April 6, 2015
2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 39
NCAA Women’s Final Four — National Championship Game #2/2 [#1 seed] Notre Dame Fighting Irish (36-2 / 15-1 ACC) vs. #1/1 [#1 seed] Connecticut Huskies (37-1 / 18-0 AAC)
DATE: April 7, 2015
TIME: 8:30 p.m. ET
AT: Tampa, Fla. – Amalie Arena (21,058)
SERIES: UCONN leads 32-11
STREAK: UCONN – won 3
1ST MTG: UCONN 87-64 (1/18/96)
LAST MTG: UCONN 76-58 (12/6/10)
TV: ESPN/WatchESPN (live) (Dave O’Brien, p-b-p / Doris Burke, color / Holly Rowe, sideline)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p / Ruth Riley, color)
TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: UND.com
- Notre Dame is the third school to reach the NCAA national championship game four times in a five-year span.
- The Fighting Irish are seeking their second NCAA national championship (also 2001).
No. 2 Fighting Irish Face No. 1 Connecticut Tuesday For NCAA Title
The location may be different, but the prize remains the same, as No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 1 Connecticut strike up the band for yet another turn around the dance floor in the 2015 NCAA national championship game at 8:30 p.m. (ET) Tuesday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The game will be televised live on ESPN and the WatchESPN app.
The Fighting Irish (36-2) earned their invitation to Tuesday’s main event with a thrilling 66-65 win over No. 3/4 South Carolina in the national semifinals Sunday night in Tampa.
Notre Dame led virtually the entire way, but after the Gamecocks took their only lead with a minute to go, senior guard Madison Cable played the hero’s role to perfection, sinking a baseline jumper with 19 seconds left to give the Fighting Irish the win.
- Notre Dame is No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll and is No. 2 in the latest WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Connecticut is No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll and is No. 1 in the latest WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Notre Dame is playing in the NCAA national championship game for the fifth time in program history, something only three other schools have accomplished (Tennessee-13, Connecticut-10, Louisiana Tech-6).
- The Fighting Irish are just the third program to play in four NCAA title games in a five-year span, joining Tennessee (1995-99) and Connecticut (2000, 2002-04) in that exclusive club.
- Notre Dame will be the first Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) school to play in the NCAA national championship game in consecutive seasons.
- Notre Dame advanced to the NCAA Women’s Final Four for the fifth consecutive season and the seventh time in program history. The Fighting Irish are the fourth Division I team to reach five Final Fours in a row (along with Connecticut, LSU and Stanford) and fifth to make seven all-time (Tennessee, Connecticut, Louisiana Tech and Stanford).
- Notre Dame is one of two teams in the nation to make the Elite Eight the past five years (Connecticut is the other).
- Notre Dame’s current 22-game winning streak ties the fourth-longest in program history. For the fourth year in a row, the Fighting Irish have fashioned a winning streak of 20 games or more, including last year’s school-record 37-game success string.
- Notre Dame was the only school in the country to have both its men’s and women’s basketball teams reach this year’s NCAA Elite Eight.
- This marked the first time in school history that both Fighting Irish basketball programs advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight and each won 30 games in the same season.
- Between its men’s and women’s basketball programs, Notre Dame has posted the most combined wins (school-record 68) and best combined winning percentage (.895; 68-8) of any school in the country this season.
- Notre Dame swept the ACC regular-season and tournament titles for the second consecutive season, becoming the third conference school ever to pull off that feat and the first since Duke in 2003 and 2004.
- The Fighting Irish earned their fourth 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 claimed its third consecutive conference tournament title, beginning with the 2013 BIG EAST championship and continuing the past two years in the ACC. The last time the Fighting Irish won three consecutive league tournament crowns was 1989-92, when they won four in a row in the MCC/Horizon League.
- Thanks to the Fighting Irish men’s basketball team winning its 2015 ACC Tournament a week after the women, Notre Dame became the first school from outside the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) to win both ACC postseason crowns in the same year.
- Notre Dame was ranked No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll, its 85th consecutive week in the AP Top 10 and 79th of the past 85 weeks in the AP Top 5.
- Notre Dame has appeared in the AP poll for 155 consecutive weeks, 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, never ranking lower than seventh in that time (2011-12 to present).
- Notre Dame is ranked No. 2 in the latest Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll, after previously spending two weeks (Nov. 25 and Dec. 2) as the nation’s No. 1 team. It was the first time the Fighting Irish had been the top-ranked team in either major national poll since April 1, 2001, when they were No. 1 in the coaches’ poll following a 68-66 win over Purdue that secured the program’s first NCAA national championship.
- Notre Dame ranks among the top 15 in eight NCAA statistical categories (as of Sunday), including five top-10 rankings — field-goal percentage (2nd – now .496), scoring margin (4th – +20.9 ppg.), scoring offense (5th – 80.6 ppg.), three-point percentage (5th – .385) and assists (7th – 18.0 apg.). The Fighting Irish also rank 12th in personal fouls (14.3 per game), 14th in assist/turnover ratio (1.22) and 15th in rebounding margin (+8.2 rpg.), as well as third in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.947).
- Notre Dame has a remarkable tradition of success at home inside Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 419-91 (.822) all-time record in 38 seasons at the facility, including a 96-6 (.941) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
- Including regular season and postseason play, the Fighting Irish have won 75 of their last 79 games against conference opponents (and 26 in a row at home), dating back to their membership in the BIG EAST.
- Since joining the ACC prior to last season, Notre Dame is 38-1 against conference foes (31-1 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.
- Senior guards Madison Cable and Whitney Holloway, and senior forward Markisha Wright are the most successful senior class in program history, having helped Notre Dame to a 143-9 (.941) record in their four-year careers, surpassing last year’s senior class of Natalie Achonwa, Ariel Braker and Kayla McBride, who helped Notre Dame to 138 wins during their four seasons (138-15, .902).
- Since arriving at Notre Dame in 2011-12, Cable, Holloway and Wright have paced Notre Dame to three NCAA national championship games and four NCAA Women’s Final Fours (plus four conference regular-season titles and three league tournament crowns), as well as a 54-7 record against ranked teams (24-7 against AP Top 10).
- Of the nine losses suffered by the current Fighting Irish senior class, four were decided by 13 points or less.
- With 699 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 787 career wins, McGraw ranks 10th in NCAA Division I coaching history. She also is one of two active ACC coaches in the top 10 along with North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell (second with 961).
Other Notre Dame Notables
- Notre Dame is among the nation’s winningest programs during the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), ranking second with 203 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). The Fighting Irish rank fifth in the nation (as of Sunday), averaging 8,544 fans per game at home this season, and have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 227 of their last 229 home games, logging 45 Purcell Pavilion sellouts, including 39 since the start of the 2009-10 campaign and four this season.
- 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 is one of only four schools in the past eight 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, 2014 and 2015).
The Notre Dame-Connecticut Series
Notre Dame and Connecticut will be playing for the 44th time in their series, making it the most frequent rivalry in Fighting Irish women’s basketball history. The Huskies hold a 32-11 edge in the series against Notre Dame, including wins in the past three match ups. T his also will be the sixth time Notre Dame and Connecticut have met at the NCAA Women’s Final Four, as well as the fifth consecutive season. The Fighting Irish are 3-2 all-time against the Huskies at the Final Four, winning three of four semifinal contests (2001, 2011 and 2012, loss in 2013) before Connecticut won last year’s matchup in the NCAA title game.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Connecticut Met
Jewell Loyd did all she could to lead Notre Dame over rival Connecticut.
Unfortunately for the Fighting Irish, the preseason All-American’s teammates did little on offense in No. 2/1 Notre Dame’s 76-58 loss to third-ranked UConn on Dec. 6, 2014, in the Jimmy V Classic at Purcell Pavilion.
Loyd tied her (then) career high with 31 points, but the other four Fighting Irish starters had just 20 points combined.
Loyd scored 15 points in the first 10 minutes as Notre Dame jumped out to a 28-18 advantage much to the delight of the sellout crowd. Then UConn took over, scoring 16 straight during a 22-4 run to close the half.
It didn’t get much better in the second half for the Fighting Irish. Morgan Tuck scored six points during a 10-2 run to open the second half for UConn and extend the lead. Loyd tried to keep the Fighting Irish in it. She caught an acrobatic alley-oop and was fouled to get Notre Dame within 14, but the Fighting Irish couldn’t get much closer.
Other Notre Dame-Connecticut Series Tidbits
- In the 14 series games since the start of the 2010-11 season, nine of those contests have been decided by single digits, including the first three in series history to go to overtime (all won by the Fighting Irish, most recently in triple OT on March 4, 2013, at Purcell Pavilion). What’s more, in six of those nine close games, the eventual losing team had a possession in the final 30 seconds of regulation but could not come up with the tying/winning shot.
- The March 4, 2013, triple-overtime game is the longest in Notre Dame women’s basketball history, supplanting four double-OT contests (the last an 86-83 loss to UCLA on Nov. 18, 2010, at Purcell Pavilion).
- All 11 of Notre Dame’s wins in the series have come since the start of the 2000-01 season.
- With seven wins in their last 11 games against Connecticut, the Fighting Irish are the first team since 1981-89 (Villanova) to have that kind of success against the Huskies. During that stretch, Villanova won its first 14 series games against the Huskies before Connecticut broke through.
- This will mark the 21st time both teams have been ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll at tipoff, with the series deadlocked at 10-10 in these games.
- Notre Dame is 8-7 all-time against Connecticut when both teams are ranked in the top five of the AP poll, with this marking the 11th consecutive series meeting that both the Fighting Irish and Huskies are ranked fifth or higher by the media at tipoff.
- Tuesday’s game will be the 33rd time in the 44-game series that both teams will be ranked at tipoff. At least one team has been ranked in every game of the series.
- Since the start of the 1998-99 season, Connecticut has lost by 15-plus points seven times, with three coming to Notre Dame (twice in 2000-01, once in 2003-04).
- With 11 victories over the Huskies since 2000-01, Notre Dame has more than double the number of wins over Connecticut by any school in the nation during that 15-season span. Rutgers has five wins over the Huskies in that time, while Stanford (4), Tennessee (4) and North Carolina (3) are the only other schools with at least three victories against Connecticut since the start of the new century.
- Notre Dame junior guard/tri-captain Michaela Mabrey was a member of the 2012 USA Basketball U18 National Team, playing alongside three Connecticut juniors (guard Moriah Jefferson and forwards Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck) and helping the Americans to a 5-0 record and the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. When healthy, that quartet comprised the majority of the starting lineup in the tournament, with the United States winning all five contests by an average of 47.4 points per game. One other tie-in on that team — Fighting Irish athletic trainer Anne Marquez filled that same role for the USA U18s in 2012.
- Notre Dame senior forward/tri-captain Markisha Wright (Des Moines, Iowa/Des Moines East) and Connecticut junior center Kiah Stokes (Marion, Iowa/Linn-Mar) were unquestionably the top two players in the state of Iowa in 2010-11. Stokes was named the state’s Player of the Year, while Wright was the Most Valuable Player of the state tournament and led her Des Moines East side to a perfect 26-0 record and the Class 4A state title (the first by the school since 1979).
- Notre Dame freshman forward Brianna Turner and Connecticut freshman guard Gabby Williams were teammates at the 2014 McDonald’s High School All-America Game, leading the West Team to a 80-78 victory at the United Center in Chicago (Turner had 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, and was the game’s Most Valuable Player after scoring the winning basket in the final seconds; Williams did not play).
- In that same 2014 McDonald’s High School All-America Game, Notre Dame freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld (two points, two rebounds, one assist) played alongside Connecticut freshman guard Sadie Edwards (one assist, one steal) on the East Team.
- Two of Tuesday’s assistant coaches have seen the Notre Dame-Connecticut rivalry from the perspective of both a coach and a player. Eighth-year Fighting Irish assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Niele Ivey and seventh-year UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph saw their teams meet 14 times during their respective five-year careers from 1996-2001 (both sat out a season with knee injuries — Ivey in 1996-97, Ralph in 1997-98), with Connecticut winning 12 times before Ivey led Notre Dame to two victories in three tries during her final season (2000-01).
- Notre Dame and Connecticut will continue their regular-season series next year when the Fighting Irish again face the Huskies in the Jimmy V Women’s Classic (the 14th edition to be played in Connecticut at a site and date to be determined and televised on ESPN or ESPN2).
The Brains Of The Operation
Tuesday’s two head coaches — Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw and Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma — have more than a few connections. Both are from the Philadephia metro area (McGraw from West Chester, Auriemma from Norristown), both cut their coaching teeth at Saint Joseph’s under former Hawks’ head coach (and current Chattanooga skipper) Jim Foster (McGraw replaced Auriemma on Foster’s staff in 1980 when Auriemma left to take an assistant position at Virginia), and both are members of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, with McGraw having been enshrined in June 2011.
McGraw also is the only coach in the nation with 11 wins against Auriemma since the start of the 2000-01 season. What’s more, McGraw is one of just two coaches all-time to have 11 or more victories against Auriemma on his/her resume, joining Villanova’s Harry Perretta in that elite company.
Other NCAA Women’s Final Four Tidbits
- Three of the four head coaches in this year’s NCAA Women’s Final Four — Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw, South Carolina’s Dawn Staley and Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma — hail from the Philadelphia metro area.
- Including Sunday’s national semifinal win over South Carolina, the Fighting Irish are 19-4 (.826) all-time when playing in the Sunshine State, regardless of the opponent.
- Notre Dame is 5-1 all-time when playing in the city of Tampa, including a 4-1 record against USF, which is serving as the host for this year’s NCAA Women’s Final Four.
- Notre Dame has had eight Florida natives suit up in the program’s 38-year history, with its most recent Sunshine State product being 2010 graduate Alena Christiansen (Fort Lauderdale/Cardinal Gibbons HS).
- Vince Naimoli, who spearheaded the arrival of Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays and was the first owner/managing general partner of the expansion franchise when it debuted 20 years ago, is a 1959 Notre Dame graduate and earned an honorary monogram from the Notre Dame Monogram Club in 1999.
- In 2007, Naimoli and his family donated $5 million towards the Joyce Center arena renovation project, with the Purcell Pavilion club/hospitality area (and two outdoor patios) — named the Naimoli Family Club Room (or informally called “Club Naimoli”) and overlooking the south side of the Purcell Pavilion court — making its debut in 2009-10.
- Two of Naimoli’s daughters are Notre Dame graduates (Alyson ’94; Lindsey ’05).
- Naimoli is scheduled to throw out the first pitch at the Rays’ season opener on Monday before Tampa Bay takes on the Baltimore Orioles at 3:10 p.m. (ET) at Tropicana Field.
Irish In The NCAA Championship
Notre Dame is wrapping up its 22nd appearance in the NCAA Championship (and 20th in a row) this weekend. The Fighting Irish have a .718 winning percentage (51-20) in NCAA Championship play, ranking sixth all-time in that category (minimum of 20 games played).
In addition, Notre Dame’s current streak of 20 consecutive NCAA Championship appearances ranks fifth in the record books (and seventh-longest at any time in tournament history).
Here are some other facts about the Fighting Irish in the “Big Dance” (see pp. 158-163 in this year’s regular-season media guide for NCAA Championship results and records):
- 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 1-3 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 (79-58) in 2014 in Nashville.
- 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 fourth Division I coach to lead 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 6-4 (.600) record at the NCAA Women’s Final Four, tying for the fifth-best winning percentage (minimum of three games played).
- Notre Dame is the first Atlantic Coast Conference school ever to reach the NCAA national championship game in consecutive seasons.
- Last year, Notre Dame became the first ACC school to reach the NCAA national championship game since the 2006 “all-ACC” final, when Maryland defeated Duke, 78-75 in overtime in Boston. It also was the fifth time the ACC was represented in the NCAA title contest, along with 1991 (Virginia lost to Tennessee, 70-67 in overtime in New Orleans), 1994 (North Carolina defeated Louisiana Tech, 60-59 in Richmond, Va.) and 1999 (Duke lost to Purdue, 62-45 in San Jose).
- 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.
- With their March 20 victory over Montana, the Fighting Irish have won their NCAA tournament opener in 18 of the past 20 years (1996-2015).
- Each of Notre Dame’s 22 NCAA tournament appearances have come during McGraw’s 28-year tenure (1987-88 to present).
Sowing The Seeds
- For the fourth consecutive season (and fifth time in program history), Notre Dame has earned a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Championship.
- The Fighting Irish are 25-3 (.893) 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 last season and starting with five wins this year.
- Notre Dame has been awarded a top-eight seed for the 16th time in its 22 NCAA Championship visits (and a top-four seed for the ninth 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 22 NCAA tournament trips (71 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 33 NCAA tournament games, going 25-3 (.893) in those contests.
- Last year 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.
- Last year’s 93-42 first-round win over Robert Morris in Toledo, Ohio, represented the largest margin of victory by a Notre Dame squad in the NCAA Championship, surpassing a 98-49 victory over Alcorn State at Purcell Pavilion in a 2001 first-round contest.
- 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.
- Notre Dame is 21-17 (.553) all-time when going to overtime, including a 9-4 record in its last 13 contests.
- The Fighting Irish last played an overtime game on Dec. 10, 2014, earning a 94-93 victory at No. 25 DePaul.
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 Women’s Final Four in Tampa.
- 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 coach Beth (Morgan) Cunningham and assistant coach 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 Tampa 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 assistant AD/senior woman administrator at Army) 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.
- Sunday’s 66-65 victory over No. 3/4 South Carolina in the NCAA national semifinals was Notre Dame’s 36th win of the season, one shy of the school record set last year (37-1).
- With its 77-68 win over No. 5/6 Baylor in the NCAA Oklahoma City Regional final on March 29, Notre Dame earned its 35th victory of the season, the fourth consecutive year the Fighting Irish reached that milestone.
- Prior to 2011-12, Notre Dame had not won more than 34 games in a season, but during the four years since, the Fighting Irish have averaged 35.8 wins per season.
- Thanks to a 55-49 win over No. 16 Duke in the ACC Championship semifinals on March 7 in Greensboro, North Carolina, Notre Dame picked up its 30th victory of the season, the fifth consecutive year and seventh 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) and 2013-14 (37-1).
- Not only does this represent the first time the Fighting Irish have posted five consecutive 30-win seasons (and four 35-win campaigns in a row), but it also is the fourth year in a row they registered their 30th win prior to the start of the NCAA Championship.
- This season’s 31 victories were the second-most for Notre Dame heading into NCAA postseason play, topped only by last year’s 32 wins and matching the 31 victories prior to the 2013 tournament.
- Notre Dame is 13-1 against ranked opponents (8-1 against top-10 teams), with eight of those 13 victories coming by double figures, including six wins over top-10 opponents.
- In the past four seasons (2011-12 to present), the Fighting Irish are 54-7 (.885) against ranked opponents, with nearly 75 percent of those Top 25 wins (39 of 54) by double digits.
- This year’s 13 wins over Top 25 opponents are the third-most by Notre Dame in a single season (15 in 2011-12; 14 in 2013-14).
- Eight top-10 victories are tied for the most by a Fighting Irish squad in a single season (eight in 2013-14).
- Junior All-America guard Jewell Loyd is averaging 23.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game in 14 contests against ranked opponents this season. Loyd has scored at least 20 points in 11 games against Top 25 teams this year, including 30-point outings against No. 3 Connecticut (31 points), No. 5/6 Tennessee (34 points) and No. 25 DePaul (school record-tying 41 points).
- In 11 full games against ranked opponents (not including an injury-shortened four-minute stretch against No. 15/10 Maryland on Dec. 3), freshman forward Brianna Turner is averaging 14.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.2 blocks per game with three double-doubles and a .606 field-goal percentage.
- Sophomore guard Lindsay Allen also has sparkled against top competition, averaging 11.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game with a 2.00 assist/turnover ratio and a .462 field-goal percentage in 14 games against Top 25 teams this season, highlighted by her Most Outstanding Player performance at the NCAA Oklahoma City Regional (25.5 ppg., 5.0 rpg., 5.5 apg. in two games, including a career-high 28 points in the Sweet 16 against No. 14/17 Stanford).
With its 67-60 victory at North Carolina State on March 1, Notre Dame secured its fourth consecutive outright conference regular-season title, and second in as many years as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Notre Dame has won four consecutive outright conference regular season championships for the first time in its 38-year history, after winning three in a row just once before.
In their first three seasons (1988-89 through 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 season with Loyola-Chicago.
Some other notables about Notre Dame’s second consecutive ACC title:
- Notre Dame is the first ACC school to win back-to-back regular-season championships since Duke won four in a row from 2009-10 through 2012-13 (the first two of those four were shared with Florida State and Miami, respectively).
- Notre Dame is the first ACC school from outside the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) to earn consecutive regular-season titles since Florida State shared crowns with Maryland (2008-09) and Duke (2009-10).
- The Fighting Irish are only the second ACC program from outside the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) to earn consecutive outright regular-season titles and the first since Virginia won six in a row from 1990-91 through 1995-96.
- Notre Dame has a combined 31-1 record in regular-season ACC play during the past two seasons. Only two other ACC schools has ever had just one conference loss in a two-year span (Virginia went 14-0 in 1990-91 and 15-1 in 1991-92; more recently Duke went 16-0 in both 2001-02 and 2002-03 and 15-1 in 2003-04).
A Clean (ACC) Sweep
For the second consecutive season, Notre Dame completed a sweep of the ACC crowns by winning the ACC Championship on March 8 with a 71-58 victory over No. 7/6 Florida State in the title game in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Junior guard Jewell Loyd was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row, while freshman forward Brianna Turner joined Loyd on the All-ACC Tournament First Team. Senior guard Madison Cable and sophomore forward Taya Reimer earned spots on the All-ACC Tournament Second Team, the first conference all-tournament accolades of their careers.
A few added tidbits on Notre Dame’s second ACC postseason crown in as many years:
- The Fighting Irish won their third consecutive conference tournament title and eighth overall, adding the last two 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 last time Notre Dame won back-to-back conference postseason tournaments.
- Notre Dame is the third ACC school to sweep the conference’s regular-season and tournament titles in consecutive seasons and the first since Duke in 2002-03 and 2003-04 (the other was Virginia in 1991-92 and 1992-93).
- Loyd is the seventh player to be a two-time ACC Championship MVP, and the first since Duke’s Jasmine Thomas in 2010 and 2011.
- Loyd became just the second Notre Dame player to be named a two-time conference tournament MVP, and the first since Krissi Davis took home top honors at the MCC Championship in 1989 and 1991.
- Coupled with the Fighting Irish men’s basketball team winning the ACC Tournament title on March 14, it marked the 13th time one ACC school swept the men’s and women’s tournament crowns, and the first by a school not located on Tobacco Road (or the Triangle). Duke was the last school to sweep the ACC postseason titles (in 2011), while North Carolina and N.C. State also have pulled off that feat in the past.
Notre Dame Is Hoop City, USA
No other campus in America is enjoying the kind of success on the basketball court that Notre Dame has seen in 2014-15.
- The Fighting Irish men’s and women’s basketball programs are a combined 68-8 (.895) on the hardwood this season, edging out Maryland for the best combined winning percentage among both basketball programs on a national level.
- Both Notre Dame squads topped 30 wins in the same season for the first time ever, and surpassed 25 victories in the same season for the fourth time in eight years (also 2007-08, 2010-11 and 2012-13) after never having previously reached that win total in the same season.
- This year’s Fighting Irish teams also set a school record for combined men’s/women’s basketball victories and are challenging the combined winning percentage mark in a single season, with Notre Dame amassing a 60-12 (.833) basketball record in 2012-13 (women 35-2; men 25-10).
- Notre Dame was one of seven schools appearing in both the final men’s and women’s Associated Press polls — and the combined Fighting Irish rank of 10 (No. 2 for the women, No. 8 for the men) was the best in the nation.
- Notre Dame was the only school in the country to have both its men’s and women’s basketball programs reach this year’s NCAA Elite Eight.
- In terms of NCAA tournament seeding, the Fighting Irish earned a No. 1 seed, while the men were seeded third — the best combined seeding at Notre Dame since 2011, when both teams garnered No. 2 seeds.
- Both Notre Dame basketball squads posted perfect 100 Graduation Success Rate scores (as released by the NCAA in October 2014), with the combined 200 GSR rating matched only by Duke and Dayton among 21 schools that sent both teams to this year’s NCAA Championship.
In A Class By Themselves
- For the fourth consecutive season, a Notre Dame senior class has set the bar in terms of career wins by one group. The current class of tri-captains Whitney Holloway and Markisha Wright, plus Madison Cable, is now first all-time with 143 wins (143-9, .941), edging past the 2014 seniors.
- Last year, Notre Dame’s three-player senior class of Natalie Achonwa, Ariel Braker and Kayla McBride posted (at the time) the best four-year record (138-15, .902) in school history, topping the win total (130) compiled by the previous year’s seniors (Skylar Diggins and Kaila Turner).
- The year before Diggins and Turner departed, Notre Dame’s Class of 2012 (Brittany Mallory, Fraderica Miller, Natalie Novosel and Devereaux Peters) rang up 117 wins to set the early benchmark in this current era of Fighting Irish women’s basketball success.
- Prior to the 2011-12 season, the highest four-year win total by a senior class was 109, set by the Class of 2001 that capped their careers with the program’s first NCAA national championship and included (among others) consensus national player of the year and 13-year WNBA veteran Ruth Riley, as well as current Fighting Irish assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Niele Ivey.
- Notre Dame enters the NCAA Women’s Final Four without a senior in its starting lineup.
- Of the 17 times a team has made the NCAA Women’s Final Four in four consecutive seasons, Notre Dame is only the fourth school that has not arrived at the Final Four with a senior starter (others being Tennessee in 1998, Connecticut in 2003 and LSU in 2007 — research courtesy of Pete LaFleur, CollegeSports360, LLC).
- The last time the Fighting Irish didn’t have a senior in the everyday lineup was 2008-09, although technically guard Lindsay Schrader was listed as a senior despite having a fifth year of eligibility for the following season (current reserve guard Madison Cable is in the same situation this year).
- The only other time in the Muffet McGraw era that Notre Dame did not have a senior in its starting lineup was 1989-90, when a trio of juniors — Krissi Davis, Sara Liebscher and Karen Robinson — were joined by sophomore Margaret Nowlin and freshman Coquese Washington.
Department of Defense
- Notre Dame has held 15 of its last 18 opponents to 63 points or fewer, including 12 to 60 points or fewer.
- In this 18-game span (which began Jan. 24 at Clemson), the Fighting Irish have held their opponents to 56.2 points per game while forcing 15.5 turnovers per game and owning a +7.9 rebounding margin.
- Notre Dame has been particularly stingy at the three-point line, holding opponents to a .242 three-point percentage (64 of 265) in the past 18 games, a stretch that includes three matchups with nationally-ranked opponents (two with Duke, one with Louisville), as well as the ACC’s top three-point shooting team in conference play, Virginia.
- Collectively in those four games, those three teams (Duke, Louisville, Virginia) posted a .186 three-point percentage (eight of 43) against Notre Dame, including a zero for 12 whitewash of No. 10/11 Duke on Feb. 16 at Purcell Pavilion.
- Dating back to the start of the 2012-13 season, Notre Dame has posted a 108-5 (.956) record.
- In that three-year span, four of the five Fighting Irish losses have come against 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), 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) and No. 3 Connecticut (76-58 on Dec. 6, 2014, in the Jimmy V Classic at Purcell Pavilion).
- The other loss came Jan. 8 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. The Fighting Irish last fell to an unranked team on Feb. 12, 2012, suffering a last-second 65-63 home loss to West Virginia (research for this note provided by STATS via the AP).
Poise Under Pressure
- Notre Dame has won its last 19 games decided by single digits and/or in overtime, including all seven close games this season.
- The Fighting Irish last dropped a single-digit decision on March 6, 2012, falling 63-54 at No. 4 Connecticut in the BIG EAST Conference Tournament championship game at Hartford, Connecticut.
Don’t Call It A Comeback
Twice in less than two weeks earlier this season, Notre Dame has rallied from a double-digit deficit to earn a victory.
- On Jan. 2, the Fighting Irish trailed Florida State, 20-8 with 7:41 left in the first half before charging back to win, 74-68 at Purcell Pavilion.
- On Jan. 15, Notre Dame fell behind at No. 12/10 North Carolina, 34-23 with 5:28 to go in the first half, but the Fighting Irish rallied to register an 89-79 victory in Chapel Hill.
- Even in its second loss of the season on Jan. 8 at Miami, Notre Dame showed remarkable character, erasing nearly all of a 22-point second-half deficit (45-23 with 17:00 to play) and getting within 55-49 with eight minutes left before UM held on for the win.
Loyd Crowned espnW National Player of the Year
One of the nation’s most gifted all-around athletes, junior guard Jewell Loyd added another honor to her trophy case on March 13, when she was chosen as the 2014-15 espnW National Player of the Year.
- Loyd earned the first national player-of-the-year honor (not limited to a position or class year) for a Notre Dame player since 2001, when Ruth Riley earned the Associated Press National Player of the Year, Naismith Trophy and Sports Illustrated Player of the Year awards.
- Loyd is a finalist for the WBCA Wade Trophy, Naismith Trophy, Wooden Award and Dawn Staley Award, with the first three honors going to the national player of the year (the latter to the nation’s top point guard). It’s the second consecutive season Loyd has been a finalist for the Wade and Naismith trophies and her first as a Wooden Award finalist, and the second year in a row she is a prime contender for every major national award.
Here’s a look at just some of the reasons why Loyd is a name high on everyone’s list for national recognition:
- Loyd ranks second in the ACC and 26th in the nation in scoring (as of April 5).
- Loyd has scored 760 points this season (20.0 points per game). Already the fastest to each century single-season scoring interval in program history, Loyd ranks second on Notre Dame’s single-season scoring list and is just the second 700-point scorer in school history (Katryna Gaither – 776 in 1996-97).
- Loyd is the fourth Fighting player to score 600 points in a season twice (she had 687 last year). Gaither and current associate coach Beth (Morgan) Cunningham both topped the mark during the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons, while Skylar Diggins was the most recent to post a pair of 600-point seasons (2011-12 and 2012-13).
- Loyd could challenge Gaither’s single-season record for scoring average at Notre Dame (20.4 ppg. as a senior in 1996-97). Cunningham is the only other Fighting Irish player to average 20 points per game in one season (20.2 ppg. as a junior in 1995-96).
- Loyd is the first Notre Dame player to register eight 20-point games in her first 10 outings of a season, surpassing Gaither (who had seven 20-point games in first 10 contests of 1996-97).
- Loyd currently leads the ACC with 20 20-point games this season, tying Gaither’s school-record 20 in 1996-97, and Loyd has 35 career 20-point games, good for fifth in Fighting Irish annals.
- Loyd is the first Notre Dame women’s basketball player to register back-to-back 30-point games and for good measure, she did it against a pair of ranked opponents in No. 3 UConn (31 points) and No. 25 DePaul (school record-tying 41 points). Cunningham had two 30-point games in three days on Dec. 1 and 3, 1995, in close losses to No. 12/13 Penn State (32) and No. RV/22 Texas A&M (34) at the Kona Women’s Basketball Classic in Kona, Hawaii, although there was a game between those two (Cunningham scored 23 points in a win over Washington).
- Loyd has set a program record with four 30-point games in this season, most recently dropping in 31 points at Georgia Tech on Feb. 19.
- Loyd’s seven career 30-point games also set a school record topping the previous mark of six 30-point games established by Gaither from 1993-97.
- Loyd is fifth in school history with 1,897 career points, having moved into the top five on Notre Dame’s career scoring list Sunday night, passing former All-America teammate, Kayla McBride (1,876 points from 2010-14).
- Loyd scored her 1,500th career point in her 90th career game on Jan. 11, 2015, vs. Boston College at Purcell Pavilion. Loyd is the second-quickest player to score to 1,500 points in program history, trailing only Cunningham, who scored her 1,500th point at Notre Dame in her 80th career game on Feb. 21, 1996, at home against Miami.
- In less than three years at Notre Dame, Loyd has scored in double figures in 98 of her 111 career games, including 60 in a row from March 12, 2013 to Jan. 11, 2015 (the second-longest run in school history). Also, in 11 of Loyd’s 13 career single-digit games, she was within one basket of double figures.
Turner Throwing A Block Party
Freshman forward Brianna Turner has recorded 77 blocked shots in her last 27 games (2.9 bpg.), all since returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined her for the better part of the four previous games.
- Following her return on Dec. 21 against Saint Joseph’s (Pa.), the Pearland, Texas, native has logged five blocks in seven games, including a career-high seven rejections three times, all against ranked opponents — at No. 21/22 Syracuse on Jan. 4, at No. 12/10 North Carolina on Jan. 15 and at home against No. 8/7 Louisville on Feb. 23.
- Turner’s 22 blocks from Dec. 21-Jan. 4 were the most by a Notre Dame player in a four-game span since Nov. 21-Dec. 2, 1998, when Ruth Riley had 22 blocks vs. No. 6/4 Duke, No. 25/23 Illinois, San Francisco and Toledo.
- As of Sunday, Turner ranks fifth in the ACC (and 30th in the nation) at 2.5 blocks per game.
- Turner’s 88 total blocks are fourth on the Notre Dame single-season list and second all-time among Fighting Irish freshmen (most by a Fighting Irish rookie in one season since Shari Matvey’s record-setting 94 rejections in 1979-80).
- Turner is the third player in school history to record 80 blocks in a single season. Riley pulled off that feat during her final three years at Notre Dame (including a school-record 113 in 2000-01) and Matvey did so during her aforementioned freshman year.
- Turner is on pace for the second-best blocked shot average by a freshman in program history, and best since 1979-80, when Matvey averaged 3.1 blocks per game.
Turner Also An Efficient Shooter
- Freshman forward Brianna Turner leads both the nation (as of Sunday) and the ACC with a .656 field-goal percentage.
- Turner would be the third NCAA Division I freshman to lead the nation in field-goal percentage and the first since Tennessee Tech’s Diane Seng in 1996-97.
- Turner is on pace for the second-highest single-season field-goal percentage mark in school history (Ruth Riley shot .683 from the floor as a sophomore in 1998-99).
Irish Trio Earns All-America Honors
- For the fifth consecutive year, three Notre Dame players earned All-America honors from at least one major outlet, with junior guard Jewell Loyd unanimously receiving first-team All-America accolades from the Associated Press, United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) and the John R. Wooden Award, while sophomore guard Lindsay Allen and freshman forward Brianna Turner received honorable mention All-America plaudits from the Associated Press.
- Loyd all but secured consensus All-America honors for the second consecutive season, while Allen and Turner earned All-America status for the first time in their careers.
- Notre Dame has fielded 18 players who have earned All-America citations (top three teams or honorable mention) during the program’s 38-year history, including 12 multiple-time All-America selections.
- Loyd, an AP second-team All-America pick last year, becomes the 10th Notre Dame player to be a two-time AP All-America choice, and the fourth to make the media group’s top three teams on two occasions, as well as the first unanimous choice since Skylar Diggins in 2013.
- This marks the fifth consecutive season Notre Dame has placed at least one player on the top three squads of the AP All-America Team, following in the footsteps of Diggins (2011 – third team; 2012 and 2013 – first team), Kayla McBride (2013 – third team; 2014 – first team) and Natalie Achonwa (2014 – third team).
- Loyd returns to the USBWA All-America Team this year and is one of four Fighting Irish players who have earned USBWA All-America recognition, as well as the third to make the 10-player team twice (the others being Ruth Riley in 2000 and 2001, and Diggins in 2012 and 2013).
- This is the fourth consecutive season Notre Dame has produced a USBWA All-America honoree, with McBride joining Loyd on last year’s squad following Diggins’ back-to-back selections the previous two campaigns.
- Loyd also repeats as a finalist for the USBWA Ann Meyers Drysdale Award as the national player of the year.
- This year represents Loyd’s first appearance on the Wooden Award All-America Team, and the fourth year in a row Notre Dame has fielded a Wooden Award All-America pick and the resulting distinction as a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award, which is presented by the Los Angeles Athletic Club to the nation’s top player. Diggins took Wooden All-America honors in 2012 and 2013, followed by McBride last season.
- Loyd’s selection coincided with Fighting Irish men’s basketball player Jerian Grant garnering similar accolades, making Notre Dame the only school in the country to produce a Wooden Award finalist on both the men’s and women’s sides.
- Loyd added a further All-America certificate to her resume on Saturday when she was named to the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Coaches’ All-America Team for the second consecutive year. She joins Diggins (2011-13) and McBride (2013-14) as the only two-time selections for the prestigious squad.
Loyd, Turner Named ACC Player And Freshman Of The Year
Notre Dame junior guard Jewell Loyd was named the 2015 ACC Player of the Year and freshman forward Brianna Turner was chosen as the 2015 ACC Freshman of the Year, the conference announced in separate balloting by the ACC’s Blue Ribbon Panel (media) and its 15 coaches earlier this month.
- It’s only the second time in program history (both in the past three seasons) the Fighting Irish have swept the conference’s top player and freshman awards in the same year — in 2013, Skylar Diggins garnered BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year accolades, while Loyd was tapped as the BIG EAST Freshman of the Year.
- This marked just the fifth time in ACC women’s basketball history that one school was swept the ACC Player and Freshman of the Year awards in the same season. Maryland was the last to do so in 2009 with Kristi Toliver (Player of the Year) and Lynetta Kizer (Freshman of the Year), while Duke was the last current ACC school to pull off that feat in 2001 with Georgia Schweitzer (Player) and Alana Beard (Freshman).
- Loyd was the seventh Notre Dame women’s basketball player to earn conference player of the year recognition — Kayla McBride was the most recent to do so in 2014, earning ACC Player of the Year status from the conference coaches. Prior to that, Diggins took top honors in the program’s final two seasons in the BIG EAST (2012, 2013), while Jacqueline Batteast was the BIG EAST Player of the Year in 2005 and Ruth Riley took the same honor in 2001.
- In addition, Karen Robinson was the two-time Midwestern Collegiate Conference (Horizon League) Player of the Year in 1990 and 1991, while Trena Keys was the first Fighting Irish women’s basketball player to garner her league’s top award as a two-time North Star Conference Player of the Year in 1985 and 1986.
- Turner was the fifth player in program history chosen as her conference’s freshman of the year, following in the footsteps of Loyd and her 2013 BIG EAST honor. Batteast also claimed the award in 2002, while Alicia Ratay did likewise in 2000. Current Notre Dame associate coach Beth (Morgan) Cunningham was the first to achieve the feat as the 1994 MCC Newcomer of the Year.
Loyd and Turner also earned first-team all-ACC and All-ACC Defensive Team honors, while Turner made the All-ACC Freshman Team.
- Notre Dame and North Carolina were the only conference schools with two All-ACC selections this season, while Turner was the lone freshman named to the All-ACC First Team, the first Fighting Irish rookie to cop all-conference honors since Loyd was an honorable mention choice in 2013 (and the first to make one of the top two league teams since Diggins was a second-team all-BIG EAST pick in 2010).
- Turner was the first Notre Dame player to garner all-freshman honors since Loyd made the 2013 BIG EAST All-Freshman Team.
- This marked the eighth consecutive season Notre Dame had multiple players earn all-conference recognition. For Loyd, it was her second first-team selection in as many seasons, and the third all-conference honor of her career, following her 2013 honorable mention all-BIG EAST accolade. She became the 13th Fighting Irish player in program history to earn three all-conference awards and the 14th to collect multiple first-team all-league citations during their careers, stretching back to the program’s previous affiliations with the BIG EAST (1995-2013), Midwestern Collegiate (1988-95) and North Star (1983-88) conferences.
- With this season’s selections for Loyd and Turner, it represented the 12th consecutive year, and 18th time in 20 seasons the Fighting Irish have had at least one player garner first-team all-conference status.
- In head coach Muffet McGraw’s 28 seasons as head coach at Notre Dame, covering four conference affiliations (ACC, BIG EAST, Midwestern Collegiate and North Star), the Fighting Irish have had at least one first-team all-conference selection an astounding 25 times (all but 1993, 1998 and 2003).
Allen Throws Wrench Into Opposing Game Plans
Sophomore guard Lindsay Allen has emerged as one of the top point guards in the country, currently as one of five finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award (presented annually to the nation’s top point guard and won twice before by Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins in 2012 and 2013).
- Allen charged into the national spotlight as the Most Outstanding Player at the NCAA Oklahoma City Regional. Allen averaged 25.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists during the two-game regional, including a career-high 28 points in an 81-60 semifinal win over No. 14/17 Stanford, and 23 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals in the Elite Eight victory over No. 5/6 Baylor. Allen came into last week’s action with two career 20-point games, both earlier this season, including a (then) career-best 24 points at No. 12/10 North Carolina on Jan. 15.
- Allen ranks among the top five in the ACC in assists (first – 5.2 apg.), assist/turnover ratio (first – 2.18), and field-goal percentage (fifth – .533) — the only player in the conference to rank in the top five in those categories.
- The latter ranking is particularly notable as Allen is one of only two guards (along with Miami’s Adrienne Motley) ranked among the top 15 in the ACC in field-goal percentage.
- Allen is one of seven players in the nation to rank in the top 30 in both assists (28th) and assist/turnover ratio (29th), as of Sunday. The others are: Gillian Abshire (Quinnipiac), Amanda Andrades (Fairleigh Dickinson), Jen Dumiak (American), Niya Johnson (Baylor), Angela Mickens (James Madison) and Nikki Moody (Iowa State).
- In conference play, Allen led the ACC in assists (6.3 apg.) and assist/turnover ratio (2.17), while ranking fifth in free-throw percentage (.821) and eighth in field-goal percentage (.504).
- Allen has 198 assists this year, putting her in position to become only the fourth Notre Dame player to record a 200-assist season, joining Mary Gavin (three times), Diggins (twice, most recently 225 in 2012-13) and current Fighting Irish assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Niele Ivey (school-record 247 in 2000-01) in that elite group.
- Allen has logged at least five assists in 19 of her last 26 games (and 24 times this season), including 5.8 assists per game in 10 outings against Top 25 teams during that span.
- As she proved last weekend, Allen has developed into a potent scoring threat for the Fighting Irish, increasing her offensive output by nearly 70 percent to 10.5 points per game, and she has scored in double figures 17 times this season (after doing so eight times as a rookie in 2013-14).
- Allen is in her second season as the starting point guard for Notre Dame, having not missed a game since she set foot on campus last year. With Allen at the helm, the Fighting Irish have amassed a stellar 73-3 (.961) record — and when you factor in her final prep season at St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., Allen’s teams are a combined 100-4 (.962) in the past three years when she’s been in the starting lineup.
Stealing Cable Is Legal Here
Senior guard Madison Cable is arguably Notre Dame’s top reserve this season, with the Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, product currently ranking just outside the top 15 in the ACC in steals (1.5 spg.) after sharing fifth in that category during conference play (1.9 spg.).
- Cable picked off a career-high six steals on Feb. 1 against Wake Forest, matching the most by any ACC player in a conference game this season. It also was the most thefts by a Fighting Irish player in a game since Dec. 19, 2012, when Kaila Turner logged seven steals against Alabama A&M.
- Cable is posting career-high averages in nearly all categories, including scoring (6.2 ppg.), rebounding (4.1 rpg.), steals and three-point percentage (.488), with the latter also poised to be the second-best single-season mark in school history (Alicia Ratay – .547 in 2000-01).
- Cable currently is tied for the team lead with 58 steals this season. If that holds up, she would be just the second Notre Dame player to lead the team in steals while primarily coming off the bench. Walk-on freshman guard Molly Ryan was the only other player to pull off this rare feat, collecting a team-best 39 steals while starting only two of 28 games in 1980-81, the program’s first season at the Division I level.
- Cable registered her first career double-double back on Dec. 10 in an overtime win at No. 25 DePaul, collecting 20 points and 11 rebounds despite missing parts of the second half and overtime with cramping in both of her calves.
- Cable leads the ACC in three-point percentage (.494) and finished second in that category during conference play (.465).
- Notre Dame was ranked No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll, its 85th consecutive week in the top 10 of the media balloting (79 of those in the top five), dating back to the middle of the 2010-11 season and marking 155 consecutive weeks in the AP poll.
- The Fighting Irish continue to extend the program record for consecutive poll appearances that started with the AP preseason poll in 2007-08 (the old record was 59 consecutive weeks from 1998-2001), while Notre Dame is one of six teams in the nation with an active streak of at least 150 consecutive AP poll appearances.
- Every current Notre Dame player has competed for a top-10 Fighting Irish squad throughout her career (78 consecutive weeks for the current senior class), spending the vast majority (72) 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 294 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 seventh among active NCAA Division I head coaches for weeks in the AP poll, and 15th all-time in that category.
- The Fighting Irish are No. 2 in the latest WBCA/USA Today coaches’ poll after spending two weeks earlier this season as the nation’s No. 1 team (Nov. 25 and Dec. 2). It was the first time Notre Dame stood atop the rankings since April 1, 2001, following the program’s first NCAA national championship
- The Fighting Irish were the first ACC team to be ranked No. 1 in either major national poll since March 12, 2007, when Duke was in that position prior to the NCAA Championship.
- Notre Dame has been ranked in the coaches’ poll for 157 of the past 158 weeks (and 121 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 289 weeks during their history (all coming in 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).
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 345-19 (.948) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 273 of their last 286 such contests (.955).
- In the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 182-2 (.989) when leading at the half.
- The only losses in that time came 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 an amazing 311-15 (.954) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game (19-0 record this season).
…But Sometimes You Have To Score If You Want To Win
- During the past 20 seasons (since 1995-96), the Fighting Irish are 232-6 (.975) when they score at least 80 points in a game.
- In that time, 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 108-2 (.982) when topping the 80-point mark, including an active 75-game winning streak since a 94-81 loss at No. 1 Baylor on Nov. 20, 2011, in the Preseason WNIT final.
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).
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director