Nov. 20, 2014
2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 3
#3/2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-0 / 0-0 ACC) vs. Chattanooga Mocs (2-1 / 0-0 Southern)
DATE: Nov. 21, 2014
TIME: 5:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: First meeting
TV: WatchND (live)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TEXT ALERT: UND.com
TICKETS: (574) 631-7356; UND.com/buytickets
- Notre Dame begins a stretch of four home games in five days, all against first-time opponents.
- In the past seven seasons, the Fighting Irish are 46-10 (.821) when they have had one day’s rest (or less) between games.
No. 3/2 Fighting Irish Return Home Friday To Face Chattanooga
With the lessons of a gritty, yet imperfect road win over a ranked opponent still fresh in its collective mind, No. 3/2 Notre Dame has the opportunity to get right back on the hardwood when it returns to Purcell Pavilion at 5 p.m. (ET) Friday to take on reigning Southern Conference champion Chattanooga. The game can be seen live on the official Fighting Irish athletics multimedia platform, WatchND.
Notre Dame is coming off an important early-season victory on Wednesday night, battling past No. 15/17 Michigan State, 71-63 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan. The Fighting Irish used an 8-0 run midway through the second half to pull clear of the Spartans and hold the hosts at bay down the stretch.
Junior All-American guard Jewell Loyd posted her seventh career double-double with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, while freshman forward Brianna Turner scored all 17 of her points in the second half, including the first 10 of the period and four in Notre Dame’s decisive second-half run. Sophomore guard Lindsay Allen rounded out the Fighting Irish double-digit scoring trio with 14 points.
- Notre Dame is No. 3 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 2 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Chattanooga is not ranked.
- Ranked No. 3 in this week’s Associated Press poll, Notre Dame has appeared in the AP poll for 138 consecutive weeks (including the past 68 weeks in the AP Top 10), extending a program record that dates back to the 2007-08 preseason poll, and ranking sixth in the nation among active AP poll appearances. What’s more, every current Fighting Irish player has competed for a top-10 Notre Dame squad during her career, with the vast majority of that time (57 of 61 weeks) spent in the AP Top 5.
- Notre Dame is ranked No. 2 in the latest Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll, earning six first-place votes (the most for the Fighting Irish since 2000-01 when they were the unanimous choice after winning the NCAA title).
- Notre Dame aims to continue its remarkable success at Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 402-90 (.817) all-time record in 38 seasons at the facility, including a 79-5 (.940) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
- Notre Dame currently holds the nation’s longest active home court winning streak at 29 games, taking the top spot from Chattanooga, which saw its 40-game run end on Nov. 16 with a loss to South Florida.
- The Fighting Irish also own the nation’s longest active road winning streak at 27 games, tied with Stanford (2011-12 to 2013-14) for the third-longest run in NCAA Division I history.
- Senior guards Madison Cable and Whitney Holloway, and senior forward Markisha Wright have helped Notre Dame to a 109-7 (.940) record in their careers, putting them on pace to challenge last year’s senior class of Natalie Achonwa, Ariel Braker and Kayla McBride, who helped Notre Dame to 138 wins during their four seasons.
- Since arriving at Notre Dame in 2011-12, Cable, Holloway and Wright have paced Notre Dame to two NCAA national championship games and three NCAA Women’s Final Fours (plus three conference regular-season titles and two league tournament crowns), as well as a 42-6 record against ranked teams (18-6 against AP Top 10).
- Of the seven losses suffered by the current Fighting Irish senior class, four were decided by 13 points or less.
- With 665 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 753 career wins, McGraw ranks 10th in NCAA Division I coaching history. She is one of two active ACC coaches in the top 10 along with North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell (second with 938).
Other Notre Dame Notables
- Notre Dame is among the nation’s winningest programs during the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), ranking third with 169 victories.
- Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in average attendance annually since 2000-01 (including top-five rankings the past five years), most recently placing fourth in the nation last season with 8,694 fans per game. The Fighting Irish (who drew 8,659 fans to their Nov. 14 season opener against UMass Lowell) have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 208 of their last 210 home games (including an active streak of 51 consecutive contests with 8,000 fans), logging 41 Purcell Pavilion sellouts, including 35 since the start of the 2009-10 campaign.
- The Fighting Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as 12 Notre Dame players have been selected in the past 14 seasons. Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa were the most recent Fighting Irish players to be chosen, with McBride going to the San Antonio Stars in the first round (third overall selection) and Achonwa six picks later (No. 9 overall) to the Indiana Fever in the 2014 WNBA Draft. It marked the third consecutive year Notre Dame had a player selected No. 3 overall (Devereaux Peters went third to Minnesota in 2012 and Skylar Diggins was chosen in that same spot by Tulsa in 2013), making the Fighting Irish the second program with lottery choices in three consecutive seasons.
- Diggins was a 2014 All-WNBA First Team selection and the league’s Most Improved Player, in addition to earning the starting nod for the West at the 2014 WNBA All-Star Game. Meanwhile, McBride was chosen for the 2014 WNBA All-Rookie Team, the second Fighting Irish alumna in as many years to be selected for the squad (Diggins was picked for 2013 all-rookie honors).
- Peters earned her first WNBA Championship in 2013 with the Lynx (and fifth by a Notre Dame alumna), who defeated the Atlanta Dream (and former Fighting Irish All-American Ruth Riley) in the WNBA Finals. Riley previously had won a pair of crowns with the Detroit Shock (2003 Finals MVP, 2006), while Coquese Washington toiled for the 2000 Houston Comets and Jacqueline Batteast was Riley’s teammate on the 2006 title-winning squad in Detroit.
- For the eighth year in a row, the Fighting Irish posted a perfect 100 Graduation Success Rate (GSR) score, according to figures released by the NCAA in October. Notre Dame was one of only four schools in the previous seven years to record a perfect GSR score and play for a national championship in the same season (and the only program to do it more than once, pulling off that feat in 2011, 2012 and 2014).
The Notre Dame-Chattanooga Series
Notre Dame and Chattanooga will play for the first time on Friday afternoon.
Other Notre Dame-Chattanooga Series Tidbits
- Chattanooga will be the 206th different opponent in the 38-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball.
- Chattanooga is the second of five new opponents on this year’s Notre Dame schedule, all within the first six games of the season and all at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish defeated UMass Lowell on Nov. 14 and will play host to Holy Cross, Harvard and Quinnipiac Sunday through Tuesday as part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge.
- The Fighting Irish have won their last 20 games against first-time opponents, most recently toppling UMass Lowell 105-51 in the season opener on Nov. 14 at Purcell Pavilion.
- During their current 20-game winning streak against new opposition, the Fighting Irish have won by an average score of 92-49.
- Notre Dame is 64-7 (.901) against first-time opponents since 1995-96, including a 44-3 (.936) mark vs. new teams this century (since the start of the 2000-01 season).
- Including the Nov. 14 season-opening win over UMass Lowell, the Fighting Irish have won 33 consecutive home games against first-time opponents, dating back to Jan. 18, 1996, when Connecticut posted an 87-64 win at Purcell Pavilion.
- Notre Dame and Chattanooga have played once in men’s basketball, with the Fighting Irish defeating the Mocs, 97-84, on Nov. 24, 2001, at the Hawaii Pacific University Thanksgiving Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii.
- Notre Dame and Chattanooga have met in intercollegiate competition in a handful of other sports through the years, including women’s tennis (UTC leads series, 2-0, most recently earning an 8-1 win over the Fighting Irish on May 7, 1985, at the NCAA Division II Championships in Bakersfield, California, in the final match for head coach Sharon Petro, who also coached the Notre Dame women’s basketball team for the program’s first three seasons from 1977-78 through 1979-80). Notre Dame also has played Chattanooga three times in softball, with the Fighting Irish leading the series, 2-1, following a 5-3 win in the teams’ most recent meeting on March, 2, 2001, at the Frost Classic in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
- Notre Dame has had one Tennessee native suit up in the program’s 38-year history. Oak Ridge native Tricia McManus played for the Fighting Irish from 1978-81.
Teacher vs. Student
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has historically been reluctant to have her teams play schools coached by her former players and/or assistants. However, when it comes to her mentor, Chattanooga head coach Jim Foster, that reluctance is heightened, with the pair squaring off just seven times during their longstanding friendship (dating back more than three decades). McGraw leads the head-to-head series, 4-3, winning all four games against Foster since coming to Notre Dame.
McGraw got her start in college coaching as a member of Foster’s staff at her alma mater, Saint Joseph’s (Pa.), from 1980-82, filling a vacancy in the program’s coaching ranks created when a young assistant named Geno Auriemma left Hawk Hill to take a similar position at Virginia under legendary coach Debbie Ryan.
McGraw’s early coaching prowess was evident and it was only two seasons before she would be handed the keys to her own program at Lehigh. She spent the next five seasons (1982-87) at the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, school before coming to Notre Dame to begin the centerpiece of her Hall of Fame career.
From the outset, McGraw has been quick to credit Foster with helping mold her into the coach she has become. The McGraw and Foster families continue to remain very close, so much so that McGraw and her husband, Matt, asked Jim to be godfather to their son, Murphy (now 24 years old).
Notre Dame vs. The Southern Conference
Notre Dame has played only one current member of the Southern Conference, taking on one of that league’s newest members, Mercer, in a home-and-home series in 2011-12 and 2012-13. The Fighting Irish won both games against the Bears (who were then part of the Atlantic Sun Conference), 128-42 on Dec. 30, 2011, in Macon, Georgia, and 93-36 on Nov. 20, 2012, at Purcell Pavilion.
The last time Notre Dame played a team that was a Southern Conference member at tipoff was Nov. 25, 2008, when the Fighting Irish defeated Georgia Southern, 85-36, at Purcell Pavilion. GSU moved to the Sun Belt Conference this past summer following a 22-year affiliation with the Southern Conference.
The only other time Notre Dame met a Southern Conference team was Jan. 4, 1981, when the Fighting Irish downed Davidson, 85-37, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Davidson now is a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference in most of its sports.
One Rugged Stretch
Notre Dame is in the midst of one of the most demanding stretches of games in the program’s 38-year history. The Fighting Irish are slated to play five games in a seven-day period from Nov. 19-25, the most compressed set of contests for Notre Dame since the program elevated to Division I status in 1980-81, one day fewer than stretches of five games in eight days during the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons.
The school record for most games in a shortest period is five in a six-day span from Jan. 11-16, 1980, a run that included two games on the same day (Jan. 11, 1980 – wins over SIU-Edwardsville and Chicago State at the Huskie Invitational in DeKalb, Illinois).
November To Remember
Notre Dame’s success during the past 20 seasons has been aided by its ability to get off to a good start. The Fighting Irish are 83-14 (.856) in November games since 1995-96 (when they joined the BIG EAST Conference).
Notre Dame has won 20 of its last 21 games in the month of November, the lone exception being a 94-81 loss at No. 1 Baylor on Nov. 20, 2011, in the Preseason WNIT championship game.
The Comforts Of Home
Notre Dame has won 29 consecutive home games since a 73-61 loss to third-ranked Baylor on Dec. 5, 2012, at Purcell Pavilion.
As of Thursday, the Fighting Irish own the nation’s longest active home winning streak (once Chattanooga’s 40-game run ended Nov. 16 with a loss to South Florida), with Notre Dame’s current run also the second-longest in school history (longest since a school-record 51-game stretch from Dec. 12, 1998-Feb. 19, 2002).
In addition, Notre Dame has won its last 18 conference home games since a 65-63 loss to West Virginia on Feb. 12, 2012, when both the Fighting Irish and Mountaineers were members of the BIG EAST Conference.
Notre Dame has won a school-record 27 consecutive road games (36 in a row in the regular season, and 43 of its last 48 overall). The Fighting Irish last tasted defeat on the road on March 6, 2012, falling at No. 4 Connecticut, 63-54 in the BIG EAST Conference Championship final at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
The last time the Fighting Irish lost a regular season road game was Nov. 20, 2011, a 94-81 setback at No. 1 Baylor in the Preseason WNIT championship game.
Notre Dame’s current 27-game road winning streak is the longest active run in the nation, more than doubling the next-closest pursuers (13 by Chattanooga, as of Thursday), as well as tying the third-longest road winning streak in NCAA Division I history.
The highlight of this current run came on Jan. 5, 2013, when Notre Dame edged No. 1 Connecticut, 73-72, in Storrs, Conn., earning its fourth all-time win over a top-ranked opponent and first-ever victory on the road.
The Fighting Irish also have won a school-record 24 consecutive conference road games, with their last loss coming as part of the BIG EAST Conference on Feb. 28, 2011 (a last-second 70-69 loss at No. 12/11 DePaul).
More Streak Stats
Dating back to the start of the 2012-13 season, Notre Dame is 74-3 (.961) and has won 54 consecutive regular season games. In that span, the only Fighting Irish losses have come against a pair of top-three teams — No. 3 Baylor (73-61 on Dec. 5, 2012, at Purcell Pavilion), No. 3 Connecticut (83-65 on April 7, 2013, in the NCAA Women’s Final Four national semifinals at New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana) and No. 1 Connecticut (79-58 on April, 8, 2014, in the NCAA Women’s Final Four national championship game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee).
In addition, Notre Dame currently own the nation’s second-longest winning streak against unranked opponents (in the Associated Press poll), having earned 52 consecutive victories since a last-second 65-63 home loss to West Virginia on Feb. 12, 2012 (research for this note provided by STATS via the AP).
Making A Good First Impression
Freshman forward Brianna Turner wasted little time in making an impression on the Notre Dame faithful, posting game highs of 29 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in a 105-51 season-opening win over UMass Lowell on Nov. 14 at Purcell Pavilion.
Turner’s 29 points shattered the 33-year-old program record for points by a freshman in her debut, a mark previously held by Ruth Kaiser, who scored 22 points against St. Joseph’s College (Indiana) on Dec. 2, 1981.
Turner also scored the second-most points by any Fighting Irish player in a season opener, topped only by All-America forward Katryna Gaither’s 31 points at Indiana on Nov. 24, 1995.
Game #2 Recap: Michigan State
With her team struggling, Jewell Loyd stepped up her game on both ends of the floor.
Loyd had 28 points, 11 rebounds and two steals for No. 3/2 Notre Dame in a 71-63 victory over No. 15/17 Michigan State on Wednesday night at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan.
Aerial Powers scored 27 points and Tori Jankoska added 20 for the Spartans (1-1). But Michigan State struggled to score in the second half and couldn’t stop the Fighting Irish.
After netting 29 points against UMass Lowell, a record in a Fighting Irish debut, Turner was blanked in 10 first-half minutes. But a layup to open the second half gave Notre Dame a 31-30 lead and triggered her 10-point burst in the first 4:23 of the period.
The Spartans kept battling on the boards and trailed 48-47. But a 10-2 spurt gave Notre Dame a nine-point cushion and their 22nd win in the last 28 tries against Big Ten teams.
Despite shooting just 33.3 percent from the field, Michigan State led by a point at the half, thanks largely to a 10-1 advantage in free throws. Powers had 13 points at the break and Jankoska 11 to offset Loyd’s 14.
That changed in the last 20 minutes, as the Spartans struggled mightily with foul shots. After missing just two tries before the intermission, Michigan State lost any chance for an upset with 5-for-16 shooting at the line.
Beyond The Box Score: Michigan State
- Notre Dame improved to 42-6 (.875) against ranked opponents in the past three-plus seasons (since start of 2011-12).
- The Fighting Irish won their 12th consecutive game decided by single digits or in overtime.
- Notre Dame trailed at halftime for only the fourth time in the past two seasons, and first in the regular season since Jan. 20, 2014, at No. 11/10 Tennessee (rallied from 46-41 halftime deficit to earn 86-70 win).
- The Fighting Irish had just six turnovers, their fewest giveaways since Nov. 16, 2007, when it had a school-record three turnovers at No. 3 Maryland in the Preseason WNIT semifinals.
- Conversely, Notre Dame had eight assists, its lowest total since Nov. 9, 2012, when it had eight assists against No. 19/21 Ohio State in the Carrier Classic outdoors aboard the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
- The Fighting Irish won their school-record 27th consecutive road game, tying Stanford (2011-12 through 2013-14) for the third-longest road winning streak in NCAA Division I history.
- Notre Dame also won its 54th consecutive regular season game, extending the nation’s longest active streak in that category.
- The Fighting Irish earned their fourth consecutive win against Michigan State (the longest streak by either side in the series), tying the all-time rivalry with the Spartans at 8-8.
- More than half of the 16 games in the Notre Dame-Michigan State series have been decided by single digits, including four of the past five meetings.
- The Fighting Irish posted their 11th consecutive win against a Big Ten Conference opponent (seventh straight road victory) and have won 22 of their last 28 games against Big Ten schools (not counting recent matchups with new Big Ten members Maryland and Rutgers).
- Notre Dame rose to 58-20 (.744) all-time against teams from the state of Michigan, including a 38-8 (.826) record under 28th-year head coach Muffet McGraw–the Fighting Irish also have won 15 of their last 16 games against Michigan schools.
- Loyd posted her seventh career double-double and first since March 29, 2012, when she tallied 20 points and 12 rebounds in a win over No. 21/18 Oklahoma State in the NCAA Sweet 16 at Purcell Pavilion.
- Loyd also chalked up her 17th career 20-point game.
- Turner went scoreless in the first half (due to foul trouble), but erupted for all 17 of her points after halftime, including Notre Dame’s first 10 points of the second half.
- Allen pulled down a career-high nine rebounds, one more than her previous best against Georgia Tech on Feb. 17, 2014, and finished with her second career “5-5-5” game after collecting eight points, five rebounds and seven assists at Penn on Nov. 23, 2013.
- Allen scored in double figures for the first time since Feb. 2, 2014, when she had 15 points at No. 3 Duke.
- Junior guard Hannah Huffman provided a key spark off the bench, nabbing a career-high three steals, one better than her previous high set on three occasions (most recently on Feb. 9, 2014, against Syracuse).
Turner Named ACC Freshman Of The Week
It took all of one game for freshman forward Brianna Turner to not only put her name in the Fighting Irish record books, but break new ground in the program’s budding history as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Turner became the first Notre Dame women’s basketball player selected as ACC Freshman of the Week when she earned that honor Monday, following a vote of the conference’s Blue Ribbon Panel, which is comprised of the ACC’s 15 head coaches, local and national media members and the women’s basketball media relations directors for each school.
A 6-foot-3 post, Turner also is the first Fighting Irish women’s basketball player to garner conference freshman of the week status since Feb. 25, 2013, when current junior All-America guard Jewell Loyd collected the last of four BIG EAST Freshman of the Week citations.
Turner began her college career in record-setting fashion on Nov. 14, piling up game highs of 29 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots in only 19 minutes during Notre Dame’s 105-51 season-opening win over UMass Lowell at Purcell Pavilion.
Turner, who made 13 of her 18 field goal attempts in the victory, set a Fighting Irish record for most points by a freshman in her college debut, surpassing Ruth Kaiser’s 22 points against St. Joseph’s College (Indiana) on Dec. 2, 1981. Turner also easily topped the Notre Dame scoring record for a rookie in her debut under 28th-year head coach Muffet McGraw, a mark shared by Alicia Ratay (18 points at Toledo on Nov. 20, 1999) and Courtney LaVere (18 points against Cleveland State on Nov. 26, 2002).
In addition, Turner posted the second-highest point total by any Fighting Irish player in any class during a season opener and the most since All-America forward Katryna Gaither’s 31 points at Indiana on Nov. 24, 1995.
The Model Of Consistency
Junior guard Jewell Loyd has scored in double figures in 45 consecutive games, dating back to March 11, 2013, when she had eight points in Notre Dame’s 83-59 BIG EAST Championship semifinal win over No. 16/15 Louisville at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.
Loyd’s 45-game double-digit scoring streak is the second-longest in school history, surpassing Natalie Novosel’s 27-game run from March 8, 2011-Jan. 21, 2012. In fact, Loyd has scored in double figures in 63 of her 75 career games (and 10 of those 12 single-digit games saw her within one basket of double figures).
Katryna Gaither has staked a seemingly ironclad claim to the school record with a remarkable 76-game double-figure scoring streak from 1994-97.
Loyd Named AP Preseason All-American
For the second time in three years, Notre Dame had a player unanimously voted to the preseason Associated Press All-America Team when junior guard Jewell Loyd was chosen for the 2014-15 squad, according to balloting released by the AP on Nov. 4.
Skylar Diggins was the first Fighting Irish player to earn unanimous recognition for preseason AP All-America honors, doing so in 2012. Jacqueline Batteast is the only other Notre Dame player to be selected for the preseason AP squad (although not unanimously), earning her spot in 2004.
Unlike Diggins and Batteast, Loyd is the first Fighting Irish non-senior to receive preseason AP All-America status.
Also the Preseason Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, Loyd averaged career highs of 18.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last year, collecting AP second-team All-America honors, as well as a place on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), United States Basketball Writers Association USBWA), espnW and Full Court Press All-America teams. Loyd also is the No. 2-returning scorer in the ACC this season behind only Wake Forest’s Dearica Hamby (22.0 ppg.).
Notre Dame Tops 2014-15 ACC Preseason Polls
Notre Dame was the clear favorite in the 2014-15 Atlantic Coast Conference preseason women’s basketball polls, according to separate balloting from the league’s Blue Ribbon Panel and its 15 head coaches. The conference announced its preseason polls and all-conference honorees Oct. 22 in conjunction with ACC Women’s Basketball Media Day at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The Fighting Irish received 38 of 41 first-place votes and 835 total points from the Blue Ribbon Panel, which is comprised mainly of local and national media members. Duke was the Panel’s No. 2 choice, earning one first-place vote and 733 total points.
Rounding out the top five in the Blue Ribbon Panel Preseason Poll were conference newcomer Louisville (724 points, two first-place votes), North Carolina (707 points) and Florida State (545 points).
In the ACC coaches’ preseason poll, Notre Dame earned 14 of the 15 first-place votes and 223 total points. Duke was chosen second (one first-place vote, 196 points), while Louisville (194 points), North Carolina (193 points) and Florida State (152 points) completed the upper third of the balloting.
Three Notre Dame Players Earn Preseason All-ACC Mention
Along with the team balloting, three Notre Dame players received individual accolades as part of the Atlantic Coast Conference preseason voting that was released Oct. 22 at the conference’s Media Day in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Junior guard Jewell Loyd was chosen as the Preseason ACC Player of the Year and earned a spot on the Preseason All-ACC Team from both the Blue Ribbon Panel, in addition to being unanimously chosen as a preseason Associated Press All-American (see prior note).
Sophomore guard Lindsay Allen joined Loyd on this year’s Preseason All-ACC Team, earning recognition from both the Blue Ribbon Panel and the conference coaches. Allen received third-team Freshman All-America honors from Full Court Press last year after starting all 38 games for the Fighting Irish as a rookie point guard, averaging 6.2 points and 3.9 assists per game. She also led the ACC with a 2.24 assist/turnover ratio and her 150 total assists set a Notre Dame freshman record, eclipsing Mary Gavin’s previous mark of 116 assists in 1984-85.
Freshman forward Brianna Turner completed the trio of Notre Dame honorees, earning a spot on the ACC Newcomer Watch Lists from both the Blue Ribbon Panel and the league’s coaches.
Turner was the 2014 Gatorade National High School Female Athlete of the Year, 2014 USA Today National High School Player of the Year, 2014 Texas Miss Basketball and a three-time All-America selection during her prep career. A graduate of Manvel High School in Manvel, Texas, Turner averaged 21.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.9 blocks, 3.1 steals and 3.0 assists per game in her four prep seasons, culminating with Most Valuable Player honors in the 2014 Texas Class 5A state title game, when she had 17 points and 17 rebounds to help Manvel end Duncanville High School’s 105-game winning streak. Turner went on to add MVP laurels at the 2014 McDonald’s High School All-America Game, thanks to another double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks) and the game-winning basket in the West Team’s 80-78 win over the East Team at the United Center in Chicago.
In August, Turner earned her fifth gold medal with USA Basketball, serving as co-captain for the USA Under-18 National Team and averaging 13.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game with a .600 field goal percentage for the American squad that took the crown at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Notre Dame is ranked No. 3 in Monday’s Associated Press preseason poll, its 68th consecutive week in the top 10 of the media balloting (64 of those in the top five), dating back to the middle of the 2010-11 season and marking 138 consecutive weeks in the AP poll.
The Fighting Irish reached a milestone on Nov. 26, 2012, with their 100th consecutive AP poll appearance. It extended the program record that started with the AP preseason poll in 2007-08 (the old record was 59 consecutive weeks from 1998-2001), and it made the Fighting Irish are one of six teams in the nation with an active streak of 100 consecutive AP poll appearances.
What’s more, every current Notre Dame player has competed for a top-10 Fighting Irish squad throughout her career (61 consecutive weeks for the current senior class), spending the vast majority (57) of those appearances in the AP Top 5 (and never lower than seventh).
Notre Dame also was No. 3 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 277 weeks during the program’s 38-year history, with every one of those appearances coming in the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88). McGraw is eighth among all active NCAA Division I head coaches for weeks in the AP poll, and 16th all-time in that category.
The Fighting Irish are No. 2 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today coaches’ poll, up one spot from the preseason and boosted by six first-place votes (most since the final 2000-01 poll after the program’s first national championship).
Notre Dame has been ranked in the coaches’ poll for 140 of the past 141 weeks (and 104 in a row), falling just outside the Top 25 in the final poll of the 2008-09 season. Nevertheless, the Fighting Irish have appeared in the coaches’ poll for a total of 272 weeks during their history (all coming during McGraw’s tenure).
This marks the seventh consecutive season Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 10 of the WBCA/USA Today poll, as well as 13 of the past 17 campaigns (1998-99 to present).
More Polling Data
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is one of 32 people in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history who have both played for and coached a team that has appeared in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Besides her 277 AP poll appearances while coaching at Notre Dame, McGraw was the starting point guard at Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) as a senior in 1977, helping the Hawks to No. 3 in the nation.
Of the 32 people on this list, 17 currently are NCAA Division I head coaches (see accompanying chart), with McGraw and Baylor’s Kim Mulkey the only active skippers to play for and coach a team in the AP poll, and coach that team to a national title (McGraw in 2001, Mulkey in 2005 and 2012).
Half And Half
During the past 15 seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Fighting Irish are 313-19 (.943) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 241 of their last 254 such contests (.949).
What’s more, in the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 150-2 (.987) when leading at the half, with the only losses coming on April 5, 2011, in the NCAA national championship game at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis (Notre Dame led Texas A&M, 35-33 at intermission before falling 76-70), and Feb. 12, 2012, against West Virginia (Fighting Irish led 33-30 at the break before the visiting Mountaineers rallied to win in the closing seconds, 65-63).
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense…
During the past 20 seasons, Notre Dame has discovered that a solid defensive effort can almost certainly guarantee a victory. In fact, since the beginning of the 1995-96 season, the Fighting Irish have an amazing 293-15 (.951) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game.
…But Sometimes You Have To Score If You Want To Win
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. During the past 20 seasons (since 1995-96), the Fighting Irish are 215-6 (.973) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are three overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and UCLA (86-83 in double OT) in 2010, as well as a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998, an 81-80 loss to DePaul in 2008, and a 94-81 setback at Baylor in 2011.
In the past six years (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 92-2 (.979) when topping the 80-point mark, including an active 59-game winning streak since a 94-81 loss at No. 1 Baylor on Nov. 20, 2011, in the Preseason WNIT title game.
Now That’s A Home Court Advantage
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame’s success has been its stellar play at home. In fact, the Fighting Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 252 of their last 281 games (.897) at the 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion, including winning streaks of 51, 29, 25 and 20 games in that span (most recently the program’s current 29-game run).
Since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season, Notre Dame is 79-5 (.940) — including wins in 55 of its last 57 home games — and three of the five Fighting Irish losses in their refurbished facility have come by three points or fewer (two in overtime).
Notre Dame also has a 204-30 (.872) record in regular season conference play at the former Joyce Center, sporting a program-record 31-game league winning streak at home before it ended with a 48-45 loss to BIG EAST foe Villanova in the ’02 home finale.
The Fighting Irish have been especially strong when it comes to non-league home games, winning 118 of their last 127 out-of-conference contests (.929) at Purcell Pavilion, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Five of the nine losses in that span came at the hands of Big Ten opponents (four by 12 points or less) — Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54), Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT), Indiana in 2006 (54-51) and Minnesota in 2009 (79-71) — with the other defeats coming to Tennessee in 2005 (62-51) and 2008 (87-63), UCLA in 2010 (86-83 in 2OT) and Baylor in 2012 (73-61). The Purdue loss snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak that began after the UW setback.
Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the former Joyce Center, posting a 402-90 (.817) record at the venerable facility, including a school-record 17 wins in both 2011-12 and 2013-14.
Fighting Irish Are Hottest Ticket In Town
The past five seasons have seen an unprecedented surge in fan support for Notre Dame women’s basketball, as the Fighting Irish set new program records for the highest year-end NCAA attendance ranking (fourth in 2009-10 and 2013-14), highest average attendance (8,979 fans per game in 2012-13) and most sellouts in a single season (11 in 2012-13). And, as the old saying goes — “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
For the sixth consecutive year, Notre Dame fans all but exhausted the program’s season ticket packages (approximately 7,500) and have snapped up single-game ducats at a rate that helped the Fighting Irish already sell out the Dec. 6 game with Connecticut, while several other home games are rapidly approaching sellout status.
In fact, while some additional tickets may be available on the day or week of the game for individual contests this season (depending on returned inventory by visiting teams and other constituencies), it’s entirely possible that, for the fourth consecutive season, Notre Dame will flirt with a sell out for every one of its home games.
One Of Nation’s Toughest Cities To Play In
According to a study released by the University of Utah Athletic Media Relations Office, Notre Dame and Purcell Pavilion are among the toughest places in the nation to play. In fact, Notre Dame is one of just 11 programs in the nation to own a winning percentage of .800 or better in its home city.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Senior guard Whitney Holloway, senior forward Markisha Wright and junior guard Michaela Mabrey are serving as Notre Dame’s team captains for the 2014-15 season. All three players received the captain’s honor for the first time in their respective careers following a preseason vote by their teammates.
This is the seventh time in 11 seasons the Fighting Irish have had a trio of captains, as well as the second year in a row (Natalie Achonwa, Ariel Braker and Kayla McBride filled the captaincy trio last season).
Irish Fans Crave Another Big Mac Attack
Now in its eighth season, Notre Dame’s wildly-successful “Big Mac” promotion once again looks to send fans home with full bellies, offering a coupon for a free Big Mac from South Bend-area McDonald’s restaurants if the Fighting Irish score at least 88 points in an regular season or exhibition home game.
In the eight-year history of the promotion, Notre Dame has hit the 88-point mark 54 times, most recently the Nov. 14 win over UMass Lowell.
Senior forward Markisha Wright leads all current Fighting Irish players with six “Big Mac Baskets” apiece during her career.
And for those tracking such things (or perhaps falling under the heading of “the media relations director has way too much time on his hands”), 25 different players have converted the “burger ball”, including seven current members of the Fighting Irish roster.
What’s more, of the 54 Big Mac games, 25 have been reached on two-point baskets, 17 on free throws, and 12 on three-pointers.
Next Game: Holy Cross (Hall of Fame Challenge)
Notre Dame tips off play in the Basketball Hall of Fame Challenge at 5 p.m. (ET) Sunday, playing host to Holy Cross at Purcell Pavilion. It will be the opener of a doubleheader, followed by Harvard and Quinnipiac at 7 p.m. (ET).
During the following two days, Notre Dame also will play host to doubleheaders in the Hall of Fame Challenge, facing Harvard on Monday and Quinnipiac on Tuesday, both at 6 p.m. (ET). Each night, the remaining teams will meet at 8 p.m. (ET) as part of the round-robin event.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director