Junior center Erica Williamson is coming off one of the best nights of her career after piling up a personal-best 20 points and nine rebounds in Tuesday's 86-62 win at DePaul.

#12/4 Irish Finally Back Home To Take On Georgetown

Jan. 9, 2009

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2008-09 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 15
#12/4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (13-1 / 2-0 BIG EAST) vs. Georgetown Hoyas (11-3 / 1-0 BIG EAST)

DATE: January 10, 2009
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Joyce Center (11,418)
SERIES: ND leads 22-2
1ST MTG: ND 78-68 (1/6/83)
LAST MTG: ND 104-86 (1/19/08)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) / UND.com (video) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TICKETS: (574) 631-7356


  • Notre Dame is 9-4 all-time in BIG EAST home openers, including wins in seven of the past nine seasons.
  • Saturday’s game is the nightcap in a day-night hoops doubleheader at the Joyce Center, with the Irish men’s basketball team playing host to Seton Hall at 2 p.m. (ET).

No. 12/4 Irish Finally Back Home To Take On Georgetown
Somewhere in the background, the Bay City Rollers are all cued up as No. 12/4 Notre Dame returns to the Joyce Center hardwood for a Saturday night special at 7 p.m. (ET) against Georgetown. It also will be the BIG EAST Conference home opener for the Irish, who have played at the Joyce Center just once in the past 33 days (a Dec. 20 win over Loyola-Chicago).

Notre Dame (13-1, 2-0) matched the second-best start in school history and picked up its sixth consecutive victory with an 86-62 win at DePaul on Tuesday night. The Irish used 14-3 runs in each half to take command, and shot 48.6 percent from the field en route to their second consecutive win over the Blue Demons in Chicago.

Junior center Erica Williamson became the eighth different Notre Dame player to lead the Irish in scoring this season, tossing in a career-high 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting. She also plucked a game-high nine rebounds.


  • Notre Dame is ranked 12th in this week’s Associated Press poll and fourth in the current ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll.
  • Georgetown is not ranked.

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 305 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 7,268 fans for its first five home games. The Irish also have drawn 5,000-or-more fans to 115 of their last 117 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 Georgetown
Capitalizing on a blend of young and old, Georgetown (11-3, 1-0 BIG EAST) is off to one of its better starts in recent years. The Hoyas lost three of last season’s top four scorers to graduation, but haven’t appeared to miss a beat, coming into Saturday’s game at Notre Dame having won four of their last five contests.

GU also should arrive at the Joyce Center well-rested, having last played on Jan. 3 when the Hoyas toppled visiting Syracuse, 80-73. Junior guard Shanice Fuller led three Georgetown players in double figures with 25 points, while senior guard Karee Houlette added 17 points and a team-high seven rebounds and freshman guard Morgan Williams tossed in a season-high 10 points.

Fuller leads the Hoyas in scoring (8.6 ppg.) and assists (4.5 apg.) this season, while freshman forward Adria Crawford is second in scoring (8.1 ppg.) and tops in rebounds (7.0 rpg.) and steals (1.9 spg.).

Head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy is in her fifth season at Georgetown with a 61-66 (.480) record. She is 0-4 against Notre Dame in her coaching career.

The Notre Dame-Georgetown Series
The Irish and Hoyas will celebrate the silver anniversary of their series this weekend, with Notre Dame holding a 22-2 all-time edge on Georgetown. The Irish also are unbeaten in 11 previous matchups with the Hoyas at the Joyce Center and enter Saturday’s contest riding a five-game overall series winning streak.

Since Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96, the Irish have won 18 of 19 games with GU, including a 16-1 record in regular-season conference play.

The Last Time ND And Georgetown Met
Ashley Barlow scored 21 points and No. 17/15 Notre Dame scored over 100 points on the road for the first time in school history in a 104-86 victory over Georgetown on Jan. 19, 2008, at McDonough Arena in Washington.

The Irish led the feisty Hoyas, 60-52, early in the second half, but pulled away for their second straight win when Brittany Mallory’s three-point play off a fastbreak layup started a 24-10 surge.

Mallory, a reserve, scored 15 points and Charel Allen finished with 14 for the Irish, who shot 72 percent from the field in the second half and topped the century mark for the first time since a 107-65 win over Cleveland State on Nov. 26, 2002.

Kieraah Marlow, coming off a scoreless outing in her previous start, had a career-high 34 points and also finished with 13 rebounds for the Hoyas.

Melissa Lechlitner scored 13 points and Lindsay Schrader added 12 for Notre Dame, which led by as many as 22 points at 91-69. Erica Williamson and Becca Bruszewski each scored 10 points.

Kristin Heidloff had 14 points and Meredith Cox finished with 10 for Georgetown.

The Last Time ND And Georgetown Met At The Joyce Center
Notre Dame jumped to a 20-2 lead less than nine minutes into its game with Georgetown and never looked back, rolling to a 73-48 BIG EAST Conference victory over the Hoyas on Feb. 21, 2007, at the Joyce Center.

Melissa D’Amico led a quartet of Irish players who scored in double figures, with the 6-5 post registering a game-high 15 points (on 6-of-8 shooting) and a team-best seven rebounds. Tulyah Gaines added 14 points, four assists and four steals, while Charel Allen and Melissa Lechlitner each had 11 points.

As a team, the Irish turned in one of their best defensive efforts of the `06-07 season, holding Georgetown to an opponent season-low 48 points while forcing 29 turnovers. Kate Carlin was the lone Hoya to score in double figures, finishing with 15 points on five three-pointers. Notre Dame also clamped down on GU’s leading scorer, Kieraah Marlow, who came into the contest averaging 16.2 points per game, but ended up with six points and one field goal (which came with 6:44 to play).

The Irish wasted little time in taking control of the game, scoring the first 11 points of the night, with Gaines tallying five markers and two steals during the opening spurt. A jumper in the lane by Georgetown’s Shanice Fuller got the visitors on the board at the 15:01 mark, but Notre Dame answered with nine more points, taking a 20-2 lead on the first of two Lechlitner free throws with 11:10 remaining in the first half. During that time, the Irish made four of their first six shots, while limiting the Hoyas to one field goal on 11 attempts and causing 11 GU turnovers.

Georgetown then clawed its way back into the game with a 16-3 run over the next six minutes. A jumper by Kristin Heidloff trimmed the Notre Dame lead to 23-18 with 4:46 to go, but the Hoyas couldn’t draw any closer. The Irish rebuilt a 33-23 edge by halftime when Ashley Barlow canned a jumper with 1:24 left.

Notre Dame went on a 7-2 run to start the second half, but Georgetown again battled back and got as close as 10 points on two occasions, the last at 43-33 on Carlin’s fourth trey of the night with 13:50 left. However, Allen stepped forward and scored five consecutive points, igniting a 14-0 Irish charge during the ensuing five minutes that staggered the Hoyas for good. Notre Dame maintained a lead of at least 19 points the rest of the game, getting the margin as high as 25 points twice, including the final score.

Other ND-Georgetown Series Tidbits

  • Notre Dame’s 22 series win over Georgetown are tied for the second-most against one opponent in school history; the Irish have 28 victories over Marquette, and also 22 each against Dayton, Detroit and Valparaiso. Notre Dame also has at least 20 series wins over Loyola-Chicago and Syracuse (21), as well as Xavier (20).
  • Notre Dame has held Georgetown to fewer than 70 points in 17 of its 19 BIG EAST Conference meetings, going 17-0 in such games. The lone exceptions — a 76-73 GU win on Jan. 7, 2004, in Washington, and last year’s 104-86 Irish victory, also at McDonough Arena.
  • In claiming each of the previous 11 series games at the Joyce Center, Notre Dame has won nine times by double figures, including each of the past seven matchups. In those last seven South Bend contests (since a 67-63 ND win on Jan. 25, 1997), the Irish have won by an average of 21 points per game.
  • In addition to notching triple digits on the road for the first time in school history with last year’s 104-86 Irish win at Georgetown, Notre Dame set a McDonough Arena record for points by a visiting team.
  • Last year’s combined 190 points were the most for a game involving the Irish since Jan. 7, 1999, when Notre Dame outlasted West Virginia, 111-90 at the Joyce Center.
  • Besides Georgetown and West Virginia, Providence is the other BIG EAST school against whom the Irish have scored at least 100 points in a single game.
  • The last time GU visited the Joyce Center (a 73-48 Irish win on Feb. 21, 2007), Notre Dame held the Hoyas to their lowest series point total since the 2001 BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals, when the Irish logged an 89-33 win in Storrs, Conn.
  • Fourth-year Georgetown athletics director Bernard Muir came to the Hilltop following a five-year tenure at Notre Dame, where he served as deputy athletics director. His wife, Liz, also spent time in the Irish athletics department, most recently as assistant athletics director for rules education, before the Muir family moved to Washington in the summer of 2005.
  • Before matriculating to college, Notre Dame sophomore guard Brittany Mallory and Georgetown freshman forward Adria Crawford were AAU teammates with the Fairfax (Va.) Stars. GU assistant coach Keith Brown also worked in the Stars program from 2006-07, piloting its U15 and U16 squads.

Getting Off On The Right Foot At Home
Notre Dame is 9-4 (.692) in BIG EAST Conference home openers since it joined the league in time for the 1995-96 season. The Irish also have won seven of their last nine conference lidlifters at the Joyce Center, including a 69-58 victory over Villanova last season.

Home Sweet Home
For the first time since Dec. 20, and just the second time in the past 33 days, Notre Dame will enjoy the creature comforts of the Joyce Center when it opens its BIG EAST home schedule Saturday night against Georgetown.

The Irish are coming off a stretch in which they played six of seven on the road from Dec. 10-Jan. 6, their most demanding stretch away from home since Nov. 17-Dec. 5, 1996, when they played seven consecutive contests outside the Joyce Center (four road, three neutral), with the first three games in that stretch coming in the final three rounds of the Preseason WNIT.

Road Warriors
Notre Dame is 18-5 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 has 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 13-1 start matches the second-best 14-game debut in school history, with the Irish also winning 13 of their first 14 games to begin the 2004-05 season.

The only time a Notre Dame squad started better than this year’s club was 2000-01, when the Irish 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.

Serving Notice
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 11 teams ranked ahead of Notre Dame in this week’s Associated Press poll, none has more wins over ranked opponents than the Irish (through Thursday 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).

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 13-1 start. Three of the four have scored in double figures at least twice (Solomon-5, Novosel-4, Watson-2), with Watson also twice being named the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week (Dec. 1 & 8) and Novosel taking home the honor on Dec. 29.

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 nine 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 304 turnovers (21.7 per game) through 14 games.

Nearly half of those turnovers have come via Irish steals, with Notre Dame registering 145 thefts (10.4 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 ninth in the country (and third in the BIG EAST) in three-point percentage defense this season, holding opponents to a .247 percentage (49-of-198) from long range. What’s more, in the first 14 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 Tuesday’s victory, 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 at DePaul (20). 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 11 of a possible 18 NCAA team statistical categories (as of Monday). Included in that count are four top 25 rankings, paced by a No. 9 rank in field goal percentage (currently .469) and a No. 11 rank in three-point percentage defense (.247).

At the same time, only one Irish player is appearing in the top 50 of the 10 NCAA individual statistical rankings — senior guard Lindsay Schrader stood 50th in the nation in field goal percentage as of Monday (now at .520).

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.

Polling Station
Notre Dame is ranked 12th in this week’s Associated Press poll, holding steady from the previous two weeks. It is the 29th 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 168 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 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 168 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).

Thirty Deeds
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 #14 Recap: DePaul
Junior center Erica Williamson scored a career-high 20 points to lead No. 12/4 Notre Dame to an 86-62 win at DePaul on Tuesday night.

Freshman guard Natalie Novosel added a season-high-tying 18 points, junior guard Ashley Barlow had 12 and senior guard Lindsay Schrader chipped in 11 for Notre Dame (13-1, 2-0 BIG EAST), which held DePaul’s Deirdre Naughton, who averaged about 18 points, scoreless for the first time in her three-year college career on 0-for-8 shooting.

Notre Dame never trailed after going ahead 11-10 about six minutes into the game and led 44-30 at the half.

DePaul (12-4, 0-2) shot just 36 percent from the field, compared with 49 percent for the Fighting Irish.

Notre Dame also outmuscled DePaul underneath, with 20 second-chance points compared with 10 for the Blue Demons. The Fighting Irish outrebounded DePaul 50-29.

Felicia Chester led DePaul with a career-high 20 points. Keisha Hampton added 19 points for the Blue Devils, who were undefeated at home this season before Tuesday.

Noting The DePaul Game

  • Notre Dame still trails the all-time series with DePaul, 18-13, while trimming its deficit in Chicago to 10-6; Notre Dame also takes a slim 4-3 edge in games played since DePaul joined the BIG EAST Conference in 2005-06.
  • The Irish post back-to-back series wins over DePaul for only the second time in series history and first since they won three in a row from 1985-86.
  • The Irish earn consecutive series wins over DePaul in Chicago for the first time since 1986 and 1987, while also logging their largest margin of victory ever on the Blue Demons’ home court (topping 15-point spreads in 1986 and 1991).
  • Notre Dame’s 86 points are the most it has scored against DePaul since Jan. 31, 1995 (a 96-87 loss to the Blue Demons at their old arena, Alumni Hall).
  • The Irish held DePaul to its lowest series point total since Dec. 31, 2001, when they downed the Blue Demons, 79-50 at the Joyce Center (which also represents the last time the Irish had a larger winning margin vs. DePaul).
  • Williamson became the eighth different Irish player to lead the team in scoring this season, while also becoming the first to score 20 points in a game this year.
  • Williamson’s career-high 20 points topped her old standard of 16, set three times before (most recently on Notre Dame’s last visit to DePaul on Feb. 24, 2008).
  • Williamson also pulled down a season-high nine rebounds, finishing one shy of her third career double-double.
  • Novosel tied her season (and career) scoring high with 18 points, a mark she first established on Dec. 2 at Eastern Michigan.
  • Novosel’s seven rebounds also were one off the season high she set at EMU.
  • Irish head coach Muffet McGraw picked up her 575th career coaching win in 27 seasons (487 at Notre Dame in the past 22 years).

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 two 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.

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 157-15 (.913) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 85 of their last 94 such contests.

This season, Notre Dame is 11-1 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 120-4 (.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 six 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 167 of their last 188 games (.888) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 93-15 (.861) 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 317-82 (.794) 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.

Crowded House
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 next 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 125 televised games, including 75 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: Marquette
It’s back on the open road for Notre Dame, as the Irish head to Milwaukee next Tuesday, Jan. 13, for an 8 p.m. CT/9 p.m. ET game at Marquette. The contest will be televised live to a national cable audience by CBS College Sports.

The Golden Eagles (10-5, 1-0) are winding up their bye week after tipping off BIG EAST play on Jan. 3 with a 68-60 home win over South Florida. Marquette will visit Seton Hall Saturday before returning home to face the Irish next week.

— ND —