Feb. 24, 2016
by Chris Masters
2015-16 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 28
#2/3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (26-1 / 14-0 ACC) vs. Clemson Tigers (4-23 / 0-14 ACC)
DATE: Feb. 25, 2016
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: ND leads 2-0
STREAK: ND – won 2
1ST MTG: ND 71-51 (1/5/14)
LAST MTG: ND 74-36 (1/24/15)
TV: WatchND (watchnd.tv) (live)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p / Ruth Riley, color )
TEXT ALERT: UND.com
TWITTER: @NDsidMasters / @ndwbb
- Notre Dame is seeking its 20th consecutive victory, which would mark the fifth consecutive season the Fighting Irish have put together a 20-game winning streak.
- With a victory Thursday, Notre Dame would clinch a share of the ACC regular-season title, as well as the No. 1 seed for the upcoming ACC Tournament.
No. 2/3 Fighting Irish Square Off With Clemson Thursday
It’s a quick turnaround for No. 2/3 Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish play the second of three games in a six-day span at 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday, welcoming Clemson to Purcell Pavilion. The game will be televised worldwide online, live and free of charge via the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND (watchnd.tv), while radio coverage will be available on South Bend’s Pulse FM (96.9/92.1).
The Fighting Irish (26-1, 14-0) remained atop the ACC standings and collected their eighth win in nine tries against a ranked opponent with a 73-66 victory at No. 12/9 Florida State on Monday night. Notre Dame built a 19-point lead and held off a second-half rally by the Seminoles to secure the important road win.
Sophomore forward Brianna Turner chalked up 15 points, while graduate student guard Madison Cable and freshman guard Marina Mabrey had 13 points and junior guard/captain Lindsay Allen added a career-high 11 assists.
- Notre Dame is No. 2 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 3 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Clemson is not ranked.
- Notre Dame is off to a 26-1 start or better for the third time in four years and fourth time in program history (also 2000-01, 2012-13 and 2013-14).
- The Fighting Irish have registered their seventh consecutive 25-win season and the 13th in program history (all within the past 20 seasons).
- Notre Dame has secured a top-four finish in the ACC and a double-bye for the upcoming ACC Tournament. The Fighting Irish will place in the top four of the final conference standings for the 26th time in head coach Muffet McGraw’s 29 seasons at Notre Dame (covering four different leagues).
- The Fighting Irish are 8-1 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 14th in this week’s AP poll and 15th in this week’s 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 13.5 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 (11.9 ppg.) and Marina Mabrey (11.4 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 30.7 points per game, compared to 14.6 ppg. for their opponent’s bench.
- Notre Dame ranks among the top 25 in six NCAA statistical categories (as of Tuesday), including five top-10 rankings – field-goal percentage (3rd – .493), three-point field-goal percentage (3rd – .411), scoring margin (4th – +19.6 ppg.), assists (8th – 18.1 apg.) and scoring offense (9th – 80.2 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 (.963).
- Including this week’s No. 2 ranking, Notre Dame has appeared in the Associated Press poll for 171 consecutive weeks (the past 101 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 113 of 124 weeks this decade (since 2010-11), ranking second in the nation in that category behind only Connecticut (124).
- Every current Fighting Irish player has competed for a top-10 Notre Dame squad during her career, with the vast majority of that time (69 of 75 weeks) spent in the top five of the Associated Press poll.
- Notre Dame is ranked No. 3 in this week’s Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll, making its 138th 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 431-91 (.826) all-time record in 39 seasons at the facility, including a 108-6 (.947) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
- Including regular season and postseason play, the Fighting Irish have won 92 of their last 96 games against conference opponents (and a school-record 32 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 52-1 against conference foes (45-1 regular season, 7-0 postseason). The last ACC school to lose only once in regular-season conference play during a two-year span was Duke in 2003 and 2004.
- Guards Madison Cable, Hannah Huffman and Michaela Mabrey have helped Notre Dame to a 134-7 (.950) 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 three conference regular season titles and three league tournament crowns), as well as a 47-6 (.887) record against ranked teams (25-6 against top-10 opponents).
- With 725 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 (774-80 from 1962-95).
- With 813 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 all-time, along with current North Carolina head coach Sylvia Hatchell (second all-time/first among active with 975 as of Thursday).
The Notre Dame-Clemson Series
Notre Dame and Clemson will be meeting for just the third time in their series history, which didn’t begin until the Fighting Irish joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013-14. Notre Dame has won both prior matchups with the Tigers, logging one victory each at home and on the road.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Clemson Met
After allowing Georgia Tech to shoot 50 percent two nights ago, Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw told her team its defense must get better.
The No. 6/5 Fighting Irish responded with a 74-36 win over Clemson on Jan. 24, 2015, at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, South Carolina, holding the Tigers to the lowest number of points Notre Dame has allowed in an ACC game since joining the league.
The Fighting Irish also pulled down 46 rebounds, 20 more than Clemson. They had 20 offensive rebounds, while the Tigers had just 26 rebounds total.
Notre Dame was playing its fourth game in 10 days and it briefly looked like that might have caught up with the Fighting Irish, turning the ball over on their first two possessions and falling behind 5-2 just over two minutes into the game. But the Fighting Irish went on a 40-6 run over the next 14 minutes to take command.
Meanwhile, Clemson was held under 40 points in an ACC game for the first time in 49 games, dating back to a 68-36 loss to Virginia in February 2012.
Notre Dame simply pounded Clemson into submission early. The Fighting Irish had 24 shots inside in paint in the first half, making 14 of them. On the other end of the floor, the Tigers couldn’t solve Notre Dame’s zone. They had four shots in the paint in the opening half, making two.
The Fighting Irish shot 45.6 percent (26 of 57), while Clemson shot just 28.6 percent (14 of 49).
Jewell Loyd was the game’s leading scorer with 17 points, less than her ACC-leading average of nearly 22 points a game, but she played just 24 minutes (seven in the second half).
Brianna Turner added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Fighting Irish.
Nikki Dixon had 15 for Clemson, attempting 17 of the team’s 49 shots, but making only six.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Clemson Met at Purcell Pavilion
When the shots weren’t falling in the first half, Jewell Loyd and No. 2 Notre Dame picked it up on the defensive end.
Up by just four points at halftime on Clemson, the Fighting Irish used a 17-4 run out of the break to take control in their ACC debut, a 71-51 win over the visiting Tigers on Jan. 5, 2014, at Purcell Pavilion.
Clemson hit just one of its first eight shots in the second half, and Loyd had a three-point play and a three-pointer during the decisive Fighting Irish run.
After shooting just 28 percent in the first half, Notre Dame shot it at a 63-percent clip in the second half, led by Loyd, who scored 12 of her game-high 16 points after the break.
Kelly Gramlich led Clemson with 13 points, making three of her five three-point attempts.
Nikki Dixon averaged 19.7 points in Clemson’s three games prior to the Notre Dame contest, but she picked up her fourth foul against the Fighting Irish on a Loyd offensive putback early in the second half and sat for nearly eight minutes. Dixon then fouled out with 5:36 to play and finished with just five points.
That fifth foul led to a McBride three-point play that pushed Notre Dame’s lead to 16 points as the hosts continued to pull away.
Other Notre Dame-Clemson Series Tidbits
- Three of New Jersey’s top young basketball standouts in recent years will be in uniform on Thursday night at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame senior guard Michaela Mabrey was the state’s Gatorade High School Player of the Year and a McDonald’s All-American in 2012, with younger sister and current Fighting Irish freshman guard Marina Mabrey claiming those same honors in 2015, with both sisters graduating from Manasquan High School. Meanwhile, Clemson sophomore guard Victoria Cardaci was a four-year starter and two-time first-team all-division pick while playing at Holmdel High School from 2010-14.
- Notre Dame director of basketball operations Katie (Wulf) Capps played for a coaching staff that included Clemson associate head coach Daryl Oliver during her senior season at Western Kentucky University in 2001-02. The Lady Toppers posted a 16-14 record that season and earned a berth in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).
- The last time Clemson visited Purcell Pavilion, the Tigers were led in scoring by Kelly Gramlich, who now serves as a graduate assistant in the school’s athletic communications office, aiding in publicity efforts for the women’s basketball program in addition to serving as a color analyst on the school’s women’s basketball radio broadcasts.
- Notre Dame has played a team from South Carolina only six times in program history, posting a 4-2 record against the Palmetto State. In addition to their 2-0 record against Clemson, the Fighting Irish are 2-2 all-time against South Carolina, following last year’s 66-65 victory over the Gamecocks in the NCAA Women’s Final Four national semifinals at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.
- The state of South Carolina played host to one of the first marquee moments in Notre Dame women’s basketball history, as the Fighting Irish advanced to the first of their six NCAA Women’s Final Fours in 1997 by defeating No. 8/7 Alabama (87-71) and No. 22/16 George Washington (62-52) in the NCAA East Regional at the Carolina Coliseum in Columbia.
- Notre Dame has never had a South Carolina native on its roster, one of only 13 states in the Union that have yet to produce a Fighting Irish women’s basketball player since the program achieved varsity status in 1977-78. The others on this short list are: Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Vermont.
- Clemson assistant athletics director for football communications Tim Bourret is a “Double Domer,” having earned his undergraduate degree in business administration from Notre Dame in 1977, followed by his master’s degree in communication arts from the University in 1978. He also worked as an undergraduate and graduate assistant in Notre Dame’s sports information (now athletics communications) office under legendary Hall of Famer Roger Valdiserri and later co-authored two books with former Fighting Irish men’s basketball coach Digger Phelps, including “Tales From The Notre Dame Hardwood,” which was released in September 2004.
Peaking When It Counts
- When the regular season enters its stretch run in the month of February, Notre Dame historically seems to raise its level of play.
- Since 1995-96, the Fighting Irish are 127-28 (.819) in February games (including an active 32-game winning streak), as well as a 70-6 (.921) mark at home.
- In the 29-year Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present), the Fighting Irish are 175-43 (.803) in the month of February, including a 92-12 (.885) home record.
- In that time, Notre Dame has never posted a losing record in February (a feat that has continued this season), and only once did the Fighting Irish end the month at .500 (4-4 in 1988-89, McGraw’s second year in South Bend).
- 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 61.2 percent of their made baskets (489 of 799).
- 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 18 games this year, going 17-1 in those contests.
- Since the start of the 2009-10 season, the Fighting Irish are 135-6 (.957) when they have four or more players reach double digits in the scoring column, including wins in 105 of their last 107 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.), all of whom are ranked among the top 30 in the Atlantic Coast Conference (as of Tuesday) – sophomore forward Brianna Turner (13th – 14.2 ppg.), graduate student guard Madison Cable (20th – 13.5 ppg.), freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale (24th – 11.9 ppg.; fifth among ACC rookies) and freshman guard Marina Mabrey (26th – 11.4 ppg.; sixth among ACC rookies).
Three For The Money
- Notre Dame has heated up from the three-point line in a big way, canning 164 treys this season (6.07 per game).
- At their current pace, the Fighting Irish 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 a school-record 190 total).
- Notre Dame’s 164 three-pointers this year rank eighth on the school’s single-season list, and the sixth time in seven years (all but 2010-11) the Fighting Irish have knocked down at least 160 treys in one season.
- 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 third in country in three-point percentage (as of Tuesday), connecting at a .411 clip from beyond the arc, while graduate student guard Madison Cable (.458) currently leads the ACC and ranks as the nation’s No. 4 individual three-point shooter.
The Second Platoon
- Another reason for Notre Dame’s success this season has been the performance of its reserves, who are averaging more than 30 points per game and have outscored the opponent’s bench by more than a 2-to-1 margin (30.7 ppg. to 14.6 ppg.).
- The Notre Dame reserves have combined to score at least 30 points in 14 games this year, including seven 40-point outings.
- The Fighting Irish second unit has outscored the opponent’s bench in 25 games this season, 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 freshman guards – Arike Ogunbowale (11.9 ppg.) and Marina Mabrey (11.4 ppg.) head up the Fighting Irish bench contingent, which has seen at least one reserve score in double figures in 23 games this year (total of 38 double-figure outings).
- Since the start of the 2012-13 season, Notre Dame has posted a 134-7 (.950) record.
- 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 92 of its last 96 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 52-1 against league opponents, going 45-1 in the regular season and 7-0 in the postseason (including a win over then-ACC member Maryland in the 2014 NCAA Women’s Final Four national semifinals).
- 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.
- Since the loss at Miami, Notre Dame has won its last 27 regular season games against ACC opponents (plus three more in the 2015 ACC Tournament).
- The Fighting Irish have won a school-record 32 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.
— 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).