Freshman forward Brianna Turner is one of only two ACC players to rank among the top 12 in the conference in points, rebounds, blocks and field-goal percentage, leading the nation in the latter category.

#2 Irish Head To Greensboro For ACC Championship

March 4, 2015

Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 31

Atlantic Coast Conference Championship — Quarterfinal
#2/2 [#1 seed] Notre Dame Fighting Irish (28-2 / 15-1 ACC) vs. [#8 seed] Miami Hurricanes (18-11 / 8-8 ACC) or [#9 seed] Virginia Cavaliers (17-12 / 7-9 ACC)

DATE: March 6, 2015
TIME: 2:00 p.m. ET
AT: Greensboro, N.C. – Greensboro Coliseum (23,500)
SERIES: ND leads UM 15-4 / ND-UVA tied 2-2
TV: ACC-Regional Sports Networks/ESPN3-WatchESPN (live) (Mike Hogewood, p-b-p / LaChina Robinson, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TWITTER: @NDsidMasters/@ndwbb


  • Notre Dame has earned the No. 1 seed in its conference tournament for the fourth consecutive year and ninth time in head coach Muffet McGraw’s tenure (since 1987-88).
  • Notre Dame is 14-1 (.933) all-time when playing in the state of North Carolina, including a 5-0 record in neutral-site games.

No. 2 Fighting Irish Head To Greensboro For ACC Championship
With its second consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title (and fourth in a row overall) now assigned to the history books, No. 2 Notre Dame turns its attention to the ACC Championship and a quarterfinal game at 2 p.m. (ET) Friday, as the top-seeded Fighting Irish face either No. 8 seed Miami or No. 9 seed Virginia at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. Friday’s quarterfinal will be televised live on the ACC-Regional Sports Networks, as well as on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

Notre Dame (28-2, 15-1) posted its 14th consecutive win and clinched the outright ACC crown on March 1 with a 67-60 victory at N.C. State. The Fighting Irish shot 54 percent from the floor and used a 13-2 second-half run to turn away the Wolfpack.

Junior guard Jewell Loyd scored a game-high 16 points, and senior guard Madison Cable added 12 points, including a season-high four three-pointers, for Notre Dame.


  • Notre Dame is No. 2 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 2 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
  • Miami and Virginia are not ranked.

Quick Hitters

  • Notre Dame is ranked No. 2 in this week’s Associated Press poll, its 83rd consecutive week in the AP Top 10 and 77th of the past 83 weeks in the AP Top 5.
  • Notre Dame has appeared in the AP poll for 153 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 this week’s 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 25 in nine NCAA statistical categories (as of Tuesday), including five top-10 rankings — field-goal percentage (2nd – .501), scoring offense (4th – 82.6 ppg.), scoring margin (4th – +22.7 ppg.), assists (6th – 18.6 apg.) and three-point percentage (8th – .380). The Fighting Irish also rank 15th in assist/turnover ratio (1.23), 17th in rebounding margin (+8.6 rpg.), 19th in personal fouls (14.7 per game) and 21st in free-throw percentage (.751), as well as third in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.933).
  • Notre Dame aims to continue its remarkable success at Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 417-91 (.821) all-time record in 38 seasons at the facility, including a 94-6 (.940) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
  • Including regular season and postseason play, the Fighting Irish have won 72 of their last 76 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 35-1 against conference foes (31-1 regular season, 4-0 postseason).
  • Senior guards Madison Cable and Whitney Holloway, and senior forward Markisha Wright have helped Notre Dame to a 135-9 (.938) 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 four conference regular-season titles and two league tournament crowns), as well as a 49-7 record against ranked teams (21-7 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 691 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 779 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 958 as of Tuesday).

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 195 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 sixth in the nation (as of Tuesday), averaging 8,835 fans per game at home this season, and have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 225 of their last 227 home games (with an active streak of 68 consecutive contests with 8,000 fans), 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 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-Miami Series
Notre Dame and Miami could meet for the 20th time in their series history on Friday, with the Fighting Irish holding a 15-4 edge all-time against the Hurricanes after UM earned a 78-63 victory in the regular-season matchup between the clubs on Jan. 8 in Coral Gables.

Notre Dame and Miami have played once in the postseason, with the Fighting Irish posting a 67-52 win over the Hurricanes on March 5, 2000, in the BIG EAST Conference Championship quarterfinals at Storrs, Connecticut.

The Last Time Notre Dame and Miami Met
Adrienne Motley scored a career-high 32 points, Jassany Williams blocked a school-record nine shots and Miami snapped No. 4 Notre Dame’s NCAA Division I record-tying 30-game road winning streak by running out to a big lead and then pulling away again late to upset the Fighting Irish 78-63 on Jan. 8, 2015, at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Florida.

The Hurricanes led 40-20 at the half, saw the lead whittled to six and then closed the game on a 23-14 spurt. Motley made 13 of 19 shots, Suriya McGuire added 11 points and Williams added six points and eight rebounds to her nine-block night. Plus, Miami’s bench outscored Notre Dame’s 21-7.

Jewell Loyd scored 27 points for Notre Dame, which also got 17 points and 10 rebounds from Brianna Turner.

Other Notre Dame-Miami Series Tidbits

  • Of the 19 games in the series, only six have been decided by single-digit margins. Notre Dame has come out on top in four of those six close affairs.
  • Miami has scored more than 70 points against Notre Dame five times in their 19-game series (just twice in the past 10 meetings). Conversely, the Fighting Irish have topped the 70-point mark 12 times in their history with the Hurricanes, all in the past 17 series matchups.
  • 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).
  • Junior guard/tri-captain Michaela Mabrey played for Miami head coach Katie Meier on the 2012 USA Basketball Under-18 National Team that won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. Mabrey appeared in all five games (starting four times) for Team USA at the tournament, averaging 12.8 points, 4.8 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game with a .500 three-point percentage and .489 overall field goal percentage. She also scored in double figures four times (including 14 points against Brazil in the gold medal game), and led all players in the eight-team tournament in assists, assist/turnover ratio (2.67) and three-pointers per game (3.2).
  • Notre Dame assistant athletic trainer Anne Marquez also served on Meier’s staff with the 2012 USA Basketball U18 National Team.
  • Meier coached Notre Dame freshman forward Brianna Turner on the 2013 USA Basketball U19 National Team that won the FIBA U19 World Championships in Lithuania. As the second-youngest player on the American roster, Turner played in all nine games for Team USA at the tournament, averaging 5.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game with a .500 field goal percentage.

Sunshine State Success
Despite its regular-season loss to Miami, Notre Dame is 32-6 (.842) all-time against Florida schools, including a 19-3 (.864) record away from home (road/neutral combined) against Sunshine State teams. The Fighting Irish also have won 12 of their last 13 games against Florida schools, including a win over Florida State (74-68) back on Jan. 2.

Notre Dame has won seven of its last eight games away from home (road/neutral combined) against teams from the state of Florida.

The Notre Dame-Virginia Series
Notre Dame and Virginia would play for just the fifth time if they square off in Friday’s ACC Championship quarterfinals. The series between the Fighting Irish and Cavaliers is tied 2-2, with Virginia winning the first two meetings, and Notre Dame the last two (both since the Fighting Irish joined the ACC prior to last season).

Friday would mark the first time Notre Dame and Virginia meet in postseason play, although the Cavaliers have previously defeated the Fighting Irish at a neutral site (68-40 on Feb. 22, 1981, at the Rosemont Horizon — now called Allstate Arena — in Chicago).

The Last Time Notre Dame and Virginia Met
Notre Dame freshman forward Brianna Turner had 26 points and 13 rebounds as No. 4 Notre Dame beat Virginia, 75-54 on Feb. 5, 2015, at Purcell Pavilion.

Turner repeatedly took advantage of her size as the Fighting Irish led comfortably for much of the game. Turner scored twice on alley-oops, including using two hands to swat in a pass from Lindsay Allen for a basket and Notre Dame outscored the Cavaliers 50-18 in the paint.

Virginia cut the lead to five points late in the first half after falling behind by 15, but trailed by 10 at halftime. The Cavaliers played Notre Dame even for most of the second half until a 12-0 run late put the game out of reach.

Jewell Loyd added 14 points for the Fighting Irish despite shooting just four of 15 from the field.

Allen added 12 points, six rebounds and four assists for the Fighting Irish, who outrebounded the Cavaliers 42-30, including 17-7 in the final 10 minutes. Faith Randolph led Virginia with 16 and Sarah Imovbioh finished with 16 rebounds and three points, all at the free-throw line.

Other Notre Dame-Virginia Series Tidbits

  • Notre Dame is 13-8 (.619) all-time against Virginia schools, having won its last seven games against the Commonwealth. Earlier this season, the Fighting Irish posted victories over Virginia Tech (74-50 on Jan. 29) and Virginia (75-54 on Feb. 5).
  • The Fighting Irish are 7-7 (.500) away from home (road/neutral combined) against Virginia schools, most recently earning their 74-50 win at Virginia Tech on Jan. 29.
  • Fighting Irish associate coach Beth Cunningham is no stranger to Virginia, having spent 11 seasons (2001-12) on the women’s basketball staff at VCU, the final nine (2003-12) as the Rams’ head coach before returning to her alma mater prior to the 2012-13 season.
  • Of the 157 players who have suited up for the Notre Dame women’s basketball program during its 38-year history, only one has been a Virginia native. Cynthia Battel, a guard from Fairfax, Va., appeared in 12 games for the Fighting Irish during the program’s second varsity seaon (1978-79), averaging 1.8 points and 0.8 assists per game.
  • Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle has faced Notre Dame once before in the postseason, although not with her current employer. Boyle was the helm for California on March 18, 2007, when the Fighting Irish defeated Boyle’s Golden Bears, 62-59 in the first round of the NCAA Championship at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh.
  • Prior to assuming his current post, Virginia baseball coach Brian O’Connor spent nine seasons (1995-2003) as assistant/associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Notre Dame, most notably serving as the pitching coach while helping the Fighting Irish reach the 2002 College World Series.
  • Virginia football associate head coach for defense/defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Jon Tenuta served two seasons in a similar role (2008-09) at Notre Dame and helped the Fighting Irish to a victory in the 2008 Hawaii Bowl.
  • Virginia football defensive line coach Jappy Oliver held down the same post at Notre Dame from 2005-08 (following two seasons at South Carolina where he served under former Fighting Irish head coach Lou Holtz).
  • Virginia assistant athletics director for media relations Jim Daves served as assistant and associate sports information director at Notre Dame from 1986-92, spending his first four years in South Bend as the Fighting Irish women’s basketball media relations contact (the last three of those alongside current Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw, who arrived in South Bend in 1987).

Irish In The ACC Championship
Notre Dame opens play in its second ACC Championship this weekend, looking to defend the ACC postseason crown it earned to cap off last year’s inaugural season in the conference.

Between their memberships in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (Horizon League), BIG EAST Conference and ACC, the Fighting Irish have played in 27 league tournaments entering this weekend’s action, compiling a 39-19 (.672) record in conference tournament games.

In that time (1989-present), Notre Dame has won seven titles (MCC-5, BIG EAST-1, ACC-1) and reached the tournament championship game 13 times, while advancing to the league tournament semifinals in 18 of those 27 seasons.

Before last year’s three-game run to the ACC crown, the Fighting Irish posted a 24-17 (.585) record in 18 BIG EAST Championship appearances. Notre Dame also won the 2013 BIG EAST title (61-59 at Connecticut on a layup by Natalie Achonwa with 1.8 seconds left) in the last of their seven title game appearances (1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2011, 2012, 2013). In addition, the Fighting Irish reached the BIG EAST semifinals in 11 of their 18 years.

Prior to joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, Notre Dame won the MCC Tournament five times, all in six-year span (1989-92, 1994), and made the tournament semifinals in 1995 (its final year in that conference).

Other ACC Championship Tidbits

  • Notre Dame is the No. 1 seed in its conference tournament for the fourth consecutive year, and ninth time in 28 years (also 1990, 1991, 1994 and 1995 in the MCC; 2001, 2012 and 2013 in the BIG EAST; 2014 in the ACC). In eight previous tournaments as a top seed, Notre Dame has won five titles (1990, 1991 and 1994 MCC; 2013 BIG EAST; 2014 ACC) and reached the championship game on two other occasions (2001 and 2012 BIG EAST).
  • Dating back to the start of its BIG EAST tenure in 1995-96, the Fighting Irish are 21-7 (.750) in conference tournaments when playing as the higher seed.
  • Beginning with the classic 2001 BIG EAST title game against Connecticut (won by the Huskies on Sue Bird’s fadeaway jumper at the buzzer), 18 of the past 28 Fighting Irish games in the tournament have been decided by 11 points or fewer, including 11 by single digits (Notre Dame is 8-10 in these close contests).
  • Since 1995-96, more than half (23) of Notre Dame’s 43 conference tournament games have featured margins of 11 points or fewer, with the Fighting Irish going 11-12 (.478) in those games.

Ranking File
Notre Dame is 8-1 against ranked opponents (5-1 against top-10 teams), with six of those eight victories coming by double figures, including all five wins over top-10 opponents.

In the past four seasons (2011-12 to present), the Fighting Irish are 49-7 (.875) against ranked opponents, with more than 75 percent of those Top 25 wins (37 of 49) by double digits.

Conference Call
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 now has won four consecutive outright conference regular season championships for the first time in its 38-year history, after stringing together 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 in that league with Loyola-Chicago.

Some other notables about Notre Dame’s second consecutive ACC title:

  • The Fighting Irish are the first program to earn back-to-back ACC regular-season crowns since Duke in 2012 and 2013.
  • Notre Dame is the first school from outside the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle to collect back-to-back ACC regular-season championships since Florida State earned shares of the title in 2009 and 2010.
  • Notre Dame is the first non-Triangle school to earn consecutive outright ACC regular-season crowns since Virginia from 1991-96.

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 Wednesday morning.

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 also 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).

This week’s ACC awards were selected through a vote of the ACC’s Blue Ribbon Panel, which consists of designated media members who cover the conference’s 15 institutions, the conference’s 15 head coaches and media relations directors, and other selected national and regional women’s basketball experts. The complete rundown of the 2015 conference award recipients can be found on the ACC’s official web site,

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.

Meanwhile, 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.

On Tuesday, Loyd and Turner both earned first-team all-ACC honors, while Turner also was named to 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 also was the first Notre Dame player to garner all-freshman accolades 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 first-team selections for Loyd and Turner, it represented the 12th consecutive year, and 18th time in 20 seasons that the Fighting Irish have had at least one player garner first-team all-conference status. In fact, 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).

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 52-7 (.881) on the hardwood this season, edging out Gonzaga for the most total wins, and nudging by Maryland and Wichita State for the best combined winning percentage, among both basketball programs on a national level.

Notre Dame also was the first school this season to have both basketball teams top the 20-win mark, with each Fighting Irish squad now approaching 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 squads are challenging the school records for combined men’s/women’s basketball victories and winning percentage in a single season, with Notre Dame amassing a combined 60-12 (.833) record in 2012-13 (women 35-2; men 25-10).

Nearly In A Class By Themselves
For the fourth consecutive season, a Notre Dame senior class is threatening to 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 second all-time with 135 wins (135-9, .938), trailing only the 2014 seniors.

Last year, Notre Dame’s three-player senior class of Natalie Achonwa, Ariel Braker and Kayla McBride posted 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.

Department of Defense
In the past 10 games, Notre Dame has shown marked improvement in its defense, allowing opponents to score just 54.1 points per game while forcing 17.5 turnovers per night, posting a rebounding margin of +9.0 per game and blocking 4.8 shots per contest.

The Fighting Irish have been particularly stingy at the three-point line, holding opponents to a .225 three-point percentage (29 of 129) in the past 10 games, a stretch that has included matchups with two top-10 opponents (Duke and Louisville) as well as the ACC’s top three-point shooting team in conference play, Virginia.

Collectively, those three teams made five of 30 three-point attempts (.167) against Notre Dame, highlighted by a zero for 12 whitewash of No. 10/11 Duke on Feb. 16 at Purcell Pavilion.

Youth Movement
Notre Dame continues to make impressive strides this season, considering the Fighting Irish came in looking to replace three senior starters who accounted for nearly 40 percent of the team’s scoring, rebounding and assists last season.

This year, Notre Dame hasn’t featured a senior in its most common starting lineup, and four of the team’s top five scorers and three of its top four rebounders are freshmen or sophomores, the lone exception in both cases being the 2015 ACC Player of the Year and the conference’s leading scorer, junior guard Jewell Loyd.

Leading the Fighting Irish youth movement is freshman forward Brianna Turner. The 2015 ACC Freshman of the Year, a six-time ACC Freshman of the Week and two-time United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Week, Turner ranks among the top 12 in the ACC in points, rebounds, blocks and field-goal percentage (leading the nation in the latter category), the only conference rookie to rank in the top 12 in the league in those four categories — no other ACC freshman ranks in the top 12 in more than two of those areas and only one other ACC player (Duke’s Elizabeth Williams) ranks in the top 12 in all four categories.

A pair of Notre Dame sophomore starters are making their mark as well, with both guard Lindsay Allen (10.2 ppg., 5.2 apg.) and forward Taya Reimer (9.9 ppg., 6.1 rpg.) logging career-high averages in virtually all statistical categories.

Allen ranks among the top five in the ACC in assists (first), assist/turnover ratio (second) and field-goal percentage (fifth). The latter placement is particularly notable, considering Allen is one of only two guards (along with Miami’s Adrienne Motley) to rank among the top 15 in the ACC in field-goal percentage.

Reimer continues to diversify her game, averaging 12.0 points and shooting .640 from the field (16 of 25) in her last three games. On Feb. 23 against No. 8/7 Louisville, she scored 16 points on a perfect eight of eight shooting. It was not only the fourth-best single-game field-goal percentage in school history and third-best in Purcell Pavilion annals, but also remains the best single-game field-goal percentage by an ACC player in this year.

Another Notre Dame rookie, forward Kathryn Westbeld likewise continues to blossom. The Kettering, Ohio, native leads all Fighting Irish reserves in scoring (7.3 ppg.) and rebounding (4.2 rpg.), and during ACC play, she ranked third in the conference in field-goal percentage (.573), while averaging 7.9 ppg. in her inaugural ACC campaign.

Conference Conquests
When factoring in regular-season and postseason tournament results (league and NCAA), Notre Dame has won 72 of its last 76 games against conference opponents (and 26 in a row at home).

The Fighting Irish 78-63 loss at Miami on Jan. 8 ended a school-record 38 consecutive regular season conference games, dating back to the end of its BIG EAST Conference membership and through the first two seasons of its affiliation with the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Prior to the Miami loss, the Fighting Irish last dropped a conference regular-season game on Feb. 12, 2012, falling 65-63 to then-BIG EAST foe West Virginia at Purcell Pavilion (on two free throws by WVU’s Brooke Hampton with 4.6 seconds left).

Notre Dame’s other two losses to a league foe in the past four seasons both came at the hands of Connecticut in the 2012 BIG EAST Championship title game (63-54 in Hartford, Connecticut) and the 2013 NCAA Women’s Final Four national semifinals (83-65 in New Orleans, Louisiana).

Notre Dame’s recent streak erased the prior school-record 33-game run from Feb. 25, 1989-Feb. 14, 1991 — that streak took place during the program’s dominant seven-year tenure in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (Horizon League).

Road Warriors
Even with its 78-63 loss at Miami on Jan. 8, Notre Dame has won 45 of its last 46 (and 52 of its last 58) regular-season road games.

With their loss at Miami, the Fighting Irish saw their NCAA Division I record-tying 30-game road winning streak snapped. It was an amazing string of success in hostile territory, a streak that lasted exactly three years (Jan. 4, 2012-Jan. 4, 2015) and left Notre Dame tied with Connecticut for the NCAA Division I all-time mark in that category.

Prior to the setback at Miami, 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.

In addition, the Miami loss was the first for the Fighting Irish in a regular-season road game since Nov. 20, 2011, a 94-81 defeat at No. 1 Baylor in the Preseason WNIT championship game.

Notre Dame also had its streak of a school-record 25 consecutive conference road wins snapped at Miami, with the last Fighting Irish road loss in league play coming as part of the BIG EAST Conference on Feb. 28, 2011 (a last-second 70-69 loss at No. 12/11 DePaul).

The highlight of Notre Dame’s remarkable recent road run came on Jan. 5, 2013, when Notre Dame edged No. 1 Connecticut, 73-72, in Storrs, Connecticut, earning its fourth all-time win over a top-ranked opponent and first-ever victory on the road.

More Streak Stats
Dating back to the start of the 2012-13 season, Notre Dame has posted a 100-5 (.952) 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 hasn’t had to deal with many close games in recent seasons, but when faced with such a challenge, the Fighting Irish have risen to the occasion.

Notre Dame has won its last 16 games decided by single digits and/or in overtime, including all four 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.

Visiting Century City
Notre Dame has scored at least 100 points four times this season (and posted 97 points in another), challenging last year’s school-record mark of five triple-digit outings, erasing the 2012-13 standard of three such contests.

The Fighting Irish have piled up 12 100-point games since the start of the 2011-12 season (and nine other games of 95-99 points), a remarkable offensive explosion considering Notre Dame had 13 triple-digit games in the first 34 years of the program’s existence–and just four in the 12 seasons prior to its current run.

This season marked the first time the Fighting Irish opened with three 100-point games in their first six contests. In fact, prior to 2012-13, Notre Dame had never had more than two triple-digit outings in an entire season, something it has now done for a third consecutive campaign.

Crown Jewell
Junior guard Jewell Loyd leads the ACC and ranks 20th in the nation in scoring (as of Tuesday), thanks in part to one of the most explosive individual scoring seasons in Notre Dame women’s basketball history.

  • Loyd has scored 621 points through 30 games this season (20.7 points per game). Already the fastest to each century single-season scoring interval in program history, Loyd now ranks ninth on Notre Dame’s single-season scoring list, having passed Katryna Gaither (613 in 1995-96) with 16 points on March 1 against N.C. State.
  • Loyd is just 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 is on pace to 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 17 20-point games this season, tying her with Cunningham for third in school history, and she has 32 career 20-point games, tying her with Jacqueline Batteast (2001-05) 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.
  • In nine games against ranked opponents this season, Loyd is averaging 26.1 points per game, with eight 20-point outings to her credit. The lone exception came on Jan. 15 at No. 12/10 North Carolina, when she scored eight points.
  • Loyd is eighth in school history with 1,758 career points, needing five points to catch Alicia Ratay (1,763 points from 1999-2003) for the No. 7 spot on the Fighting Irish all-time scoring list.
  • 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.

The Model Of Consistency
Junior guard Jewell Loyd scored eight points in Notre Dame’s 89-79 win at No. 12/10 North Carolina on Jan. 15, ending Loyd’s streak of scoring in double figures at 60 consecutive games. This remarkable run dated 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, Connecticut.

Loyd’s 60-game double-digit scoring streak was the second-longest in school history, topped only by Katryna Gaither’s 76-game string from 1994-97.

In less than three seasons at Notre Dame, Loyd has scored in double figures in 90 of her 103 career games — and 11 of those 13 single-digit games saw her within one basket of double figures.

Turner Throwing A Block Party
Freshman forward Brianna Turner has recorded 61 blocked shots in her last 19 games (3.2 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 at least 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 against No. 6/4 Duke, No. 25/23 Illinois, San Francisco and Toledo.

As of Tuesday, Turner ranks third in the ACC (and 22nd in the nation) at 2.7 blocks per game, while her 72 total blocks are seventh 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).

In addition, 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.

Allen Throws Wrench Into Opposing Game Plans
Sophomore guard Lindsay Allen has emerged as one of the top point guards in not only the ACC, but the nation as well.

Allen ranks among the top five in the ACC in assists (first – 5.2 apg.), assist/turnover ratio (second – 2.09) and field-goal percentage (fifth – .554), with the latter figure particularly notable as she is one of only two guards (along with Miami’s Adrienne Motley) ranked among the top 15 in the ACC in field-goal percentage.

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 also has logged at least five assists in 15 of her last 18 games (and 20 times this season), including 7.0 assists per game in five outings against ranked opponents during that span.

In addition, Allen has developed into a potent scoring threat for the Fighting Irish, increasing her offensive output by nearly 65 percent to 10.3 points per game, and she has scored in double figures 14 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 65-3 (.956) 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 92-4 (.958) in the past three years when she’s been in the starting lineup.

Stealing Cable Is Legal Here
Senior guard Madison Cable has emerged as one of Notre Dame’s top defenders this season, with the Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, product currently tying for 12th in the ACC in steals (1.7 spg.) and 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 enjoying her finest season in a Notre Dame uniform, posting career-high averages in nearly all categories, including scoring (6.5 ppg.), rebounding (4.2 rpg.), steals and three-point percentage (.493). She also 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.

In addition to her defensive prowess, Cable leads the ACC in three-point percentage and finished second in that category during conference play (.465).

Game #30 Recap: North Carolina State
Jewell Loyd scored a game-high 16 points to help No. 4 Notre Dame beat North Carolina State 67-60 on Sunday at Reynolds Coliseum, winning its 14th straight game and clinching a second consecutive outright ACC title.

Madison Cable added 12 points for the Fighting Irish (28-2, 15-1 ACC), who had already clinched the No. 1 seed for the league tournament in Greensboro.

Notre Dame shot 54 percent but committed 21 turnovers, and the Fighting Irish didn’t take firm control of this one until midway through the second half.

Notre Dame assumed command with a 13-2 spurt — keyed by three straight three-pointers from Cable in a 79-second span — to blow the game open and take a 15-point lead with about 10 1/2 minutes left.

Len’Nique Brown-Hoskin had 16 points to lead the undermanned Wolfpack (16-13, 7-9). N.C. State has been down to just seven scholarship players and nine total for the past month due to injuries, but hustled and scrapped to hang around.

N.C. State shot 38 percent and, unlike its upset of Duke two games earlier, couldn’t knock down enough three-pointers to stay with the Fighting Irish, missing 16 of 20 from beyond the arc against Notre Dame.

Beyond The Box Score: N.C. State

  • Notre Dame clinched its fourth consecutive outright conference regular-season title (second in as many seasons of ACC membership), the first time in the program’s 38-year history the Fighting Irish have won four league crowns in a row (let alone all four coming outright).
  • Notre Dame is 35-1 against ACC opponents since joining the conference prior to last season (31-1 regular season, 4-0 postseason).
  • On the way to their current run of four consecutive conference regular-season titles, the Fighting Irish have posted a combined 62-2 record in regular-season BIG EAST and ACC play, going 16-0 in 2012-13 (BIG EAST) and 2013-14 (ACC) and 15-1 in 2011-12 (BIG EAST) and 2014-15 (ACC).
  • When factoring in conference and NCAA tournament games, Notre Dame has won 72 its last 76 games against league opponents.
  • The Fighting Irish now have won 45 of their last 46 road games.
  • Notre Dame is 100-5 (.952) overall since the start of the 2012-13 season.
  • The Fighting Irish have won 16 consecutive games decided by single digits and/or in overtime, dating back to 2011-12.
  • Notre Dame has held its last 10 opponents to 63 points or fewer, after doing so 10 times in its first 20 games of the season.
  • The Fighting Irish move to 4-0 all-time against North Carolina State, including a 2-0 record at Reynolds Coliseum (which was slated to close the following day to begin a 16-month renovation process).
  • Notre Dame is 26-2 (.929) all-time against North Carolina schools (9-1 in true road games) and has won 16 in a row against teams from the Old North State.
  • Loyd has scored 621 points this season, pushing her into ninth place on the school’s single-season scoring list, passing Katryna Gaither, who scored 613 points in 1995-96.
  • Cable scored in double figures for a career-best seventh time this season, while her four three-pointers tied her season high and were one off her career best.
  • Junior guard Hannah Huffman recorded a career-best two blocks.
  • Fighting Irish players wore patches on their jerseys and staff members wore black ribbons in memory of the late former Notre Dame president Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., who passed away Feb. 26 at age 97.

Polling Station
Notre Dame is ranked No. 2 in this week’s Associated Press preseason poll, its 83rd consecutive week in the top 10 of the media balloting (77 of those in the top five), dating back to the middle of the 2010-11 season and marking 153 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.

What’s more, every current Notre Dame player has competed for a top-10 Fighting Irish squad throughout her career (76 consecutive weeks for the current senior class), spending the vast majority (70) 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 292 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 15th all-time in that category.

Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish are No. 2 in this week’s 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 155 of the past 156 weeks (and 119 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 287 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 33 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 292 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 33 people on this list, 18 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 337-19 (.947) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 265 of their last 278 such contests (.953).

What’s more, in the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 174-2 (.989) 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 308-15 (.954) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game (16-0 record this season).

…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 231-6 (.975) 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 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.

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 268 of their last 298 games (.899), all but one game/win at the 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion, including winning streaks of 51, 34, 25 and 20 games in that span.

Since Purcell Pavilion was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season, Notre Dame is 94-6 (.940) — including wins in 70 of its last 73 games — and three of the six Fighting Irish losses in their refurbished facility have come by three points or fewer (two in overtime).

Notre Dame also has a 212-30 (.876) 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 126 of their last 136 out-of-conference home contests (.926), dating back to the 1994-95 season. Five of the 10 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), Baylor in 2012 (73-61) and Connecticut in 2014 (76-58).

Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all but one of its games at the former Joyce Center, posting a 417-91 (.821) record at the venerable facility, including a school-record 17 home wins in three of the past four seasons (2011-12, 2013-14 and 2014-15).

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 year in a row, Notre Dame fans all but exhausted the program’s season ticket packages (approximately 7,500) and snapped up single-game ducats at a rate that helped the Fighting Irish post four sellouts (Dec. 6 vs. UConn; Jan. 2 vs. Florida State; Jan. 11 vs. Boston College; Jan. 19 vs. Tennessee).

As of Tuesday, Notre Dame ranks sixth in the nation in attendance, averaging 8,835 fans per game. That equates to 96.57 percent of Purcell Pavilion’s capacity, the highest such percentage of any team in the country (DePaul is second at 92.53 percent, while Gonzaga and Kentucky are the only other Division I schools currently filling their arenas to better than 70 percent capacity this season).

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).

Achonwa Named To 2015 ACC Women’s Basketball Legends Class
Natalie Achonwa (’14), one of the cornerstones of the most successful four-year run in Notre Dame women’s basketball history and a tri-captain on last year’s Fighting Irish squad that earned the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season and tournament championships with a combined 19-0 record, has been named to the 11th annual class of ACC Women’s Basketball Legends, the conference office announced Jan. 27.

Achonwa (pronounced uh-CHAWN-wuh) and the rest of the 2015 ACC Legends Class (which includes 14 former student-athletes and one former head coach who represent five decades of women’s basketball) will be honored at the annual ACC Women’s Basketball Legends Brunch at 10 a.m. (ET) Saturday in Greensboro, North Carolina. The group then will be introduced to the crowd at the Greensboro Coliseum at halftime of the first ACC Tournament semifinal that afternoon.

A two-time All-America forward, Achonwa helped lead Notre Dame to a 138-15 (.902) record from 2010-11 through 2013-14, along with four NCAA Women’s Final Four appearances and three trips to the NCAA title game, as well as three conference championships (two in the BIG EAST Conference before last year’s perfect run through the ACC) and two conference tournament crowns (2013 in the BIG EAST, 2014 in the ACC). She also ranks among the program’s all-time leaders in points (13th – 1,546 points), rebounds (fourth – 970), field goal percentage (sixth – .562) and double-doubles (tied-fifth – 28).

Later this year, Achonwa will continue her basketball career as a member of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, who selected her in the first round (No. 9 overall) of the 2014 WNBA Draft. Achonwa missed the 2014 season while recovering from knee surgery.

A native of Guelph, Ontario, Achonwa graduated from Notre Dame in May 2014, earning her bachelor’s degree in management-consulting from the top-ranked Mendoza College of Business. She currently serves as an operations specialist for the Fighting Irish women’s basketball program, coordinating team travel arrangements, supervising the team’s student managers, helping oversee the program’s popular summer camps, and serving as a liaison for the team’s numerous community service projects.

A Friend In Need
Natalie Achonwa is in her first year as an operations specialist on the Fighting Irish staff, having assumed that post last June.

In her current role, Achonwa oversees the program’s travel plans, supervising the team’s student managers, helping oversee the program’s popular summer camps and serving as a liaison for the team’s numerous community service projects, helping fill the void left by fellow operations specialist Katie Schwab, who has been hospitalized since June 9, 2014, following complications related to her Type I diabetes.

The Notre Dame women’s basketball program and several of Schwab’s supporters within and outside the University have banded together to hold several fundraisers to help defray some of Schwab’s medical expenses. The most notable of these fundraisers came in August, when the group (known informally as “Team Katie”) generated approximately $21,000 through a live and silent auction at the legendary Linebacker Lounge (across from the Notre Dame campus), as well as through online donations.

Notre Dame held its first Diabetes Awareness Day on Nov. 23 prior to the Fighting Irish home win over Holy Cross, and the team is active with the local chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (JDRF), including participation in its annual JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes on Sept. 14, 2014, in nearby Mishawaka, Indiana.

Schwab’s family continues to provide regular updates on her condition through the CaringBridge web site:

Riley Earns 2015 Moose Krause Award
The Notre Dame Monogram Club selected former women’s basketball star Ruth Riley (’01) as this year’s recipient of the Edward “Moose” Krause Distinguished Service Award.

Riley officially received the organization’s highest honor during Notre Dame’s game vs. Louisville on Feb. 23 at Purcell Pavilion.

A 13-year WNBA veteran, Riley retired from the sport in June 2014 and currently serves as an NBA/WNBA Cares Ambassador. Back in November, Riley traveled to Leipzig, Germany, where she was honored as a 2014 Junior Chamber International Ten Outstanding Young Persons of The World recipient in the category of humanitarian and/or voluntary leadership. She was the first American to receive the global award since 2008.

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 game at Purcell Pavilion.

In the eight-year history of the promotion, Notre Dame has hit the 88-point mark at home 62 times, most recently in the Feb. 1 win over Wake Forest.

Senior forward Markisha Wright leads all current Fighting Irish players with seven “Big Mac Baskets” 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”), 28 different players have converted the “burger ball”, including 10 current members of the Fighting Irish roster.

What’s more, of the 62 Big Mac games, 30 have been reached on two-point baskets, 19 on free throws, and 13 on three-pointers.

Next Game: ACC Semifinals
With a win in Friday’s ACC quarterfinal, Notre Dame would advance to the tournament’s semifinal round at noon (ET) Saturday at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. The opponent would come from a pool that includes No. 4 seed Duke (which earned a double-bye into the quarterfinals), No. 5 Syracuse (which has a bye into Thursday’s second round), No. 12 seed Boston College and No. 13 seed Wake Forest (the latter two meeting in a first-round game on Wednesday).

Both of Saturday’s ACC semifinal games will be televised live on ESPNU and streamed online by ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director