Nov. 25, 2014
2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 6
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge
#2/2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-0 / 0-0 ACC) vs. Quinnipiac Bobcats (3-1 / 0-0 MAAC)
DATE: Nov. 25, 2014
TIME: 6:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: First meeting
TOURNAMENT WEB SITE: UND.com/HOFchallenge
TV: WatchND (live)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TEXT ALERT: UND.com
TICKETS: (574) 631-7356; UND.com/buytickets
- Notre Dame has won 36 of its last 40 regular season tournament games, dating back to the 1996-97 season.
- Quinnipiac is the last of five first-time opponents on the Fighting Irish schedule.
No. 2 Fighting Irish Cap Off Busy Seven-Day Stretch Against Quinnipiac
It’s been a week unlike any other in the modern era of Notre Dame women’s basketball, as the No. 2 Fighting Irish cap off a demanding stretch of five games in seven days at 6 p.m. (ET) Tuesday, playing host to Quinnipiac on the final day of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge at Purcell Pavilion. Harvard and Holy Cross will square off in Tuesday’s nightcap at 8 p.m. (ET), with both games to air live on the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND.
The Fighting Irish are coming off their second convincing win in as many nights at the Hall of Fame Challenge, defeating Harvard, 97-43 on Monday night at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame outscored the Crimson, 50-6 over the final 16:40 of the first half, shooting 60 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes to earn the win.
Sophomore forward Taya Reimer led five Fighting Irish double-digit scorers with a game-high 14 points, while senior guard Madison Cable and junior guard Hannah Huffman added 12 points (the latter a career high) to spark a 51-point effort from the Notre Dame bench.
- Notre Dame is No. 2 in this week’s Associated Press poll and was No. 2 in last week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Quinnipiac is not ranked.
- 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 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 was ranked No. 2 in last week’s Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll, earning six first-place votes (the most for the Fighting Irish since 2000-01 when they were the unanimous choice after winning the NCAA title).
- 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 32 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 112-7 (.941) 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 668 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 756 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).
Other Notre Dame Notables
- Notre Dame is among the nation’s winningest programs during the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), ranking third with 172 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 8,639 fans through four games this season, have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 211 of their last 213 home games (including an active streak of 54 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-Quinnipiac Series
Notre Dame and Quinnipiac will square off for the first time on Tuesday night.
Other Notre Dame-Quinnipiac Series Tidbits
- Quinnipiac will be the 209th different opponent in the 38-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball.
- Quinnipiac is the last of five new opponents on this year’s Notre Dame schedule, all within the first six games of the season and all at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish defeated UMass Lowell on Nov. 14, Chattanooga on Nov. 21, Holy Cross on Sunday, and Harvard on Monday, the latter two (like Quinnipiac) as part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge.
- The Fighting Irish have won their last 23 games against first-time opponents, most recently dispatching Harvard, 97-43 on Monday night at Purcell Pavilion.
- During their current 23-game winning streak against new opposition, the Fighting Irish have won by an average score of 93-48.
- Notre Dame is 67-7 (.905) against first-time opponents since 1995-96, including a 47-3 (.940) mark vs. new teams this century (since the start of the 2000-01 season).
- Including Monday’s win over Harvard, the Fighting Irish have won 36 consecutive home games against first-time opponents, dating back to Jan. 18, 1996, when Connecticut posted an 87-64 win at Purcell Pavilion.
- Notre Dame and Quinnipiac have played once before in men’s basketball, with the Fighting Irish earning a 79-62 victory over the Bobcats on Dec. 23, 2003, at Purcell Pavilion.
- Notre Dame and Quinnipiac were conference members in men’s lacrosse for several seasons recently as part of the Great Western Lacrosse League (GWLL). The Fighting Irish went 6-0 against the Bobcats in GWLL play from 2006-09, including wins in the 2008 and 2009 GWLL Tournament semifinals in Birmingham, Michigan.
- Notre Dame also faced Quinnipiac in a three-game baseball series on April 20-21, 2013, with the Fighting Irish winning all three contests at Frank Eck Stadium by scores of 9-6, 6-0 and 5-1.
Notre Dame vs. The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
Notre Dame is 5-0 all-time against current Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) teams, although Tuesday’s game will mark the first time the Fighting Irish have faced a team from that conference in almost exactly five years–Nov. 22, 2009–since they defeated Iona, 80-45 at Purcell Pavilion.
That 2009 win was one of two home triumphs for Notre Dame against Iona in the last decade (also 74-55 in 2005-06), as well as a win over fellow MAAC member Canisius, 93-47, on Nov. 27, 2007, likewise at Purcell Pavilion.
The Fighting Irish have played four of their five previous encounters with the MAAC (including a 75-62 neutral-site win over Fairfield on Dec. 28, 1987, at the Villanova Wildcat Tournament) during the 28-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw.
Only the first contest in the Iona series (Dec. 19, 1980–a 69-65 Notre Dame win in Philadelphia at the Penn Holiday Tournament) took place prior to McGraw’s arrival at Notre Dame in 1987.
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 36 of their last 40 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 wins 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.
One Rugged Stretch
With Tuesday’s game, Notre Dame will complete one of the most demanding stretches of games in the program’s 38-year history. The Fighting Irish are slated to play five games in a seven-day period from Nov. 19-25, the most compressed set of contests for Notre Dame since the program elevated to Division I status in 1980-81, one day fewer than stretches of five games in eight days during the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons.
The school record for most games in a shortest period is five in a six-day span from Jan. 11-16, 1980, a run that included two games on the same day (Jan. 11, 1980 – wins over SIU-Edwardsville and Chicago State at the Huskie Invitational in DeKalb, Illinois).
Firing Out Of The Blocks (Again)
For the second consecutive season, junior guard Jewell Loyd stormed out of the gates, piling up 85 points in Notre Dame’s first four games–wins over UMass Lowell (20 points), at No. 15/17 Michigan State (28 points), Chattanooga (20 points) and Holy Cross (17 points).
This comes on the heels of last year’s debut, when Loyd scored 75 points in Notre Dame’s opening four games (all wins) against UNC Wilmington (19 points), No. 19/18 Michigan State (22 points), Valparaiso (22 points) and at Penn (12 points).
Loyd’s point production to open this season was the highest for a Fighting Irish player in the opening four contests of a season since 1996-97, when Katryna Gaither had 96 combined points in Notre Dame’s four games in the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT)–wins against Kent State at home (25 points), and at No. 6 Iowa (27), a loss to No. 3/2 Tennessee in the semifinals in Ruston, Louisiana (20), and a win over No. 8/12 North Carolina State in the now-defunct third-place game, also in Ruston (24).
Loyd also was the first Notre Dame player to open a season with three consecutive 20-point games since since 1998-99, when Danielle Green did so in wins against No. 6 UCLA at home (23 points), at Butler (23) and No. 6/4 Duke at home (20).
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 86-14 (.860) in November games since 1995-96 (when they joined the BIG EAST Conference).
Notre Dame has won 23 of its last 24 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 32 consecutive home games since a 73-61 loss to third-ranked Baylor on Dec. 5, 2012, at Purcell Pavilion.
As of Tuesday, 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, as of Tuesday), 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, Conn., 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 77-3 (.963) and has won 57 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).
In addition, Notre Dame currently own a share of the nation’s longest winning streak against unranked opponents (in the Associated Press poll), having earned 55 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).
Game #5 Recap: Harvard
With their top scorers having an off night, Notre Dame got contributions from a host of other players.
Taya Reimer led all scorers with 14 points, followed by Madison Cable and Hannah Huffman with 12, and Michaela Mabrey and Jewell Loyd with 11 in the No. 2 Fighting Irish’s 97-43 rout of Harvard on Monday night at Purcell Pavilion.
After Notre Dame (5-0) failed to score on its first two possessions, Harvard (2-2) grabbed an early 5-2 lead with a three-pointer by Erin McDonnell. But the Fighting Irish offense quickly heated up, jumping out to a 59-13 lead at the half.
Notre Dame went on a 43-2 first-half run in which Harvard turned the ball over nine times and hit just one of 14 shot attempts, while the Fighting Irish sank 14 of 20 shots from the field.
Harvard shot 17 percent in the first half and 29 percent on the game, while Notre Dame shot 49 percent.
McDonnell led the Crimson with 10 points.
Notre Dame dominated Harvard on the boards, outrebounded them 51-29.
Despite the lopsided halftime margin, Harvard came out aggressively in the second half with a 9-2 run over the first 2:48, with three-pointers by Kaitlyn Dinkins and Ali Curtis, and Temi Fagbenle’s three-point play.
Beyond The Box Score: Harvard
- The Fighting Irish led 59-13 at halftime, with the 46-point spread believed to be the largest halftime lead in the 38-year history of the Notre Dame women’s basketball program (previous largest margin at the break was 43 points (58-15) vs. Indiana State on Nov. 13, 2011, in the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament quarterfinals at Purcell Pavilion).
- Harvard’s 13 first-half points tied a Notre Dame opponent season low for one half, a mark set one night (and one half) earlier when Holy Cross scored 13 in the second half of a 104-29 Notre Dame win.
- The Fighting Irish are 19-3 (.864) against schools from Massachusetts, including an active eight-game winning streak.
- Notre Dame is 5-0 all-time against Ivy League opponents, winning all three times against Penn and once against Brown.
- This was only the second time an Ivy League team played the Fighting Irish at Purcell Pavilion–Notre Dame defeated Penn, 69-38 on Dec. 2, 2011.
- Notre Dame matched its season high with five double-digit scorers, also doing so against Chattanooga on Nov. 21.
- For the second consecutive game, all 12 Fighting Irish players in uniform found the scoring column.
- Notre Dame’s bench outscored the entire Harvard team, 51-43.
- Huffman became the ninth different Notre Dame player to score in double figures this season, doing so for the first time in her career with a personal-best 12 points (she had scored a career-high eight points in two of her first four games this season against UMass Lowell on Nov. 14 and Chattanooga on Nov. 21).
- Westbeld gathered a career-high eight rebounds, one more than her total against Chattanooga on Nov. 21.
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 48 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 48-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 66 of her 78 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 Named AP Preseason All-American
For the second time in three years, Notre Dame had a player unanimously voted to the preseason Associated Press All-America Team when junior guard Jewell Loyd was chosen for the 2014-15 squad, according to balloting released by the AP on Nov. 4.
Skylar Diggins was the first Fighting Irish player to earn unanimous recognition for preseason AP All-America honors, doing so in 2012. Jacqueline Batteast is the only other Notre Dame player to be selected for the preseason AP squad (although not unanimously), earning her spot in 2004.
Unlike Diggins and Batteast, Loyd is the first Fighting Irish non-senior to receive preseason AP All-America status.
Also the Preseason Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, Loyd averaged career highs of 18.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last year, collecting AP second-team All-America honors, as well as a place on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), United States Basketball Writers Association USBWA), espnW and Full Court Press All-America teams. Loyd also is the No. 2-returning scorer in the ACC this season behind only Wake Forest’s Dearica Hamby (22.0 ppg.).
Notre Dame Tops 2014-15 ACC Preseason Polls
Notre Dame was the clear favorite in the 2014-15 Atlantic Coast Conference preseason women’s basketball polls, according to separate balloting from the league’s Blue Ribbon Panel and its 15 head coaches. The conference announced its preseason polls and all-conference honorees Oct. 22 in conjunction with ACC Women’s Basketball Media Day at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The Fighting Irish received 38 of 41 first-place votes and 835 total points from the Blue Ribbon Panel, which is comprised mainly of local and national media members. Duke was the Panel’s No. 2 choice, earning one first-place vote and 733 total points.
Rounding out the top five in the Blue Ribbon Panel Preseason Poll were conference newcomer Louisville (724 points, two first-place votes), North Carolina (707 points) and Florida State (545 points).
In the ACC coaches’ preseason poll, Notre Dame earned 14 of the 15 first-place votes and 223 total points. Duke was chosen second (one first-place vote, 196 points), while Louisville (194 points), North Carolina (193 points) and Florida State (152 points) completed the upper third of the balloting.
Three Notre Dame Players Earn Preseason All-ACC Mention
Along with the team balloting, three Notre Dame players received individual accolades as part of the Atlantic Coast Conference preseason voting that was released Oct. 22 at the conference’s Media Day in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Junior guard Jewell Loyd was chosen as the Preseason ACC Player of the Year and earned a spot on the Preseason All-ACC Team from both the Blue Ribbon Panel, in addition to being unanimously chosen as a preseason Associated Press All-American (see prior note).
Sophomore guard Lindsay Allen joined Loyd on this year’s Preseason All-ACC Team, earning recognition from both the Blue Ribbon Panel and the conference coaches. Allen received third-team Freshman All-America honors from Full Court Press last year after starting all 38 games for the Fighting Irish as a rookie point guard, averaging 6.2 points and 3.9 assists per game. She also led the ACC with a 2.24 assist/turnover ratio and her 150 total assists set a Notre Dame freshman record, eclipsing Mary Gavin’s previous mark of 116 assists in 1984-85.
Freshman forward Brianna Turner completed the trio of Notre Dame honorees, earning a spot on the ACC Newcomer Watch Lists from both the Blue Ribbon Panel and the league’s coaches.
Turner was the 2014 Gatorade National High School Female Athlete of the Year, 2014 USA Today National High School Player of the Year, 2014 Texas Miss Basketball and a three-time All-America selection during her prep career. A graduate of Manvel High School in Manvel, Texas, Turner averaged 21.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.9 blocks, 3.1 steals and 3.0 assists per game in her four prep seasons, culminating with Most Valuable Player honors in the 2014 Texas Class 5A state title game, when she had 17 points and 17 rebounds to help Manvel end Duncanville High School’s 105-game winning streak. Turner went on to add MVP laurels at the 2014 McDonald’s High School All-America Game, thanks to another double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks) and the game-winning basket in the West Team’s 80-78 win over the East Team at the United Center in Chicago.
In August, Turner earned her fifth gold medal with USA Basketball, serving as co-captain for the USA Under-18 National Team and averaging 13.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game with a .600 field goal percentage for the American squad that took the crown at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
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 were No. 2 in last week’s WBCA/USA Today coaches’ poll, up one spot from the preseason and boosted by six first-place votes (most since the final 2000-01 poll after the program’s first national championship).
Notre Dame has been ranked in the coaches’ poll for 140 of the past 141 weeks (and 104 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 272 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 316-19 (.943) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 244 of their last 257 such contests (.949).
What’s more, in the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 153-2 (.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 296-15 (.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 218-6 (.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 95-2 (.979) when topping the 80-point mark, including an active 62-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 255 of their last 284 games (.898) at the 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion, including winning streaks of 51, 32, 25 and 20 games in that span (most recently the program’s current 32-game run).
Since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season, Notre Dame is 82-5 (.943) — including wins in 58 of its last 60 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 121 of their last 130 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 405-90 (.818) 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 57 times, most recently in Monday’s win over Harvard.
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”), 26 different players have converted the “burger ball”, including eight current members of the Fighting Irish roster.
What’s more, of the 57 Big Mac games, 26 have been reached on two-point baskets, 18 on free throws, and 13 on three-pointers.
Next Game: Kansas (Hall of Fame Challenge)
Following the Thanksgiving holiday, Notre Dame will travel to Uncasville, Connecticut, for the final day of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge, taking on Kansas at 1 p.m. (ET) Nov. 30 at Mohegan Sun Arena, home of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun.
The game, which will be the second of four Hall of Fame Challenge contests to be played that afternoon at Mohegan Sun, will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director