March 17, 2016
by Chris Masters
2015-16 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 33
NCAA Championship – Lexington Region/First Round
#2/3 [#1 seed] Notre Dame Fighting Irish (31-1 / 16-0 ACC) vs. [#16 seed] North Carolina A&T Aggies (19-11 / 12-4 MEAC)
DATE: March 19, 2016
TIME: 6:30 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: First meeting
TV: ESPN2/ESPN3/WatchESPN (live) (Dave Pasch, p-b-p / Debbie Antonelli, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (watchnd.tv) (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p / Ruth Riley, color)
TEXT ALERT: UND.com
TWITTER: @NDsidMasters / @ndwbb
IRISH TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: UND.com
- Notre Dame is a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Championship for the fifth consecutive season and the fifth time in program history.
- The Fighting Irish have won their NCAA Championship first-round game in 18 of the past 20 seasons.
No. 2/3 Fighting Irish Host North Carolina A&T In NCAA Opener Saturday
Fresh off a third consecutive sweep of the ACC regular-season and tournament titles, No. 2/3 Notre Dame turns its attention to an even higher goal, as the top-seeded Fighting Irish tip off NCAA Championship play at 6:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday with a first-round game against North Carolina A&T at Purcell Pavilion. The game will air live ESPN2, ESPN3 and WatchESPN, while radio coverage is available on South Bend’s Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) and the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND (watchnd.tv).
Notre Dame (31-1) claimed this year’s ACC Tournament crown with a wire-to-wire 68-57 victory over No. 17 Syracuse on March 6 in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Fighting Irish built a double-digit lead midway through the second period and maintained that margin en route to their 24th consecutive win this season.
Graduate student guard Madison Cable was named the tournament MVP after scoring 18 points on a career-high 6-of-9 three-pointers, while sophomore forward Brianna Turner also scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
- Notre Dame is No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll and is No. 3 in the latest WBCA/USA Today poll.
- North Carolina A&T is not ranked.
- Notre Dame swept the ACC regular-season and tournament titles for the third consecutive season, becoming the second conference school ever to pull off that feat and the first since Duke from 2002-04.
- The Fighting Irish earned their fifth consecutive outright conference regular-season championship (including their final two years in the BIG EAST), the longest string of consecutive conference crowns in program history (previous was three from 1989-91 in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference/Horizon League).
- Notre Dame is the third ACC school to win three consecutive outright regular-season championships, joining Virginia (1991-96) and Duke (2001-04).
- The Fighting Irish tied a school record with their fourth consecutive conference tournament title, beginning with the 2013 BIG EAST championship and continuing the past three years in the ACC. Previously, the Fighting Irish won four consecutive league tournament crowns from 1989-92 in the MCC/Horizon League.
- Notre Dame is the fourth ACC school to win three consecutive conference tournament crowns (first since North Carolina from 2006-08).
- The Fighting Irish are off to a 31-1 start or better for the third time in program history, all within the past four seasons (also 2012-13 and 2013-14).
- Notre Dame has registered its sixth consecutive 30-win season and the eighth in program history (all within the past 20 seasons).
- The Fighting Irish are 10-1 against ranked opponents this season, and also registered a win over UCLA on Nov. 28 in the Bahamas, two days before the Bruins entered the Associated Press poll (UCLA is 10th in the final AP poll and 12th in the latest WBCA/USA Today coaches’ poll).
- Despite losing two starters from the lineup that opened last April’s NCAA championship game in Tampa (and missing a third – sophomore forward Brianna Turner – with an injury for six games), Notre Dame has scarcely missed a beat this season, led in large measure by two first-time starters in graduate student guard Madison Cable (scoring up from 6.2 to 13.7 ppg.) and sophomore forward Kathryn Westbeld (6.7 to 8.0 ppg.), as well as the reliable production off the bench from freshman guards Arike Ogunbowale (11.7 ppg.) and Marina Mabrey (10.6 ppg.).
- The Fighting Irish feature a very balanced attack with four players currently posting double-figure scoring averages (and two others at 8.0 ppg. or better). Of those six, two are freshmen (Marina Mabrey and Ogunbowale), and two are sophomores (Turner and Westbeld).
- Notre Dame’s bench play has been sharp this season, with the Fighting Irish reserves averaging 29.4 points per game, compared to 14.5 ppg. for their opponent’s bench.
- Notre Dame ranks among the top 25 in six NCAA statistical categories (as of Thursday), including five top-10 rankings – three-point field-goal percentage (2nd – .406), field-goal percentage (3rd – .492), scoring margin (5th – +19.1 ppg.), assists (8th – 17.8 apg.) and scoring offense (10th – 79.2 ppg.). The Fighting Irish also rank 21st in assist/turnover ratio (1.21), while standing third in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.969).
- Including a No. 2 ranking in the final balloting (the fifth year in a row it has ended up second in the media voting), Notre Dame has appeared in the Associated Press poll for 174 consecutive weeks (the past 104 weeks in the AP Top 10), extending a program record that dates back to the 2007-08 preseason poll, and ranking fourth in the nation among active AP poll appearances.
- Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll for 116 of 127 weeks this decade (since 2010-11), ranking second in the nation in that category behind only Connecticut (127).
- Every current Fighting Irish player has competed for a top-10 Notre Dame squad during her career, with the vast majority of that time (72 of 78 weeks) spent in the top five of the Associated Press poll.
- Notre Dame is ranked No. 3 in the latest Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll, making its 141st consecutive appearance in that survey. It’s also the eighth consecutive season and 14 of the past 18 years the Fighting Irish have appeared in the top 10 of the coaches’ poll.
- Notre Dame has a remarkable tradition of success at home inside Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 433-91 (.826) all-time record in 39 seasons at the facility, including a 110-6 (.948) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season and an active 28-game home winning streak.
- Including regular season and postseason play, the Fighting Irish have won 97 of their last 101 games against conference opponents (and a school-record 34 in a row at home), dating back to their membership in the BIG EAST.
- Since joining the ACC prior to the 2013-14 season, Notre Dame is 57-1 against conference foes (47-1 regular season, 10-0 postseason). Notre Dame is just the second ACC school to lose only once in regular-season conference play during a three-year span (Duke also went 47-1 from 2002-04).
- Guards Madison Cable, Hannah Huffman and Michaela Mabrey have helped Notre Dame to a 139-7 (.952) record in their careers, putting them on pace to challenge last year’s senior class of Whitney Holloway and Markisha Wright as the most successful in Fighting Irish history. Holloway and Wright helped Notre Dame to a 143-10 (.935) record in their four-year careers, with those 143 wins tying for the second-most victories by any four-year class in NCAA Division I history (the Connecticut class of 2011 amassed 150 wins, while the Louisiana Tech class of 1982 also had 143 victories).
- Since they first suited up at Notre Dame in 2012-13, Cable, Huffman and Mabrey have paced Notre Dame to two NCAA national championship games and three NCAA Women’s Final Fours (plus four conference regular season titles and four league tournament crowns), as well as a 49-6 (.891) record against ranked teams (25-6 against top-10 opponents).
- With 730 victories in her 29 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 (799-90 from 1962-95).
- With 818 career wins, McGraw ranks 10th in NCAA Division I coaching history (seventh among active coaches). She also is one of two ACC coaches in the top 10, along with current North Carolina head coach Sylvia Hatchell (third all-time/second among active coaches with 975 wins).
The Notre Dame-North Carolina A&T Series
Notre Dame and North Carolina A&T will meet for the first time on Saturday night.
Other Notre Dame-North Carolina A&T Series Tidbits
- North Carolina A&T will be the 212nd different opponent in the 39-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball.
- North Carolina A&T is the third new opponent on this year’s Notre Dame schedule. The Fighting Irish defeated Bucknell in their season opener, 85-54 on Nov. 15 at Purcell Pavilion, and downed Denver, 94-52 on Nov. 27 in the first round of the Junkanoo Jam in Freeport, Bahamas.
- Notre Dame has won its last 26 games against first-time opponents, including the wins over Bucknell and Denver this year.
- During their current 26-game winning streak against new opposition, the Fighting Irish have won by an average score of 94-48.
- Notre Dame is 70-7 (.909) against first-time opponents since 1995-96, including a 50-3 (.943) mark vs. new teams this century (since the start of the 2000-01 season).
- The Fighting Irish have won 38 consecutive home games against first-time opponents, dating back to Jan. 18, 1996, when Connecticut posted an 87-64 win at Purcell Pavilion.
- In the past 15 years, the Fighting Irish are 12-0 against first-time opponents in the NCAA Championship. North Carolina A&T will be the first new NCAA postseason opponent Notre Dame has faced since March 29, 2014, when the Fighting Irish defeated Oklahoma State, 89-72 in a regional semifinal (Sweet 16) game at Purcell Pavilion.
- The Fighting Irish have never faced a team from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
- Notre Dame is 2-0 all-time against HBCU opponents, both members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) – in 2000-01, the Fighting Irish downed Alcorn State, 98-49 at Purcell Pavilion in the first round of the NCAA Championship, and in 2012-13, they defeated Alabama A&M, 100-39 in the first round of the World Vision Classic in Las Vegas (a win that featured 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including 3-of-4 three-pointers, from then-freshman guard and current graduate student Madison Cable).
- Notre Dame is 33-2 (.943) all-time against North Carolina schools, including an active 22-game winning streak.
- The Fighting Irish are 5-0 this season against teams from the Old North State, having defeated North Carolina (88-54) on Jan. 10 at Purcell Pavilion, winning at Duke (68-61) on Feb. 1, toppling North Carolina State (82-46) at home on Feb. 4, prevailing at Wake Forest (86-52) on Feb. 18, and most recently downing Duke (83-54) in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals on March 4 in Greensboro.
- The North Carolina A&T campus is located only four miles from the Greensboro Coliseum, where Notre Dame last played on March 6 (a 68-57 win over No. 17 Syracuse in the ACC Tournament championship game).
- In its 39-year history, Notre Dame has had just two North Carolina natives on its all-time roster – Raleigh product Mary Joan Forbes (1980-81) and Charlotte resident Erica Williamson (2006-10).
- Before taking over as head coach at North Carolina A&T in May 2012, Tarrell Robinson spent three seasons (2009-10 to 2011-12) as assistant coach, recruiting coordinator and associate head coach at VCU, serving under then-Rams head coach (and current Notre Dame associate coach/1997 graduate) Beth Cunningham.
- North Carolina A&T redshirt senior center Aprill McRae and redshirt senior guard Christina Carter both joined the Aggies’ roster in the summer of 2012, transferring from VCU, where they played as freshmen in 2011-12 for Cunningham and Robinson and helped the Rams reach the third round of the WNIT.
Irish In The NCAA Championship
- Notre Dame is beginning its 23rd appearance in the NCAA Championship (and 21st in a row) this weekend. The Fighting Irish have a .708 winning percentage (51-21) in NCAA Championship play, ranking seventh all-time in that category (minimum of 20 games played).
- Notre Dame’s current streak of 21 consecutive NCAA Championship appearances ranks fourth in the record books (and fifth-longest at any time in tournament history).
- Notre Dame is one of four schools in tournament history to make five appearances in the NCAA national championship game (along with Tennessee-13, Connecticut-9 and Louisiana Tech-6). The Fighting Irish are 1-4 all-time in the NCAA final, defeating Purdue (68-66) in 2001 in St. Louis, before falling to Texas A&M (76-70) in 2011 in Indianapolis, Baylor (80-61) in 2012 in Denver and Connecticut in both 2014 (79-58 in Nashville) and 2015 (63-53 in Tampa).
- Notre Dame is one of three schools ever to make four trips to the NCAA title game in a five-year span, along with Tennessee (1995-98) and Connecticut (2000, 2002-04).
- Notre Dame is one of five schools to advance to the NCAA Women’s Final Four seven times.
- Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw is the one of four Division I coaches to lead his/her team to five NCAA championship game appearances – the other three coaches to pull off this feat are members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts (Tennessee’s Pat Summitt, Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma and Louisiana Tech’s Leon Barmore).
- Notre Dame is the fourth school to reach the NCAA Women’s Final Four in five consecutive seasons (2011-15), joining Connecticut (2000-04 and 2008-present), LSU (2004-08) and Stanford (2008-12) in that elite club.
- Notre Dame is one of five schools to make seven trips to the NCAA Women’s Final Four and come away with at least one national championship, going to the semifinals in 1997 and 2013, the title game in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015, and winning it all in 2001.
- The Fighting Irish have a 6-5 (.545) record at the NCAA Women’s Final Four, the seventh-best winning percentage (minimum of three games played).
- Notre Dame is the only Atlantic Coast Conference school to reach the NCAA national championship game in consecutive seasons.
- Notre Dame is one of two schools in the country (along with Connecticut) to reach the NCAA Elite Eight the past five seasons.
- Notre Dame is one of five schools in the land to advance to the NCAA Sweet 16 13 times in the past 19 years (1997-2015), as well as each of the past six years.
- The Fighting Irish have won their NCAA tournament opener in 18 of the past 20 years (1996-2015).
- Each of Notre Dame’s 23 NCAA tournament appearances have come during McGraw’s 29-year tenure (1987-88 to present).
Sowing The Seeds
- For the fifth consecutive year (and sixth time in program history), Notre Dame has earned a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Championship.
- The Fighting Irish are 25-4 (.862) all-time as a top seed in the tournament, winning six in a row to claim the 2001 national championship, going 5-1 in 2012 on the way to an NCAA national runner-up finish, posting a 4-1 record en route to the Final Four in 2013, piling up a 5-1 record and finishing as the NCAA national runner-up the past two seasons.
- Notre Dame has been awarded a top-eight seed for the 17th time in its 23 NCAA Championship visits (and a top-four seed for the 10th time). The Fighting Irish are 36-5 (.878) all-time as the higher seed in NCAA tournament play.
It Hinges On Defense
- Notre Dame’s success in the NCAA Championship can be directly traced to its performance at the defensive end of the floor.
- In its first 22 NCAA tournament trips (72 games), the Fighting Irish are 25-2 (.926) when holding their opponent to 60 points or fewer, including a current 11-game winning streak since the 2010 tournament.
- Notre Dame’s two losses to teams scoring 60 points or fewer came at the hands of top-seeded clubs – Penn State (55-49) in the 2004 East Regional semifinals, and North Carolina (60-51) in the second round of the 2007 Dallas Region.
Stoking The Offensive Fires
- Notre Dame has reached the 80-point mark 22 times in NCAA Championship play, going 22-0 in those games.
- The Fighting Irish have scored at least 70 points in 28 of their last 34 NCAA tournament games, going 25-3 (.893) in those contests.
- The 2014 tournament marked the first time Notre Dame scored at least 80 points five times in a single NCAA Championship – the Fighting Irish had three 80-point games in 1997, 2001 and 2013.
- Notre Dame is 3-1 all-time when going to overtime in the NCAA tournament, most recently going to OT to win its 2012 Women’s Final Four national semifinal over Connecticut (83-75 in Denver).
- The Fighting Irish had previously split two overtime games with Oklahoma in the NCAA tournament (79-75 in a 2008 second-round game at West Lafayette, Indiana; 77-72 loss in 2010 regional semifinal in Kansas City), and also defeated Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State), 69-65, in extra time in their 2004 NCAA opener at Purcell Pavilion.
Don’t Mess With Tradition
The Notre Dame women’s basketball program has developed some traditions that should be quite evident during this weekend’s NCAA first- and second-round games at Purcell Pavilion.
- Green nails – each of the Fighting Irish players and coaches wear green nail polish throughout the NCAA Championship. This tradition started during the 1997 tourney, when the Fighting Irish (whose roster at the time included current associate coaches Beth (Morgan) Cunningham and Niele Ivey) added the green polish to their fingers prior to their second-round St. Patrick’s Day game at Texas, which Notre Dame won 86-83. The Fighting Irish ended up going to their first NCAA Women’s Final Four that season and the green nail polish was here to stay. As a show of solidarity, the male members of the travel party usually paint one of their pinkies green as well.
- Green uniforms – though not limited exclusively to NCAA tournament play, Notre Dame’s distinctive kelly green road uniforms have become a staple of the postseason in keeping with the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, which often falls during the early rounds of the tournament. The Fighting Irish most recently wore the alternate green road threads in the NCAA Championship for their 2012 national championship game against Baylor (an 80-61 loss in Denver) – Notre Dame is 8-9 (.471) all-time in the NCAA tournament when featuring the “wearing o’ the green.” The Fighting Irish also have broken out their alternate home whites with green trim (either lime or kelly green or both) in recent seasons, posting a 17-2 (.895) record in those uniforms (the first time they have been worn in NCAA tournament play).
- Irish jig – this unique pre-game ritual has become one of the widely-recognized traditions of Notre Dame women’s basketball. Just prior to the introduction of the starting lineups, the Fighting Irish players will circle up in the lane with a basketball at their feet. As the Notre Dame pep band plays “Rakes of Mallow”, the team will perform the Irish Jig (a popular step with Notre Dame fans, especially the student body) with the ball bouncing around in the midst of their dance. This tradition is believed to have started during the 1999-2000 season, but picked up steam during Notre Dame’s 2000-01 national championship run and has been part of the Fighting Irish pre-game ritual ever since.
And Don’t Forget The Lime Green Shirts
The ever-present lime green t-shirts you might see many Notre Dame fans wearing around Purcell Pavilion this weekend are given out annually to Fighting Irish women’s basketball season ticket holders, a group affectionately known as the “Spirit Patrol”. Created by former coordinator of basketball operations Stephanie Menio (now the associate athletics director/senior woman administrator at Army West Point) the shirts are based on one of head coach Muffet McGraw’s favorite colors, which she sported on the sidelines during the 2001 national championship game win over Purdue.
- Thanks to a 78-67 win over No. 21 Miami in the ACC Tournament semifinals on March 5 in Greensboro, North Carolina, Notre Dame picked up its 30th victory of the season, the sixth consecutive year and eighth time in program history the Fighting Irish have reached the 30-win mark. Notre Dame also logged that milestone in 1996-97 (31-7), 2000-01 (34-2), 2010-11 (31-8), 2011-12 (35-4), 2012-13 (35-2), 2013-14 (37-1) and 2014-15 (36-3).
- Not only does this represent the first time the Fighting Irish have posted six consecutive 30-win seasons, but it also is the fifth year in a row they registered their 30th win prior to the start of the NCAA Championship.
- This season’s 31 victories are the second-most for Notre Dame heading into NCAA postseason play, topped only by the 32 wins in 2014, and matching the 31 victories prior to the 2013 and 2015 tournaments.
- Notre Dame is 10-1 against ranked opponents (3-1 against top-10 teams).
- In the past five seasons (2011-12 to present), the Fighting Irish are 64-9 (.877) against ranked opponents, with more than two-thirds of those Top 25 wins (44 of 64) by double digits.
- Notre Dame has been known for its ability to share the basketball like few teams in the sport, a trend that continues this year with the Fighting Irish recording assists on 61.0 percent of their made baskets (570 of 935).
- This should come as no surprise, for in the past six seasons (2009-10 through 2014-15), Notre Dame finished the campaign with assists on more than 60 percent of its baskets five times – and in the sixth (2014-15), the Fighting Irish had assists on 59.5 percent of their field goals.
Spreading The Wealth
- Notre Dame has had at least four players score in double figures in 20 games this year, going 19-1 in those contests.
- Since the start of the 2009-10 season, the Fighting Irish are 137-6 (.958) when they have four or more players reach double digits in the scoring column, including wins in 107 of their last 109 such outings.
- In the past seven seasons, Notre Dame’s only losses when it has fielded at least four double-figure scorers both came against Connecticut – 83-65 in the 2013 NCAA Women’s Final Four national semifinal at New Orleans Arena (now known as the Smoothie King Center), and 91-81 earlier this season on Dec. 5 in the Jimmy V Classic at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut.
- For the season, Notre Dame currently has four players registering double-figure scoring averages (and two others at better than 8.0 ppg.), three of whom are ranked among the top 30 in the Atlantic Coast Conference (as of Thursday) – sophomore forward Brianna Turner (11th – 14.3 ppg.), graduate student guard Madison Cable (18th – 13.7 ppg.) and freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale (25th – 11.7 ppg.; fifth among ACC rookies).
Three For The Money
- Notre Dame has heated up from the three-point line in a big way, canning a school-record 193 treys this season (6.03 per game).
- Notre Dame’s 193 three-pointers this year not only topped the previous program record of 190 set in 2013-14, but it marks the sixth time in seven years (all but 2010-11) the Fighting Irish have knocked down at least 160 treys in one season.
- At their current pace, the Fighting Irish also would top the single-season program record for three-pointers per game (5.74 in 1998-99). In fact, only once in the past 13 seasons has Notre Dame averaged five treys per game (2013-14, when it made exactly five per contest and 190 total).
- The Fighting Irish tied a school record with 13 three-pointers on Dec. 5 at top-ranked Connecticut. The 13 triples (which Notre Dame last registered on Jan. 2, 2002, at Miami) also matched two UConn opponent records for three-pointers in a single game (overall and Gampel Pavilion).
- That performance was the first of five times this year the Fighting Irish have made at least 10 three-pointers in a game, with four of those coming against ranked opponents (Dec. 9 vs. #18/17 DePaul; Dec. 30 vs. Georgia Tech; Jan. 21 vs. #RV/24 Syracuse and Feb. 22 at #12/9 Florida State).
- Notre Dame’s .650 three-point percentage (13-of-20) at UConn was the highest against the Huskies since March 26, 2007, when LSU made 7-of-10 three-pointers (.700) against UConn in the NCAA Fresno Regional final (Elite Eight) in Fresno, California.
- The Fighting Irish rank second in country in three-point percentage (as of Thursday), connecting at a .406 clip from beyond the arc, while graduate student guard Madison Cable (.476) currently leads the ACC and ranks as the nation’s No. 3 individual three-point shooter.
- This marks the second time in program history that Notre Dame has had two players make at least 60 three-pointers in the same season (Cable-69; Michaela Mabrey-60). In 1999-2000, Alicia Ratay (73) and current Fighting Irish associate coach/recruiting coordinator Niele Ivey (61) both topped that total from beyond the arc.
The Second Platoon
- Another reason for Notre Dame’s success this season has been the performance of its reserves, who are averaging nearly 30 points per game and have outscored the opponent’s bench by more than a 2-to-1 margin (29.4 ppg. to 14.5 ppg.).
- The Notre Dame reserves have combined to score at least 30 points in 15 games this year, including eight 40-point outings.
- The Fighting Irish second unit has outscored the opponent’s bench in 29 games this season (and tied in another), including a season-high 64 points on Nov. 23 at Valparaiso, outscoring the entire Crusader roster by 10 points (not to mention the Notre Dame starters by 18).
- The Fighting Irish reserves also outscored the full Virginia Tech roster on Jan. 24, edging the Hokies, 42-41 (and outscoring the Notre Dame starters by four).
- In addition to the Valparaiso and Virginia Tech games, the Fighting Irish bench came close to outscoring the entire opposing team on two other occasions – Nov. 18 vs. Toledo (UT 39, ND reserves 32) and Nov. 27 vs. Denver at the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas (DU 52, ND reserves 48).
- A pair of ACC All-Freshman Team guards – Arike Ogunbowale (11.7 ppg.) and Marina Mabrey (10.6 ppg.) head up the Fighting Irish bench contingent, which has seen at least one reserve score in double figures in 26 games this year (total of 42 double-figure outings).
- Since the start of the 2012-13 season, Notre Dame has posted a 139-7 (.952) record (136-2 against teams other than Connecticut).
- In that four-year span, six of the seven Fighting Irish losses have come against top-three teams, including the past five against Connecticut – 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 – now known as the Smoothie King Center – in New Orleans, Louisiana), 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), No. 3 Connecticut (76-58 on Dec. 6, 2014, in the Jimmy V Classic at Purcell Pavilion), No. 1 Connecticut (63-53 on April 7, 2015, in the NCAA Women’s Final Four national championship game at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida) and No. 1 Connecticut (91-81 on Dec. 5, 2015, in the Jimmy V Classic in Storrs, Connecticut).
- The other loss came on Jan. 8, 2015, with a 78-63 setback at Miami. That defeat ended Notre Dame’s 61-game winning streak against unranked opponents in the Associated Press poll, the second-longest active run in the nation (research for this note provided by STATS via the AP).
- Including postseason tournament results (league and NCAA), Notre Dame has won 97 of its last 101 games against conference opponents, dating back to the start of the 2011 BIG EAST Conference Tournament.
- Since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference prior to the 2013-14 season, the Fighting Irish are 57-1 against league opponents, going 47-1 in the regular season and 10-0 in the postseason (including a win over then-ACC member Maryland in the 2014 NCAA Women’s Final Four national semifinals).
- Notre Dame is just the second ACC program to go three seasons with only one combined regular-season loss. From 2002-04, Duke also posted a 47-1 record.
- Notre Dame’s only loss to an ACC opponent since joining the conference came on Jan. 8, 2015 – a 78-63 defeat at Miami that ended a school-record streak of 38 consecutive wins in regular season conference games that began in the program’s BIG EAST era.
- Since the loss at Miami, Notre Dame has won its last 35 games against ACC opponents (29 in the regular season, plus six more in the ACC Tournament), the second-longest active winning streak in the nation against conference opponents (Connecticut-78).
- The Fighting Irish have won a school-record 34 consecutive home games against conference opponents, a streak that began on Feb. 14, 2012, with a 66-47 win over Providence. The previous school record for consecutive home conference wins (31) was set from Dec. 12, 1998-Feb. 19, 2002 during the program’s BIG EAST membership.
That Championship Feeling
- With its 70-58 victory over Boston College on Feb. 27, Notre Dame secured its fifth consecutive outright conference regular-season title, and third in as many years as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
- Notre Dame has won five consecutive outright league regular season championships (2012-13 in BIG EAST; 2014-16 in ACC) for the first time in its 39-year history, after winning three in a row just once before.
- In their first three seasons (1988-89 to 1990-91) in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (Horizon League), the Fighting Irish won the regular season title each time, although they shared the MCC crown in their inaugural league season with Loyola-Chicago.
- Notre Dame is the third program to earn three consecutive outright ACC regular-season crowns and first since Duke won four in a row from 2001-04.
- Notre Dame is the second program from outside the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle to collect three consecutive outright ACC regular-season championships and the first since Virginia won six in a row from 1991-96.
A Clean (ACC) Sweep
- For the third consecutive season, Notre Dame completed a sweep of the ACC crowns by winning the ACC Tournament on March 6 with a 68-57 victory over No. 17 Syracuse in the title game in Greensboro, North Carolina.
- Graduate student guard Madison Cable was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, while junior guard/captain Lindsay Allen and sophomore forward Brianna Turner joined Cable on the All-ACC Tournament First Team. For Turner and Cable, it was the second conference all-tournament accolade of their careers (Turner was on the first team last year, Cable on the second team), while Allen was chosen for the award for the first time.
- The Fighting Irish won their fourth consecutive conference tournament title and ninth overall, adding the last three ACC crowns with the 2013 BIG EAST championship and five prior titles in the MCC/Horizon League (1989-92, 1994).
- The 1989-92 MCC run was the only other time Notre Dame won four consecutive conference postseason tournaments.
- Notre Dame is the second ACC school to sweep the conference’s regular-season and tournament titles in three consecutive seasons and the first since Duke in 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2003-04.
— ND —
Chris Masters, associate athletics communications director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2001 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s basketball and women’s golf programs. A native of San Francisco, California, Masters is a 1996 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, earned his master’s degree from Kansas State University in 1998, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).