Jan. 1, 2011
2010-11 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 15
#16/14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-3 / 1-0 BIG EAST) vs. Southeast Missouri State Redhawks (5-8 / 1-3 OVC)
DATE: January 2, 2011
TIME: 2:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: First meeting
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- Notre Dame has won 22 consecutive home games against first-time opponents, a streak that dates back to the 1996-97 season.
- The Fighting Irish are 13-2 (.867) in their first game of a new calendar year since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96.
No. 16/14 Irish Ring In The New Year Sunday Against Southeast Missouri State
Now that the ball has dropped in Times Square, No. 16/14 Notre Dame will toss the ball up for the first time in 2011, as the Fighting Irish close out their non-conference schedule at 2 p.m. (ET) Sunday against Southeast Missouri State at Purcell Pavilion. The Redhawks are the last of seven first-time opponents on Notre Dame’s 2010-11 schedule.
The Fighting Irish (11-3, 1-0 BIG EAST) stretched their current winning streak to a season-high six games on Thursday with a wire-to-wire 91-47 win over Loyola Marymount at the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic in Seattle. Notre Dame shot a blistering .578 from the field against LMU to complete a sweep of its two tournament games, although Thursday’s contest was not officially the title game (both teams won their tourney openers the night before).
Freshman guard Kayla McBride led four Fighting Irish double-figure scorers with a career-high 20 points. Senior forward Devereaux Peters was the tourney MVP, while junior guard Natalie Novosel made the all-tournament team.
- Notre Dame is No. 16 in latest Associated Press poll and tied for No. 14 in the current ESPN/USA Today poll.
- Southeast Missouri State is not ranked.
- With its No. 16 ranking in the Dec. 27 Associated Press poll, Notre Dame now has appeared in the AP poll for a school-record 66 consecutive weeks, extending the program standard that began with the 2007-08 preseason poll.
- The Fighting Irish have posted a school-record seven 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 won eight games by 30 points or more, putting the Fighting Irish two away from the school record of 10 30-point victories established in 2000-01.
- Notre Dame has scored at least 90 points in seven games this season, tying the program record of seven set in three separate seasons (1996-97, 1998-99 and 2007-08).
- The Fighting Irish rank among the top 16 in the country in eight statistical categories, according to the Dec. 13 NCAA statistics report. Notre Dame leads the nation in steals (now 15.8 spg.), while placing sixth in field goal percentage (.505), scoring margin (+29.5 ppg.), assists (19.9 apg.) and turnover margin (+8.07). The Fighting Irish also are 10th in the country in scoring offense (84.5 ppg.), 13th in three-point percentage defense (.226) and 16th in assist/turnover ratio (1.11).
- 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 700-305 (.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 15.7) and senior forward Devereaux Peters (6.7 to 9.7) 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 forward Natalie Achonwa and guard Kayla McBride. Achonwa is averaging 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, and ranks third in the BIG EAST with a .608 field goal percentage. 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 10th in the BIG EAST with a .542 field goal percentage. Between them, they have scored in double figures 11 times this season –Achonwa had a career-high 14 points against Creighton on Dec. 11, while McBride tossed in a career-best 20 points vs. Loyola Marymount on Dec. 30.
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 354 victories.
- Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past 10 seasons. Last year, the program finished fourth in the final NCAA attendance rankings with 8,377 fans per game, both setting new school records in the process. The Fighting Irish also have drawn 5,000-or-more fans to 149 of their last 151 home games, logging 13 Purcell Pavilion sellouts (most recently on Dec. 5 vs. Purdue).
- 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 three members of this year’s senior class on target to earn their diplomas.
A Quick Look At Southeast Missouri State
To say that Southeast Missouri State is a youthful team would be a significant understatement. The Redhawks have no less than 10 underclassmen (freshmen/sophomores) on their 13-player roster, but many of these pups have a solid amount of experience under their belts, as SEMO returns four starters and 10 letterwinners from last year’s 7-21 squad.
Southeast Missouri State (5-8, 1-3 Ohio Valley Conference) come to town on a high note, having snapped a three-game losing streak on Thursday with a 77-46 home win over Lindenwood-Belleville. A pair of sophomore guards paced the Redhawks, as Katie Norman scored a game-high 18 points (6-11 FG, 3-5 3FG) and Shelah Fields came off the bench to score 15 points (6-10 FG, 3-5 3FG).
Norman leads SEMO in scoring (10.0 ppg.) and field goal percentage (.438) this season, and ranks second in rebounding (4.4 rpg.), while sophomore forward Brittany Harriel is second on the team in scoring (8.5 ppg.) and tops in rebounding (5.7 rpg.).
Head coach John Ishee is in his fifth season at Southeast Missouri State with a 75-61 (.551) record in Cape Girardeau. Factoring in his single-season stints at Life University (NAIA) and New Mexico Highlands (Division II) earlier this decade, Ishee has a 103-82 (.557) career coaching record.
The Notre Dame-Southeast Missouri State Series
Sunday’s game will mark the first time Notre Dame and Southeast Missouri State will meet on the hardwood.
Other Notre Dame-Southeast Missouri State Series Tidbits
- Southeast Missouri State is the last of seven first-time opponents on Notre Dame’s schedule this year. The Fighting Irish are 4-2 against these new foes this season, defeating New Hampshire (99-48), Morehead State (91-28) and Wake Forest (92-69) at Purcell Pavilion, as well as Gonzaga (70-61) on a neutral floor in Seattle, while falling at No. 9/10 Kentucky (81-76) and No. 2/3 Baylor (76-65).
- The Redhawks will be the 187th different opponent in the 34-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball.
- Notre Dame is 45-7 (.865) against first-time opponents since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96, including a 25-3 (.893) mark vs. new teams since the start of the 2000-01 season.
- The Fighting Irish have won 22 consecutive home games against new opposition, dating back to Jan. 18, 1996, when Connecticut posted an 87-64 win at Purcell Pavilion.
- Notre Dame is 9-1 all-time against Missouri schools, going 6-1 against Saint Louis (the Fighting Irish and Billikens were joint members of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference from 1988-89 to 1990-91), 2-0 against Missouri State (defeating the Lady Bears in the first round of the 1998 and 2004 NCAA tournaments) and 1-0 vs. Missouri (played at Kansas City’s Kemper Arena exactly 29 years ago on Jan. 2, 1982).
- The last Missouri school to visit Purcell Pavilion was Missouri State (formerly known as Southwest Missouri State), with Notre Dame pulling out a 69-65 overtime win over the Lady Bears on March 21, 2004. Jacqueline Batteast (17 points/11 rebounds) and Courtney LaVere (11 points/13 rebounds) paced the Fighting Irish to the victory, which helped spark Notre Dame’s run to the sixth of its eight NCAA Sweet 16 appearances.
- Two of the most notable point guards in Notre Dame women’s basketball history came from the state of Missouri, growing up only two hours away from Southeast Missouri State’s campus in Cape Girardeau. Mollie Peirick (1994-98) was a native of Eureka, Mo., while All-American (and current Fighting Irish assistant coach) Niele Ivey (1996-2001) came to Notre Dame from St. Louis.
- Ivey and Peirick are two of the five native Missourians to play for the Fighting Irish, along with Carrie Bates (Kansas City; 1981-85), Missy Conboy (Columbia; 1978-82) and Beth Morrison (St. Louis; 1984-87). Bates, Ivey and Peirick are three of the 26 players in the program’s 1,000-Point Club, while Conboy has been a member of Notre Dame’s athletics administration since August 1987 (arriving three months after current Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw was hired) and presently serves as Notre Dame’s senior deputy athletics director and senior woman administrator.
Notre Dame vs. The Ohio Valley Conference
Southeast Missouri State is the second Ohio Valley Conference opponent for Notre Dame this season, following a 91-28 win over Morehead State on Nov. 15 at Purcell Pavilion.
The Fighting Irish came into this year having played just one current OVC member (Southern Illinois-Edwardsville) during its first 33 seasons, and even that opponent is not currently a full member of the OVC, as SIU-E transitions to full Division I status.
On Jan. 11, 1980, then-AIAW Division III member Notre Dame defeated Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, 65-51 at the Huskie Invitational in DeKalb, Ill. Jane Politiski turned in a double-double (18 points, 11 rebounds) for Notre Dame, but this game is better known (and we use the term “better” loosely) for the combined 84 turnovers between the clubs, including SIU-E’s 48 giveaways which stood as the Fighting Irish opponent record for more than 30 years … until this year’s season opener back on Nov. 12, when Notre Dame caused 49 New Hampshire turnovers at Purcell Pavilion.
Ringing In The New Year
Since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96, Notre Dame is 13-2 (.867) in its first game of a new calendar year, having won four in a row and six of its last seven, including a 79-75 win at Purdue last season. The lone loss in a January opener during the past seven seasons was a 66-63 setback at St. John’s on Jan. 4, 2006.
The Five-Finger Discount
Notre Dame comes into Sunday’s game leading the nation in steals with 15.8 thefts per game. The Fighting Irish also have recorded double-digit steals in 11 of 14 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, led by junior guard Natalie Novosel, who has registered 31 thefts (2.2 per game, tied for 12th in the BIG EAST), and senior guard Brittany Mallory, who has collected a team-high 2.4 steals per game (sixth in the BIG EAST).
High Octane Offense
Behind one of the nation’s top 10 scoring offenses (84.5 ppg., 10th as of Dec. 13), Notre Dame is moving into uncharted territory in the school’s record books.
The Fighting Irish have scored 90 points in a game in half (7) of their 14 contests this season, tying the school record for 90-point games in a season (set on three occasions – 1996-97, 1998-99 and 2007-08).
Notre Dame already has set a new school record with seven wins by at least 35 points, nearly doubling the previous program standard of four 35-point victories set in 2008-09.
What’s more, the Fighting Irish have won eight games by at least 30 points, just two shy of 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.
Notre Dame also ranks among the national leaders in assists (19.9 apg., sixth in NCAA as of Dec. 13), having dished out at least 20 assists in nine games this season.
Further illustrating the Fighting Irish giving spirit, Notre Dame has assisted on 61.8 percent of its baskets this season, with 278 assists on 450 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 eighth in the BIG EAST Conference at 4.4 assists per game (while flirting with the top 15 in the league with a 1.27 assist/turnover ratio). She also has handed out at least five assists in eight games this season, after tallying seven five-assist games during her entire freshman campaign.
Notre Dame leads the BIG EAST (and ranked sixth in the nation as of Dec. 13) with a .505 field goal percentage, shooting 50 percent or better from the floor in 10 games this season, and at least 45 percent in 12 outings.
The Fighting Irish have been particularly efficient during their current six-game winning streak, posting a .547 field goal percentage (199-of-364), including a season-high .633 mark against Creighton on Dec. 11 at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame also has seen a recent rise in its three-point shooting numbers. During the past five games, the Fighting Irish are connecting at an even 50 percent (20-of-40) 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.
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 Thursday’s 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.
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 seventh in the league) in scoring at 15.7 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 12 times after doing so a combined total of 14 times in her first two seasons at Notre Dame.
In addition, Novosel is 13th in the BIG EAST in field goal percentage (.526) and ranks second on the team with a .342 three-point percentage. She has added some hardware to her personal trophy case as well, taking home Most Valuable Player honors at the WBCA Classic, and earning a spot on the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic All-Tournament Team.
Thus, it’s no surprise that ESPN.com’s Graham Hays tweeted the following comment after Novosel’s career-high 27 points 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.”
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 700-305 (.697).
Notre Dame is one of five Division I programs to reach the 700-win milestone this season, joining Duke, Kansas, Missouri State and Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) in that club, with Middle Tennessee needing one more victory to add its name to the list.
Ironically, SJU (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.
Game #14 Recap: Loyola Marymount
Freshman guard Kayla McBride scored a career-high 20 points in a reserve role and No. 16/14 Notre Dame shot well, defeating Loyola Marymount 91-47 Thursday in the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic at Seattle’s KeyArena. With the victory, the Fighting Irish also recorded the 700th win in school history, becoming the 32nd NCAA Division I program to reach that milestone.
McBride hit 9-for-14 and Notre Dame made nearly 58 percent of its tries overall. Senior forward Devereaux Peters scored 14 of her 16 points (on 8-of-9 shooting) in the first half as the Fighting Irish steadily pulled away, leading by 18 at the break and opening up a 47-point margin late in the game.
The Lions continue to adjust to playing without leading scorer Alex Cowling, out for the year with a foot injury. Renahy Young scored 21 and Candice Nichols had 17, accounting for 38 of their team’s 47 points.
Noting The Loyola Marymount Game
- Notre Dame has won 26 of its last 29 regular-season tournament games, including eight in a row (and all five this season).
- Although the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic didn’t officially declare a tournament champion (the matchups were pre-determined because Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount could not play each other as members of the West Coast Conference since they will meet later on in league play), Thursday’s game with LMU was a de-facto title clash.
- Peters was voted as the tournament Most Valuable Player, while junior guard Natalie Novosel made the all-tournament team.
- The Fighting Irish registered their seventh win this season by 35 points or more, extending their school record in that category.
- Thursday’s win also was the eighth 30-point triumph this year, two shy of the school record in that department (set in 2000-01).
- The Fighting Irish topped the 90-point mark for the seventh time this season, tying the school record set on three other occasions (1996-97, 1998-99 and 2007-08).
- Notre Dame came into this week’s tournament having never won in the city of Seattle (and just once in six previous games in the state of Washington), but leaves the Emerald City with two victories.
- The Fighting Irish also improve to 7-1 (.875) all-time against WCC schools.
- Notre Dame is 2-0 all-time against Loyola Marymount, having also won 78-40 back on Jan. 3, 1987, in Los Angeles.
- The LMU series was the last of four non-conference rivalries that Notre Dame renewed this year following a hiatus of a decade or longer — the others were UCLA (12 years), Butler (11 years) and Creighton (29 years).
- The Fighting Irish move to 23-15 (.605) all-time against California schools, including a 21-7 (.750) record in the 24-year Muffet McGraw era.
- Notre Dame rises to 20-14 (.588) all-time in its final game before the start of the new year (12-11, .522 away from South Bend), with a 17-7 (.708) record in the McGraw era and its current “end-of-December” winning streak stretching to four games (2007-08 to present).
- The Fighting Irish shot .578 from the floor, their second-best field goal percentage of the season (.633 vs. Creighton on Dec. 11 at Purcell Pavilion) and the third time in the past four games Notre Dame has shot better than 57 percent from the field.
- The Fighting Irish scored 52 second-half points, two shy of their season-high for a half (54 in the second half vs. IUPUI on Nov. 26 at Purcell Pavilion).
- For the second consecutive game, a Notre Dame player posted a new career scoring high, as McBride scored a career-high 20 points, topping her previous best of 14 points vs. Morehead State on Nov. 15 at Purcell Pavilion (Novosel scored a career-high 27 points vs. Gonzaga on Wednesday night).
- McBride also tied her career high with six rebounds, having hit that total two other times (the last on Dec. 20 at Valparaiso).
- Sophomore guard Kaila Turner dished out a career-high six assists, one more than her previous best set on three occasions (the last on Dec. 11 vs. Creighton).
- Peters narrowly missed matching the second-best shooting performance in school history (9-for-9), last set by Crystal Erwin on Dec. 11, 2004, vs. Washington at Purcell Pavilion.
- Bruszewski’s 6-for-6 effort was a career best but one short of the minimum number of made shots for inclusion in the school’s record books.
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 past week’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.
Notre Dame was ranked 16th in the Dec. 27 Associated Press poll. That marked the 66th 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 (currently a season high) 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 205 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 were tied for 14th in the Dec. 28 ESPN/USA Today/WBCA coaches’ poll. Notre Dame now has been ranked in the coaches’ survey for 66 of the past 67 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 197 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 205 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).
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 700-305 (.697) in 34 seasons of varsity competition, including a 346-87 (.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 www.UND.com).
Half And Half
During the past decade, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Fighting Irish are 198-17 (.921) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 126 of their last 137 such contests, and 35 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 10 games this year, including their Dec. 30 win over Loyola Marymount when they led 39-21 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 217-15 (.935) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game, including victories in nine contests this season (New Hampshire, Morehead State, IUPUI, Butler, Purdue, Providence, Creighton, Valparaiso, Loyola Marymount).
…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 148-5 (.967) 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 nine games this year (8-1 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 196 of their last 222 games (.883) at the 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 106-18 (.855) 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 92 of their last 100 non-BIG EAST contests (.920) 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 346-87 (.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 8,452 fans for its eight home games this season, including a sellout crowd of 9,149 for the Dec. 5 win over in-state rival Purdue.
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.
Notre Dame Picked Fourth In 2010-11 BIG EAST Coaches’ Preseason Poll
Notre Dame was selected to finish fourth in the BIG EAST Conference in 2010-11, according to a preseason vote of the league’s 16 head coaches released on Oct. 21 during the annual BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Media Day at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York City.
The Fighting Irish picked up 177 points in the balloting (coaches may not vote for their own teams), placing behind only two-time defending national champion Connecticut, which was a unanimous choice to win the conference title with 225 points, West Virginia (207 points, one first-place vote) and Georgetown (186 points) — St. John’s rounded out the top five with 173 points.
Diggins Earns 2010-11 Preseason All-BIG EAST Honors
Along with picking Notre Dame to finish fourth in the conference this year in their preseason poll, the BIG EAST coaches unanimously voted sophomore guard Skylar Diggins to the 10-player Preseason All-BIG EAST Team.
A preseason candidate for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/State Farm Wade Trophy, Naismith Trophy and the John R. Wooden Award, as well as a consensus preseason All-American by most major media outlets, Diggins is coming off one of the finest rookie seasons in Fighting Irish women’s basketball history as the first freshman in 17 seasons to lead Notre Dame in scoring and the first rookie in 16 years to top 100 assists in her debut season. What’s more, she finished as just the third player in program history (and the first freshman) to log 400 points, 100 assists and 75 steals in a single season, joining a pair of All-Americans and Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award (top senior in the nation 5-foot-8 and under) recipients — current Notre Dame assistant coach Niele Ivey (2000-01) and Megan Duffy (2004-05) — in achieving that distinction.
A 2009-10 honorable mention All-America selection by both the Associated Press and WBCA, Diggins led Notre Dame in scoring (13.8 ppg.), steals (2.6 spg.) and assists (tied – 3.2 apg.) last season, while ranking third on the squad in three-point percentage (.350) and free throw percentage (.782). She also chalked up a team-high 24 double-digit scoring games, including seven 20-point outings, capped by a season-high 31 points against Vermont in the second round of the NCAA Championship at Purcell Pavilion. That scoring effort was the highest ever recorded by a Fighting Irish rookie in NCAA postseason play, while her 13 field goals made tied the program record for an NCAA tournament game.
In 2009-10, Diggins set Notre Dame freshman records for steals (90), free throws made (111), free throws attempted (142) and minutes played (1,028), while ranking among the top five on the Irish rookie charts for points (3rd – 484), scoring average (tied/4th – 13.8 ppg.), field goals made (3rd – 169), field goals attempted (3rd – 385), three-point field goals made (4th – 35), three-point attempts (5th – 100), three-point percentage (5th – .350), assists (3rd – 112), steals per game (2nd – 2.6 spg.), games started (tied/2nd – 30), games played (2nd – 35) and minutes per game (5th – 29.4).
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 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 notable 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).
Riley’s Double Zero Goes To The Rafters
Ruth Riley, a three-time All-America center at Notre Dame during her storied career from 1997-2001, and the 2001 consensus national player of the year, was inducted into Notre Dame’s Ring of Honor on Nov. 12 during a pre-game ceremony before the Fighting Irish opened their 2010-11 season against New Hampshire at Purcell Pavilion.
A banner honoring Riley’s number 00 was unveiled and now permanently hangs in the rafters of Purcell Pavilion, making her the first women’s basketball player added to the Ring of Honor, and the second player overall following last spring’s induction of men’s basketball All-America forward Luke Harangody.
Beginning in 2010-11, the Notre Dame Athletics Department plans to honor annually additional former and present men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball players who have made distinguished and noteworthy contributions during their career while student-athletes at the University. A committee that will consist of Fighting Irish coaches and administrators will be formed to determine future inductees.
The only player in Notre Dame women’s basketball history with 2,000 career points and 1,000 rebounds, Riley ranks as the program’s all-time leader in seven categories, including rebounds (1,007), blocked shots (370 – fifth in NCAA history) and field goal percentage (.632 – 11th in NCAA history). What’s more, the Macy, Ind., native ranks third in school history with 2,072 points, and holds the Fighting Irish single-game scoring record with 41 points in a January 1998 win over Providence. Riley also played a pivotal role in Notre Dame’s run to the 2001 NCAA national championship, earning Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors after scoring 28 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in the title game victory over Purdue, capped by her gamewinning free throws with 5.8 seconds remaining.
A 10-year WNBA veteran (the past four with the San Antonio Silver Stars), two-time WNBA champion and 2004 Olympic gold medalist, Riley was back on campus with the other members of the 2001 championship team for ceremonies honoring the 10th anniversary of that milestone achievement in Notre Dame athletics history.
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 (www.UND.com) 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, www.UND.com, 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 Dec. 30 Loyola Marymount contest (webcast live by Seattle University as part of the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic), Notre Dame has played in 179 televised games, including 125 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.
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 24 times, including wins this year over Michigan Tech (exhibition), New Hampshire, Morehead State, IUPUI, Wake Forest and Creighton.
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”), 14 different players have converted the “burger ball”, including eight current members of the Fighting Irish roster.
What’s more, of the 24 Big Mac games to date, 13 have been reached on two-point baskets, eight on free throws, and three on three-pointers.
Next Game: Marquette
Notre Dame opens the balance of its BIG EAST Conference schedule Wednesday when it travels to Marquette for a 7 p.m. CT/8 p.m. ET contest at the Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee.
The Golden Eagles (12-2, 0-1), who are receiving votes in the latest ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll, have won five in a row, most recently defeating Louisiana Tech, 83-75 on Dec. 30 to claim the championship at the Florida International Sun & Fun Classic in Miami.
MU’s only two losses this season are a two-point setback at Creighton and mid-December conference defeat at top-ranked Connecticut.
— ND —