Dec. 1, 2015

by Chris Masters

Notre Dame Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

2015-16 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 7

Big Ten/ACC Challenge
#3/3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-0 / 0-0 ACC) vs. #10/12 Ohio State Buckeyes (4-2 / 0-0 Big Ten)

DATE: Dec. 2, 2015
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: ND leads 2-1
STREAK: ND – won 2
1ST MTG: OSU 74-67 (1/4/97)
LAST MTG: ND 57-51 (11/9/12)
TV: ESPN3/WatchESPN (live) (Mike Monaco – p-b-p / Ruth Riley – color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TWITTER: @NDsidMasters / @ndwbb


  • Notre Dame is playing in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge for the third consecutive year.
  • For the second time in three years in the Challenge, the Fighting Irish will face a team coached by a former Notre Dame assistant, as Ohio State’s Kevin McGuff returns to South Bend for the first time since 2002.

No. 3 Fighting Irish Host No. 10/12 Ohio State Wednesday
As the calendar turns to the month of December, the challenges heat up for No. 3 Notre Dame, which begins a stretch of three games against Top 25 teams on Wednesday at 7 p.m. (ET) against No. 10/12 Ohio State at Purcell Pavilion in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The game will be televised live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app, with radio coverage on South Bend’s Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) and worldwide online via the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND (

The Fighting Irish (6-0) return home after winning the Junkanoo Jam title last weekend in Freeport, Bahamas. Notre Dame defeated Denver, 94-52 in its opener, then edged UCLA, 92-84 in overtime to claim the championship.

Graduate student guard Madison Cable was named the tournament MVP, while freshman guard Marina Mabrey joined her on the all-tournament team.


  • Notre Dame is No. 3 in the latest Associated Press poll and is No. 3 in the latest WBCA/USA Today poll.
  • Ohio State is No. 10 in the latest Associated Press poll and is No. 12 in the latest WBCA/USA Today poll.

Quick Hitters

  • Including this week’s No. 3 ranking, Notre Dame has appeared in the Associated Press poll for 159 consecutive weeks (the past 89 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.
  • Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll for 101 of 112 weeks this decade (since 2010-11), ranking second in the nation in that category behind only Connecticut (112).
  • 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 63 weeks) spent in the top five of the Associated Press poll.
  • Notre Dame also is ranked No. 3 in this week’s Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll. It’s the eighth consecutive season and 14 of the past 18 years the Fighting Irish have appeared in the top 10 of the coaches’ poll.
  • Notre Dame ranks among the top 25 in nine NCAA statistical categories (as of Tuesday), including six top-10 rankings – three-point field-goal percentage (3rd – .452), field-goal percentage (5th – .512), scoring offense (8th – 88.3 ppg.), scoring margin (8th – +30.5 ppg.), assists (9th – 20.7 apg.) and assist/turnover ratio (9th – 1.51). The Fighting Irish also rank 11th in turnover margin (+8.17) and 22nd in steals (12.0 spg.), as well as tied for first in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (1.000).
  • Notre Dame has a remarkable tradition of success at home inside Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 421-91 (.822) all-time record in 39 seasons at the facility, including a 98-6 (.942) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
  • Including regular season and postseason play, the Fighting Irish have won 75 of their last 79 games against conference opponents (and 26 in a row at home), dating back to their membership in the BIG EAST.
  • Since joining the ACC prior to the 2013-14 season, Notre Dame is 38-1 against conference foes (31-1 regular season, 7-0 postseason). The last ACC school to lose only once in regular-season conference play during a two-year span was Duke in 2003 and 2004.
  • Guards Madison Cable, Hannah Huffman and Michaela Mabrey have helped Notre Dame to a 114-6 (.950) record in their careers, putting them on pace to challenge last year’s senior class of Whitney Holloway and Markisha Wright as the most successful in Fighting Irish history. Holloway and Wright helped Notre Dame to a 143-10 (.935) record in their four-year careers.
  • Since they first suited up at Notre Dame in 2012-13, Cable, Huffman and Mabrey have paced Notre Dame to two NCAA national championship games and three NCAA Women’s Final Fours (plus three conference regular season titles and three league tournament crowns), as well as a 39-5 (.886) record against ranked teams (22-5 against top-10 opponents).
  • With 705 victories in her 29 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 793 career wins, McGraw ranks 10th in NCAA Division I coaching history (seventh among active coaches). She also is one of two ACC coaches in the top 10 all-time, along with current North Carolina head coach Sylvia Hatchell (second all-time/first among active with 966 as of Tuesday).

The Notre Dame-Ohio State Series
Notre Dame and Ohio State will be playing for fourth time in their series history, with the Fighting Irish holding a 2-1 edge against the Buckeyes. Notre Dame also won the only prior meeting between the schools at Purcell Pavilion.

The Last Time Notre Dame and Ohio State Met
Natalie Achonwa had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead No. 7/6 Notre Dame to a 57-51 victory over No. 19/21 Ohio State on Nov. 9, 2012, in the Carrier Classic.

Kayla McBride added 16 points and Skylar Diggins 11 for the Fighting Irish, who improved to 23-3 in season openers under coach Muffet McGraw. Not that it was easy in the first women’s game played on an aircraft carrier – the USS Yorktown.

The Yorktown was bathed in bright sunshine at the start, leaving players on both teams squinting. Once the sun set on Charleston Harbor, the converted flight deck turned downright chilly.

None of that stopped Achonwa and Notre Dame.

Notre Dame went on a 10-3 run to start the second half for a 35-25 lead. Ohio State, though, chipped away behind Tayler Hill’s play. Her driving basket cut Notre Dame’s lead to 47-43 with 4:52 to go and moments later teammate Amber Stokes stole a mid-court pass and took it in for an uncontested layup.

Hill, who led the Big Ten in scoring the previous season at 20.4 points a game, hit two foul shots with 2:30 to go that brought Ohio State as close as it would come after that, 50-47.

It was Diggins, as usual, who orchestrated Notre Dame’s victory.

She got the Fighting Irish off to a quick start in the second half, funneling the ball to Achonwa and McBride to build a 35-25 lead over the first four minutes of the period that Notre Dame would not give up.

Both teams paid tribute to the military in their uniforms, the Buckeyes wearing a camouflage design while the Fighting Irish had camo accents down the sides with a red-white-and-blue USA on the back where their names are.

The Last Time Notre Dame and Ohio State Met at Purcell Pavilion
Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast scored seven points in Notre Dame’s game-ending 12-0 run as the No. 11/10 Fighting Irish rallied to beat No. 10/9 Ohio State 66-62 in the Preseason WNIT championship game on Nov. 20, 2004, at Purcell Pavilion.

Batteast finished with a career-high 32 points on 11-of-23 shooting from the field and blocked a potential tying three-pointer by OSU’s Caity Matter with two seconds left. The Fighting Irish, who defeated No. 6 Duke in the tournament semifinal three days earlier, beat top-10 teams in back-to-back games for the first time since beating No. 1 Connecticut and No. 9/8 Purdue at the 2001 NCAA Women’s Final Four in St. Louis to win the program’s first national championship.

Notre Dame was trailing 62-54 with 4:39 left when Batteast, who was 10-of-12 from the free-throw line, made a pair of free throws to start the comeback. She then converted a three-point play with 3:59 left to cut the lead to 62-59. Junior guard Megan Duffy, who had 15 points and was named to the all-tournament team, hit a three-pointer to tie it and Batteast put the Fighting Irish ahead for good at the 2:45 mark on a 12-foot jumper that bounced twice off the rim before falling in.

The Buckeyes, who set a Preseason WNIT record with 27 treys in the four-game tournament, missed their final two three-point attempts. First, Matter missed an attempt from the top of the key, then had her final shot blocked by Batteast, who raced from the top of the key deep into the corner to get a hand on Matter’s try. Batteast also scored 10 consecutive points midway through the first half to give the Fighting Irish a 21-12 lead. She averaged 21.5 ppg. in the Preseason WNIT on the way to earning tournament MVP honors.

However, Ohio State, which trailed 29-25 at halftime, appeared to have the game under control as Jessica Davenport, who joined Matter on the all-tournament team, scored 14 of her 23 points in the second half and dominated in the middle. She also was 9-of-9 from the free-throw line, but was held without a point after scoring inside over senior center Teresa Borton with 6:42 left. Ashley Allen hit a three-pointer to give the Buckeyes a 60-54 lead, and Matter, who had 13 points, added a layup on her team’s next possession, but Ohio State missed its final eight shots down the stretch and turned the ball over four times.

Other Notre Dame-Ohio State Series Tidbits

  • With their 2012 Carrier Classic game aboard the USS Yorktown, Notre Dame and Ohio State played what was believed to be one of the first outdoor women’s basketball games in NCAA Division I history. Records are incomplete for some programs during their early years, with indications that a few Southern schools (particularly in Florida) may have played one or more outdoor games as members of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
  • Notre Dame is 77-16 (.828) all-time against Ohio schools, with a 39-7 (.848) record against the Buckeye State at home. The Fighting Irish also have won their last 20 games against Ohio teams, including a 74-39 win over Toledo on Nov. 18 at Purcell Pavilion.
  • Notre Dame has drawn 11 players from the state of Ohio in the program’s 39-year history, including current sophomore forward and Kettering native Kathryn Westbeld. Only Indiana (21), Michigan (16) and Illinois (15) have produced more Fighting Irish women’s basketball players than the Buckeye State.
  • Westbeld and OSU redshirt freshman forward Makayla Waterman were teammates and classmates at Kettering (Ohio) Fairmont High School from 2010-14, helping the school to three Ohio Division I state semifinal berths, including the 2012-13 state championship and a runner-up finish in 2010-11.
  • Westbeld also was an AAU teammate with four current Ohio State players – Waterman, sophomore forward Alexa Hart, redshirt freshman forward Chelsea Mitchell and sophomore guard Kelsey Mitchell. The group helped powerhouse program All-Ohio finish second in the nation in the summer of 2013, highlighted by wins at the Nike Orlando Super Showcase and Peach State Invitational.
  • Second-year Notre Dame video coordinator Garret Garcia was a high school teammate of former Ohio State men’s basketball standout Aaron Craft, the older brother of current OSU women’s basketball senior guard Cait Craft. Garcia and Aaron Craft helped Liberty Benton High School of Findlay, Ohio, to a 26-1 record in 2006-07 and a trip to the Ohio Division III state championship game, as well as a 20-0 regular season record and the No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press state Division III poll in 2007-08.
  • In addition to the long-standing ties between Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw and Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff (see separate note below), the Fighting Irish have several other ties within the OSU athletics department, most notably in the director’s chair. Ohio State vice president/director of athletics Gene Smith is a 1977 graduate of Notre Dame and played football for the Fighting Irish from 1973-76 (he was a freshman defensive end on the ’73 national championship team coached by Ara Parseghian). Smith later served as an assistant football coach at Notre Dame from 1977-81, helping head coach Dan Devine lead the Fighting Irish to the ’77 national title.

The Ties That Bind

  • Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw and Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff have a long-standing friendship that goes back 20 seasons, when McGraw hired McGuff as an assistant coach at Notre Dame in June 1996.
  • McGuff spent six seasons (1996-2002) with the Fighting Irish, helping Notre Dame to a 160-39 (.804) record, averaging better than 26 victories per season. Notre Dame also qualified for the NCAA Championship in each of his six seasons, making four trips to the Sweet Sixteen (1997, 1998, 2000, 2001), two Final Four appearances (1997, 2001) and winning the school’s first NCAA championship in 2001.
  • During his time on the Notre Dame staff, McGuff shared an office with former Fighting Irish forward and 1995 graduate Letitia Bowen, who remains the second-leading rebounder in program history (999) and 24th on the Notre Dame all-time scoring list (1,219). She went on to be an assistant coach for four seasons (1996-99; 2002-03) and director of basketball operations for two years (1999-2001), during which time McGuff and Bowen began dating, married in 2002 (shortly after McGuff took the head coaching position at Xavier University) and are now proud parents to six children.
  • The McGuffs remain close with the entire Notre Dame coaching staff. In fact, McGraw is godmother to McGuffs’ eldest daughter, Kilyn, while current Fighting Irish associate coach/recruiting coordinator Niele Ivey is godmother to another of the McGuffs’ daughters, Lily.
  • Ivey has her own unique relationship with Kevin McGuff, who coached her during Ivey’s playing days at Notre Dame – it was a connection immortalized in the moments after the Fighting Irish won their first national championship in 2001, with Ivey bounding down the Savvis Center court in her hometown of St. Louis before leaping into McGuff’s arms.
  • Following her WNBA playing career, Ivey began her coaching career as an administrative assistant on McGuff’s staff at Xavier from 2005-07. She returned to her alma mater in 2007 and, along with McGraw and current Fighting Irish associate head coach Carol Owens, they are the three common ties on all seven of Notre Dame’s Final Four teams (McGraw and Owens were coaches throughout, while Ivey was a player on the 1997 and 2001 squads and as an assistant, she has helped the Fighting Irish to the past five Final Fours).

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. In fact, Wednesday’s game against Ohio State (and Buckeye head coach Kevin McGuff, a six-year member of McGraw’s staff from 1996-2002) will mark just the fourth time in McGraw’s 29-year tenure under the Golden Dome that she will be coaching opposite one of her former assistants (and first since Dec. 4, 2013, when the Fighting Irish earned a 77-67 win in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at Penn State, which is coached by former Notre Dame point guard and Double Domer, Coquese Washington, ’92, ’97).

Twice in the early years of her Notre Dame career, McGraw coached against former Fighting Irish assistant Bill Fennelly, who was on McGraw’s first staff at Notre Dame in 1987-88 before taking the reins of his own program at Toledo and twice defeating his former boss while piloting the Rockets (85-62 on March 23, 1989, at the now-defunct National Women’s Invitation Tournament in Amarillo, Texas; 70-69 on Jan. 6, 1990, in Toledo, Ohio).

Today, Fennelly is better known for his success as the head coach at Iowa State, and is one of four former McGraw assistant coaches now running their own Division I programs, along with McGuff, Washington and Jonathan Tsipis (George Washington). They highlight a contingent of 13 former McGraw players/assistants currently working with Division I women’s basketball programs, with a full rundown on page 50 of this year’s Notre Dame media guide.

Notre Dame vs. The Big Ten Conference

  • Notre Dame is 69-69 (.500) all-time against the current Big Ten Conference alignment, with a 35-24 (.593) record at home. The Fighting Irish also are 61-48 (.560) current Big Ten teams in the Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present).
  • Notre Dame has won 24 of its last 30 games vs. Big Ten schools-not counting matchups with Maryland, Nebraska or Rutgers before they joined the Big Ten in recent seasons-including a current string of 13 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.
  • Ohio State is the only Big Ten opponent on this year’s Notre Dame schedule. The Fighting Irish last faced a Big Ten club on Dec. 13, 2014, defeating Michigan, 70-50, at Purcell Pavilion.

Challenge Round

  • Wednesday will mark the third appearance for Notre Dame in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, following wins in 2013 at No. 10/11 Penn State (77-67) and in 2014 vs. No. 15/10 Maryland in an off-site home game at Fort Wayne, Indiana (92-72).
  • The Fighting Irish have some past experience against the Big Ten in a challenge format. In 2003-04 and 2004-05, Notre Dame participated in the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge, playing Purdue both seasons and splitting those matchups (losing 76-63 on Jan. 4, 2004, in West Lafayette, Indiana; winning 86-69 on Jan. 16, 2005, at Purcell Pavilion).
  • Notre Dame is one of two schools that have never lost in Big Ten/ACC Challenge play since the conference rivalry began in 2007 (last year’s ACC newcomer Louisville won its Challenge debut vs. Iowa).
  • In the Challenge’s eight-year history, the ACC is 6-0-2 all-time against the Big Ten following last year’s 7-7 tie. The ACC also holds a 55-39 edge in Challenge games played through 2014 and has won at least six Challenge contests each year the rivalry has been played.

Caution – Falling Bears!
Wednesday’s game has been designated for the 11th annual Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Teddy Bear Toss, in which fans bring teddy bears and other stuffed animals to donate to several South Bend-area children’s charities.

At halftime, on the public address announcer’s cue, fans will be invited to toss their teddy bears onto the court at Purcell Pavilion, creating the memorable sight of stuffed animals raining down on the floor (and occasionally pelting an unsuspecting media member or game official sitting courtside).

Last year, the Notre Dame women’s basketball program collected approximately 2,000 stuffed animals through its Teddy Bear Toss.

— ND —

Chris Masters, associate athletics communications director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2001 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s basketball and women’s golf programs. A native of San Francisco, California, Masters is a 1996 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, earned his master’s degree from Kansas State University in 1998, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).