Jan. 17, 2016
by Chris Masters
2015-16 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 18
#3/3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (16-1 / 5-0 ACC) vs. #13/15 Tennessee Lady Volunteers (11-5 / 2-2 SEC)
DATE: Jan. 18, 2016
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: UT leads 20-5
STREAK: ND – won 5
1ST MTG: UT 71-56 (11/25/83)
LAST MTG: ND 88-77 (1/19/15)
TV: ESPN2/ESPN3/WatchESPN (live) (Dave O’Brien, p-b-p / Doris Burke, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TEXT ALERT: UND.com
TWITTER: @NDsidMasters / @ndwbb
- Notre Dame is playing on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day for the sixth time (and third year in a row), owning a 3-2 record on the federal holiday celebrating the slain civil rights leader.
- The Fighting Irish are making the first of three appearances on ESPN2’s “Big Monday” package this season, tying South Carolina for the most Big Monday games in 2015-16.
No. 3 Fighting Irish Host No. 13/15 Tennessee on Big Monday
No. 3 Notre Dame steps out of conference play one final time as it plays host to No. 13/15 Tennessee at 7 p.m. (ET) Monday at Purcell Pavilion. The game will be televised live on ESPN2, ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app as part of ESPN’s Big Monday package, while radio coverage will be available on South Bend’s Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) and worldwide online via the official Fighting Irish athletics multimedia platform, WatchND (watchnd.tv).
Notre Dame (16-1) stretched its winning streak to a season-long nine games with Thursday’s 63-50 win at Boston College. The Fighting Irish shot 49 percent (.556 from the three-point line) to combat the slower-paced BC effort.
- Notre Dame was No. 3 in last week’s Associated Press poll and was No. 3 in last week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Tennessee was No. 13 in last week’s Associated Press poll and was No. 15 in last week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Notre Dame is off to a 16-1 start or better for the fourth time in five years and sixth time in program history (also 2000-01, 2009-10, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14).
- The Fighting Irish are 3-1 against ranked opponents this season, and also registered a win over UCLA on Nov. 28 in the Bahamas, two days before the Bruins entered the Associated Press poll (UCLA was 17th in last week’s AP poll).
- Despite losing two starters from the lineup that opened last April’s NCAA championship game in Tampa (and missing a third – sophomore forward Brianna Turner – with an injury for six games), Notre Dame has scarcely missed a beat this season, led in large measure by two first-time starters in graduate student guard Madison Cable (scoring up from 6.2 to 14.7 ppg.) and sophomore forward Kathryn Westbeld (6.7 to 9.3 ppg.), as well as the reliable production off the bench from freshman guards Marina Mabrey (12.9 ppg.) and Arike Ogunbowale (11.2 ppg.).
- The Fighting Irish feature a very balanced attack with four players currently posting double-figure scoring averages (and two others at 9.0 ppg. or better). Of those six, two are freshmen (Marina Mabrey and Ogunbowale), and two are sophomores (Turner and Westbeld).
- Notre Dame’s bench play has been sharp this season, with the Fighting Irish reserves averaging 31.5 points per game, compared to 13.5 ppg. for their opponent’s bench.
- Notre Dame ranks among the top 15 in six NCAA statistical categories (as of Saturday), including five top-10 rankings – three-point field-goal percentage (1st – .449), field-goal percentage (4th – .495), scoring offense (8th – 82.2 ppg.), assists (10th – 18.5 apg.) and scoring margin (10th – +19.3 ppg.). The Fighting Irish also rank 13th in assist/turnover ratio (1.26), while tying for fifth in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.941).
- Including last week’s No. 3 ranking, Notre Dame has appeared in the Associated Press poll for 165 consecutive weeks (the past 95 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 107 of 118 weeks this decade (since 2010-11), ranking second in the nation in that category behind only Connecticut (118).
- Every current Fighting Irish player has competed for a top-10 Notre Dame squad during her career, with the vast majority of that time (63 of 69 weeks) spent in the top five of the Associated Press poll.
- Notre Dame also was ranked No. 3 in last week’s Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll, making its 300th all-time appearance in that survey. 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 has a remarkable tradition of success at home inside Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 426-91 (.824) all-time record in 39 seasons at the facility, including a 103-6 (.945) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
- Including regular season and postseason play, the Fighting Irish have won 80 of their last 84 games against conference opponents (and 28 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 43-1 against conference foes (36-1 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 124-7 (.947) 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, with those 143 wins tying for the second-most victories by any four-year class in NCAA Division I history (the Connecticut class of 2011 amassed 150 wins, while the Louisiana Tech class of 1982 also had 143 victories).
- 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 42-6 (.875) record against ranked teams (24-6 against top-10 opponents).
- With 715 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 803 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 973 as of Saturday).
The Notre Dame-Tennessee Series
Notre Dame and Tennessee will meet for the 26th time in their series history, and the sixth consecutive season, when they step on to the Purcell Pavilion hardwood Monday night.
Tennessee leads the all-time series, 20-5, although Notre Dame has won the last five games against the Lady Vols. UT also is 8-2 all-time against the Fighting Irish at Purcell Pavilion, but Notre Dame won the last two times it played host to Tennessee in South Bend.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Tennessee Met
Notre Dame’s momentum during its recent success against Tennessee has come from its star players. Skylar Diggins started to turn the series around by averaging 28 points in three straight wins over Tennessee, followed by Kayla McBride, who had 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in a win in 2014.
The latest start contributor was Jewell Loyd, who hit 13-of-23 shots for 34 points with five rebounds and four assists for the No. 6/7 Fighting Irish in an 88-77 victory over the No. 5/6 Lady Volunteers on Jan. 19, 2015, at Purcell Pavilion.
The Lady Vols hadn’t allowed any opponents to shoot better than 54 percent all season, but the Fighting Irish shot 58 percent and the 88 points were 16 points more than Tennessee had allowed all season.
Tennessee cut the lead to 42-41 early in the second half on a layup by Isabelle Harrison and cut it again to 46-44 on a rebound basket by Bashaara Graves, who led Tennessee with 22 points. The Irish responded with a 6-0 spurt on a rebound by Lindsay Allen, a basket inside by Brianna Turner and a backdoor layup by Loyd to extend the lead to eight points.
When Ariel Massengale hit a three-pointer, Loyd responded with a three-point play. The Fighting Irish eventually used a 9-3 run, highlighted by a 3-pointer by Loyd and an alley-oop layup by Turner on a pass from Allen to open a 66-52 lead.
Tennessee narrowed the lead 80-74 on a layup by Graves with 56 seconds left, but couldn’t get any closer.
The Lady Vols outrebounded the Fighting Irish 18-13 in the first half, but Notre Dame outrebounded UT 23-16 in the second half and finished with a 36-34 edge on the boards. Taya Reimer led the Fighting Irish with 10 rebounds and added nine points while Turner scored 13 for Notre Dame.
Cierra Burdick added 15 for Tennessee while Harrison had 12 and Massengale 11 as the Lady Vols shot 43 percent.
Other Notre Dame-Tennessee Series Tidbits
- Notre Dame has won the past five series games against Tennessee, all by double digits. Prior to 2011, the Fighting Irish had not only never defeated the Lady Vols, but had come within single digits of them just three times (none since 1992).
- Tennessee is one of only six teams to have earned at least 10 victories over Notre Dame (the others are Connecticut – 34, DePaul – 19, Rutgers – 16, Purdue – 14 and Villanova – 10).
- Notre Dame and Tennessee are part of an elite group of 14 schools who have won NCAA national championships since the NCAA began sponsoring the Division I women’s basketball tournament in 1982. The eight-time champion Lady Vols are one of three NCAA champions the Fighting Irish will face this season (along with 10-time victor Connecticut and 1994 winner North Carolina). Notre Dame has gone 54-93 (.367) all-time against other former or current national champions, having won 17 of their last 22 games against NCAA titleists during the past four seasons. Among the NCAA champions group, the Fighting Irish have a series record of .500 or better against USC (8-2), North Carolina (5-1), Maryland (5-4) and Texas (1-1).
- Notre Dame senior guard/captain Michaela Mabrey and Tennessee senior forward Bashaara Graves were teammates on the 2012 USA Basketball Under-18 National Team that went 5-0 and won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Puerto Rico. Mabrey started four of five games, averaging 12.8 points, 4.8 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game with a .500 three-point percentage, while Graves made an impact off the bench, averaging 7.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game with a .520 field goal percentage. One other tie-in with that team – the U18 squad’s athletic trainer in 2012 was current Notre Dame athletic trainer Anne Marquez.
- Mabrey and Graves also played alongside one another for the East Team at the 2012 McDonald’s High School All-America Game at the United Center in Chicago. The East Team won the all-star contest, defeating the West Team, 79-78, on Graves’ free throw with less than one second remaining.
- Five players from the 2013 McDonald’s High School All-America Game are represented between the two programs, as Notre Dame’s Lindsay Allen and Taya Reimer (who played for the East Team along with UT redshirt sophomore guard Diamond DeShields) will face with Tennessee’s Jordan Reynolds and Mercedes Russell (who played for the victorious West squad that afternoon in Chicago).
- Another quartet of players appearing in Monday’s Notre Dame-Tennessee game also competed in the 2014 McDonald’s High School All-America Game. Notre Dame sophomore forward Brianna Turner and Tennessee sophomore guard/forward Jaime Nared suited up for the West Team that pulled out an 80-78 win over the East Team, whose roster included Notre Dame sophomore forward Kathryn Westbeld and Tennessee sophomore guard Alexa Middleton.
- The co-Most Valuable Players from last year’s McDonald’s High School All-America Game will meet up on Monday, as Notre Dame freshman guard Marina Mabrey squares off with Tennessee freshman guard Te’a Cooper. Mabrey (who was joined on the East Team by her future Notre Dame teammates, guards Arike Ogunbowale and Ali Patberg) had 12 points, six rebounds and three steals in the East’s 89-87 win at Chicago’s United Center over the West, who got a game-high 21 points from Cooper.
Notre Dame vs. The Southeastern Conference
- Notre Dame is 19-33 (.365) all-time against the current Southeastern Conference membership, although it should be noted that 20 of those losses have come to one opponent (Tennessee).
- The Fighting Irish also are 15-8 in their last 23 meetings with SEC opponents, including wins in 12 of their last 13 games against that conference (not including the 2011 NCAA national championship game matchup with Texas A&M, which came before the Aggies joined the SEC in the summer of 2012).
- The Fighting Irish are 6-11 (.353) all-time against SEC teams at Purcell Pavilion, including last year’s 88-77 win over Tennessee.
Coming Up Big On “Big Monday”
- Notre Dame will make the first of three appearances this season on ESPN2’s “Big Monday” women’s basketball package when it plays host to Tennessee Monday night.
- The Fighting Irish also will visit Duke on Feb. 1 and Florida State on Feb. 22 as part of this year’s Big Monday package, joining South Carolina as the only schools that will make three appearances on Big Monday in 2015-16.
- Notre Dame has played 11 times on Big Monday in the past four seasons (2011-12 to present), going 11-0 in those games (6-0 at home, 5-0 on the road).
- That record does not include three appearances (two victories over Duke, one over North Carolina) on ESPN’s Sunday afternoon women’s basketball package that debuted in 2013-14.
- Following their 88-54 win over North Carolina on Jan. 10 at Purcell Pavilion, the Fighting Irish will make a second appearance this season on ESPN’s Sunday afternoon slate on Feb. 7 when they pay a visit to Louisville (the game will tip at either 2 p.m. on ESPN2 or 4 p.m. on ESPN, with that final determination coming 21 days prior to tipoff).
Turner of Fortune
- Sophomore forward Brianna Turner has had a significant effect on Notre Dame’s fortunes throughout her young career, and entered this year as the ACC Preseason Player of the Year. Thus, when she was sidelined for six games earlier this season with a shoulder injury, the Fighting Irish saw a noticeable change in their productivity, mainly at the defensive end of the court without their 6-foot-3 rim protector.
- Through 11 games with Turner in the lineup, Notre Dame has allowed just 55.3 points per game, while holding opponents to a .351 field-goal percentage and .307 three-point percentage, while posting a +6.7 rebounding margin. In fact, just one opponent has scored more than 64 points against the Fighting Irish with Turner in uniform this season (Georgia Tech in an 85-76 Notre Dame win on Dec. 30), and eight of those 11 foes did not top 60 points.
- Conversely, when Turner was out from Nov. 27-Dec. 12, the Fighting Irish allowed 76.8 points per game, while opponents shot .458 from the field, .339 from the three-point line and Notre Dame’s rebounding margin was trimmed to +4.5 rpg.
Allen Is The Iron Woman
- Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has often noted that she seeks the kind of point guard to whom she can roll the ball out as a freshman and then take it back when that player graduates four years later. As it turns out, junior guard/captain Lindsay Allen is following that notion to the letter.
- Allen has started all 94 games of her Fighting Irish career, compiling the third-longest streak of consecutive games started in Notre Dame history. Only Jacqueline Batteast (97 from 2002-05) and Katryna Gaither (95 from 1994-97) have longer strings of consecutive starts than Allen.
- When Allen took the reins for Notre Dame’s 2013-14 season opener against UNC Wilmington on Nov. 9, 2013 (a 99-50 win at Purcell Pavilion), she became the first true freshman to start at point guard for Notre Dame in a season opener since Nov. 26, 1994, when Mollie Peirick led the Fighting Irish offense in a 65-60 overtime loss at 25th-ranked Seton Hall.
- Allen’s current run of consecutive starts is longer than a pair of recent All-America guards who were poised to challenge the school record in Skylar Diggins (86 from 2011-13) and Jewell Loyd (86 from 2013-15). Diggins twice gave up her starting spot for graduating seniors to start on Senior Day, while Loyd started nearly every game of her three seasons at Notre Dame before forgoing her final year of eligibility in 2015-16 to enter the WNBA Draft.
- With Allen at the helm, the Fighting Irish have amassed a stellar 89-5 (.947) record – and when you factor in her final prep season at St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., Allen’s teams are a combined 116-6 (.951) in the past four years when she’s been in the starting lineup.
McGraw Earns 800th Career Win
- With her team’s 65-55 win on Jan. 3 at Pittsburgh, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw became the 10th NCAA Division I coach to register 800 career victories. McGraw has a 34-year record of 803-263 (.753), including a 715-222 (.763) record in 29 seasons with the Fighting Irish.
- McGraw is just the fifth NCAA Division I coach in either men’s or women’s basketball history to amass 800 wins, seven NCAA Final Four berths and five NCAA championship game appearances in his/her career. The other four – all of whom are enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame – are Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma, former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt and two men’s coaches – Duke’s current skipper Mike Krzyzewski and the late North Carolina coach Dean Smith.
- McGraw became the sixth-fastest Division I coach to reach the 800-win milestone, doing so in 1,063 career games to hit the mark quicker than several other notable coaches including Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer (1,064 games), recently-retired Georgia head coach Andy Landers (1,068 games) and North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell (1,074 games), and nearly in lockstep with former Texas head coach Jody Conradt (1,062 games).
- Four of the five Division I coaches who reached 800 wins faster than McGraw are enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame – Auriemma (928 games), Summitt (958 games), Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer (997 games) and Conradt. The lone exception is Montana’s Robin Selvig (1,055 games).
- McGraw is among 14 women’s basketball nominees on the ballot for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2016, which was announced Dec. 21. The four women’s basketball finalists for this year’s class will be revealed Feb. 12 during NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto, with the Hall of Fame Class of 2016 unveiled April 4 during the NCAA Men’s Final Four in Houston. McGraw previously was enshrined in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in June 2011 in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Spreading The Wealth
- Notre Dame has had at least four players score in double figures in 10 games this year, going 9-1 in those contests.
- Since the start of the 2009-10 season, the Fighting Irish are 127-6 (.955) when they have four or more players reach double digits in the scoring column, including wins in 97 of their last 99 such outings.
- In the past seven seasons, Notre Dame’s only losses when it has fielded at least four double-figure scorers both came against Connecticut – 83-65 in the 2013 NCAA Women’s Final Four national semifinal at New Orleans Arena (now known as the Smoothie King Center), and 91-81 earlier this season on Dec. 5 in the Jimmy V Classic at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut.
- For the season, Notre Dame currently has four players registering double-figure scoring averages (and two others at better than 9.0 ppg.), three of whom are ranked among the top 30 in the Atlantic Coast Conference (as of Saturday) – graduate student guard Madison Cable (9th – 14.7 ppg.), freshman guard Marina Mabrey (20th – 12.9 ppg.; second among ACC rookies) and freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale (30th – 11.2 ppg.; sixth among ACC rookies).
Three For The Money
- Notre Dame has heated up from the three-point line in a big way, canning 111 treys this season (6.5 per game), including 96 in its last 13 games (7.4 per game).
- At their current pace, the Fighting Irish would easily top the single-season program record for three-pointers per game (5.74 in 1998-99). In fact, only once in the past 13 seasons has Notre Dame averaged five treys per game (2013-14, when it made exactly five per contest and a school-record 190 total).
- The Fighting Irish tied a school record with 13 three-pointers on Dec. 5 at top-ranked Connecticut. The 13 triples (which Notre Dame last registered on Jan. 2, 2002, at Miami) also matched two UConn opponent records for three-pointers in a single game (overall and Gampel Pavilion).
- Notre Dame’s .650 three-point percentage (13-of-20) in that Dec. 5 game at UConn was the highest against the Huskies since March 26, 2007, when LSU made 7-of-10 three-pointers (.700) against UConn in the NCAA Fresno Regional final (Elite Eight) in Fresno, California.
- The Fighting Irish lead the nation in three-point percentage (as of Saturday), connecting at a .449 clip from beyond the arc, while graduate student guard Madison Cable (.506) currently ranks as the nation’s top individual three-point shooter.
The Second Platoon
- Another reason for Notre Dame’s success this season has been the performance of its reserves, who are averaging more than 31 points per game and have outscored the opponent’s bench by more than a 2-to-1 margin (31.5 ppg. to 13.5 ppg.).
- The Fighting Irish second unit has outscored its opposite number in 16 games this season, including a season-high 64 points on Nov. 23 at Valparaiso, outscoring the entire Crusader roster by 10 points (not to mention the Notre Dame starters by 18).
- In addition to the Valparaiso game, the Fighting Irish bench came close to outscoring the entire opposing team on two other occasions – Nov. 18 vs. Toledo (UT 39, ND reserves 32) and Nov. 27 vs. Denver at the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas (DU 52, ND reserves 48).
- A pair of freshman guards – Marina Mabrey (12.9 ppg.) and Arike Ogunbowale (11.2 ppg.) head up the strong Fighting Irish bench contingent, which has seen at least one reserve score in double figures in 14 games this year (total of 22 double-figure outings).
— 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).