Nov. 18, 2014
2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 2
#3/2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1-0 / 0-0 ACC) vs. #15/17 Michigan State Spartans (1-0 / 0-0 Big Ten)
DATE: Nov. 19, 2014
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: East Lansing, Mich. – Breslin Center (14,797)
SERIES: MSU leads 8-7
1ST MTG: MSU 76-45 (2/26/81)
LAST MTG: ND 81-62 (11/11/13)
TV: Big Ten Network (live) (Lisa Byington, p-b-p / Stephanie White, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TEXT ALERT: UND.com
- Notre Dame will play five games during the next seven days, the most compressed schedule in the program’s Division I era (1980-81 to present), one day fewer than stretches of five games in eight days during the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons.
- The Fighting Irish have won 21 of their last 27 games against Big Ten Conference teams.
No. 3/2 Fighting Irish Visit No. 15/17 Michigan State Wednesday Night
No. 3/2 Notre Dame faces its first test of the 2014-15 season at 7 p.m. (ET) Wednesday when it travels to East Lansing, Michigan, to take on No. 15/17 Michigan State at the Breslin Center. The game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network, which can be seen on Xfinity cable channels 74/256 in South Bend, as well as on DirecTV (channel 610) and Dish Network (channel 406).
Notre Dame tipped off its season with a 105-51 win over UMass Lowell on Nov. 14 at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish scored the first 14 points of the game and never trailed, shooting 56.9 percent from the field in the victory.
Brianna Turner set a school record for points by a freshman in her debut, posting game highs of 29 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Junior guard Jewell Loyd added 20 points, five rebounds and five assists for Notre Dame.
- Notre Dame is No. 3 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 2 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Michigan State is No. 15 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 17 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- 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 26 games, tied with Texas (1985-86 to 1987-88) for the fourth-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 108-7 (.939) 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 41-6 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 664 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 752 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 937).
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 168 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-Michigan State Series
Notre Dame and Michigan State will play for the 16th time in their series history on Wednesday night, with the Spartans holding a slim 8-7 edge over the Fighting Irish. MSU also has a 4-3 record against Notre Dame in East Lansing.
The Fighting Irish have won the past three games in the series, matching the longest winning streak by either school since the teams first met in 1981 (Michigan State won the first three series games from 1981-84).
The Last Time Notre Dame and Michigan State Met
Taya Reimer had 19 points and 13 rebounds as No. 6 Notre Dame dominated No. 19/18 Michigan State on the boards in an 81-62 victory on Nov. 11, 2013, at Purcell Pavilion.
Jewell Loyd scored 22 points and added nine rebounds for the Fighting Irish, who outrebounded the Spartans 52-29.
Of Reimer’s 13 rebounds, eight came on the offensive glass. Notre Dame had nearly as many offensive rebounds (24) as Michigan State had total, and scored 25 second-chance points.
Kayla McBride started just two of 10 from the field for Notre Dame but finished with 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
The Fighting Irish led by as many as 22 points in the second half, but Michigan State cut Notre Dame’s lead to 11 three times. The final time, with 7:15 to play, the Fighting Irish answered with a 9-0 run highlighted by a layup off an alley-oop pass and a tough basket in the paint by Loyd.
Five straight points by the Spartans early in the second half got the lead down to 11, but consecutive putbacks by Ariel Braker halted that push.
Michigan State missed its first 13 three-point attempts before Tori Jankoska hit one, just under seven minutes into the second half.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Michigan State Met In East Lansing
Ashley Barlow scored 18 points and hit a tiebreaking free throw with 10 seconds left, lifting fifth-ranked Notre Dame to a 68-67 victory over No. 21 Michigan State on Nov. 19, 2009, at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan.
The Spartans had a chance to win after Barlow’s late foul shot, but Aisha Jefferson missed a jumper from the lane with four seconds to go.
Allyssa DeHaan led MSU with 20 points.
Michigan State trailed 45-35 when DeHaan, a 6-foot-9 senior, limped off the court with an apparent ankle injury early in the second half. The Spartans, sparked by their defense and forcing turnovers, went on a 15-2 tear immediately afterward to grab a 50-47 lead with 11:52 remaining.
DeHaan returned and increased Michigan State’s lead to 56-51 with a basket with about 10 minutes to go.
But the Fighting Irish regained the lead with an 8-0 run capped by Erica Williamson’s layup with 8:41 left.
Michigan State tied the score at 67 on a free throw by Porsche Poole with 55 seconds left.
A foul by Michigan State after a missed free throw by the Fighting Irish put Notre Dame in the double bonus. Barlow missed her first free throw with 10 seconds left, but sank her second opportunity to put the Fighting Irish in front.
Lindsay Schrader had 12 points and 14 rebounds for Notre Dame, while Lykendra Johnson had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Michigan State.
Other Notre Dame-Michigan State Series Tidbits
- The cumulative scoring margin in the series has been fairly tight, with Michigan State having scored 1,051 points in 15 games (70.1 ppg.), and Notre Dame piling up 1,030 points (68.7 ppg.).
- More than half (8) of the 15 series games have been decided by single digits, incluing three of the past four meetings. What’s more, two series contests went to overtime, with MSU winning both (87-83 in 1995 in East Lansing, and 82-73 in 2004 at Purcell Pavilion).
- This will mark the fifth consecutive series meeting that both Notre Dame and Michigan State have been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll at tipoff. The Fighting Irish are 5-2 all-time against MSU when they come into the game as a ranked team, and 3-1 against the Spartans when both teams are ranked.
- Notre Dame has fielded more women’s basketball players from the state of Michigan (17) than any other state except for Indiana (20).
Notre Dame vs. The Big Ten Conference
Notre Dame is 49-49 (.500) all-time against the Big Ten Conference, with a 19-26 (.422) record on the road. The Fighting Irish also are 42-34 (.553) against the Big Ten in the Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present).
Of note, Notre Dame has won 21 of its last 27 games vs. Big Ten schools, including a current string of 10 in a row since Minnesota ended the 2008-09 Fighting Irish season with a 79-71 win in the first round of the NCAA Championship at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame also has won its last six road games against Big Ten opponents since a 63-59 overtime loss at Michigan on Dec. 10, 2008.
Michigan State is the first of three Big Ten opponents on Notre Dame’s regular-season schedule, with the Fighting Irish set to face former ACC foe and new Big Ten member Maryland in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Dec. 3 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, before playing host to Michigan on Dec. 13 back at Purcell Pavilion.
North Of The Border
Wednesday’s game is the first of two this year for Notre Dame against a team from the state of Michigan, with the Fighting Irish welcoming Michigan to Purcell Pavilion on Dec. 13.
Notre Dame is 57-20 (.740) all-time against Michigan schools, with a 37-8 (.822) mark against the Great Lakes State in the Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present).
The Fighting Irish also have won 14 of their last 15 games against Michigan schools (dating back to the 2005-06 season), with their only loss in that span being a 63-59 overtime setback at Michigan on Dec. 10, 2008.
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.
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 82-14 (.854) in November games since 1995-96 (when they joined the BIG EAST Conference).
Notre Dame has won 19 of its last 20 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 Tuesday, 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 26 consecutive road games (35 in a row in the regular season, and 42 of its last 47 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 26-game road winning streak is the longest active run in the nation, more than doubling the next-closest pursuers (12 by Chattanooga, as of Tuesday), as well as tying the fourth-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 73-3 (.961) and has won 53 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).
Game #1 Recap: UMass Lowell
Brianna Turner had an impressive college debut, shattering Notre Dame’s record for points by a freshman in her opening game.
Turner collected game highs of 29 points, nine rebounds and three blocks to lead No. 3 Notre Dame to a 105-51 win over UMass Lowell on Nov. 14 at Purcell Pavilion.
Junior guard Jewell Loyd added 20 points, five rebounds and a game-high five assists, while sophomore forward Taya Reimer and senior guard Madison Cable each chipped in 10 points (Reimer adding nine rebounds for good measure).
Turner, a 6-foot-3 forward from Pearland, Texas, poured in 22 points over the game’s first 13 minutes. Her fastbreak layup with 6:48 to go in the first half stretched the Fighting Irish lead to 30, making it 43-13.
Turner set a school record for freshman debuts, easily topping the 22 points that Ruth Kaiser scored against St. Joseph’s College (Indiana) in 1981, when the Notre Dame women’s basketball program was in just its second season transitioning from Division III to Division I status.
Notre Dame (1-0) jumped out to a 14-0 lead over the first five minutes, as UMass Lowell (0-1) missed its first six shot attempts before Lindsay Doucette hit a layup. Notre Dame led 61-24 at the half.
Things were no better for the River Hawks in the second half. Junior guard Loyd’s fastbreak layup with 15:15 left to play capped a 16-4 run to start the half before UMass Lowell coach Jenerrie Harris called a timeout with the score 77-28.
Shannon Samuels led UMass Lowell with 16 points.
Beyond The Box Score: UMass Lowell
- Notre Dame earned its 20th consecutive season-opening win and improved to 25-3 (.893) on opening night in the Muffet McGraw era, as well as 30-8 (.789) all-time.
- Notre Dame scored 100 points in a season opener for the fourth time in program history and first since Nov. 15, 2009 (a 102-57 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Purcell Pavilion).
- Notre Dame’s 61 first-half points tied last year’s season high for one half, set in the opening 20 minutes against Syracuse on Feb. 9, 2014, at Purcell Pavilion.
- The Fighting Irish won their 20th consecutive game against a first-time opponent, rising to 44-3 (.936) against new foes since the start of the 2000-01 season.
- The 54-point win was Notre Dame’s second-largest margin of victory in a season opener and largest since Nov. 24, 1989, when the Fighting Irish trounced Liberty, 113-35, at the UCF Rotary Classic in Orlando, Florida.
- Notre Dame extended its current home winning streak to 29 games, the second-longest in program history.
- The Fighting Irish have won 19 of their last 20 games in the month of November and are 82-14 (.854) in November games since 1995-96.
- Turner scored the second-most points by any Notre Dame player (at any grade level) in a season opener, topped only by All-America forward Katryna Gaither’s 31 points at Indiana on Nov. 24, 1995. Gaither made 13 field goals in that 82-73 Fighting Irish win, the last time a Notre Dame player converted 13 baskets in a season opener.
- Loyd tied her career high with 10 made free throws, having also converted 10 foul shots at Wake Forest on Feb. 20, 2014.
- Loyd posted her 16th career 20-point game and scored in double figures for the 44th consecutive game (the second-longest streak in school history behind Gaither’s 76-game run from 1994-97).
- Cable scored in double figures for the 10th time in her career and first since March 22, 2014, when she had 13 points in Notre Dame’s 93-42 NCAA Championship first-round win over Robert Morris at Savage Arena in Toledo, Ohio.
- Junior guard Hannah Huffman scored a career-high eight points, topping her previous best of seven points at Marquette on Feb. 17, 2013. Huffman’s four field goals and six field goal attempts also were career highs, supplanting her previous bests (three of five) at DePaul on Feb. 24, 2013.
- Along with Turner, guard Mychal Johnson and forward Kathryn Westbeld also made their debuts for Notre Dame against UMass Lowell.
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 44 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 44-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 62 of her 74 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: Chattanooga
Notre Dame will play its next four games against first-time opponents, all at home and all within in a five-day span beginning at 5 p.m. (ET) Friday when the Fighting Irish square off with Chattanooga at Purcell Pavilion.
Led by veteran head coach (and longtime Muffet McGraw friend) Jim Foster, Chattanooga (1-1) split a pair of home games last weekend, defeating Villanova, 49-45 before losing to South Florida, 59-57. The Mocs will play at Butler Wednesday night before traveling to South Bend.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director