Nov. 14, 2015
by Chris Masters
2015-16 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 1
#3/3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-0 / 0-0 ACC) vs. Bucknell Bison (1-0 / 0-0 Patriot League)
DATE: Nov. 15, 2015
TIME: 1:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
TV: WatchND (live)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) / WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p / Ruth Riley, color)
TEXT ALERT: UND.com
TWITTER: @NDsidMasters / @ndwbb
TICKETS: (574) 631-7356; UND.com/buytickets
- Notre Dame has won 20 consecutive season openers and is 25-3 (.893) in lidlifters during the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88).
- The Fighting Irish are 48-3 (.941) against first-time opponents since the start of the 2000-01 season, including an active 24-game winning streak in such contests.
No. 3 Fighting Irish Make Season Debut Sunday Against Bucknell
With a blend of elite veterans and fresh young talent, No. 3 Notre Dame tips off its 39th season of intercollegiate competition at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday as first-time opponent Bucknell comes to Purcell Pavilion. The game can be seen live on the official Fighting Irish athletics multimedia platform, WatchND and the WatchND app.
Notre Dame shook off the summer rust in its lone exhibition game on Nov. 7, rolling to a 101-52 victory over Division II member Wayne State at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish opened up a double-digit lead less than seven minutes into the game and never looked back, shooting 54.5 percent from the floor on the way to their 31st consecutive preseason win.
Freshman guard Marina Mabrey led five Notre Dame players in double figures, coming off the bench to score a game-high 22 points. Sophomore forward Brianna Turner, the ACC Preseason Player of the Year, added 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting.
- Notre Dame is No. 3 in the preseason Associated Press poll and is No. 3 in the preseason WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Bucknell is not ranked.
- Including its No. 3 preseason ranking, Notre Dame has appeared in the Associated Press poll for 156 consecutive weeks (including the past 86 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 (54 of 60 weeks) spent in the AP Top 5.
- Notre Dame also is ranked No. 3 in the preseason Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll. This marks the seventh consecutive season the Fighting Irish have appeared in the preseason coaches’ poll.
- For the sixth time in seven years, Notre Dame opens the season ranked in the top 10 in both national polls, including prior top-five berths in the AP poll in 2009-10 (fourth), 2011-12 (second) and 2014-15 (third).
- Notre Dame will play 10 of the other 24 teams appearing in one of the preseason polls this year, including seven of the other top 14.
- Notre Dame has a remarkable tradition of success at home inside Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 419-91 (.822) all-time record in 39 seasons at the facility, including a 96-6 (.941) 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 108-6 (.947) record in their first three years, the best record by any school during the past three seasons and the most victories by a Fighting Irish class in its first three years, outdistancing last year’s senior class of Whitney Holloway and Markisha Wright, who helped Notre Dame to 107 wins through the end of their junior seasons.
- 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 699 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 787 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 961 entering this season).
The Notre Dame-Bucknell Series
Notre Dame and Bucknell will play for the first time in women’s basketball Sunday afternoon.
Other Notre Dame-Bucknell Series Tidbits
- Bucknell will be the 210th different opponent in the 39-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball.
- Bucknell is the first of two new opponents on this year’s Notre Dame schedule. The Fighting Irish will play Denver for the first time on Nov. 27 in the opening round of the Junkanoo Jam in Freeport, Bahamas.
- While Notre Dame has never played Bucknell, Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw has faced the Bison several times before in her previous role as head coach at Lehigh from 1982-87. During her five-year run at the helm of the Engineers (now Mountain Hawks), McGraw led Lehigh to a 7-2 record against Bucknell, with both losses coming on the road by three points or less.
- Bucknell assistant coach Mike Lane is a 1993 Notre Dame graduate, having earned his degree in business administration with a marketing emphasis from the top-ranked Mendoza College of Business.
- The Fighting Irish have won their last 24 games against first-time opponents, most recently dispatching Quinnipiac, 112-52 on Nov. 25, 2014, at Purcell Pavilion.
- During their current 24-game winning streak against new opposition, the Fighting Irish have won by an average score of 94-48.
- Notre Dame is 68-7 (.907) against first-time opponents since 1995-96, including a 48-3 (.941) mark vs. new teams this century (since the start of the 2000-01 season).
- The Fighting Irish have won 37 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 Bucknell have played three times before in men’s basketball, with the Fighting Irish going 3-0 all-time against the Bison. The schools last met on the hardwood on Dec. 22, 2009, with Notre Dame earning a 101-69 victory at Purcell Pavilion.
- Notre Dame has faced Bucknell in two other sports through the years, owning perfect records against the Bison in men’s lacrosse (2-0) and men’s soccer (1-0).
Notre Dame vs. The Patriot League
Notre Dame is playing a current Patriot League school for the sixth time in program history, having compiled a 4-1 record against that conference’s present alignment (3-1 at home).
The Fighting Irish will be facing a Patriot League opponent for the second consecutive season, having ousted Holy Cross, 104-29, on Nov. 23, 2014, at Purcell Pavilion.
Prior to that game, the last Notre Dame played a current member of the Patriot League was Nov. 26, 2001, defeating Army, 89-57 at Purcell Pavilion.
Nearly a year earlier on Nov. 27, 2000, Notre Dame downed visiting Fordham, 89-44, when the Rams were still fully affiliated with the Patriot League (they continue to play football in that loop, but are a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference for all other sports).
The only time the Fighting Irish lost to a Patriot League team was on Jan. 19, 1986 (two seasons before current head coach Muffet McGraw arrived on the Notre Dame campus), when Boston University posted a 74-72 win at Purcell Pavilion.
The Fighting Irish women’s basketball program has one other pretty significant tie to the Patriot League – McGraw coached five seasons (1982-87) at conference member Lehigh before coming to Notre Dame.
Blowing The Lid Off
Notre Dame is 30-8 (.789) all-time in season openers and carries a 20-game winning streak into Sunday’s game against Bucknell. The Fighting Irish also are 25-3 (.893) in lidlifters during the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88), with their last season-opening loss coming on Nov. 26, 1994 (65-60 in overtime at No. 25 Seton Hall). Last year, Notre Dame opened with a 105-51 win over UMass Lowell at Purcell Pavilion.
Like their overall record, the Fighting Irish are 30-8 (.789) all-time in home openers, with a 24-4 (.857) record during McGraw’s 28-year tenure. The Fighting Irish also have won 20 consecutive home openers, dating back to the 1994-95 season, when they dropped their first game of the year at Purcell Pavilion, 87-83 to No. 13/11 Purdue (Nov. 30, 1994).
Could It Happen Again?
Three years ago (Nov. 18, 2012), Notre Dame opened its home schedule against Massachusetts and it marked the first time in program history the Fighting Irish sold out its home opener, as 9,149 fans saw Notre Dame defeat the Minutewomen, 94-50 at Purcell Pavilion. It was the first of a school-record 11 sellout crowds for the Fighting Irish during the 2012-13 season.
Making A Good First Impression
With two active freshmen on the Notre Dame roster, chances are good that one or more of the Fighting Irish rookies will see significant action in Sunday’s season opener against Bucknell.
In recent years, Notre Dame’s freshmen have wasted little time in making their presence felt. That was most readily apparent just last season when current sophomore forward Brianna Turner made a huge splash in her college debut with a career-high 29 points (on 13-of-18 shooting) against UMass Lowell, shattering the program record for points by a freshman in her first game, a mark previously held by Ruth Kaiser in 1981 (22 vs. St. Joseph’s College of Indiana). Turner also finished just two points shy of Katryna Gaither’s school record for points by a player of any class in a season opener – Gaither tallied 31 points in the 1995-96 lidlifter at Indiana.
Two players have posted double-doubles in their Notre Dame debuts, with the most recent coming on Nov. 18, 2005, when Lindsay Schrader tallied 10 points and 14 rebounds in a victory over Michigan at Purcell Pavilion. Prior to Schrader, the only other Fighting Irish player to register a double-double in her college debut was Shari Matvey, who did so against Marion on Nov. 30, 1979 (at the Taylor Invitational in Upland, Indiana), when Notre Dame was still playing at the AIAW Division III level.
November To Remember
Notre Dame’s success during the past 21 seasons has been aided by its ability to get off to a good start. The Fighting Irish are 88-14 (.863) in November games since 1995-96 (when they joined the BIG EAST Conference).
Notre Dame has won 25 of its last 26 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.
— 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).