Dec. 4, 2007
2007-08 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 8
#16/20 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-1 / 0-0 BIG EAST) vs. Bowling Green Falcons (6-0 / 0-0 MAC East)
DATE: December 5, 2007
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Bowling Green, Ohio – Anderson Arena (4,700)
SERIES: ND leads 3-0
1ST MTG: 11/26/96 (ND 92-67)
LAST MTG: 11/13/06 (ND 85-81, ot)
RADIO: ESPN Radio 1490 AM/UND.com (Sean Stires, p-b-p)
TV: Buckeye Cable Sports Network (available in NW Ohio only)
LIVE STATS: UND.com
TICKETS: (877) 247-8842
- Notre Dame opens a two-game road trip, although it will not travel further than 200 miles for either game.
- The Irish defense is allowing only 53.7 ppg., its best seven-game effort since 2000-01.
No. 16/20 Irish Open Two-Game Road Trip Wednesday At Bowling Green
After completing a successful three-game homestand, No. 16/20 Notre Dame heads back on the road for a pair of critical non-conference games this week, beginning Wednesday with a 7 p.m. (ET) matchup against Bowling Green at Anderson Arena. The Irish and Falcons turned in one of the better non-conference games in the country last season, with Notre Dame prevailing in overtime, 85-81 at the Joyce Center.
The Irish (6-1) picked up their fourth consecutive win on Sunday with a 77-46 victory at home over Michigan. Using its familiar formula, Notre Dame used a 21-4 run early in the first half to seize command, then finished off the Wolverines with a 22-5 run in the second half. The Irish shot 53.2 percent from the floor and harassed UM into 22 turnovers.
Senior guard Charel Allen set the pace for Notre Dame with a season-high 19 points, while adding a team-best seven rebounds and a game-high five assists. Senior guard Tulyah Gaines posted her own season scoring high with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting for the Irish.
- Notre Dame is ranked 16th in this week’s Associated Press poll and 20th in the latest ESPN/USA Today poll.
- Bowling Green is receiving votes in the latest Associated Press poll.
A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
Even after a 20-12 record and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2006-07, Notre Dame still continues to fly below the national radar. Head coach Muffet McGraw wouldn’t want it any other way.
Last year, the Irish learned quickly that respect is something that isn’t handed to you, but rather earned on the court. It’s also a quality that takes time to develop and doesn’t come from trophy cases or record books. So although Notre Dame was tabbed fifth in the preseason BIG EAST Conference balloting, it’s not a great concern to McGraw and her charges. Instead, they focus on the things they can control and prefer to let the outside world judge them when the season is over.
This year could prove to be unlike any in recent memory for Notre Dame. For one, the Irish will roll out some impressive depth, going virtually two-deep at every floor position. In addition, Notre Dame’s new offensive system (a Princeton-based set with four guards and a post) continues to evolve, building upon last year’s 70.1 point-per-game average that was its highest since the 2000-01 NCAA national championship season.
Senior guard Charel Allen is the top returning scorer and rebounder for the Irish, leading the team in both categories last year (17.0 ppg., 6.2 rpg.). She also was a first-team all-BIG EAST and WBCA honorable mention All-America selection, and was a finalist for the 2007 USA U21 World Championship Team that struck gold this past summer in Moscow.
Allen’s backcourt partner and classmate is point guard Tulyah Gaines. Now in her second full season at the helm of the Notre Dame offense, the speedy Gaines averaged 9.6 points per game along with team highs of 3.9 assists and 2.0 steals per contest. She also is a two-year team captain who commands instant respect from teammates, coaches and opponents.
The Irish will benefit from the return of junior guard Lindsay Schrader, who missed the entire 2006-07 season with a torn ACL in her right knee. Schrader, who retains three years of athletic eligibility, was Notre Dame’s second-leading scorer (10.5 ppg.) and top rebounder (5.4 rpg.) as a rookie in 2005-06 and will look to regain that form this season.
Last year saw Notre Dame break new ground by becoming the first school ever to put three players on the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team. Guards Ashley Barlow (10.3 ppg., 5.4 rpg.) and Melissa Lechlitner (6.3 ppg., 2.7 apg.) will provide a superb complement to the veteran Allen-Gaines tandem, while center Erica Williamson (6.1 ppg., 5.3 rpg., 1.3 bpg.) showed flashes of potential throughout her rookie season and is poised for increased development this year.
Headlining a three-player freshman class (ranked 11th nationally by Blue Star Basketball) is Devereaux Peters, a smooth 6-2 forward who was a consensus All-American as a senior last year at national powerhouse Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Ill. Fellow post Becca Bruszewski (Valparaiso, Ind.) finished third in last season’s Indiana Miss Basketball voting and was a perennial all-state pick. And, guard Brittany Mallory (Baltimore, Md.) offers a perimeter shooting threat, as well as a cerebral player who will mesh well in the Irish offensive system.
A Quick Look At Bowling Green
Championship teams don’t rebuild — they reload. That’s exactly what three-time defending Mid-American Conference champion Bowling Green appears to have done, as the Falcons look to open a new chapter in their program’s history following a first-ever trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2006-07.
Despite the graduation of six highly-talented seniors from last year’s squad, Bowling Green hasn’t missed a beat, jumping out to a 6-0 record, with four of those wins coming away from Anderson Arena. The Falcons have plugged three freshmen into the starting lineup and are averaging 70.7 points per game while opponents to a meager 56.5 points a night.
BG returns home after winning the Cornell Classic championship last weekend in Ithaca, N.Y. The Falcons opened the event with a 74-60 win over Florida Gulf Coast before downing the host school in the title game, 70-54. Freshman guard Lauren Prochaska was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after averaging 15.5 points per game with a .750 field goal percentage (12-of-16) and a sharp .857 three-point mark (6-of-7). Senior point guard Kate Achter also earned a place on the all-tournament team after averaging 11.0 points and 7.5 assists per game.
As the lone returning starter from last year’s squad, Achter has taken over the scoring load for BG this season, averaging a team-high 17.2 points per game along with 5.3 assists a contest. Prochaska is second on the team in scoring (14.3 ppg.) and first in steals (3.0 spg.), while junior guard Lindsey Goldsberry is third in scoring (8.3 ppg.), but tops in rebounding (5.2 rpg.) and three-point percentage (.450).
Head coach Curt Miller is in his seventh season at Bowling Green with a 130-60 (.684) record, including an 88-15 (.854) mark since the start of the 2004-05 season. He is 0-1 all-time against Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-Bowling Green Series
Notre Dame has won all three prior games against Bowling Green, including the only previous matchup at Anderson Arena. The teams met in a home-and-home series in 1995 and 1996 and are completing a similar arrangement this season.
The Last Time Notre Dame And Bowling Green Met
Notre Dame charged back from an 11-point deficit with 10 minutes to play, ousting Bowling Green, 85-81 in overtime on Nov. 13, 2006 before a boisterous crowd of 5,746 fans at the Joyce Center. The Irish actually trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half, but held the Falcons to two field goals during an eight-minute stretch late in the second half and then limited BGSU to three points in the extra session to pull out the victory.
Tulyah Gaines had (at the time) a career night, scoring 25 points and collecting six rebounds. Charel Allen also had a (then) career-high with 21 points, while also snaring six boards and coming up with a team-high four steals and two blocks. Ashley Barlow played a pivotal role off the bench for Notre Dame, registering her first career double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, not to mention scoring six of the seven Irish points in overtime.
Notre Dame ended up successfully winning the war on the glass by a 45-33 margin (32-17 after halftime), and also shot well from the foul line, hitting 23-of-28 charities (82.1 percent). The Irish also forced 19 Falcon turnovers, with 14 of those coming from steals.
The veteran Bowling Green squad (which would go on to lose just four games all last year and make its first-ever NCAA Sweet 16 appearance) saw all five starters score in double figures. Guard Kate Achter had a team-high 20 points and nine assists, while Megan Thorburn tossed in 17 points, including 5-of-6 three-pointers. As a team, the Falcons made 11-of-23 triples (47.8 percent), with the last being a right-wing jumper by Liz Honegger at the horn in regulation that resulted in bonus basketball.
Notre Dame looked sharp in the opening minutes, scoring the game’s first six points. Yet, that lead didn’t last long, as BGSU went on a 16-2 run over the next 5:25, with Carin Horne scoring nine of her 16 points consecutively during that stretch. The Irish then trimmed down the margin with six in a row off buckets from Barlow, Gaines and Crystal Erwin, but that only briefly stemmed the tide, as Bowling Green ripped off 11 consecutive points, highlighted by a pair of treys from Thorburn, to take its largest lead of the night at 27-14 with 6:15 to go in the first half.
Bowling Green made a bid to ice the game early in the second half, moving out to a double-digit lead on four occasions, including a 61-50 edge when Honegger canned a three-pointer with 10:04 to play. Little did they know it at the time, but the Falcons would find the range from distance only once the rest of the way (Honegger’s triple at the regulation horn).
Slowly and methodically, Notre Dame began chipping away at the BGSU lead, finally getting within one possession at 66-63 on Gaines’ jumper at the 6:49 mark. Less than two minutes later, the Falcons’ edge was gone, as Erwin converted an old-fashioned three-point play for a 68-68 ballgame and five minutes to go. The teams then essentially traded baskets down the stretch before Gaines came up with a critical steal inside the final minute and set up Allen on the ensuing possession for a 15-foot jumper that put the hosts in front, 77-75 with 26.4 seconds to play.
Horne missed a potential go-ahead three-pointer on BGSU’s next possession and Thorburn fouled Gaines on the rebound, sending the Notre Dame co-captain to the line to try and seal the comeback. However, she missed the front end of two shots (one of only two misses she had in 11 tries on the night), opening the door for the Falcons and Honegger capitalized with game-tying three-pointer.
Bowling Green took the early overtime lead when Achter made one of two free throws 34 seconds in. From there, the Notre Dame defense clamped down, forcing four consecutive missed shots by the Falcons. Meanwhile, Barlow put back an Allen miss midway through the extra session to lift the Irish ahead, 80-79. She then hit two foul shots with 21 seconds to play, pushing the lead out to three points. After allowing Achter a virtually uncontested layup, Gaines made one of two charities at 0:14, then Barlow came up with a steal as BGSU was maneuvering for a game-tying or game-winning shot inside of five seconds to go. She then walked to the west end of the Joyce Center court, stepped to the stripe and calmly buried two free throws to dismiss the delirious home crowd with smiles on their faces.
The Last Time Notre Dame And Bowling Green Met At Anderson Arena
Katryna Gaither scored 19 of her game-high 25 points in the second half as No. 14/17 Notre Dame erased a six-point halftime deficit and charged to an 85-70 victory over Bowling Green on Nov. 23, 1996 at Anderson Arena in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Gaither knocked down eight of nine shots in the final 20 minutes, highlighting a sizzling .640 field goal percentage (16-of-25) by the Irish in the second stanza. Sheila McMillen came off the bench to drop in 16 points, while Beth Morgan and Mollie Peirick had 12 points and Rosanne Bohman carded 11 points for the visitors. Notre Dame shot .558 for the game, not to mention a sharp .917 from the free throw line.
Michelle Terry had a team-high 16 points and Chrissy Billiter collected 11 points in a reserve role for Bowling Green. The Falcons were hindered by a .344 second-half shooting percentage, as well as a .143 three-point percentage (2-of-14) in the contest.
Bowling Green jumped out to an early 10-4 lead before the Irish battled back with six consecutive points, beginning with a jumper by Niele Ivey. However, the rookie guard would go down moments later with a season-ending knee injury — which turned out to be a long-term blessing for Notre Dame, as Ivey would play a pivotal role in the program’s 2001 NCAA championship (during her fifth year of eligibility).
The Irish used a 7-0 run later in the period to open up the first of two six-point leads. However, the Falcons ended the first half with a 9-0 surge, regaining a 43-39 advantage going to the dressing room.
The hosts remained ahead for the first three minutes of the second half before Gaither’s jumper ignited a 9-0 run that put Notre Dame ahead for good at 57-49 with 14:48 to play. Bowling Green halved the margin in the next 90 seconds, but the Irish then erupted with a 28-9 spree to settle matters, with Gaither contributing 13 points and McMillen adding nine.
Other Notre Dame-Bowling Green Series Tidbits
- Last year’s contest marked the first time both Notre Dame and its opponent scored at least 80 points in a game since Dec. 4, 1999, when the No. 11/8 Irish downed No. 9/12 North Carolina, 99-86 at the Wachovia Women’s Basketball Invitational in Richmond, Va.
- In the second half of its three prior series matchups with Bowling Green, Notre Dame has shot .605 (52-of-86) from the floor and .875 (35-of-40) from the free throw line while averaging 48.3 points in the final 20 minutes (not counting last year’s overtime period).
- BG is the first of five Irish opponents this season that advanced to the Sweet 16 of last year’s NCAA Tournament. The others are: Tennessee (national champion), Rutgers (national runner-up), Connecticut and Purdue (both regional finalists).
- As the three-time defending Mid-American Conference regular-season and tournament champion, Bowling Green is the first of five league medalists Notre Dame will play during the 2007-08 season. The others will be: Connecticut (BIG EAST regular season), Purdue (Big Ten Tournament) Rutgers (BIG EAST Tournament) and Tennessee (SEC regular season).
- Notre Dame is 67-16 (.807) all-time vs. Ohio schools, with a 34-9 (.791) record away from home. Bowling Green is the second of three Ohio schools on this year’s Irish schedule — Notre Dame downed Miami, 98-50 in its season opener on Nov. 9 and will visit Cincinnati on Feb. 2.
- Notre Dame is playing in the state of Ohio for just the second time since advancing to the 1997 NCAA Women’s Final Four in Cincinnati. Back on Feb. 25, 2006, the Irish returned to the Queen City and downed UC, 75-66 in overtime at Fifth Third Arena.
- Senior guard Amanda Tsipis is the lone Ohio native on this year’s Notre Dame roster. Tsipis hails from Perry, Ohio, and graduated from Perry High School in 2004. All told, nine Ohio residents have played for the Irish, with that total ranking fourth in program history behind Indiana (18), Michigan (14) and Illinois (11).
Notre Dame vs. The Mid-American Conference
Notre Dame is 32-14 (.696) all-time against the current Mid-American Conference alignment, with a 13-10 (.565) record away from home (road/neutral sites combined). The Irish also sport a 17-5 (.773) record against MAC schools in the Muffet McGraw era, with a 6-4 (.600) ledger away from South Bend.
Notre Dame also has won its last 15 games against current MAC schools since an 87-64 loss at Northern Illinois on March 10, 1995 in the semifinals of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference Tournament. The Irish will be playing their third MAC opponent this season (and second on the road), having downed Miami (Ohio), 98-50 at home on Nov. 9, and taking a 94-41 decision at Central Michigan on Nov. 20.
Happy Birthday, Coach
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw will celebrate her birthday on Wednesday night. The Irish are 3-1 on McGraw’s birthday during her 21-year tenure at Notre Dame, most recently defeating Liberty, 85-68, on Dec. 5, 1999 in the title game of the Wachovia Women’s Basketball Invitational in Richmond, Va.
Five of Notre Dame’s six wins this season have come by at least 30 points, while the Irish held a 32-point lead midway through the second half of the sixth victory (a 78-59 conquest of Western Kentucky on Nov. 13). This marks the first time in school history that Notre Dame has fashioned five 30-point wins in its first seven games.
It’s also the first time since the 2000-01 national championship season that the Irish have logged at least five 30-point wins in a single season. That year, Notre Dame collected a school-record 10 30-point victories, but only three of those came in the first seven games.
What’s more, the Irish are on a current streak of four consecutive 30-point wins. The last time Notre Dame did that was Jan. 20-30, 1999, when the Irish had four straight 30-point victories, all during BIG EAST Conference play — at Seton Hall (87-47), home vs. St. John’s (99-60), at Syracuse (94-61) and at Providence (97-59).
Notre Dame has never posted a streak of five consecutive 30-point wins.
Put A Tiger In Your Tank
Less than two seasons after posting the program’s lowest scoring output (64.5 ppg) since 1980-81, Notre Dame has reversed that trend in a big way.
The Irish currently lead the BIG EAST Conference (and rank third in the country) in scoring at 83.9 points per game, having tallied at least 77 points in each of their six wins. What’s more, Notre Dame also has the second-highest scoring average after seven games in program history, topped only by the 1998-99 squad (84.6 ppg.), which went on to post a single-season school record with an 81.0-ppg. scoring average.
Notre Dame also ranks second in the conference (and sixth in the nation) in scoring margin, outpointing its opposition by 30.2 points per night.
Spreading The Wealth
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame’s squad this season is its balance and depth. That’s been particularly evident through the first nine games of the season (counting the exhibitions), with six different players from all five floor positions and all four classes leading the team in scoring.
Another example of Notre Dame’s balance this season is seen in its point distribution. No fewer than nine of the 11 Irish players on this year’s roster have scored in double figures at least once this season, with only sophomore center Erica Williamson and senior guard Amanda Tsipis yet to crack the 10-point mark.
Notre Dame also has had at least three double-figure scorers in every game and had five double-figure scorers in three consecutive games from Nov. 20-27. It’s believed to be the first time in school history (and certainly the first time in the Muffet McGraw era) the Irish have pulled off that feat, although records are incomplete prior to the 1983-84 season.
Protecting The Pill
Notre Dame has gotten off to a strong start this season, thanks in large part to its ability to take care of the basketball. The Irish are averaging just 12.1 turnovers per game (second-best in the nation) and have yet to commit more than 16 giveaways this year. On the flip side, Notre Dame is forcing 24.3 turnovers per night, resulting in a BIG EAST Conference-best +12.14 turnover margin (a full +5.14 better than second-place Connecticut).
The Irish took ball protection to a new level in their loss at No. 3 Maryland on Nov. 16. Notre Dame set a school record with only three turnovers against the Terrapins, with two of those giveaways coming on offensive fouls. The previous school record for fewest turnovers was six, set on Feb. 12, 2006 at DePaul.
With only three turnovers, it’s probably comes as no surprise that Maryland did not register a steal against Notre Dame. However, what is surprising is that it was the first time in the 31-year history of the Irish program that an opponent did not record a steal against Notre Dame. Several opponents had only one steal vs. the Irish, with the most recent being Boston College on March 19, 2006 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament (played at West Lafayette, Ind.).
Keeping It On The Plus Side
Notre Dame has registered a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in six of its seven games this season, only finding the red in its Nov. 13 win over Western Kentucky (12 assists, 15 turnovers).
For the year, the Irish rank second in the BIG EAST (and second nationally) with a 1.52 assist-to-turnover ratio, trailing only second-ranked Connecticut (1.63). Notre Dame also has assisted on 53.8 percent of its field goals this year (129 assists on 240 baskets), ranking second in the conference and ninth in the country with 18.43 assists per game.
Off And Running
Notre Dame has wasted little time in jumping ahead of its opponents this season. In five of their six wins, the Irish have opened up a double-digit lead less than 10 minutes into the game, while a 20-0 run late in the first half at Central Michigan put that victory on ice as well.
Even in its lone defeat at third-ranked Maryland, Notre Dame made a statement early with a 10-0 run in the first five minutes of action and led by as many as five points in the first half before the Terrapins rallied back for the win.
Going Into Lockdown
Notre Dame has held three of its last four opponents to less than 50 points and has limited six of its seven foes this season below 60 points. The Irish currently rank sixth in the BIG EAST (and 29th in the nation) in scoring defense at 53.7 points per game.
That’s the fourth-lowest opponent scoring average through seven games for Notre Dame, third-lowest since elevating to Division I in 1980-81, and second-lowest of the Muffet McGraw era. In fact, the only Irish squad in the last 26 seasons that got off to a better defensive start was the 2000-01 national championship team (53.1 ppg.).
Notre Dame is ranked 16th in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll, climbing a poll-best six spots from the previous survey. The No. 16 ranking is the highest for the Irish in the media poll since the week of Jan. 2, 2006, when they were ranked 12th prior to losses at St. John’s (66-63) and home vs. Seton Hall (74-61).
Notre Dame now has been ranked in the AP poll for 144 weeks during the program’s history, with every one of those appearances coming in the Muffet McGraw era. McGraw now ranks 14th among all active NCAA Division I head coaches for weeks in the AP poll, and also stands 25th all-time in that category.
The Irish also are appearing in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll for the fourth consecutive week, checking in at No. 20 after placing 23rd in the previous poll. Notre Dame’s ranking of 20th is its highest since the week of Jan. 9, 2006, when the Irish were tabbed 19th by the coaches before an overtime win at home vs. Marquette (67-65) and a loss at Louisville (61-51).
(Nearly) Crowded House
The season-best crowd of 10,825 that took in Sunday’s win over Michigan at the Joyce Center marked the fourth-largest crowd in school history and the fourth audience of 10,000 fans in the Notre Dame women’s basketball record books. A full rundown of the top crowds in Joyce Center history can be found in the sidebar on page 7 of this notes package.
No Easy Road
Notre Dame has always played a difficult schedule, using it as a means of preparation for future tests in both the BIG EAST Conference and the postseason. However, this year’s slate could be one of the more rugged ones in recent memory.
With the addition of third-ranked Maryland to the docket in the Preseason WNIT semifinals, the Irish now will face the top four teams in the latest Associated Press poll. Still to come this season are No. 1 Tennessee (Jan. 5 at the Joyce Center), No. 2 Connecticut (Jan. 27 at the Joyce Center) and No. 4 Rutgers (Feb. 19 in Piscataway, N.J.). The top three teams in the poll have combined to win three of the past four national championships, with Tennessee currently holding the hardware after defeating Rutgers in last year’s title game.
Leave The Driving To Us
Wednesday’s game at Bowling Green is the second of only four road contests for the Irish prior to the end of the calendar year. Even more notable — all four road games will be played no further than 200 miles from the Notre Dame campus, either within the state of Indiana or in neighboring states (Michigan or Ohio).
Irish Fans Crave A Big Mac Attack
Notre Dame has introduced a new promotion this season, 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 game. The coupons are issued at the Joyce Center gates as fans leave the arena following the game.
This season’s burger watch already is at five, as the Irish have hit the 88-point mark in exhibition wins over Southern Indiana and Hillsdale, as well as regular-season victories over Miami (Ohio), Boston College and Canisius.
It’s probably also not a surprise that the Notre Dame player with the most “Big Mac baskets” this season has the same initials as that of the tasty burger — freshman guard Brittany Mallory, who has sent the crowd home happy (and presumably with full bellies) three times.
Here’s a rundown of some upcoming promotions and giveaways at future Notre Dame women’s basketball games this season. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Irish athletics ticket office (second floor of the Joyce Center through Gate 1; 574-631-7356), on game day at the Gate 10 ticket windows of the Joyce Center, or via the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics web site (UND.com). Please note — additional promotions and giveaways may be added at a later date, so consult the Notre Dame promotions web site (www.notredamepromotions.com) for the latest information:
- Dec. 12 vs. Valparaiso — Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation Night … third annual Teddy Bear Toss (bring stuffed animal to benefit Toys-for-Tots and receive $3 admission; animals to be thrown on floor at halftime) … Irish women’s basketball Beanie Bears to first 1,000 fans, courtesy of Notre Dame Federal Credit Union … post-game autograph session courtside with selected Notre Dame players.
Next Game: Purdue
Arguably the nation’s premier intrastate rivalry resumes when Notre Dame ventures to West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday for a 4 p.m. (ET) matchup with Purdue that will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network. The Irish will be seeking their first win in 10 career visits to Mackey Arena (0-8 vs. Purdue, 0-1 vs. Boston College in 2006 NCAA Tournament), as well as back-to-back series wins over the Boilermakers for the first time since the 2000-01 national championship season.
Purdue (3-4) is resting up this week following a 51-41 home victory over Southeast Missouri State this past Sunday. The Boilermakers have had to deal with an unusually high number of injuries this season, but appear to be finding their stride heading into this weekend’s game with the Irish.
— ND —