Nov. 24, 2014
2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 5
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge
#3/2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0 / 0-0 ACC) vs. Harvard Crimson (2-1 / 0-0 Ivy League)
DATE: Nov. 24, 2014
TIME: 6:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: First meeting
TOURNAMENT WEB SITE: UND.com/HOFchallenge
TV: WatchND (live)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TEXT ALERT: UND.com
TICKETS: (574) 631-7356; UND.com/buytickets
- Notre Dame is playing on back-to-back days during the regular season for the first time since the 2012 World Vision Classic in Las Vegas, when the Fighting Irish defeated Alabama A&M, Kansas State and No. 22 Texas A&M to earn the tournament title.
- Since 2008-09, the Fighting Irish are 47-10 (.825) when playing on one day’s rest or less.
No. 3/2 Fighting Irish To Meet Harvard Monday Night In Hall Of Fame Challenge
Facing a similar quick turnaround to what it might see in the postseason, No. 3/2 Notre Dame continues play in the three-day round-robin Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge at 6 p.m. (ET) Monday when it takes on Harvard at Purcell Pavilion (Holy Cross plays Quinnipiac in the second game at 8 p.m. ET). Every game during this week’s tournament is being streamed live on the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND.
The Fighting Irish opened the Hall of Fame Challenge Sunday night with a clinical 104-29 win over Holy Cross at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame used a 43-2 run crossing halftime and a smothering defense to topple the Crusaders.
Freshman forward Brianna Turner led a balanced Fighting Irish attack with 19 points and seven rebounds, while junior All-America guard Jewell Loyd chipped in with 17 points, six rebounds and five assists.
- Notre Dame was No. 3 in last week’s Associated Press poll and was No. 2 in last week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Harvard was not ranked last week.
- Ranked No. 3 in last 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 was ranked No. 2 in last week’s Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll, earning six first-place votes (the most for the Fighting Irish since 2000-01 when they were the unanimous choice after winning the NCAA title).
- Notre Dame aims to continue its remarkable success at Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 404-90 (.818) all-time record in 38 seasons at the facility, including an 81-5 (.942) 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 31 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 111-7 (.941) record in their careers, putting them on pace to challenge last year’s senior class of Natalie Achonwa, Ariel Braker and Kayla McBride, who helped Notre Dame to 138 wins during their four seasons.
- Since arriving at Notre Dame in 2011-12, Cable, Holloway and Wright have paced Notre Dame to two NCAA national championship games and three NCAA Women’s Final Fours (plus three conference regular-season titles and two league tournament crowns), as well as a 42-6 record against ranked teams (18-6 against AP Top 10).
- Of the seven losses suffered by the current Fighting Irish senior class, four were decided by 13 points or less.
- With 667 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 755 career wins, McGraw ranks 10th in NCAA Division I coaching history. She is one of two active ACC coaches in the top 10 along with North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell (second with 939).
Other Notre Dame Notables
- Notre Dame is among the nation’s winningest programs during the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), ranking third with 171 victories.
- Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in average attendance annually since 2000-01 (including top-five rankings the past five years), most recently placing fourth in the nation last season with 8,694 fans per game. The Fighting Irish, who are averaging 8,663 fans through three games this season, have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 210 of their last 212 home games (including an active streak of 53 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-Harvard Series
Notre Dame and Harvard are slated to play for the first time on Monday night.
Other Notre Dame-Harvard Series Tidbits
- Harvard will be the 208th different opponent in the 38-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball.
- Harvard is the fourth of five new opponents on this year’s Notre Dame schedule, all within the first six games of the season and all at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish defeated UMass Lowell on Nov. 14, Chattanooga on Nov. 21 and Holy Cross on Sunday, and they will play host to Harvard and Quinnipiac Monday and Tuesday as part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge.
- The Fighting Irish have won their last 22 games against first-time opponents, most recently upending Holy Cross, 104-29 on Sunday night at Purcell Pavilion.
- During their current 22-game winning streak against new opposition, the Fighting Irish have won by an average score of 93-48.
- Notre Dame is 66-7 (.904) against first-time opponents since 1995-96, including a 46-3 (.939) mark vs. new teams this century (since the start of the 2000-01 season).
- Including Sunday’s win over Holy Cross, the Fighting Irish have won 35 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 Harvard have played twice before on the hardwood in an abbreviated men’s basketball series the Fighting Irish lead 2-0. After first squaring off on Jan. 3, 1942, at the old Notre Dame Fieldhouse (a 39-31 Fighting Irish win), the schools last met on the men’s side on Nov. 19, 2004, at Purcell Pavilion, with Notre Dame posting a 66-59 victory.
- Notre Dame and Harvard have played in numerous other sports through the years, most recently in men’s lacrosse, when the Fighting Irish defeated the Crimson, 13-5,on May 10, 2014, in the first round of the NCAA Championship at Arlotta Stadium.
- In addition to men’s lacrosse (Notre Dame leads series 8-3), the Fighting Irish have played Harvard in men’s fencing (10-0), women’s fencing (8-0), men’s tennis (3-5), hockey (2-5), women’s lacrosse (1-3), baseball (1-2), women’s tennis (1-1) and women’s soccer (1-0).
- Notre Dame is 18-3 (.857) all-time against Massachusetts schools (14-3 vs. Boston College, 2-0 vs. UMass, 1-0 vs. UMass Lowell and Holy Cross), including an 11-0 record at home (8-0 vs. BC, 1-0 vs. UMass, UMass Lowell and Holy Cross). The Fighting Irish have won their last seven games against the Commonwealth since a 78-61 loss to Boston College on March 19, 2006, in the first round of the NCAA Championship in West Lafayette, Indiana.
- Notre Dame will play five games against Massachusetts teams this season, including a home-and-home series against Boston College during Atlantic Coast Conference play. Monday’s game with Harvard is the last of three non-conference games for Notre Dame against Massachusetts schools, following victories over UMass Lowell (105-51 on Nov. 14) and Holy Cross (104-29 on Sunday).
- Fighting Irish athletic trainer Anne Marquez is a native of Framingham, Massachusetts.
- Former Notre Dame forward (and 2001 national championship team member) Meaghan Leahy was a resident of Wilbraham, Massachusetts, and one of only two Fighting Irish women’s basketball alumnae to come from the Commonwealth (the other being Worcester native Carola Cummings from 1977-79).
Notre Dame vs. The Ivy League
Notre Dame will be playing an Ivy League school for just the fifth time in its 38-year history, with this being the second home game in that time.
Penn has been the most frequent Ivy League foe for the Fighting Irish, with Notre Dame leading the series, 3-0. The schools first played back on Dec. 18, 1981 (a 62-47 Notre Dame win at The Palestra), before the Quakers became the only Ivy League team to visit Purcell Pavilion early in the 2011-12 season (a 69-38 Fighting Irish victory). Notre Dame then returned to The Palestra last season, earning a 76-54 win.
Along with these three matchups with Penn, Notre Dame faced one other Ivy League team. On Dec. 5, 1993, the Fighting Irish rallied from a six-point halftime deficit to earn a 58-54 win at Brown in the championship game of the Brown PowerBar Invitational in Providence, Rhode Island.
Notre Dame has felt right at home in tournament situations during the past 19 years. Starting with the 1996-97 season, the Fighting Irish have won 35 of their last 39 regular-season tournament games (multi-game events only), including runs to the title in five tournaments since 2009-10 — 2009 Paradise Jam (Island Division), 2010 WBCA Classic, 2010 State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic, 2011 Junkanoo Jam (Freeport Division) and 2012 World Vision Classic.
The only Notre Dame losses during this current stretch were three defeats to teams ranked in the top three nationally during the Preseason WNIT semifinals (72-59 vs. No. 3/2 Tennessee at Ruston, La., in 1996; 75-59 at No. 3 Maryland in 2007) or championship (94-81 at No. 1 Baylor in 2011), and a 67-63 overtime setback at No. 20 Colorado on Nov. 15, 2003, in the finals of the WBCA Classic — a game that saw the Buffaloes sink a desperation 30-footer at the end of regulation to force the extra session.
Notre Dame is playing its only regular-season tournament of the 2014-15 campaign, and its first since winning the 2012 World Vision Classic in Las Vegas with three wins in three days against Alabama A&M (100-39), Kansas State (87-57) and No. 22 Texas A&M (83-74).
This year’s Hall of Fame Challenge is being played in a “Classic” format, with pre-determined matchups and no champion crowned.
One Rugged Stretch
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).
Firing Out Of The Blocks (Again)
For the second consecutive season, junior guard Jewell Loyd has stormed out of the gates, piling up 85 points in Notre Dame’s first four games–wins over UMass Lowell (20 points), at No. 15/17 Michigan State (28 points), Chattanooga (20 points) and Holy Cross (17 points).
This comes on the heels of last year’s debut, when Loyd scored 75 points in Notre Dame’s opening four games (all wins) against UNC Wilmington (19 points), No. 19/18 Michigan State (22 points), Valparaiso (22 points) and at Penn (12 points).
Loyd’s point production this season is the highest for a Fighting Irish player in the opening four contests of a season since 1996-97, when Katryna Gaither had 96 combined points in Notre Dame’s four games in the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT)–wins against Kent State at home (25 points), and at No. 6 Iowa (27), a loss to No. 3/2 Tennessee in the semifinals in Ruston, Louisiana (20), and a win over No. 8/12 North Carolina State in the now-defunct third-place game, also in Ruston (24).
Loyd also was the first Notre Dame player to open a season with three consecutive 20-point games since since 1998-99, when Danielle Green did so in wins against No. 6 UCLA at home (23 points), at Butler (23) and No. 6/4 Duke at home (20).
November To Remember
Notre Dame’s success during the past 20 seasons has been aided by its ability to get off to a good start. The Fighting Irish are 85-14 (.859) in November games since 1995-96 (when they joined the BIG EAST Conference).
Notre Dame has won 22 of its last 23 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 31 consecutive home games since a 73-61 loss to third-ranked Baylor on Dec. 5, 2012, at Purcell Pavilion.
As of Monday, the Fighting Irish own the nation’s longest active home winning streak (once Chattanooga’s 40-game run ended Nov. 16 with a loss to South Florida), with Notre Dame’s current run also the second-longest in school history (longest since a school-record 51-game stretch from Dec. 12, 1998-Feb. 19, 2002).
In addition, Notre Dame has won its last 18 conference home games since a 65-63 loss to West Virginia on Feb. 12, 2012, when both the Fighting Irish and Mountaineers were members of the BIG EAST Conference.
Notre Dame has won a school-record 27 consecutive road games (36 in a row in the regular season, and 43 of its last 48 overall). The Fighting Irish last tasted defeat on the road on March 6, 2012, falling at No. 4 Connecticut, 63-54 in the BIG EAST Conference Championship final at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
The last time the Fighting Irish lost a regular season road game was Nov. 20, 2011, a 94-81 setback at No. 1 Baylor in the Preseason WNIT championship game.
Notre Dame’s current 27-game road winning streak is the longest active run in the nation, more than tripling the next-closest pursuers (seven by Bowling Green, as of Monday), 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 76-3 (.962) and has won 56 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 54 consecutive victories since a last-second 65-63 home loss to West Virginia on Feb. 12, 2012 (research for this note provided by STATS via the AP).
Game #4 Recap: Holy Cross
She didn’t get a dunk on Sunday, but it may only be a matter of time for Notre Dame’s Brianna Turner.
That was the lone highlight the 6-foot-3 freshman forward didn’t manage in an otherwise dominant performance against Holy Cross. Turner had 19 points, seven rebounds and three steals in just 17 minutes for No. 3 Notre Dame, which used a 39-2 run in the second half to blow out Holy Cross, 104-29 in the first round of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Challenge.
Twice in the second half, Turner stole the ball near half court and drove down for layups, tantalizing the crowd and drawing high praise from coach Muffet McGraw.
“We were hoping for the dunk but didn’t get it tonight,” McGraw said. “She’s an amazing defender when she can get out on the perimeter and get some steals.”
With McGraw sitting next to her, Turner went with a humble response when asked if a dunk was on her mind.
“I was not thinking about it, I was thinking about getting the layup and getting back on defense,” Turner said with a grin, drawing a laugh from McGraw.
Jewell Loyd added 17 points, six rebounds and five assists for Notre Dame (4-0), which opened up a double-digit lead less than four minutes in, pushing the tempo as high as possible. That advantage reached 20 points after a Loyd coast-to-coast drive and layup at the 7:40 mark, and was up to 30 by halftime.
Kate Gillespie came in averaging 15.7 points, but scored just six, one of three Crusaders with that total. Holy Cross (0-4) shot just 18.6 percent from the field (11 of 59) and was outrebounded 64-32.
“I was disappointed that we didn’t compete,” said Holy Cross coach Bill Gibbons, who went to a zone defense to clog the middle against Turner and fellow Fighting Irish forward Taya Reimer. “My worst nightmare came about when they started knocking down threes. The game plan went out the window early.”
Already cruising after the first half, the Fighting Irish hit another level to open the second half, scoring 21 straight out of the locker room. The Crusaders hit just one of 23 field goal attempts in the second half before Raquel Scott finally converted a layup with 7:06 to play.
“We talked about our intensity and how we needed to keep it up and stay focused,” McGraw said. “I thought our transition game was in high gear.”
The Fighting Irish used two separate 9-0 runs and another 11-1 burst to break it open quickly. Turner scored six straight in the first run, and Michaela Mabrey’s second of three three-pointers in the first half capped the second run.
Mabrey had 11 points and a career-high seven assists. Reserve Kathryn Westbeld added a career-high 15 points for the Fighting Irish.
Led by its two dominant post players, Turner and Reimer, Notre Dame outscored Holy Cross in the paint, 64-4.
Holy Cross, facing Notre Dame for the first time, ran out a shuffled starting lineup with starting center Molly Hourigan a last-minute scratch due to the flu. The Crusaders were dominated on the offensive glass by the Fighting Irish, 24-10.
Beyond The Box Score: Holy Cross
- Notre Dame held Holy Cross to 29 points, the fewest points by a Fighting Irish opponent since Dec. 28, 2011, when Notre Dame defeated Longwood, 92-26 at Purcell Pavilion.
- The Fighting Irish 25-0 run crossing halftime was its longest since a 27-0 run during the Longwood game in 2011.
- This marked the first time in program history the Fighting Irish scored more than 100 points while holding their opponent to less than 30 points.
- The 75-point margin of victory is the fifth-largest spread in school history (largest since Jan. 17, 2012, when Notre Dame downed Pittsburgh, 120-44, also at Purcell Pavilion).
- Notre Dame’s 64 rebounds tied for seventh-most in a single game in school history and most since Jan. 2, 2011, when the Fighting Irish had 66 rebounds in a 97-21 win over Southeast Missouri State at Purcell Pavilion.
- Notre Dame’s 42 field goals tied for seventh-most in a single game in program history and most since Dec. 22, 2013, when it also made 42 baskets in a 106-72 win over Central Michigan at Purcell Pavilion.
- Holy Cross shot 18.6 percent from the field, the lowest single-game percentage by a Notre Dame opponent since the Jan. 2, 2011, win over Southeast Missouri when the RedHawks shot an opponent record-low 12.5 percent (seven of 56).
- Holy Cross shot 17.6 percent in the second half, the first time a Fighting Irish opponent shot below 20 percent in a half since Dec. 19, 2012, when Alabama A&M connected at an 18.2-percent clip in a 100-39 Notre Dame win at the World Vision Classic in Las Vegas.
- Junior guard Hannah Huffman grabbed a career-high seven rebounds, while freshman guard Mychal Johnson collected career highs of six rebounds and five assists.
- Reimer tied her career high with four blocked shots, and Turner had a career-high three steals.
- Senior forward Markisha Wright tied her career best with three steals, and sophomore center Diamond Thompson tied her career high with four points.
The Model Of Consistency
Junior guard Jewell Loyd has scored in double figures in 47 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 47-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 65 of her 77 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 was ranked No. 3 in last week’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 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 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 were No. 2 in last week’s WBCA/USA Today coaches’ poll, up one spot from the preseason and boosted by six first-place votes (most since the final 2000-01 poll after the program’s first national championship).
Notre Dame has been ranked in the coaches’ poll for 140 of the past 141 weeks (and 104 in a row), falling just outside the Top 25 in the final poll of the 2008-09 season. Nevertheless, the Fighting Irish have appeared in the coaches’ poll for a total of 272 weeks during their history (all coming during McGraw’s tenure).
This marks the seventh consecutive season Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 10 of the WBCA/USA Today poll, as well as 13 of the past 17 campaigns (1998-99 to present).
More Polling Data
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is one of 32 people in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history who have both played for and coached a team that has appeared in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Besides her 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 315-19 (.943) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 243 of their last 256 such contests (.949).
What’s more, in the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 152-2 (.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 295-15 (.952) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game.
…But Sometimes You Have To Score If You Want To Win
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. During the past 20 seasons (since 1995-96), the Fighting Irish are 217-6 (.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 94-2 (.979) when topping the 80-point mark, including an active 61-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 254 of their last 283 games (.898) at the 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion, including winning streaks of 51, 31, 25 and 20 games in that span (most recently the program’s current 31-game run).
Since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season, Notre Dame is 81-5 (.942) — including wins in 57 of its last 59 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 120 of their last 129 out-of-conference contests (.930) 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 404-90 (.818) record at the venerable facility, including a school-record 17 wins in both 2011-12 and 2013-14.
Fighting Irish Are Hottest Ticket In Town
The past five seasons have seen an unprecedented surge in fan support for Notre Dame women’s basketball, as the Fighting Irish set new program records for the highest year-end NCAA attendance ranking (fourth in 2009-10 and 2013-14), highest average attendance (8,979 fans per game in 2012-13) and most sellouts in a single season (11 in 2012-13). And, as the old saying goes — “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
For the sixth consecutive year, Notre Dame fans all but exhausted the program’s season ticket packages (approximately 7,500) and have snapped up single-game ducats at a rate that helped the Fighting Irish already sell out the Dec. 6 game with Connecticut, while several other home games are rapidly approaching sellout status.
In fact, while some additional tickets may be available on the day or week of the game for individual contests this season (depending on returned inventory by visiting teams and other constituencies), it’s entirely possible that, for the fourth consecutive season, Notre Dame will flirt with a sell out for every one of its home games.
One Of Nation’s Toughest Cities To Play In
According to a study released by the University of Utah Athletic Media Relations Office, Notre Dame and Purcell Pavilion are among the toughest places in the nation to play. In fact, Notre Dame is one of just 11 programs in the nation to own a winning percentage of .800 or better in its home city.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Senior guard Whitney Holloway, senior forward Markisha Wright and junior guard Michaela Mabrey are serving as Notre Dame’s team captains for the 2014-15 season. All three players received the captain’s honor for the first time in their respective careers following a preseason vote by their teammates.
This is the seventh time in 11 seasons the Fighting Irish have had a trio of captains, as well as the second year in a row (Natalie Achonwa, Ariel Braker and Kayla McBride filled the captaincy trio last season).
Irish Fans Crave Another Big Mac Attack
Now in its eighth season, Notre Dame’s wildly-successful “Big Mac” promotion once again looks to send fans home with full bellies, offering a coupon for a free Big Mac from South Bend-area McDonald’s restaurants if the Fighting Irish score at least 88 points in an regular season or exhibition home game.
In the eight-year history of the promotion, Notre Dame has hit the 88-point mark 56 times, most recently in Sunday’s win over Holy Cross.
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”), 26 different players have converted the “burger ball”, including eight current members of the Fighting Irish roster.
What’s more, of the 56 Big Mac games, 26 have been reached on two-point baskets, 18 on free throws, and 12 on three-pointers.
Next Game: Quinnipiac (Hall of Fame Challenge)
Notre Dame will wrap up its hosting duties for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge at 6 p.m. (ET) Tuesday, facing Quinnipiac at Purcell Pavilion. Harvard and Holy Cross will square off in the nightcap at 8 p.m. (ET).
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director