Nov. 28, 2014
2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 7
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge
#2/1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-0 / 0-0 ACC) vs. Kansas Jayhawks (5-1 / 0-0 Big 12)
DATE: Nov. 30, 2014
TIME: 1:00 p.m. ET
AT: Uncasville, Conn. – Mohegan Sun Arena (9,518)
SERIES: First meeting
LAST MTG: ND 93-63 (3/31/13)
TOURNAMENT WEB SITE: hoophall.com
TV: ESPN3/WatchESPN (live) (Pat O’Keefe, p-b-p / Julianne Viani, p-b-p)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: hoophall.statbroadcast.com
- Notre Dame has won its last seven games (and nine of 10) coming off the Thanksgiving break, including last year’s 100-61 win over Duquesne in Toronto.
- The Fighting Irish will play a Big 12 opponent for the third time in their last 11 games, following wins over Oklahoma State and Baylor in last year’s NCAA Notre Dame Regional.
No. 2/1 Fighting Irish Face Kansas Sunday In Hall Of Fame Challenge Finale
Now that Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror and the leftovers are in the refrigerator, it’s back to the business of basketball for No. 2/1 Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish close out their week-long participation in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday, taking on Kansas at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
The Fighting Irish capped off a stretch of five games in seven days, its most compressed schedule since 1980, with a 112-52 win over Quinnipiac Tuesday night at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame had five double-figure scorers and shot 55.2 percent from the field in the win.
Junior guard Jewell Loyd scored a game-high 23 points, freshman forward Brianna Turner added 20 points and rookie forward Kathryn Westbeld posted her first career double-double (10 points, 12 rebounds) for the Fighting Irish.
- Notre Dame is No. 2 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 1 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Kansas is not ranked.
- Notre Dame is ranked No. 1 in this week’s Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll, earning 14 first-place votes. It’s the first time the Fighting Irish have been the top-ranked team in either major national poll since April 1, 2001, when they were No. 1in the coaches’ poll following a 68-66 win over Purdue that secured the program’s first NCAA national championship.
- Notre Dame is the first Atlantic Coast Conference team to be ranked No. 1 in either major national poll since March 12, 2007, when Duke was atop both polls prior to the start of the NCAA Championship.
- Notre Dame is ranked No. 2 in this week’s Associated Press poll, earning 12 first-place votes. It’s the most first-place ballots cast for the Fighting Irish in the AP poll since March 4, 2001, when they captured 33 (of 40) first-place votes prior to the BIG EAST Conference Championship.
- Notre Dame has appeared in the AP poll for 139 consecutive weeks (including the past 69 weeks in the AP Top 10), extending a program record that dates back to the 2007-08 preseason poll, and ranking sixth in the nation among active AP poll appearances. What’s more, every current Fighting Irish player has competed for a top-10 Notre Dame squad during her career, with the vast majority of that time (58 of 62 weeks) spent in the AP Top 5.
- Notre Dame aims to continue its remarkable success at Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 405-90 (.818) all-time record in 38 seasons at the facility, including an 82-5 (.943) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
- Notre Dame currently holds the nation’s longest active home court winning streak at 33 games, taking the top spot from Chattanooga, which saw its 40-game run end on Nov. 16 with a loss to South Florida.
- The Fighting Irish also own the nation’s longest active road winning streak at 27 games, tied with Stanford (2011-12 to 2013-14) for the third-longest run in NCAA Division I history.
- Senior guards Madison Cable and Whitney Holloway, and senior forward Markisha Wright have helped Notre Dame to a 113-7 (.942) record in their careers, putting them on pace to challenge last year’s senior class of Natalie Achonwa, Ariel Braker and Kayla McBride, who helped Notre Dame to 138 wins during their four seasons.
- Since arriving at Notre Dame in 2011-12, Cable, Holloway and Wright have paced Notre Dame to two NCAA national championship games and three NCAA Women’s Final Fours (plus three conference regular-season titles and two league tournament crowns), as well as a 42-6 record against ranked teams (18-6 against AP Top 10).
- Of the seven losses suffered by the current Fighting Irish senior class, four were decided by 13 points or less.
- With 669 victories in her 28 seasons at Notre Dame, head coach Muffet McGraw ranks second on the Fighting Irish athletics all-time coaching wins list (across all sports), trailing only men’s/women’s fencing coach Michael DeCicco (774-80 from 1962-95).
- With 757 career wins, McGraw ranks 10th in NCAA Division I coaching history. She is one of two active ACC coaches in the top 10 along with North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell (second with 939 as of Nov. 28).
Other Notre Dame Notables
- Notre Dame is among the nation’s winningest programs during the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), tied for second with 173 victories.
- Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in average attendance annually since 2000-01 (including top-five rankings the past five years), most recently placing fourth in the nation last season with 8,694 fans per game. The Fighting Irish, who are averaging 8,597 fans through four games this season, have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 212 of their last 214 home games (including an active streak of 55 consecutive contests with 8,000 fans), logging 41 Purcell Pavilion sellouts, including 35 since the start of the 2009-10 campaign.
- The Fighting Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as 12 Notre Dame players have been selected in the past 14 seasons. Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa were the most recent Fighting Irish players to be chosen, with McBride going to the San Antonio Stars in the first round (third overall selection) and Achonwa six picks later (No. 9 overall) to the Indiana Fever in the 2014 WNBA Draft. It marked the third consecutive year Notre Dame had a player selected No. 3 overall (Devereaux Peters went third to Minnesota in 2012 and Skylar Diggins was chosen in that same spot by Tulsa in 2013), making the Fighting Irish the second program with lottery choices in three consecutive seasons.
- Diggins was a 2014 All-WNBA First Team selection and the league’s Most Improved Player, in addition to earning the starting nod for the West at the 2014 WNBA All-Star Game. Meanwhile, McBride was chosen for the 2014 WNBA All-Rookie Team, the second Fighting Irish alumna in as many years to be selected for the squad (Diggins was picked for 2013 all-rookie honors).
- Peters earned her first WNBA Championship in 2013 with the Lynx (and fifth by a Notre Dame alumna), who defeated the Atlanta Dream (and former Fighting Irish All-American Ruth Riley) in the WNBA Finals. Riley previously had won a pair of crowns with the Detroit Shock (2003 Finals MVP, 2006), while Coquese Washington toiled for the 2000 Houston Comets and Jacqueline Batteast was Riley’s teammate on the 2006 title-winning squad in Detroit.
- For the eighth year in a row, the Fighting Irish posted a perfect 100 Graduation Success Rate (GSR) score, according to figures released by the NCAA in October. Notre Dame was one of only four schools in the previous seven years to record a perfect GSR score and play for a national championship in the same season (and the only program to do it more than once, pulling off that feat in 2011, 2012 and 2014).
The Notre Dame-Kansas Series
Notre Dame and Kansas will be meeting for only the second time in their respective histories. The Fighting Irish won the only prior matchup between the two programs, 93-63 on March 31, 2013, in the NCAA Championship Sweet 16 (Norfolk Regional semifinals) at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Virginia.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Kansas Met
Skylar Diggins scored 22 of her 27 points by halftime and became Notre Dame’s career scoring leader, leading the top-seeded Fighting Irish to a 93-63 win over Kansas in the NCAA Norfolk Regional semifinals on March 31, 2013, at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.
Diggins added nine assists and three steals, scored nine straight during a 16-2 first-half run that put the Fighting Irish ahead to stay, and six more to cap a 10-2 run into halftime.
Carolyn Davis led the Jayhawks with 25 points on 11 of 17 shooting, but the second No. 12 seed ever to get this far in the women’s tournament since the seeding format began in 1994 didn’t stick around long.
Notre Dame led 40-27 at halftime and started the second half with a 22-9 run.
Kansas point guard Angel Goodrich’s head-to-head duel with Diggins never materialized. When Goodrich, like Diggins a senior, finally scored with 5:48 left in the first half, Diggins already had 16 points and her team was about to make another run before halftime.
It came in the final 4:30 of the half, a 10-2 burst capped by two three-pointers by Diggins.
Monica Engelman added 10 points for Kansas, but on just four of 16 shooting.
Notre Dame trailed 15-11 when Loyd made a three-pointer with 14:37 to go and then Diggins took over. She hit a 16-footer, a 17-footer, a three-pointer and then had a steal and layup, making it 23-15. After Davis’ stickback for the Jayhawks, Ariel Braker scored inside and Diggins did, too, posting up Goodrich.
The 16-2 run gave the Fighting Irish a 27-17 lead, and the spread stayed about the same until late in the half when Diggins hit a three-pointer, then followed a turnover with another three from the right side.
Other Notre Dame-Kansas Series Tidbits
- Although Sunday will mark the first time Notre Dame has played at Mohegan Sun Arena, the Fighting Irish women’s basketball program has some recent familiarity with the facility. Current Notre Dame operations specialist Natalie Achonwa (and fellow Class of 2014 graduate) Kayla McBride both were selected in the first round of the 2014 WNBA Draft that was held at Mohegan Sun Arena on April 14, 2014–McBride was chosen No. 3 overall by the San Antonio Stars (en route to earning WNBA All-Rookie Team honors), while Achonwa went No. 9 overall to the Indiana Fever (she sat out the 2014 WNBA season while rehabilitating from knee surgery following an injury suffered in the Fighting Irish win over Baylor in last year’s NCAA Elite Eight at Purcell Pavilion).
- Notre Dame sophomore forward Taya Reimer was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas, and her mother, Brenda, is a University of Kansas graduate. Reimer also points to the Jayhawk men’s basketball program as one of her favorites, aside from Notre Dame.
- Sunday’s two head coaches are no strangers, as Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw and Kansas’ Bonnie Henrickson also coached against one another six times previously, all while Henrickson was at Virginia Tech and the Hokies played alongside the Fighting Irish in the BIG EAST Conference (2000-04). McGraw was 5-1 in these head-to-head matchups with Henrickson, the last being a 53-40 Notre Dame victory on Jan. 10, 2004, at Purcell Pavilion.
- The Fighting Irish have had two players from the state of Kansas suit up during the program’s history. Topeka native and sharpshooting guard Jeneka Joyce (’05) was a valuable reserve on Notre Dame’s 2001 NCAA national championship team, while walk-on guard and Salina resident Anne Weese (’05) (first name pronounced Annie) transferred to the University in 2002 after two years at Seward County Community College and earned a monogram as a senior in 2003-04 after helping the Fighting Irish reach the NCAA Sweet 16 (East Regional semifinals).
- While this will be just the second meeting between the schools in women’s basketball, Notre Dame and Kansas have played 12 times in men’s basketball, with the Fighting Irish holding a 9-3 advantage in the series. The programs last played on Jan. 20, 1988, at Purcell Pavilion, with Digger Phelps’ Notre Dame squad edging Larry Brown’s Jayhawks, 80-76.
Notre Dame vs. The Big 12 Conference
Notre Dame is 31-12 (.721) all-time against current Big 12 Conference members, including a 17-10 (.630) record away from home (road/neutral sites combined). The vast majority of those results have come against West Virginia, which the Fighting Irish played annually when the Mountaineers were members of the BIG EAST Conference from 1996-2012.
Aside from its annual matchups with West Virginia prior to 2012-13, Notre Dame will be playing a current Big 12 opponent for the 18th time since that conference was founded in 1996-97. However, in an odd coincidence, 14 of the previous 17 games were played in a tournament format, including 11 in NCAA Championship play (8-3 record; games in boldface):
- 1997 NCAA East Region second round at Texas (W, 86-83)
- 1998 NCAA Midwest Region second round at Texas Tech (W, 74-59)
- 2000 NCAA Mideast Regional semifinal vs. Texas Tech at Memphis (L, 69-65)
- 2003 NCAA East Region second round at Kansas State (W, 59-53)
- 2008 NCAA Oklahoma City Region second round vs. Oklahoma at West Lafayette, Ind. (W, 79-75, ot)
- 2009 Paradise Jam Island Division championship vs. Oklahoma at St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. (W, 81-71)
- 2010 NCAA Kansas City Regional semifinal vs. Oklahoma at Kansas City, Mo. (L, 77-72, ot)
- 2011 NCAA Dayton Regional semifinal vs. Oklahoma at Dayton, Ohio (W, 78-53)
- 2011 Preseason WNIT championship at Baylor (L, 94-81)
- 2012 NCAA national championship game vs. Baylor at Denver, Colo. (L, 80-61)
- 2012 World Vision Classic second round vs. Kansas State at Las Vegas, Nev. (W, 87-57)
- 2013 NCAA Norfolk Regional semifinal vs. Kansas at Norfolk, Va. (W, 93-63)
- 2014 NCAA Notre Dame Regional semifinal vs. Oklahoma State at Notre Dame, Ind. (W, 89-72)
- 2014 NCAA Notre Dame Regional final vs. Baylor at Notre Dame, Ind. (W, 88-69)
Notre Dame has felt right at home in tournament situations during the past 19 years. Starting with the 1996-97 season, the Fighting Irish have won 37 of their last 41 regular-season tournament games (multi-game events only), including runs to the title in five tournaments since 2009-10 — 2009 Paradise Jam (Island Division), 2010 WBCA Classic, 2010 State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic, 2011 Junkanoo Jam (Freeport Division) and 2012 World Vision Classic.
The only Notre Dame losses during this current stretch were three defeats to teams ranked in the top three nationally during the Preseason WNIT semifinals (72-59 vs. No. 3/2 Tennessee at Ruston, La., in 1996; 75-59 at No. 3 Maryland in 2007) or championship (94-81 at No. 1 Baylor in 2011), 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 is playing its only regular-season tournament of the 2014-15 campaign, and its first since winning the 2012 World Vision Classic in Las Vegas with three victories in three days against Alabama A&M (100-39), Kansas State (87-57) and No. 22 Texas A&M (83-74).
This year’s Hall of Fame Challenge is being played in a “Classic” format, with pre-determined matchups and no champion crowned.
November To Remember
Notre Dame’s success during the past 20 seasons has been aided by its ability to get off to a good start. The Fighting Irish are 87-14 (.861) in November games since 1995-96 (when they joined the BIG EAST Conference).
Notre Dame has won 24 of its last 25 games in the month of November, the lone exception being a 94-81 loss at No. 1 Baylor on Nov. 20, 2011, in the Preseason WNIT championship game.
The Comforts Of Home
Notre Dame has won 33 consecutive home games since a 73-61 loss to third-ranked Baylor on Dec. 5, 2012, at Purcell Pavilion.
As of Friday, the Fighting Irish own the nation’s longest active home winning streak (once Chattanooga’s 40-game run ended Nov. 16 with a loss to South Florida), with Notre Dame’s current run also the second-longest in school history (longest since a school-record 51-game stretch from Dec. 12, 1998-Feb. 19, 2002).
In addition, Notre Dame has won its last 18 conference home games since a 65-63 loss to West Virginia on Feb. 12, 2012, when both the Fighting Irish and Mountaineers were members of the BIG EAST Conference.
Notre Dame has won a school-record 27 consecutive road games (36 in a row in the regular season, and 43 of its last 48 overall). The Fighting Irish last tasted defeat on the road on March 6, 2012, falling at No. 4 Connecticut, 63-54 in the BIG EAST Conference Championship final at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
The last time the Fighting Irish lost a regular season road game was Nov. 20, 2011, a 94-81 setback at No. 1 Baylor in the Preseason WNIT championship game.
Notre Dame’s current 27-game road winning streak is the longest active run in the nation, more than tripling the next-closest pursuers (seven by Bowling Green and Tennessee, as of Friday), as well as tying the third-longest road winning streak in NCAA Division I history.
The highlight of this current run came on Jan. 5, 2013, when Notre Dame edged No. 1 Connecticut, 73-72, in Storrs, Connecticut, earning its fourth all-time win over a top-ranked opponent and first-ever victory on the road.
The Fighting Irish also have won a school-record 24 consecutive conference road games, with their last loss coming as part of the BIG EAST Conference on Feb. 28, 2011 (a last-second 70-69 loss at No. 12/11 DePaul).
More Streak Stats
Dating back to the start of the 2012-13 season, Notre Dame is 78-3 (.963) and has won 58 consecutive regular season games. In that span, the only Fighting Irish losses have come against a pair of top-three teams — No. 3 Baylor (73-61 on Dec. 5, 2012, at Purcell Pavilion), No. 3 Connecticut (83-65 on April 7, 2013, in the NCAA Women’s Final Four national semifinals at New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana) and No. 1 Connecticut (79-58 on April, 8, 2014, in the NCAA Women’s Final Four national championship game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee).
As of Friday, Notre Dame also owned the nation’s longest winning streak against unranked opponents (in the Associated Press poll), having earned 56 consecutive victories since a last-second 65-63 home loss to West Virginia on Feb. 12, 2012 (research for this note provided by STATS via the AP).
Visiting Century City
Notre Dame has scored at least 100 points three times in its first six games this season (and posted 97 points in another), already challenging last year’s school-record mark of five triple-digit outings, erasing the 2012-13 standard of three such contests.
The Fighting Irish have piled up 11 100-point games since the start of the 2011-12 season (and nine other games of 95-99 points), a remarkable offensive explosion considering Notre Dame had 13 triple-digit games in the first 34 years of the program’s existence–and just four in the 12 seasons prior to its current run.
This season marks the first time the Fighting Irish have opened with three 100-point games in their first six contests. In fact, prior to 2012-13, Notre Dame had never had more than two triple-digit outings in an entire season, something it has now done for a third consecutive campaign.
Don’t Hassle The Huff(man)
Perhaps no Notre Dame player has shown greater development early this season than junior guard Hannah Huffman. The Diablo, California, native is averaging 6.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game with a .593 field goal percentage, all far surpassing her career averages entering this season (1.4 ppg., 1.6 rpg., 0.4 spg., .435 FG%). In fact, Huffman, who had played in 57 career games during her first two seasons, already has topped her total point production from last year (38 vs. 34 in 2013-14).
Huffman also has set career highs in virtually every single-game category, including her first career double-figure scoring game (12 points vs. Harvard on Monday). She added a career-high seven rebounds against Holy Cross on Nov. 23, and had a personal-best three steals twice (at No. 15/17 Michigan State on Nov. 19 and against Harvard five days later).
New Kids On The Block
Through six games, all three members of the Notre Dame freshman class have made their presence felt, a clear indication that the future is indeed bright for the Fighting Irish.
Forward Brianna Turner has earned the first two ACC Freshman of the Week awards after averaging 16.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game (both second-best on the squad) with a team-high .678 field goal percentage to date. She has scored in double figures five times, including a pair of 20-point games, highlighted by her 29 points in the season opener against UMass Lowell on Nov. 14 at Purcell Pavilion. It was not only the most points ever scored by a Notre Dame freshman in her debut game, but also the second-most by a Fighting Irish player in a season opener, topped only by Katryna Gaither’s 31 points at Indiana on Nov. 24, 1995.
Forward Kathryn Westbeld has chimed in with 7.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, the latter figure good for third on the team. Westbeld is coming off her first career double-double on Tuesday against Quinnipiac at Purcell Pavilion, collecting 10 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Westbeld also dropped in a career-best 15 points on Nov. 23 in a victory over Holy Cross also at Purcell Pavilion.
Guard Mychal Johnson joins Westbeld as the top two Fighting Irish scorers off the bench, averaging 7.0 points and 2.7 assists per night. Johnson has shown diversity in her game thus far, providing solid scoring punch (career-high 17 points with five of six three-pointers on Nov. 21 against Chattanooga), playmaking ability (career-best seven assists and no turnovers against Quinnipiac) and defensive intensity (career-high four steals, also against Quinnipiac).
Turner Repeats As ACC Freshman Of Week
For the second consecutive week, Turner was selected as Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Week, collecting that honor Monday following a vote of the conference’s Blue Ribbon Panel, which is comprised of the ACC’s 15 head coaches, local and national media members and the women’s basketball media relations directors for each school.
Turner is the fifth Notre Dame women’s basketball player chosen as conference freshman of the week in back-to-back weeks and the first since Kellie Watson earned the BIG EAST Conference Freshman of the Week award on Dec. 1 and 8, 2008. The only other Fighting Irish players to garner consecutive league freshman of the week citations also claimed their honors during the program’s BIG EAST era, and all three did so in three consecutive weeks–Jacqueline Batteast (Dec. 3-17, 2001), Alicia Ratay (Feb. 7-21, 2000) and Ruth Riley (Jan. 12-26, 1998).
Before Turner’s current back-to-back awards, current junior All-America guard Jewell Loyd was Notre Dame’s most recent conference freshman of the week honoree, receiving the last of her four BIG EAST Freshman of the Week citations on Feb. 25, 2013.
Turner averaged 16.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game with a sharp .633 field goal percentage in three Fighting Irish wins last week. The 6-foot-3 post began the week by bouncing back from first-half foul trouble at No. 15/17 Michigan State to score 17 points–all in the second half, including the first 10 points of the period–and add a career-high four blocks in Notre Dame’s 71-63 victory.
Turner then capped her week by making 14 of her final 20 shots. She scored 12 points (on six of seven shooting) and grabbed five rebounds in an 88-53 win over Chattanooga on Nov. 21 at Purcell Pavilion. Two days later, she scored a game-high 19 points (on eight of 13 shooting), collected seven rebounds and snared a career-high three steals in just 17 minutes during Notre Dame’s 104-29 win over Holy Cross, also at Purcell Pavilion.
The Model Of Consistency
Junior guard Jewell Loyd has scored in double figures in 49 consecutive games, dating back to March 11, 2013, when she had eight points in Notre Dame’s 83-59 BIG EAST Championship semifinal win over No. 16/15 Louisville at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.
Loyd’s 49-game double-digit scoring streak is the second-longest in school history, surpassing Natalie Novosel’s 27-game run from March 8, 2011-Jan. 21, 2012. In fact, Loyd has scored in double figures in 67 of her 79 career games (and 10 of those 12 single-digit games saw her within one basket of double figures).
Katryna Gaither has staked a seemingly ironclad claim to the school record with a remarkable 76-game double-figure scoring streak from 1994-97.
Loyd scored 23 points and Turner finished with 20, leading the Fighting Irish to a 112-52 victory over Quinnipiac on Tuesday night in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge at Purcell Pavilion.
Loyd went eight of 12 from the field and seven of seven at the free-throw line. Turner made eight of nine shots and went four of five at the line.
Loyd and Turner combined for 14 points on two of 16 shooting in Monday night’s win over Harvard.
The Fighting Irish (6-0) had a 15-0 lead before Maria Napolitano hit a three-pointer for Quinnipiac’s first basket 3:43 into the game.
The Bobcats (3-2) had no answer for Turner, who repeatedly turned lob passes in the low post into easy baskets or trips to the foul line.
Notre Dame led 57-30 at the break and opened the second half with a 25-13 surge over the first 10 minutes.
Samantha Guastella led Quinnipiac with 17 points.
Beyond The Box Score: Quinnipiac
- Notre Dame’s 112 points were the fifth-most points scored in a single game in program history (third-most in a home game) and most since Dec. 31, 2012, when the Fighting Irish defeated Saint Francis (Pa.), 128-55, at Purcell Pavilion.
- The Fighting Irish made 32 free-throws, tying for seventh-most in a single game in school history (tying for fifth-most in a home game) and most since Jan. 15, 2013, when Notre Dame went 35 for 38 from the line against Georgetown at Purcell Pavilion.
- Notre Dame’s 40 free-throw attempts tied for 10th-most for a single game in program history and most since Dec. 30, 2011, when the Fighting Irish tried a school-record 52 foul shots (making 43) at Mercer.
- Notre Dame is 48-3 (.941) against first-time opponents since 2000-01, including an active 24-game winning streak.
- The Fighting Irish also have won 37 in a row at home against new foes since 1995-96.
- Notre Dame improves to 6-0 all-time against the current Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference alignment.
- Turner notched her second career 20-point game after scoring 29 points in her college debut on Nov. 14 against UMass Lowell at Purcell Pavilion.
- Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw raised her 33-year coaching record to 757-259 (.745), tying for 12th place on the NCAA all-division career wins list with Phil Kahler, who coached at NCAA Division III St. John Fisher College from 1974-2008.
Notre Dame is ranked No. 2 in this week’s Associated Press preseason poll, its 69th consecutive week in the top 10 of the media balloting (65 of those in the top five), dating back to the middle of the 2010-11 season and marking 139 consecutive weeks in the AP poll.
The Fighting Irish also picked up 12 first-place votes in this week’s AP poll, the most ballots for the top spot since March 4, 2001, when Notre Dame garnered 33 (of a possible 40) first-place votes prior to the BIG EAST Championship.
The Fighting Irish reached a milestone on Nov. 26, 2012, with their 100th consecutive AP poll appearance. It extended the program record that started with the AP preseason poll in 2007-08 (the old record was 59 consecutive weeks from 1998-2001), and it made the Fighting Irish are one of six teams in the nation with an active streak of 100 consecutive AP poll appearances.
What’s more, every current Notre Dame player has competed for a top-10 Fighting Irish squad throughout her career (62 consecutive weeks for the current senior class), spending the vast majority (58) of those appearances in the AP Top 5 (and never lower than seventh).
Notre Dame was No. 3 in the preseason AP poll, representing the 15th time in 16 years (starting with the 1999-2000 campaign) that Notre Dame has appeared in the preseason AP poll, something only five schools in the nation have done — Connecticut, Duke and Tennessee have shown up in all 16 during that span, while Stanford joins the Fighting Irish with 15 preseason AP poll berths.
Notre Dame has been ranked in the AP poll for 278 weeks during the program’s 38-year history, with every one of those appearances coming in the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88). McGraw is eighth among all active NCAA Division I head coaches for weeks in the AP poll, and 16th all-time in that category.
The Fighting Irish are No. 1 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today coaches’ poll, collecting 14 first-place votes to stand atop the rankings for the first time since April 1, 2001, following the program’s first NCAA national championship. They also are the first Atlantic Coast Conference team to be ranked No. 1 in either major national poll since March 12, 2007, when Duke was in that position prior to the NCAA Championship.
Notre Dame has been ranked in the coaches’ poll for 141 of the past 142 weeks (and 105 in a row), 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 273 weeks during their history (all coming during McGraw’s tenure).
This marks the seventh consecutive season Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 10 of the WBCA/USA Today poll, as well as 13 of the past 17 campaigns (1998-99 to present).
More Polling Data
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is one of 32 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 278 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 to No. 3 in the nation.
Of the 32 people on this list, 17 currently are NCAA Division I head coaches (see accompanying chart), with McGraw and Baylor’s Kim Mulkey the only active skippers to play for and coach a team in the AP poll, and coach that team to a national title (McGraw in 2001, Mulkey in 2005 and 2012).
Half And Half
During the past 15 seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Fighting Irish are 317-19 (.943) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 245 of their last 258 such contests (.950).
What’s more, in the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 154-2 (.987) when leading at the half, with the only losses coming on April 5, 2011, in the NCAA national championship game at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis (Notre Dame led Texas A&M, 35-33 at intermission before falling 76-70), and Feb. 12, 2012, against West Virginia (Fighting Irish led 33-30 at the break before the visiting Mountaineers rallied to win in the closing seconds, 65-63).
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense…
During the past 20 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, the Fighting Irish have an amazing 297-15 (.952) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game.
…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 20 seasons (since 1995-96), the Fighting Irish are 219-6 (.973) 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, an 81-80 loss to DePaul in 2008, and a 94-81 setback at Baylor in 2011.
In the past six years (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 96-2 (.980) when topping the 80-point mark, including an active 63-game winning streak since a 94-81 loss at No. 1 Baylor on Nov. 20, 2011, in the Preseason WNIT title game.
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 256 of their last 285 games (.898) at the 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion, including winning streaks of 51, 33, 25 and 20 games in that span (most recently the program’s current 33-game run).
Since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season, Notre Dame is 83-5 (.943) — including wins in 59 of its last 61 home games — and three of the five Fighting Irish losses in their refurbished facility have come by three points or fewer (two in overtime).
Notre Dame also has a 204-30 (.872) record in regular season conference play at the former Joyce Center, sporting a program-record 31-game league winning streak at home before it ended with a 48-45 loss to BIG EAST foe Villanova in the ’02 home finale.
The Fighting Irish have been especially strong when it comes to non-league home games, winning 122 of their last 131 out-of-conference contests (.931) at Purcell Pavilion, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Five of the nine losses in that span came at the hands of Big Ten 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), UCLA in 2010 (86-83 in 2OT) and Baylor in 2012 (73-61). The Purdue loss snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak that 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 406-90 (.819) record at the venerable facility, including a school-record 17 wins in both 2011-12 and 2013-14.
Fighting Irish Are Hottest Ticket In Town
The past five seasons have seen 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 in 2009-10 and 2013-14), highest average attendance (8,979 fans per game in 2012-13) and most sellouts in a single season (11 in 2012-13). And, as the old saying goes — “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
For the sixth consecutive year, Notre Dame fans all but exhausted the program’s season ticket packages (approximately 7,500) and have snapped up single-game ducats at a rate that helped the Fighting Irish already sell out the Dec. 6 game with Connecticut, while several other home games are rapidly approaching sellout status.
In fact, while some additional tickets may be available on the day or week of the game for individual contests this season (depending on returned inventory by visiting teams and other constituencies), it’s entirely possible that, for the fourth consecutive season, Notre Dame will flirt with a sell out for every one of its home games.
One Of Nation’s Toughest Cities To Play In
According to a study released by the University of Utah Athletic Media Relations Office, Notre Dame and Purcell Pavilion are among the toughest places in the nation to play. In fact, Notre Dame is one of just 11 programs in the nation to own a winning percentage of .800 or better in its home city.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Senior guard Whitney Holloway, senior forward Markisha Wright and junior guard Michaela Mabrey are serving as Notre Dame’s team captains for the 2014-15 season. All three players received the captain’s honor for the first time in their respective careers following a preseason vote by their teammates.
This is the seventh time in 11 seasons the Fighting Irish have had a trio of captains, as well as the second year in a row (Natalie Achonwa, Ariel Braker and Kayla McBride filled the captaincy trio last season).
Irish Fans Crave Another Big Mac Attack
Now in its eighth season, Notre Dame’s wildly-successful “Big Mac” promotion once again looks to send fans home with full bellies, offering a coupon for a free Big Mac from South Bend-area McDonald’s restaurants if the Fighting Irish score at least 88 points in an regular season or exhibition home game.
In the eight-year history of the promotion, Notre Dame has hit the 88-point mark 58 times, most recently in Tuesday’s win over Quinnipiac.
Senior forward Markisha Wright leads all current Fighting Irish players with seven “Big Mac Baskets” apiece during her career.
And for those tracking such things (or perhaps falling under the heading of “the media relations director has way too much time on his hands”), 27 different players have converted the “burger ball”, including nine current members of the Fighting Irish roster.
What’s more, of the 58 Big Mac games, 27 have been reached on two-point baskets, 18 on free throws, and 13 on three-pointers.
Next Game: Maryland (ACC/Big Ten Challenge)
Notre Dame will make its second appearance in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at 7 p.m. (ET) Wednesday (Dec. 3) when the Fighting Irish take on a familiar foe in former ACC rival, new Big Ten member and No. 10/8-ranked Maryland at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in what will be the first off-site home game in the 38-year histry of the Notre Dame women’s basketball program.
Wednesday’s game will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director