notre Dame’s win at Boston College on Nov. 23. Meanwhile, Mallory went down in the opening minute of overtime on Dec. 10 at Michigan. Mallory underwent successful corrective surgery on Jan. 6, while Peters is expected to do the same in the coming weeks before both players begin their respective rehabilitation programs.
Peters had played in only three games at the time of her injury, while Mallory had seen action in seven games. Thus, both players appear to meet the guidelines for the NCAA’s hardship waiver (Rule 14.2.4; sometimes informally referred to as a “medical redshirt”) that stipulates a petitioning student-athlete may not have played in more than 30 percent of a team’s scheduled number of regular-season games (Notre Dame is slated to play 28 regular-season games in 2008-09).
Both players are expected to petition for the NCAA hardship waiver. If granted, both Peters and Mallory will maintain three years of athletic eligibility beginning with the 2009-10 season.
Christiansen Joins Irish Roster
With the injuries to Devereaux Peters and Brittany Mallory, Notre Dame added junior walk-on guard Alena Christiansen to its roster on Dec. 19. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native has appeared in three games since joining the program, logging one point, one rebound and one steal in five minutes of her collegiate debut on Dec. 20 against Loyola-Chicago at the Joyce Center before adding a season-high two points on a pair of free throws last Saturday against Georgetown.
A supplemental biographical sketch on Christiansen can be found in the players’ section of these game notes.
Half And Half
During the past nine seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 158-15 (.913) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 86 of their last 95 such contests.
This season, Notre Dame is 12-1 when it is ahead at the break, only losing in OT at Michigan on Dec. 10 after holding a narrow one-point lead.
Last year, the Irish went 22-2 when they led at the break, failing only to do so in their two postseason losses (BIG EAST quarterfinal vs. Pittsburgh, NCAA Oklahoma City Regional semifinal vs. Tennessee), although the UT lead marked the first time Notre Dame was up on the Lady Vols at the half in 20 series games.
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense…
During the past 14 seasons (1995-96 to present), Notre Dame has discovered that a solid defensive effort can almost certainly guarantee a victory. In fact, since the beginning of the 1995-96 season (Notre Dame’s first in the BIG EAST Conference), the Irish have an amazing 191-12 (.941) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game.
Notre Dame has added seven more wins to that ledger this year with wins over LSU, Boston College, Georgia Southern, Purdue, Valparaiso, Loyola-Chicago and Vanderbilt.
…But Sometimes You Have To Score If You Want To Win
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. During the past 14 seasons (since 1995-96), the Irish are 121-4 (.968) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are a pair of overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995, a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998, and an 81-80 loss to DePaul in 2008.
Notre Dame has scored at least 80 points in seven games this year, winning each time. Last season, the Irish won 14 of 15 games when reaching the 80-point mark.
Now That’s A Home Court Advantage
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame’s success has been its stellar play at home. In fact, the Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 168 of their last 189 games (.889) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 94-15 (.862) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it ended with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the ’02 home finale.
The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 76 of their last 82 non-BIG EAST contests (.927) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Four of the losses in that span came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents — Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54), Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT) and Indiana in 2006 (54-51) — with the other two defeats coming to Tennessee in 2005 (62-51) and 2008 (87-63). The Purdue loss also snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak which began after the UW setback.
Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center, posting a 318-82 (.795) record at the venerable facility. Three times (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Irish went a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season.
The Dec. 7 home game vs. No. 17/20 Purdue was sold out, representing the sixth women’s basketball sellout (11,418 capacity) in school history and the third in the past two seasons. It also was the first time in the 22-game series between the Irish and Boilermakers that an on-campus game sold out.
Last year, Notre Dame sold out its games against Tennessee and Connecticut, and nearly did the same for the Michigan contest, drawing 10,825 fans for that game.
A full rundown of the top crowds in Joyce Center history can be found in the sidebar on page 9 of this notes package.
Irish Have New Home On The Dial
On Aug. 27, 2008, the Notre Dame athletics department announced it had partnered with the LeSEA Broadcasting Network, making Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) the new radio home of Notre Dame women’s basketball in the South Bend market.
LeSEA now originates all Notre Dame women’s basketball games, with those events carried on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1), marking the first time since the 1998-99 season that the Irish are heard on an FM station. Combined, these two stations blanket the nation’s No. 89 media market (South Bend-Elkhart), covering a 21-county area in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan that contains more than 1.35 million listeners (better than 800,000 in the greater South Bend area alone). All told, Notre Dame’s new women’s basketball network stretches from Kalamazoo, Mich., to the north, North Judson, Ind., to the west, Macy, Ind., (home of former Irish All-America center Ruth Riley) to the south, and LaGrange, Ind., to the east.
Women’s basketball game broadcasts also continue to be streamed live and free of charge on Notre Dame’s official athletics Web site (UND.com) through the Fighting Irish All-Access multimedia package.
The new agreement includes extensive Notre Dame athletics promotion aired on a combination of the LeSEA stations.
Bob Nagle, the voice of Notre Dame women’s basketball from 1996-97 through 1998-99 (including the program’s first NCAA Final Four berth in 1997), returns as the play-by-play voice of the Irish this season.
Notre Dame On The Small Screen
Notre Dame will have at least 20 regular-season games televised during the upcoming 2008-09 season. Highlighting this year’s broadcast schedule are eight nationally-televised Irish women’s basketball contests, including five games on the ESPN family of networks and three others on CBS College Sports (including Tuesday night’s game at Marquette).
In addition, Notre Dame continues to expand its broadcast reach globally on the Internet. All 11 Irish regular-season home games not selected for commercial TV coverage will air live on the official Notre Dame athletics web site, UND.com, via the site’s free multimedia package, Fighting Irish All-Access.
This year’s TV slate continues a recent trend that has seen the Irish become a regular fixture on television. Beginning with the NCAA championship season of 2000-01 and continuing through this year, Notre Dame has played in 126 televised games, including 76 that were broadcast nationally.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Senior guard Lindsay Schrader and junior guards Ashley Barlow and Melissa Lechlitner are team captains for the 2008-09 season. All three players are serving as captains for the first time in their careers, and each received the captain’s honor following a vote of their teammates prior to the season.
Irish In The Pink (Zone) All Season Long
Notre Dame is proud to be a participant in the second annual Pink Zone initiative, created by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) in order to heighten breast cancer awareness and raise money for research towards finding a cure for the disease.
Throughout the 2008-09 season, the Irish will take part in several activities centered around the Pink Zone initiative, including:
- Open Practice/Tip-Off Luncheon – On Oct. 19, the Irish open the doors to one of their preseason practice sessions and allowed approximately 600 season ticket holders to watch the team prepare for the upcoming season. A luncheon with the team followed and a total of $3,311 was raised.
- Three-Point Pledge – Fans can pledge an amount to donate for every three-pointer the Irish make this season. Pledge cards are available at the Joyce Center Gate 10 marketing table prior to each home game.
- Beanie Bears/Calendars – The Irish are collecting a $5 donation for every special-edition Notre Dame women’s basketball beanie bear and team calendar sold during the season.
- T-Shirt Sales – Specially-commissioned “Irish Believe” pink t-shirts are on sale in the Hammes Bookstore and Varsity Shop on the Notre Dame campus. Proceeds from the sales of the t-shirt will go to breast cancer awareness and research.
- Brittany and Becca’s Class – Sophomores Brittany Mallory and Becca Bruszewski currently are taking a management class in Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business under the guidance of Chuck Lennon, an Irish women’s basketball season ticket holder, as well as Associate Vice President for University Relations and Executive Director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association. This class has been focusing on ways to help promote and enhance the Pink Zone initiative on the Notre Dame campus and rolled out their ideas at the Dec. 7 Purdue game.
- Pink Zone Challenge – The Irish women’s basketball program has challenged some of the other top-drawing teams in the country to a friendly fund-raising competition to see which school can raise the most money for breast cancer awareness and research during the WBCA’s designated Pink Zone games (Feb. 13-22, 2009). A total of 15 schools from among the top 20 in last year’s final NCAA attendance rankings have committed for this inaugural challenge — Baylor, Connecticut, Duke, LSU, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri State, New Mexico, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Penn State, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Vanderbilt. The school raising the most money during their specific Pink Zone game will earn the first-ever Pink Zone Challenge Trophy, to be commissioned by Notre Dame and awarded during the WBCA National Convention, to be held April 3-7, 2009, at the NCAA Women’s Final Four in St. Louis.
- Game Day (Feb. 8 vs. DePaul) – The Irish have selected their Feb. 8 home game against DePaul as Notre Dame’s Pink Zone game, presented by Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center. The Irish will take the court in white, pink and navy uniforms, specially-designed by the school’s official athletics apparel provider, adidas. The first 2,000 fans in attendance will receive a free pink Irish t-shirt, compliments of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, and pink pom-poms, balloons and posters will fill the crowd. In addition, breast cancer survivors will be recognized on the court during a special halftime ceremony. What’s more, should Notre Dame sell out this game, the Irish will donate an additional $10,000 to the Pink Zone initiative.
Proceeds from all of Notre Dame’s Pink Zone events this season will go to the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund, as well as three local charities — Women’s Task Force, Young Survivors Group and Secret Sisters Society. For more information on the WBCA’s Pink Zone initiative, log on to the WBCA’s official web site at www.wbca.org.
ND To Host NCAA Tourney Games in 2009
Notre Dame’s Joyce Center will serve as one of 16 host sites for first- and second-round games in this year’s NCAA Championship on March 22 & 24.
All-session tickets for this year’s NCAA Championship games at the Joyce Center are available by contacting the Notre Dame athletics ticket office (574-631-7356).
Notre Dame has played in the NCAA Championship on its home floor five times before, most recently defeating Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State) and Middle Tennessee in 2004 to make the program’s sixth NCAA Sweet 16 appearance. All told, the Irish are 6-1 in NCAA tourney play at the Joyce Center, winning six in a row since an 81-76 first-round loss to Minnesota in 1994.
Irish Fans Crave Another Big Mac Attack
After a wildly-successful debut last season, Notre Dame is bringing back its “Big Mac” promotion for 2008-09, offering fans a coupon for a free Big Mac from South Bend-area McDonald’s restaurants if the Irish score at least 88 points in a home game.
It hasn’t take long for the burger watch to fire back up again this year, as Notre Dame has topped the 88-point mark three times — in its lone exhibition game (96-30 over Gannon on Nov. 5), as well as regular season games against Evansville (96-61 on Nov. 19) and Loyola-Chicago (89-45 on Dec. 20).
Last year, the Irish reached the magic number eight times, doing so in both exhibition wins, along with regular-season victories over Miami (Ohio), Boston College, Canisius, Valparaiso, Marquette and South Florida.
It should come as no surprise that in the short history of the promotion, the Notre Dame player with the most “Big Mac” baskets shares the same initials with the tasty burger — sophomore guard Brittany Mallory, who was sent the crowd home happy (and presumably with full bellies) four times.
This season, it’s been the Irish freshmen who have taken on the “Big Mac” mantle of responsibility, with guard Natalie Novosel doing the honors in the Gannon exhibition and Loyola-Chicago game, and forward Erica Solomon putting Notre Dame over the top against Evansville.
Joyce Center Arena Renovation Underway
On Sept. 13, 2008, groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Purcell Pavilion, including the Joyce Center arena addition and renovation, were held to kick off the first phase of the two-year project to upgrade the home for Notre Dame basketball and volleyball.
The first phase of the project, that began in September 2008, involves construction of a new three-story structure at the south end of the arena. That structure will include a new three-story lobby, the Notre Dame ticket operations (approximately 4,500 square feet) and a varsity shop to sell apparel and souvenirs (approximately 3,000 square feet), in addition to a new club seating and hospitality area.
Replacement of the existing Joyce Center arena seating, including installation of chair-back seating throughout the arena, is expected to take place after the University’s Commencement Exercises in May 2009. The entire project is scheduled for completion in January 2010. The arena is expected to re-open by mid-October 2009, in time for the start of the basketball season and the end of the volleyball season.
The University announced in October 2007 that this $26.3 million project had received a $12.5 million leadership gift from Notre Dame alumnus and Trustee Philip J. Purcell III, the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley.
Exterior changes to the Joyce Center that began taking shape in September include a new, three-story addition on the south end of the current structure. The third floor area will include the stadium club/hospitality area. The first-floor addition will include almost 4,500 square feet for ticket offices (including four exterior and 10 interior tickets windows), 3,000 square feet for the varsity shop, as well as a completely new main entrance and lobby situated between Gates 8 and 10. The new entrance will feature graphics and theming that highlight Notre Dame’s competing athletic programs.
Changes to the interior of the Joyce Center arena include:
- New, blue chair-back seating from top to bottom of the arena, including all-new upper-arena sections. All seating will be replaced in the lower bowl (including platform seats), and the wooden bleachers in the upper bowl will be removed and replaced with treads and risers and permanent arena seats. The exchange of the bleacher sections for chair back seats will change the capacity from the current 11,418 to approximately 9,800.
- A stadium club/hospitality area (approximately 16,500 square feet) in the south end of the arena, with a separate, private entry and with premium club seating for nearly 800 fans (that figure is part of the projected 9,800 capacity). Included in this area will be food service and restroom facilities.
- New fixed concession areas, increased numbers of women’s restrooms and increased handicapped seating options.
- The interior seating changes provide an opportunity to consider new options for student seating. Students currently sit in both lower- and upper-arena sections behind the basket on the east end of the arena.
Next Game: St. John’s
Notre Dame returns home Saturday for a 2 p.m. (ET) BIG EAST matchup with St. John’s at the Joyce Center. It’s the start of a stretch in which the Irish will play five out of their next seven at home, their longest run before the faithful during the regular season.
The Red Storm (13-2, 1-1), who knocked off Notre Dame, 61-51, last year in Queens, are off the one of their best starts ever, and will play host to Georgetown on Tuesday night in the opener of the BIG EAST doubleheader being televised on CBS College Sports (the Notre Dame-Marquette game is the nightcap).
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