Senior guard/co-captain Brittany Mallory

#11/10 Irish Play Host To #RV/23 St. John's Sunday Afternoon

Jan. 22, 2011

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2010-11 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 21

#11/10 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (16-4 / 5-1 BIG EAST) vs. #rv/23 St. John’s Red Storm (14-5 / 3-3 BIG EAST)

DATE: January 23, 2011
TIME: 2:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: ND leads 19-3
1ST MTG: ND 74-48 (1/4/96)
LAST MTG: ND 75-67 (3/7/10)
TV: ESPNU (live) (Jim Barbar, p-b-p / Brooke Weisbrod, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TWITTER: @ndwbbsid/@UND_com


  • Six of the past eight series games between Notre Dame and St. John’s have been decided by 10 points or fewer (average margin of 6.0 ppg. in those contests).
  • The Fighting Irish are 48-5 all-time against teams from the state of New York, including a 25-0 record at Purcell Pavilion.

No. 11/10 Irish Play Host To No. RV/23 St. John’s Sunday Afternoon
For the second consecutive game, and the third time in five outings, No. 11/10 Notre Dame will take on a ranked opponent, as the Fighting Irish welcome No. rv/23 St. John’s to Purcell Pavilion on Sunday for a 2 p.m. (ET) BIG EAST matchup. The game will be televised live to a national cable audience by ESPNU.

Notre Dame (16-4, 5-1 BIG EAST) collected its 11th win in the past 12 games on Tuesday with an 80-58 victory over No. 16/17 Georgetown at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish jumped out to a 23-10 lead and then iced the victory with a 10-0 run early in the second half.

Sophomore guard Skylar Diggins paced a quartet of Notre Dame players scoring in double figures with a game-high 22 points, adding in a game-best six assists for good measure. Junior guard Natalie Novosel added 19 points and senior guard Brittany Mallory tossed in a season-high 14 points for the Fighting Irish.


  • Notre Dame is No. 11 in the latest Associated Press poll and is No. 10 in the current ESPN/USA Today poll.
  • St. John’s is receiving votes in the latest Associated Press poll and is No. 23 in the current ESPN/USA Today poll.

Quick Hitters

  • With its season-high No. 11 ranking in the Jan. 17 Associated Press poll, Notre Dame now has appeared in the AP poll for a school-record 69 consecutive weeks, extending the program standard that began with the 2007-08 preseason poll.
  • The Fighting Irish have posted a school-record eight wins this season by at least 35 points, topping the old program standard of four 35-point victories set in 2008-09.
  • Notre Dame has scored at least 90 points in eight games this season, surpassing the school record of seven set in three separate seasons (1996-97, 1998-99 and 2007-08).
  • Notre Dame has won 10 games by 30 points or more, tying the school record of 10 30-point victories first established in 2000-01.
  • The Fighting Irish rank among the top 10 in the country in eight statistical categories, according to the Jan. 21 NCAA statistics report. Notre Dame is second in the nation in field goal percentage (.494), third in scoring margin (+28.9 ppg.), fourth in scoring offense (83.6 ppg.) and steals (14.5 spg.), fifth in assists (19.5 apg.), sixth in three-point defense (.245), ninth in rebounding margin (+10.3 rpg.) and 10th in turnover margin (+7.15). These rankings are ironic for a Fighting Irish team that has no player ranking higher than 64th in any individual category.
  • Notre Dame became the 32nd NCAA Division I program to record 700 wins, earning the landmark victory (91-47) against Loyola Marymount on Dec. 30 at the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic in Seattle. The Fighting Irish are 705-306 (.697) in 34 seasons of varsity competition.
  • Notre Dame celebrated another program milestone on Dec. 5 with its 1,000th all-time game (a 72-51 win over Purdue at Purcell Pavilion).
  • Part of Notre Dame’s success thus far can be traced to the improvement in two of its veterans, both of whom have exceeded her scoring output from last season by at least 50 percent. Junior guard Natalie Novosel (5.0 to 15.2) and senior forward Devereaux Peters (6.7 to 10.8) also are currently logging career-high scoring averages this year.
  • The Fighting Irish freshman class also has made significant contributions early on this season, led by guard Kayla McBride and forward Natalie Achonwa. McBride (who started four games around Thanksgiving when senior guard Brittany Mallory was slowed with an ankle injury) is averaging 8.7 points per game and is ninth in the BIG EAST with a .557 field goal percentage. Meanwhile, Achonwa is averaging 8.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, and ranks fourth in the BIG EAST with a .569 field goal percentage. Between them, they have scored in double figures 14 times this season — McBride tossed in a career-best 20 points vs. Loyola Marymount on Dec. 30, while Achonwa had a career-high 14 points against Creighton on Dec. 11.

Other Notre Dame Notables

  • Notre Dame is among the nation’s winningest programs during the past 15 seasons (1996-97 to present), ranking sixth with 359 victories.
  • Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past 10 seasons. This year, the program is fifth in the NCAA attendance rankings with 8,508 fans per game, currently topping last year’s single-season school attendance record of 8,377. The Fighting Irish also have drawn 5,000-or-more fans to 153 of their last 155 home games, logging 14 Purcell Pavilion sellouts (most recently on Jan. 8 vs. Connecticut).
  • The Fighting Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as seven Notre Dame players have been selected in the past decade. Charel Allen was the most recent Fighting Irish player to be chosen, going to the Sacramento Monarchs in the third round (43rd overall pick) of the 2008 WNBA Draft. Ruth Riley (San Antonio) was active in the league during the ’10 season, helping the Silver Stars return to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. 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 fifth year in a row, the Fighting Irish posted a perfect 100-percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR), according to figures released by the NCAA in October. What’s more, since Muffet McGraw became head coach in 1987, every Notre Dame women’s basketball player who has completed her athletic and academic eligibility at the University has earned her bachelor’s degree (a 62-for-62 success rate), with all four members of this year’s senior class on target to earn their diplomas.

A Quick Look At St. John’s
Following an exceptional 2009-10 season that featured 25 wins and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Championship, St. John’s is looking for more, behind four returning starters and nine returning letterwinners.

The Red Storm (14-5, 3-3), who come into Sunday’s game ranked 23rd in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll, have won their last two games, most recently rolling over Cincinnati, 63-34 on Tuesday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena. Junior forward Da’Shena Stevens and sophomore guard Shenneika Smith each scored a game-high 14 points, while senior guard Sky Lindsay chipped in 11 points for St. John’s.

Smith leads the Red Storm in scoring (14.5 ppg.) and steals (2.1 spg.), while ranking second in three-point percentage (.357) and third in rebounding (6.2 rpg.). Stevens is second in scoring (12.0 ppg.) and tops in rebounding (6.8 rpg.), while sophomore guard/super-sub Eugenia McPherson tallies 10.1 points per game.

Head coach Kim Barnes Arico has been the architect of the St. John’s success story in recent years, sporting a 144-118 (.550) in nine seasons with the Red Storm. She also has a 15-year career coaching record of 238-190 (.556), including a 3-8 mark against Notre Dame.

The Notre Dame-St. John’s Series
Although they didn’t begin playing until Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96, the Fighting Irish and St. John’s have made up for lost time, with Sunday marking the 23rd time the two sides have met. Notre Dame leads the all-time series, 19-3, including a 9-0 record at Purcell Pavilion.

The Last Time Notre Dame And St. John’s Met
Devereaux Peters scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half and Skylar Diggins scored 21, two shy of her (then) career high, as No. 6 Notre Dame defeated the No. 16 Red Storm 75-67 in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship on March 7, 2010, at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.

The Irish, seeded fifth in the tournament because all four of its losses were to BIG EAST teams, fell to the Red Storm 76-71 in New York three weeks earlier.

They played that earlier game without guard Lindsay Schrader, who sustained an ankle injury two days earlier, and they failed to score for a seven-minute stretch in the second half.

Notre Dame had trouble with scoring droughts again in the rematch, but they were nothing the Fighting Irish couldn’t overcome. St. John’s, down seven midway through the first half, went on an 11-0 run over four minutes and outscored the Fighting Irish, 21-8 to finish the half leading 36-32.

Peters, who reached double figures in scoring for her third consecutive game and fifth of the season, was the primary beneficiary of Notre Dame’s offensive adjustments at halftime.

She scored 10 of her points in a four-minute stretch midway through the second half, including a basket with 13:36 remaining that gave Notre Dame a 47-45 lead — its first since the nine-minute mark of the first half.

St. John’s, which starts two freshmen and a sophomore, showed its postseason inexperience down the stretch.

The Red Storm held a 63-59 advantage with six minutes to play before Notre Dame went on a 12-0 run. St. John’s committed 20 fouls, with 17 coming in the second half and eight in the last six minutes.

Shenneika Smith scored 23 points for St. John’s, making her first five shots and nine of her first 10, and Da’Shena Stevens scored 14 despite missing three minutes early in the game with a right ankle injury.

Notre Dame shot 54 percent despite making just one of its six three-point attempts. The Fighting Irish also shot over 56 percent in a second-round victory over Louisville.

The Last Time Notre Dame And St. John’s Met At Purcell Pavilion
No. 10 Notre Dame, which led by as many as 11 in the second half and trailed by as many as five with 9:40 left, held on for a 70-67 victory over St. John’s on Jan. 17, 2009, at Purcell Pavilion in a game that wasn’t decided until Lindsay Schrader deflected a three-point try by Kelly McManmon at the buzzer.

The Fighting Irish, who led 34-27 at halftime, extended the lead to 40-29 early in the second half on a three-point play by Erica Williamson. But with Notre Dame Irish missing eight straight shots, St. John’s used a 12-0 run to take their first lead. The Red Storm went ahead 52-48 when Monique McLean, who led St. John’s with 17 points and eight rebounds, hit a three-pointer midway through the period.

The teams traded the lead five times in the last six minutes, including four times on four possessions. The final time came when Erica Solomon scored inside with 1:24 left to give the Fighting Irish a 67-66 lead. St. John’s failed to keep up when Da’Shena Stevens, who finished with 11 points, missed inside and Solomon came up with the rebound.

Solomon, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds, then made a free throw with 26 seconds left to give the Fighting Irish a 68-66 lead.

Sky Lindsay made a free throw with 14 seconds left for St. John’s to cut the lead to 68-67. Ashley Barlow, who finished with 13 points, made a pair of free throws with 13 seconds remaining to give the Fighting Irish the three-point lead.

Schrader added nine of her 13 points in the final 8:07 and Becca Bruszewski also had 13.

Other Notre Dame-St. John’s Series Tidbits

  • St. John’s had not scored more than 60 points in its first 14 series games against Notre Dame, but has topped that mark in seven of the past eight matchups, including a series-high 76 points in last year’s regular season contest (a 76-71 Red Storm victory at Carnesecca Arena).
  • Conversely, the Fighting Irish have scored fewer than 66 points only three times in 22 series games against St. John’s. Two of those three came in recent visits to Queens (including a series-low 51 points in 2008), along with their 2009 BIG EAST Championship second-round game (won by Notre Dame, 62-45).
  • The first 14 games in the series were decided by 13 points or more, all going in Notre Dame’s favor. However, six of the past eight contests have seen spreads of 10 points or fewer, with each team winning three of those close affairs.
  • Notre Dame has shot 50 percent or better from the floor in almost half (10) of the 22 series games with St. John’s, including a series-best .571 percentage (36-of-63) on Feb. 12, 2000, at Purcell Pavilion (a 94-51 Fighting Irish win, the largest by either side in the series).
  • The 66-31 Irish victory over St. John’s in 2002 at Purcell Pavilion marked the fourth-lowest opponent scoring total in school history, the second-lowest by a Division I opponent, and the lowest ever by a conference opponent in any of Notre Dame’s three league affiliations (North Star, Midwestern Collegiate, BIG EAST).
  • If one of the assistant coaches on the St. John’s bench looks familiar, she ought to. Second-year Red Storm aide Megan Duffy was an All-America (and Academic All-America) point guard at Notre Dame from 2002-06, helping the Fighting Irish to NCAA Sweet 16 berths in 2003 and 2004 while becoming one of only three Notre Dame players ever to amass 1,000 points, 500 assists and 200 steals in her career (along with Karen Robinson and current Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey). What’s more, Ivey (2001) and Duffy (2006) both earned the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award (given to the nation’s top senior standing 5-foot-8 and under), with Notre Dame being one of only three schools ever to produce multiple recipients of the award.

Empire (State) Records
Notre Dame is 48-5 (.906) all-time against New York-based teams, including a 25-0 record when playing at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish are facing the first of two New York schools this season, with a matchup against Syracuse slated for Feb. 1 at Purcell Pavilion.

Coincidentally, St. John’s and Syracuse account for all five New York wins over Notre Dame (three for the Red Storm, two for Syracuse — four road, one neutral site).

The Five-Finger Discount
Notre Dame comes into Sunday’s game ranked fourth in the nation in steals with 14.5 thefts per game. The Fighting Irish also have recorded double-digit steals in 15 of 20 games this season, including four contests with 20-plus steals.

Highlighting this year’s takeaway brigade for Notre Dame was a school-record 36-steal performance in the season-opening victory against New Hampshire on Nov. 12 at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish followed that up three days later with 26 thefts in a win over Morehead State, and also logged 24 steals at Valparaiso (Dec. 2) and 23 steals against IUPUI (Nov. 26).

Prior to this season, Notre Dame had posted 23 steals in a game just seven times in the first 33 years of the Fighting Irish women’s basketball program (and only three games with 25-plus steals in that time, none since a then-record tying 29 steals at Saint Louis on Jan. 31, 1991).

Individually, Notre Dame has 10 different players with double-digit steals this season (five with at least 30 thefts), led by senior guard Brittany Mallory, who has collected a team-high 2.3 steals per game (seventh in the BIG EAST).

Helping Hands
Notre Dame also enters the weekend ranked fifth in the country in assists (19.5 apg.), having dished out at least 20 assists in 11 games this season.

Further illustrating the Fighting Irish giving spirit, Notre Dame has assisted on 62.4 percent of its baskets this season, with 389 assists on 623 field goals.

At the head of the Fighting Irish assist company is sophomore Skylar Diggins, who has adapted well to her role as Notre Dame’s primary point guard, ranking fifth in the BIG EAST Conference at 4.7 assists per game (while flirting with the top 15 in the league with a 1.35 assist/turnover ratio). She also has handed out at least five assists in 13 games this season, after tallying seven five-assist games during her entire freshman campaign.

Sharp Shooters
Notre Dame also ranks second in the nation with a .494 field goal percentage, shooting 50 percent or better from the floor in 12 games this season, and at least 45 percent in 17 outings.

Notre Dame also has seen a recent rise in its three-point shooting numbers. During the past 11 games, the Fighting Irish are connecting at a 41.1 percent clip (46-of-112) from beyond the arc. Compare that with the first nine contests of the season, when Notre Dame had a .269 (29-of-108) three-point percentage.

National Leaders
Notre Dame ranks among the top 10 in the nation in eight categories according to Friday’s NCAA statistics report — second in field goal percentage (.494), third in scoring margin (+28.9 ppg.), fourth in scoring offense (83.6 ppg.) and steals (14.5 spg.), fifth in assists (19.5 apg.), sixth in three-point field goal percentage defense (.245), ninth in rebounding margin (+10.2 rpg.) and 10th in turnover margin (+7.15).

In addition, Notre Dame ranks in the top 20 in the NCAA in 10 of a possible 17 categories (not counting won-loss percentage), adding in assist/turnover ratio (13th, 1.12), and field goal percentage defense (19th, .347), with a No. 26 ranking in scoring defense (54.7 ppg.).

Yet for all of these high statistical marks, no Fighting Irish player ranks higher than No. 64 in any single category — sophomore guard Skylar Diggins is 64th in the nation in assists (4.7 apg.).

High Octane Offense
Behind one of the nation’s top 10 scoring offenses (83.6 ppg., fourth as of Friday), Notre Dame is moving into uncharted territory in the school’s record books.

The Fighting Irish have scored 90 points in a game in eight contests this season, setting a new school record for 90-point games in a season (the previous mark was seven, set on three occasions – 1996-97, 1998-99 and 2007-08).

Notre Dame also has set a new school record with eight wins by at least 35 points, doubling the previous program standard of four 35-point victories set in 2008-09.

What’s more, the Fighting Irish have won 10 games by at least 30 points, tying the school record of 10 30-point victories, which was set during the program’s 2000-01 national championship season.

Last year, Notre Dame averaged 77.2 points per game, the fifth-highest single-season scoring average in school history, and best since the Fighting Irish logged a school-record 81.0 ppg. mark in 1998-99.

Glass Houses
One of Notre Dame’s greatest areas of improvement this season has been in the rebounding column, where the Fighting Irish are averaging 42.7 caroms per game, up nearly two rebounds from last year’s total at this time (41.0 rpg.) and good enough for fourth in the BIG EAST.

Notre Dame also is giving up just 32.5 rebounds per game, more than three better than last year at this time (35.8 rpg.) and also fourth in the conference.

With a +10.2 rpg. margin this season, the Fighting Irish rank third in the BIG EAST and ninth in the country as of Friday.

What’s more, Notre Dame has outrebounded its opponent by double digits in nine games this season, including seven games in which the Fighting Irish posted rebound margins of +15 or better, topped by a season-high +42 mark (66-24) on Jan. 2 against Southeast Missouri State at Purcell Pavilion.

Everyone Gets Into The Act
The Fighting Irish have spread the wealth so far this season, with five different players leading the team in scoring in at least one game thus far, with four different 20-point scorers along the way. That includes freshman guard Kayla McBride, who came off the bench to score a career-high 20 points in the Dec. 30 win over Loyola Marymount, the highest point total by a Fighting Irish reserve since Dec. 12, 2009, when current senior guard/co-captain Brittany Mallory dropped in a career-high 22 points in a win over Valparaiso at Purcell Pavilion.

Notre Dame also has seen no fewer than seven different players claim team-high rebounding and assist honors this season.

Missed It By That Much
Notre Dame may hold a 16-4 record coming into Sunday’s game, but the Fighting Irish are oh-so-close to owning a much better mark, with all four losses coming to top-15 opponents by an average margin of just 5.5 points per game (three by single digits and the fourth by 11 points).

What’s more, Notre Dame led inside the final 30 seconds of regulation in two of those losses (#15 UCLA, also at the end of the first overtime; #2 Connecticut), and the Fighting Irish also had a possession to tie the game in the final 30 seconds at #9/10 Kentucky.

The fourth loss (at #2/3 Baylor) saw Notre Dame battle to within six points (65-59) with five minutes remaining and have a look at a three-pointer to halve the margin further on their next possession, but the shot rattled out and the Lady Bears managed to put the game away with nine free throws (despite making only one field goal during the final 8:23).

Three In A Row For Peters On BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll
For the third week in a row, senior forward Devereaux Peters has been named to the BIG EAST Conference Women’s Basketball Weekly Honor Roll, the league office announced Monday. Peters was one of five players chosen for this week’s honor (also the second of her career), which recognizes outstanding weekly achievements by conference players who are not chosen as the BIG EAST Player of the Week.

In two games last week, Peters averaged 14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game with a .722 field goal percentage (13-of-18) and a double-double as Notre Dame posted resounding BIG EAST wins over Louisville (80-60) and at Pittsburgh (82-50).

Against Louisville, Peters dropped in a game-high 14 points (on 7-of-9 shooting), including eight in a game-changing 27-4 Fighting Irish run that crossed over halftime and blew the game open. Three days later at Pittsburgh, she collected her fourth double-double of the season (all in the past seven games) with 15 points (on 6-of-9 shooting) and a game-high 10 rebounds, to go along with four assists, two blocks and two steals.

The first multiple BIG EAST weekly honoree for Notre Dame this season, Peters is part of a group of four Fighting Irish players that feature at least one conference weekly award recipient from all four classes. Junior guard Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) and sophomore guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) join Peters as Notre Dame players who have been selected for the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll this season — Novosel was chosen on Nov. 29 and Diggins was cited a week later on Dec. 6. In addition, freshman forward Natalie Achonwa (Guelph, Ontario/St. Mary’s Catholic) was named the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week on Dec. 13.

Diggins Makes Wooden Award Midseason Top 20 Candidate List
Sophomore guard Skylar Diggins is among a group of 20 women’s basketball players who have been chosen as midseason candidates for the John R. Wooden Award, it was announced Jan. 11 by the Los Angeles Athletic Club. The Wooden Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top player, compiled its midseason candidates based upon individual performance and team results, with the current list of student-athletes comprising the frontrunners for this year’s award.

A consensus preseason All-America selection and candidate for every major national player of the year award, Diggins is one of three BIG EAST players on the Wooden Award Midseason Top 20 List, joined by Connecticut’s Maya Moore and Georgetown’s Sugar Rodgers. Diggins also is one of just three sophomores on the Wooden Award candidate rundown, along with Rodgers and Baylor’s Brittney Griner.

Novosel Is Just Plain Nasty
Nicknamed “Nasty” for her playmaking abilities, junior guard Natalie Novosel is rapidly making a strong case as one of the most improved players in the BIG EAST Conference, if not the entire country.

The Lexington, Ky., native currently leads the Fighting Irish (and ranks eighth in the league) in scoring at 15.2 points per game, more than tripling her offensive output from a season ago. She also has scored at least 20 points in a game four times this year (after coming into the campaign with a career single-game high of 19 points) and has scored in double figures 17 times after doing so a combined total of 14 times in her first two seasons at Notre Dame.

In addition, Novosel added some hardware to her personal trophy case as well, taking home Most Valuable Player honors at the WBCA Classic, earning a spot on the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic All-Tournament Team and also garnering a place on the Nov. 29 BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll.

Thus, it’s no surprise that’s Graham Hays tweeted the following comment after Novosel’s career-high 27 points (8-11 FG, 2-2 3FG, 9-9 FT) vs. Gonzaga in a 70-61 Fighting Irish win on Dec. 29 in Seattle:

“Is Natalie Novosel the most improved player in the nation? Gotta be on the short list.”

Peters Showing Her Own Dev-elopment
If Novosel is among the nation’s most improved players, senior forward Devereaux Peters can’t be far behind. The veteran frontliner is playing some of the best basketball of her career this season, putting a pair of knee injuries and three surgeries well in the rearview mirror.

A three-time BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll selection, Peters currently is averaging career highs of 10.8 points per game (30th in the BIG EAST) and 6.8 rebounds per game (14th), along with a .565 field goal percentage (fifth), 1.6 blocks per game (eighth), 1.9 steals per game (15th) and a career-high .825 field goal percentage.

Like Novosel, Peters regularly has been pulling in accolades this season, earning a spot on the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team and garnering MVP honors at the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic in Seattle. During the Dec. 29-30 tournament, she averaged 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.5 blocks per game with a .684 field goal percentage (13-of-19) in wins over Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount.

That tournament effort has been the cornerstone of Peters’ recent post-Christmas surge. In the past eight games, the Chicago native is averaging 13.1 points and 9.1 rebounds with four double-doubles with a .597 field goal percentage (46-of-77).

Game #20 Recap: Georgetown
Skylar Diggins scored 17 of her 22 points in the first half and added six assists to lead No. 11/10 Notre Dame to an 80-58 win over No. 16/17 Georgetown on Tuesday night at Purcell Pavilion.

Natalie Novosel added 19 points, Brittany Mallory had 14, and Devereaux Peters pulled down 12 rebounds for the Fighting Irish (16-4, 5-1 BIG EAST).

Sugar Rodgers had 15 points and six rebounds, and Rubylee Wright added 13 points and six assists for the Hoyas (14-5, 2-3).

Notre Dame finished the first half on an 11-2 run and went into the locker room with a 45-33 lead. Georgetown left six points on the board as the Hoyas missed the front-end of the bonus on three straight trips to the line in last few minutes of the half.

Georgetown’s full-court press forced the Fighting Irish into three quick turnovers early in the second half before Novosel stole the ball for a layup that put the Fighting Irish up 59-42 with 14:44 to play.

Noting The Georgetown Game

  • Notre Dame earns its first win over a ranked opponent in five outings this season.
  • The 22-point margin of victory was the largest for the Fighting Irish against a Top 25 opponent since Feb. 25, 2004, when an unranked Notre Dame side knocked off No. 21/19 Miami (Fla.), 93-58 at Purcell Pavilion.
  • The last time Notre Dame defeated a team ranked in the top 20 of the Associated Press poll by a larger margin than 22 points was Nov. 22, 2000, when the Fighting Irish posted an 83-56 win at No. 19 Wisconsin in the first round of the Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge.
  • The last time Notre Dame defeated a team ranked higher than Georgetown by a larger margin than 22 points was Nov. 21, 1998, when the Fighting Irish logged an 84-57 win over No. 6/4 Duke at Purcell Pavilion.
  • Notre Dame moves to 24-3 all-time against Georgetown (13-0 at Purcell Pavilion), with the 24 series wins tying for second-most against one opponent in program history (the Fighting Irish also have 24 victories over Valparaiso, plus 30 wins over Marquette).
  • This was Notre Dame’s largest win in the series with the Hoyas since Feb. 21, 2007, when the Fighting Irish recorded a 73-48 win at Purcell Pavilion.
  • The Fighting Irish have held Georgetown to fewer than 70 points in 19 of their 22 matchups as members of the BIG EAST Conference (1995-96 to present), going 19-0 in those contests.
  • The Fighting Irish nailed a season-high eight three-pointers, their best production from beyond the arc since Feb. 23, 2010, when they also sank eight treys in an 82-67 win over Marquette at Purcell Pavilion.
  • Notre Dame forced at least 20 turnovers for the 15th time this season (in addition to 19 takeaways in two other outings).
  • Diggins turned in her second consecutive 20-point night, fourth of the season and 11th in her career.
  • Diggins also dished out at least five assists for the 13th time this year.
  • Mallory scored a season-high 14 points and matched her season best with three three-pointers.
  • Peters snared a game-high 12 rebounds, her fifth double-digit rebounding game of the season (all in the past eight games) and the seventh of her career.

A Defensive Effort Like No Other
Defense has been a major focal point for Notre Dame this season, but in their 97-21 win over Southeast Missouri State on Jan. 2 at Purcell Pavilion, the Fighting Irish took that emphasis to record-setting levels:

  • Notre Dame set six school records in the victory — fewest points allowed in a game (21), fewest points allowed in a half (6 – first half), lowest opponent field goal percentage (.125), largest rebound margin (+42, 66-24), most consecutive points scored at any time (36) and most consecutive points scored at the start of the game (36).
  • Notre Dame also posted the second-largest margin of victory in school history (76 points), topped only by a 78-point margin in a 113-35 win over Liberty on Nov. 24, 1989, at the UCF Rotary Classic in Orlando.
  • The Fighting Irish pulled down 66 rebounds, the fifth-highest total in school history and most since Nov. 21, 1998, when they had 67 boards against Duke in an 84-57 home win.

Tournament Tested
Notre Dame has felt right at home in tournament situations during the past 15 years. Starting with the 1996-97 season, the Fighting Irish have won 26 of their last 29 regular-season tournament games (multi-game events only), including three-game runs to the title at last year’s Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and this year’s WBCA Classic at Purcell Pavilion, as well as a two-game sweep at this year’s State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic in Seattle (which did not officially crown a champion because of its pre-determined matchups).

The only Notre Dame losses during this current stretch were a pair of defeats to third-ranked teams in the Preseason WNIT semifinals (72-59 vs. Tennessee at Ruston, La., in 1996; 75-59 at Maryland in 2007) and a 67-63 overtime setback at No. 20 Colorado on Nov. 15, 2003 in the finals of the WBCA Classic — a game that saw the Buffaloes sink a desperation 30-footer at the end of regulation to force the extra session.

Notre Dame played two regular-season tournaments this year, the first time the Fighting Irish have competed in multiple tourneys in the same season since 1996-97 (third place at Preseason WNIT; champion of Georgia Tech Comfort Inn Downtown Classic).

Only twice in school history has Notre Dame won two regular-season tournament titles in the same year, and both occurred during the program’s Division III era. In 1978-79, the Fighting Irish won the Huntington (Ind.) University Tournament and the Northern Illinois Huskie Invitational. The following season, Notre Dame claimed top honors at the Taylor (Ind.) University Invitational and repeated as the champion of the Northern Illinois Huskie Invitational.

Polling Station
Notre Dame is ranked a season-high 11th in the Jan. 17 Associated Press poll. That marked the 69th consecutive AP poll appearance for the Fighting Irish, extending the program record that started with the AP preseason poll in 2007-08 (the old record was 59 consecutive weeks from 1998-2001).

This year’s No. 12 preseason ranking also represented the 11th time in the past 12 years (starting with the 1999-2000 campaign) that Notre Dame has appeared in the preseason AP poll, something only eight schools in the nation have done — Connecticut, Duke and Tennessee have shown up in all 12 during that span, while Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Stanford join the Irish with 11 preseason AP poll berths.

Notre Dame has been ranked in the AP poll for 208 weeks during the program’s 34-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 is 22nd all-time in that category.

In addition, the Fighting Irish rose to a season-best No. 11 in the Jan. 18 ESPN/USA Today/WBCA coaches’ poll. Notre Dame now has been ranked in the coaches’ poll for 69 of the past 70 weeks, falling just outside the Top 25 in the final poll of the 2008-09 season. Nevertheless, the Fighting Irish have appeared in the coaches’ poll for a total of 200 weeks during their history (all coming during McGraw’s tenure).

More Polling Data
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is one of 30 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 208 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 30 people on this list, 16 currently are NCAA Division I head coaches (see accompanying chart), including former Fighting Irish point guard and assistant coach Coquese Washington (’92), who helped Notre Dame to its first-ever AP poll ranking in 1990-91, and is in her fourth season as head coach at Penn State, guiding the Lady Lions into the AP poll at No. 23 on Jan. 25, 2010.

Six of the 16 active coaches in this group — including McGraw — led their teams to this year’s NCAA Championship, while McGraw and Baylor’s Kim Mulkey are the only active skippers to play for and coach a team in the AP poll, and also coach that team to a national title (McGraw in 2001, Mulkey in 2005).

The 700 Club
With a 91-47 win over Loyola Marymount on Dec. 30 at the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic in Seattle, Notre Dame became the 32nd NCAA Division I program to record 700 victories — the Fighting Irish now own an all-time record of 705-306 (.697).

Ironically, Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) — the alma mater of Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw — earned its 700th win one day before Notre Dame, edging out the Fighting Irish as the first Catholic Division I program to hit the mark.

A Grand Occasion
The Dec. 5 game against Purdue marked a significant milestone in Notre Dame women’s basketball history, as the Fighting Irish played their 1,000th all-time game, defeating the Boilermakers, 72-51. Notre Dame has an all-time record of 705-306 (.697) in 34 seasons of varsity competition, including a 349-88 (.799) record at Purcell Pavilion.

The Fighting Irish played their first game on Dec. 3, 1977, defeating Valparaiso, 48-41 at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame would play its first three seasons as a Division III program in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) before moving up to the Division I level in 1980-81. The following season, the Fighting Irish would begin competing under the NCAA banner.

Peters Adds Griner To SWAT Team
Senior forward Devereaux Peters has made a living as a shot blocking presence in the paint for Notre Dame throughout her career, with her 6-foot-2 frame and 77-inch wingspan. However, on Dec. 1 at No. 2/3 Baylor, she added another notch to her belt in historic fashion.

At the 10:22 mark of the second half, the Lady Bears threw an entry pass in to their 6-foot-8 sophomore All-America center Brittney Griner, but as she turned to shoot, Peters rotated perfectly from the weak side and rejected Griner’s shot out of bounds. It was one of the highlights in a 17-2 Fighting Irish run that pulled Notre Dame within six points of Baylor with five minutes left.

It’s believed to be the first time in Griner’s two-year college career that she has had a shot blocked. A video clip of Peters’ block has been posted on the Notre Dame Women’s Basketball YouTube channel (search for “notredameirishhoops” or click the link through the sidebar on the women’s basketball page at

Half And Half
During the past decade, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Fighting Irish are 203-17 (.923) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 131 of their last 142 such contests, and 40 in a row since a 58-47 loss to Villanova on March 8, 2009, in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals at Hartford’s XL Center (Notre Dame led 25-21 at intermission).

The Fighting Irish have been up at the break in 15 games this year, including their Jan. 18 win against Georgetown when they led 45-33 through the first 20 minutes.

The Best Offense Is A Good Defense…
During the past 16 seasons, 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 Fighting Irish have an amazing 221-15 (.936) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game, including victories in 13 contests this season (New Hampshire, Morehead State, IUPUI, Butler, Purdue, Providence, Creighton, Valparaiso, Loyola Marymount, Southeast Missouri State, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Georgetown).

…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 16 seasons (since 1995-96), the Fighting Irish are 152-5 (.968) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are three overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and UCLA (86-83 in double OT) in 2010, as well as a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998, and an 81-80 loss to DePaul in 2008.

Notre Dame has topped the 80-point mark in 13 games this year (12-1 record) after going 17-0 last season when it scored at least 80 points.

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 Fighting Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 199 of their last 226 games (.881) at the 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 108-19 (.850) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the former 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 Fighting Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 93 of their last 101 non-BIG EAST contests (.921) at Purcell Pavilion, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Five of the eight losses in that span came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents (four by 12 points or less) — Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54), Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT), Indiana in 2006 (54-51) and Minnesota in 2009 (79-71) — with the other defeats coming to Tennessee in 2005 (62-51) and 2008 (87-63), and to UCLA in 2010 (86-83 in 2OT). 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 former Joyce Center, posting a 349-88 (.799) record at the venerable facility. Three times (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Fighting Irish went a perfect 15-0 at home, which was the school record for home victories in a season prior to last year, when Notre Dame went 16-1, capped by an 84-66 triumph over Vermont on March 23, 2010, in the second round of the NCAA Championship.

Irish Are The Hottest Ticket In Town
The 2009-10 season saw an unprecedented surge in fan support for Notre Dame women’s basketball, as the Fighting Irish set new program records for the highest year-end NCAA attendance ranking (fourth), highest average attendance (8,377 fans per game) and most sellouts (six) in a single season. And, as the old saying goes — “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

For the second consecutive preseason, Notre Dame fans have all but exhausted the program’s season ticket packages (close to 7,500) and are snapping up single-game ducats at a rate that will have the Fighting Irish challenging their freshly-minted single-season average attendance record in 2010-11.

Notre Dame has wasted little time in getting started with that challenge, averaging 8,508 fans for its 12 home games this season (fifth in the country according to this week’s NCAA attendance report), including sellout crowds of 9,149 for its games against nationally-televised games against Purdue (Dec. 5) and Connecticut (Jan. 8).

Part of the appeal of Notre Dame women’s basketball can be traced to the renovated Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, which has yet another new feature this season with the addition of a four-sided LED video scoreboard high above center court, as well as LED auxiliary scoreboards above all four court-level entrance ramps and at the scorer’s table.

McGraw Is Simply Legendary
The announcement on July 10, 2010, may have made it official, but it really only confirmed what Notre Dame fans have known for a very long time — head coach Muffet McGraw is a Hall of Famer.

McGraw, the 2001 consensus national coach of the year and winner of more than 600 games in her illustrious career, was one of six people — and the lone coach — named to the 2011 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class, as announced in Uncasville, Conn., during the “WNBA vs. USA Basketball: The Stars at the Sun Game” that was televised live nationally on ESPN from Mohegan Sun Arena.

The others in McGraw’s Hall of Fame class include former Olympic gold medalists Ruthie Bolton (Auburn) and Vicky Bullett (Maryland), as well as Val Ackerman, the first WNBA president (1996-2005) and first female president of USA Basketball (2005-08), and a pair of three-time All-America players from the pre-NCAA era, Pearl Moore (Frances Marion) and Lometa Odom (Wayland Baptist).

The ’11 class offically was introduced at the 2010 State Farm Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 16 at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., before the Connecticut-Baylor game. The group will be enshrined June 10-12, 2011, during the 13th annual Induction Weekend at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.

McGraw becomes the first Notre Dame selection for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. The Fighting Irish skipper also is the third BIG EAST Conference coach chosen for the honor, joining Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer (2001) and Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma (2006) in that elite company. First-year Seton Hall head coach Anne Donovan also was a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inaugural class in 1999, going in primarily for her accomplishments as a player at Old Dominion.

McGraw also will be the ninth active college head coach to enter the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame on the basis of her success on the sidelines. Besides Stringer and Auriemma, the others on this prestigious list are: Pat Summitt (1999 – Tennessee), Van Chancellor (2001 – LSU), Tara VanDerveer (2002 – Stanford), Sylvia Hatchell (2004 – North Carolina), Andy Landers (2007 – Georgia) and Debbie Ryan (2008 – Virginia).

Irish On Your Radio Dial
Beginning with the 2008-09 athletics year, 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 originates all Notre Dame women’s basketball games, with those events carried on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1), marking a return to the FM side of the dial for the first time since the 1998-99 season. Combined, these two stations blanket the nation’s No. 91 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 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 ( through the Fighting Irish All-Access multimedia package.

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 for his third season in his second stint as the radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Fighting Irish.

Notre Dame On The Small Screen
Notre Dame will have at least 26 regular season games televised during the 2010-11 season. Highlighting this year’s broadcast schedule are seven nationally- or regionally-televised Fighting Irish women’s basketball contests, including the program’s fourth-ever appearance on network television (Jan. 8 vs. Connecticut on CBS), two showings on the ESPN family of networks, and three others on CBS College Sports.

In addition, Notre Dame continues to expand its broadcast reach globally on the Internet. All Fighting Irish regular-season home games not selected for commercial TV coverage will be webcast live on the official Notre Dame athletics web site,, via the site’s free multimedia package, Fighting Irish All-Access.

This year’s TV slate continues a trend that has seen the Fighting Irish become a regular fixture on television. Beginning with the NCAA championship season of 2000-01 and continuing through the Jan. 18 Georgetown contest (televised live on CBS College Sports), Notre Dame has played in 183 televised games, including 129 that were broadcast nationally.

Oh Captain, My Captain
Senior forward Becca Bruszewski and senior guard Brittany Mallory are serving as Notre Dame’s team captains for the 2010-11 season. Both players received the captain’s honor for the first time in their respective careers following a preseason vote by their teammates.

Notre Dame Pink Zone Efforts Underway
Following last year’s wildly-successful fundraising efforts for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s Pink Zone breast cancer initiative, Notre Dame is aiming even higher this season, as it draws closer to the Feb. 12 Pink Zone game vs. Rutgers. For that game, the Fighting Irish will wear unique white and pink uniforms, with Notre Dame also holding special events during the game in honor and memory of those touched by breast cancer.

In 2009-10, the Fighting Irish collected more than $103,000 for the global unified effort by the WBCA’s membership to assist in raising breast cancer awareness on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond.

Notre Dame’s local Pink Zone drive is led by primary sponsor Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, with donations divided between the Foundation for Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center’s Women’s Task Force and the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

This year, Notre Dame is bringing back some of its more popular fundraising activities, including the Fighting Irish Three-Point Pledge (fans donate a certain amount for every three-pointer made by Notre Dame this season) and the Notre Dame Pink Zone Store (sales of various Pink Zone items, including t-shirts, buttons, tote bags, etc., in the Joyce Center’s Heritage Hall at all Fighting Irish home games). The Notre Dame Gameday Silent Auction also returns in 2010-11, with bids being taken in the Monogram Room at the Joyce Center on Feb. 12 from 12:30 p.m. (ET) to 30 minutes following the Pink Zone game against Rutgers.

Some new events added for this year include the Pink Zone Treadmill Campaign (walk on a treadmill during the Jan. 23, Feb. 1, 8 and 12 games) and the Notre Dame Women’s Basketball SPIN-A-THON (a 24-hour event to ride stationary bikes at South Bend’s Knollwood Country Club, to be held Jan. 22-23 — Fighting Irish players and staff will participate from 9:30-10:30 a.m. ET Jan. 22).

In addition, NBC correspondent Anne Thompson (a Notre Dame alumna and breast cancer survivor) will be the keynote speaker at the “Docs in Pink” luncheon at 11 a.m. (ET) on Feb. 12 inside Club Naimoli at Purcell Pavilion.

For more information, or to make a donation, please visit the Notre Dame Pink Zone web page at

Irish Fans Crave Another Big Mac Attack
It’s year four of Notre Dame’s wildly-successful “Big Mac” promotion, offering fans a coupon for a free Big Mac from South Bend-area McDonald’s restaurants if the Fighting Irish score at least 88 points in a home game.

In the four-year history of the promotion (and counting exhibition games), Notre Dame has hit the 88-point mark 25 times, including wins this year over Michigan Tech (exhibition), New Hampshire, Morehead State, IUPUI, Wake Forest, Creighton and Southeast Missouri State.

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 — senior guard Brittany Mallory, who sent the crowd home happy (and presumably with full bellies) four times during the promotion’s inaugural run in 2007-08.

And for those tracking such things (or perhaps falling under the heading of “media relations director has too much time on his hands”), 15 different players have converted the “burger ball”, including eight current members of the Fighting Irish roster.

What’s more, of the 25 Big Mac games to date, 13 have been reached on two-point baskets, eight on free throws, and four on three-pointers.

Next Game: Villanova
Notre Dame will be out of action until next Saturday, Jan. 29, when it travels to Villanova for a 7 p.m. (ET) BIG EAST matchup against the Wildcats at The Pavilion.

Villanova (8-10, 0-5 BIG EAST) has dropped four of five games to begin the month of January. The Wildcats visited No. 16/17 Georgetown Saturday afternoon.

— ND —