March 7, 2015
2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 33
Atlantic Coast Conference Championship — Final
#2/2 [#1 seed] Notre Dame Fighting Irish (30-2 / 15-1 ACC) vs. #7/6 [#2 seed] Florida State Seminoles (29-3 / 14-2 ACC)
DATE: March 8, 2015
TIME: 1 p.m. ET
AT: Greensboro, N.C. – Greensboro Coliseum (23,500)
SERIES: ND leads 3-0
1ST MTG: ND 81-60 (2/6/14)
LAST MTG: ND 74-68 (1/2/15)
TV: ESPN/ESPN3/WatchESPN (live) (Pam Ward, p-b-p / Debbie Antonelli, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: theacc.com
- Notre Dame has advanced to its conference tournament championship game for the fifth consecutive season and the 14th time in 27 seasons, all under head coach Muffet McGraw.
- The Fighting Irish are playing their 11th ranked opponent of the season, having posted a 9-1 record to date, including a 5-1 mark against top-10 teams. It’s also the second ranked opponent in as many games for Notre Dame, the third time this year the Fighting Irish have been faced with that challenge.
No. 2 Fighting Irish Meet No. 7/6 Florida State Sunday In ACC Championship Final
Slightly more than two months after they tipped off the 2014-15 Atlantic Coast Conference season against one another, No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 7/6 Florida State will meet once more to close out the conference campaign, as the top-seeded Fighting Irish and second-seeded Seminoles play in the ACC Championship title game at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. The game will be televised live on ESPN, with additional coverage on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
Notre Dame (30-2) punched its ticket for a return trip to the ACC championship game with a hard-fought 55-49 win over No. 16 (and fourth-seeded) Duke on Saturday afternoon. The Fighting Irish jumped out to a 14-2 lead and were able to keep the Blue Devils at arm’s length the remainder of the game, thanks to a sturdy defense that held Duke to a season-low 15 first-half points.
Junior guard Jewell Loyd was the catalyst for Notre Dame with a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds, while freshman forward Brianna Turner added eight points, a game-best 11 rebounds and three blocks.
- Notre Dame is ranked No. 2 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 2 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Florida State is ranked No. 7 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 6 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- 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 Saturday), including five top-10 rankings — field-goal percentage (2nd – now .497), scoring offense (4th – 81.6 ppg.), scoring margin (4th – +22.0 ppg.), assists (6th – 18.2 apg.) and three-point percentage (9th – .382). The Fighting Irish also rank 15th in assist/turnover ratio (1.21), 17th in rebounding margin (+8.6 rpg.), 18th in personal fouls (14.6 per game) and 22nd in free-throw percentage (.746), as well as third in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.938).
- 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 74 of their last 78 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 37-1 against conference foes (31-1 regular season, 6-0 postseason).
- Senior guards Madison Cable and Whitney Holloway, and senior forward Markisha Wright have helped Notre Dame to a 137-9 (.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 50-7 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 693 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 781 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 Saturday).
The Notre Dame-Florida State Series
Notre Dame and Florida State will meet for the fourth time in a series that didn’t start until last season when the Fighting Irish joined the Atlantic Coast Conference. Notre Dame is 3-0 all-time against FSU, including a victory in their only matchup to date this season, a 74-68 decision on Jan. 2 at Purcell Pavilion.
The Fighting Irish also won the only previous time they faced the Seminoles in the ACC Championship, posting an 83-57 win in last year’s quarterfinal round.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Florida State Met
Lindsay Allen scored 18 points, added a career-high eight assists, and made all the tough plays down the stretch to help No. 4 Notre Dame beat Florida State, 74-68 on Jan. 2, 2015, in the ACC opener for both teams at Purcell Pavilion.
Allen’s buzzer-beating half-court heave got the Fighting Irish within one point after a tough first half. Her pull-up jumper with 1:10 to play put the hosts up by seven and she added three free throws down the stretch, while guiding the offense as the primary ball-handler against an aggressive FSU defense.
Jewell Loyd led all players with 20 points, while Brianna Turner scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half, to go with a (then) career high-tying five blocked shots, to help Notre Dame win its conference opener.
Shakayla Thomas scored 18 points to lead Florida State, which had its nine-game winning streak snapped.
Down nine in the second half, the Fighting Irish went on an 11-0 run and took their first lead of the game on Madison Cable’s steal and layup with 12:46 left.
Leticia Romero scored 15 points and Morgan Jones finished with 14 for Florida State.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Florida State Met In The ACC Championship
Notre Dame made its Atlantic Coast Conference tournament debut look a lot like nearly every other game it played in the league during its inaugural season.
Jewell Loyd scored 17 points to lead the No. 2 Fighting Irish past Florida State 83-57 in the tournament quarterfinals on March 7, 2014, at the Greensboro Coliseum, keeping them unbeaten with yet another lopsided win in their new league.
Notre Dame ran off 21 straight points in the first half, led by 22 at halftime and never let the Seminoles flirt with any sort of a comeback.
The closest thing to a hiccup? Missing their first six shots and falling behind 6-0 shortly before that 21-0 burst.
Kayla McBride added 13 for the top-seeded Fighting Irish, who shot 65 percent before halftime and finished at 60 percent. Notre Dame also had 24 assists on 32 baskets while getting the chance to rest its starters, none of whom played more than 30 minutes.
Natasha Howard followed up her big second-round performance with 29 points to lead ninth-seeded Florida State, which led 12-11 before Notre Dame took over.
Howard went for 30 points and 16 rebounds in FSU’s overtime win against Miami in the second round of the tournament, then made 14 of 22 shots with five rebounds and two blocks in 36 minutes. No other Seminoles player reached double figures, with Cheetah Delgado — who scored 20 against the Hurricanes — going scoreless with six turnovers.
The Fighting Irish didn’t need long to put their dominant form on display. After missing its first six shots, Notre Dame made 17 of 20 shots during the remainder of the first half, with Loyd going five for six.
The Seminoles got as close as 15 four times in the second half, the last coming at 66-51 on Howard’s layup with 6:18 left. But Achonwa answered with a score, McBride hit two free throws and Ariel Braker followed with a layup to push the lead back up to 72-51 with 4:07 remaining.
Notre Dame also scored 23 points off turnovers and made seven of 14 three-pointers.
Other Notre Dame-Florida State Series Tidbits
- Notre Dame sophomore guard Lindsay Allen and sophomore forward Taya Reimer were teammates with Florida State sophomore center Kai James on the East Team at the 2013 McDonald’s High School All-America Game, played at Chicago’s United Center (the West defeated the East, 92-64).
- Allen, Reimer and James, as well as Notre Dame freshman forward Brianna Turner, were teammates on the 2012 USA Basketball Under-17 National Team that went 8-0 and struck gold at the FIBA U17 World Championships in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
- Notre Dame freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld played alongside Florida State freshman forward Shakayla Thomas on the East Team, which dropped an 80-78 decision to Fighting Irish freshman forward Brianna Turner and the West Team in the 2014 McDonald’s High School All-America Game at the United Center in Chicago. Turner was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after collecting 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, as well as the game-winning basket in the final minute, while Thomas scored a game-high 19 points for the East Team.
- Notre Dame associate head coach Carol Owens and Florida State head coach Sue Semrau have a friendship that dates back more than two decades to their days at Northern Illinois, when Owens was completing her career at NIU in 1990 (and subsequently returning to campus to train when she was playing professionally overseas) and Semrau was arriving on the DeKalb, Illinois, campus as an assistant coach (1991-94). The pair also have previously served together on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Board of Directors, with Semrau currently the WBCA President.
- Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw presently serves alongside Semrau as an at-large representative on the WBCA Executive Committee.
- Florida State director of athletics Stan Wilcox is a 1981 Notre Dame graduate and was a four-year monogram recipient on the Fighting Irish men’s basketball team, playing for legendary coach Digger Phelps and helping Notre Dame to its first NCAA Final Four appearance in 1978. Wilcox later returned to his alma mater as deputy athletics director from 2005-08.
Sunshine State Success
Notre Dame is 33-6 (.846) all-time against Florida schools, including a 20-3 (.870) record away from home (road/neutral combined) against Sunshine State teams. The Fighting Irish also have won 13 of their last 14 games overall against Florida schools, most recently defeating Miami, 77-61 in the ACC Championship quarterfinals on Friday.
Notre Dame has won eight of its last nine games away from home (road/neutral combined) against teams from the state of Florida.
Notre Dame is 9-1 against ranked opponents (5-1 against top-10 teams), with six of those nine 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 50-7 (.877) against ranked opponents, with nearly 75 percent of those Top 25 wins (37 of 50) by double digits.
Individually, the ACC’s Player of the Year, junior guard Jewell Loyd, has lived up to that reputation, averaging 25.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in 10 outings against Top 25 teams this season, including nine games of 20 or more points, and three 30-point games (school record-tying 41 points at No. 25 DePaul on Dec . 10; 34 points against No. 5/6 Tennessee on Jan. 19; 31 points against No. 3 Connecticut on Dec. 6).
Not to be overlooked, the ACC Freshman of the Year, forward Brianna Turner has looked equally sharp against top competition. In seven full games against ranked opponents (not including an injury shortened four-minute stretch against No. 15/10 Maryland on Dec. 3), Turner is averaging 15.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 5.3 blocks per game with two double-doubles and a .667 field-goal percentage. Her best outing came Jan. 15 at No. 12/10 North Carolina, when she piled up 29 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocks (all career highs) to become the second NCAA Division I player since 1999-2000 to post those marks in a single game — Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris had 30 points, 20 rebounds and eight blocks against Missouri in a 2008 Big 12 Tournament first-round game.
Department of Defense
In the past 12 games, Notre Dame has shown marked improvement in its defense, allowing opponents to score just 54.2 points per game while forcing 16.3 turnovers per night, posting a rebounding margin of +9.1 per game and blocking 4.6 shots per contest.
The Fighting Irish have been particularly stingy at the three-point line, holding opponents to a .234 three-point percentage (36 of 154) in the past 12 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, and then a rematch with Duke in the ACC Championship semifinals on Saturday.
Collectively in those four games, those three teams made eight of 43 three-point attempts (.186) against Notre Dame, highlighted by a zero for 12 whitewash of No. 10/11 Duke on Feb. 16 at Purcell Pavilion.
Fighting Irish In The ACC Championship
Notre Dame is in the midst of 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, compiling a 41-19 (.683) 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 14 times, while advancing to the league tournament semifinals in 19 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 nine tournaments as a top seed (including this season), Notre Dame has won five titles (1990, 1991 and 1994 MCC; 2013 BIG EAST; 2014 ACC) and reached the championship game on three other occasions (2001 and 2012 BIG EAST; 2015 ACC – pending).
- Dating back to the start of its BIG EAST tenure in 1995-96, the Fighting Irish are 23-7 (.767) 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), 19 of the past 30 Fighting Irish games in the tournament have been decided by 11 points or fewer, including 12 by single digits (Notre Dame is 9-10 in these close contests).
- Since 1995-96, more than half (24) of Notre Dame’s 45 conference tournament games have featured margins of 11 points or fewer, with the Fighting Irish going 12-12 (.500) in those games.
Since the start of the 2008-09 season, Notre Dame has played 62 times when it has had a short one-day break (or less) between games.
When faced with such a tight turnaround, the Fighting Irish have risen to the occasion in recent seasons, going 52-10 (.839) on the back half of these two-game (or more) blitzes during the past seven years.
Sunday’s ACC Championship final marks the eighth time this season Notre Dame has played twice in less than 48 hours, with the Fighting Irish going 7-0 in such games thus far, including a 55-49 win over No. 16 Duke in Saturday’s ACC Championship semifinal.
Game #32 Recap: Duke (ACC Championship Semifinal)
When No. 2 Notre Dame needed her most, Jewell Loyd once again did it all.
Loyd scored 21 points and grabbed an important rebound in a 55-49 Fighting Irish win over No. 16 Duke in an Atlantic Coast Conference semifinal Saturday.
The ACC Player of the Year hit five straight baskets during six key minutes down the stretch for the top-seeded Fighting Irish (30-2).
“She was simply amazing, which she has been all year long,” coach Muffet McGraw said. “I thought during that stretch (she was) the best player in the country.”
Brianna Turner added 11 rebounds to help the Fighting Irish earn their 16th straight win. The defending ACC tournament champions improved to 5-0 in the event in their two years in the league and earned a return trip to the title game after shooting 39 percent and holding off the Blue Devils’ late push.
“We ran out of time,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “We needed a longer game.”
Elizabeth Williams had 15 points and Ka’lia Johnson added 12 for Duke (21-10), which had the ball while trailing by four points with less than two minutes left.
But Rebecca Greenwell’s three-pointer failed to hit anything, and Turner hit the front end of a one-and-one with 1:29 to go. She missed the second, but Loyd grabbed the rebound and spun in a layup to make it 53-46 with 1:15 left.
“That was the game,” McGraw said.
Loyd said she “just knew I could get in there and at least make a tip out. It bounced right to me.”
The Fighting Irish, who beat Duke by 13 on Feb. 16 in South Bend, improved to 9-1 against Top 25 opponents by winning this rematch of last year’s ACC title game.
Freshman Azura Stevens added 11 points for Duke, which was denied its 14th title game appearance but made things interesting after falling behind by 12 in the second half.
The Blue Devils reeled off seven straight points and Williams hit three straight buckets, the third of which made it 46-41 with just under five minutes left.
Greenwell then pulled Duke to 50-46 with her big three with about 2 1/2 minutes to play. Her pivotal airball came on the Blue Devils’ next possession and they didn’t score again until Johnson’s three-pointer with four-tenths of a second to play.
Beyond The Box Score — Duke
- Notre Dame advances to its conference tournament final for the fifth consecutive year and 14th time in 27 seasons (all under head coach Muffet McGraw). The Fighting Irish also reach the conference tournament title game for eighth time in nine appearances as a No. 1 seed, having previously won five championships (most recently last year’s ACC crown) and placed second twice.
- Notre Dame earns its 30th win of the season, the fifth consecutive year and seventh time in program history the Fighting Irish have reached that mark.
- Notre Dame improves to 9-1 this season against ranked opponents.
- The Fighting Irish have won 17 consecutive games decided by single digits or in overtime, dating back to the 2012 BIG EAST Conference Championship final (a 63-54 Connecticut win on March 6, 2012, at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut).
- Coincidentally, that 2012 contest was the last time Notre Dame scored fewer than the 55 points it registered on Saturday against Duke. The last time the Fighting Irish won a game when scoring less than 55 points was Jan. 21, 2006, when they posted a 54-52 victory at Georgetown.
- When factoring in regular-season and postseason tournament results (league and NCAA), Notre Dame has won 74 of its last 78 games against conference opponents.
- Since joining the ACC prior to the 2013-14 season, the Fighting Irish are 37-1 (31-1 regular season, 6-0 postseason) against fellow ACC members.
- Notre Dame is 23-7 in conference tournament games as the higher seed dating back to the 1995-96 season.
- Since the 2001 BIG EAST final, 19 of the past 30 Fighting Irish games in conference tournament play have been decided by 11 points or fewer, with Notre Dame going 9-10 in those close contests.
- The Fighting Irish have held their last 12 opponents to 63 points or fewer, including eight to less than 60 points (Notre Dame is 17-0 this season and 309-15 since 1995-96 when it holds opponents under the 60-point mark).
- In their last 11 conference tournament games, the Fighting Irish have held eight opponents to fewer than 60 points, the lone exceptions coming in back-to-back games in the 2012 BIG EAST final (63-54 loss at UConn) and 2013 BIG EAST quarterfinal (75-66 win over South Florida at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut), as well as this year’s ACC quarterfinal (77-61 win over Miami in Greensboro).
- Duke’s 15 first-half points were the second-fewest the Fighting Irish have allowed in the opening 20 minutes this season (Harvard scored 13 on Nov. 24 at Purcell Pavilion).
- Notre Dame had held Duke to 25 consecutive misses from the three-point line in its last two-plus matchups with the Blue Devils (covering nearly 70 minutes of game action) before Duke’s Rebecca Greenwell sank a triple with 10:05 left in the second half (one of three for the Blue Devils on 13 attempts on Saturday).
- Notre Dame moves to 11-1 all-time against Duke and has won the past nine games in the series.
- The Fighting Irish are 27-2 all-time against North Carolina schools, including an active 17-game winning streak.
- Notre Dame is 16-1 all-time when playing in the state of North Carolina, including a 7-0 record at neutral sites (5-0 at the Greensboro Coliseum).
- Since 2008-09, the Fighting Irish are 52-10 when playing on one’s day rest or less, including a 7-0 record this season.
- Junior guard Jewell Loyd posted her 18th 20-point game of the season, tying for second on the school’s single-season list with Katryna Gaither (1995-96).
- Loyd also has scored 20 points in nine of 10 games against ranked opponents this season (25.6 ppg. against Top 25 teams this year).
- Loyd moved to sixth place on the Notre Dame single-season scoring list with 658 points, edging past Skylar Diggins (657 in 2011-12).
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director