Nov. 20, 2015

by Chris Masters

Notre Dame Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

2015-16 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 3

#3/3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-0 / 0-0 ACC) vs. South Dakota State Jackrabbits (2-0 / 0-0 Summit League)

DATE: Nov. 21, 2015
TIME: 3:00 p.m. ET/2:00 p.m. CT
AT: Brookings, S.D. – Frost Arena (6,100)
SERIES: ND leads 1-0
STREAK: ND – won 1
LAST MTG: ND 94-51 (1/2/14)
TV: ESPN3/WatchESPN/Midco Sports Network (live) (Tom Nieman, p-b-p / Brad Newitt, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TWITTER: @NDsidMasters / @ndwbb


  • Notre Dame embarks on its first road trip of the season, making its first visit to the state of South Dakota since 1980.
  • The Fighting Irish have allowed just 93 points thus far, the third-lowest total through the opening two games of a season in program history.
  • No. 3 Fighting Irish Off To South Dakota State Saturday
    Following a pair of home wins and solid defensive outings to begin the 2015-16 season, No. 3 Notre Dame heads out on the road for the first time as the Fighting Irish travel to Brookings, South Dakota, on Saturday for a 3 p.m. ET (2 p.m. CT) game against South Dakota State at Frost Arena. The game will be televised live on ESPN3, the WatchESPN app and, in the upper Midwest, on the Midco Sports Network, with South Bend’s Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) and the official Fighting Irish athletics multimedia platform, WatchND ( offering radio coverage.

Notre Dame (2-0) picked up its second win of the young season with a 74-39 victory over Toledo on Wednesday night at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish used a 17-0 run in the third quarter and some sturdy defense to keep the Rockets at arm’s length throughout the night.

Sophomore forward Kathryn Westbeld scored a game-high 13 points, while graduate student guard Madison Cable added 11 points and junior guard Lindsay Allen chipped in 10 points and a career high-tying nine assists.


  • Notre Dame is No. 3 in the latest Associated Press poll and is No. 3 in the latest WBCA/USA Today poll.
  • South Dakota State is not ranked.
  • Quick Hitters

  • Including this week’s No. 3 ranking, Notre Dame has appeared in the Associated Press poll for 157 consecutive weeks (including the past 87 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 (55 of 61 weeks) spent in the AP Top 5.
  • Notre Dame also is ranked No. 3 in the latest Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll. This marks the eighth consecutive season and 14 of the past 19 years the Fighting Irish have appeared in the top 10 of the coaches’ poll.
  • For the sixth time in seven years, Notre Dame opened 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 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 110-6 (.948) record in their careers, putting them on pace to challenging 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 701 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 789 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 962 as of Friday).
  • The Notre Dame-South Dakota State Series
    Notre Dame and South Dakota State will play for the second time in series history on Saturday afternoon. The teams first met on Jan. 2, 2014, at Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish earning a 94-51 victory. Saturday’s game is the return of a home-and-home series between the programs.

The Last Time Notre Dame and South Dakota State Met
Kayla McBride got comfortable early and No. 2 Notre Dame jumped out fast.

The Fighting Irish led by double digits less than five minutes into their game against South Dakota State and hit 17 of their first 21 shots on the way to a 94-51 rout of the Jackrabbits on Jan. 2, 2014 before a crowd of 8,867 fans at Purcell Pavilion.

McBride scored 18 points on 8-for-8 shooting from the field and 2-for-2 on free throws, and also had four steals.

“My teammates were finding me in open areas and I was just hitting shots,” said McBride, who went 9-of-23 in Notre Dame’s last game, a 70-58 win at Oregon State. “It was definitely good to be home.”

Natalie Achonwa added 13 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high six assists for the Fighting Irish and Jewell Loyd had 14 points in Notre Dame’s final nonconference matchup before making its Atlantic Coast Conference debut.

Gabby Boever scored nine points to lead the Jackrabbits, who were facing their highest-ranked opponent in program history.

The Fighting Irish used a 12-0 run to take a 19-4 lead on Taya Reimer’s layup five and a half minutes into the game. Madison Cable hit two 3-pointers during another 12-0 run that pushed the lead to 57-21 in the final minute of the half.

McBride grabbed a steal and took it the other way for an easy layup less than five minutes into the second half, then watched the rest of the game from the bench soon after that.

Loyd’s layup with just under 15 minutes remaining made it 69-29, and Notre Dame’s largest lead was 45 points with 9:18 to play.

McBride knocked down both of her 3-point tries as well, but the rest of her stat line led to some playful ribbing from Fighting Irish coach Muffet McGraw.

“Didn’t get to the line and didn’t rebound and turned it over too much, but she did shoot it well,” McGraw said with a laugh.

South Dakota State came in with one win over a ranked team earlier in the season, an 83-79 upset of then-No. 12 Penn State on Dec. 11, but this one was over early.

Three Jackrabbits starters were on the bench less than four minutes into the game – Boever and Mariah Clarin with two fouls each, and Steph Paluch with a bloody nose. At that point, South Dakota State had more fouls (7) than points (4).

“We just got a little bit rattled early in the game,” said South Dakota State coach Aaron Johnston. “We gave up too many easy baskets and then they were off and going.”

The Fighting Irish took control quickly with a 20-2 run, and the Jackrabbits didn’t break double digits on the scoreboard until nearly 10 minutes had passed. By then, Notre Dame was already up by 23.

Cable finished with 13 points.

“I was really pleased with the tone that we set early on,” McGraw said.

Notre Dame scored a season-high 59 points in the first half on 20-of-41 shooting (63.4 percent) and amassed 20 of their 28 assists, mostly on backdoor cuts and extra passes in the paint.

“I thought we worked the backdoor really well tonight,” McGraw said. “I thought we got a lot of easy shots around the basket. (Loyd) and (McBride) in particular were getting easy shots.”

McBride, Loyd, Achonwa, and Cable all had double digits by the break.

Other Notre Dame-South Dakota State Series Tidbits

  • Notre Dame will be playing in the state of South Dakota for the first time since Jan. 14, 1980, when the Fighting Irish dropped a 76-61 decision to South Dakota in Vermillion during Notre Dame’s final season as a Division III program.
  • Notre Dame has never had a South Dakota native on its roster, one of only 13 states in the Union that have yet to produce a Fighting Irish women’s basketball player since the program achieved varsity status in 1977-78. The others on this short list are: Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah and Vermont.
  • Aside from the current women’s basketball home-and-home series, Notre Dame has played South Dakota State just one other time in any sport (baseball). On March 19, 2005, the Jackrabbits defeated the Fighting Irish, 13-7 in a neutral-site game at Braun Field in Evansville, Indiana (Notre Dame’s starting pitcher that day was current Chicago White Sox hurler Jeff Samardzija).
  • South Dakota State baseball coach Dave Schrage spent four seasons (2007-10) at the helm at Notre Dame, compiling a 119-104-1 record with the Fighting Irish.
  • Notre Dame vs. The Summit League
    Notre Dame is 8-2 (.800) all-time against the Summit League’s current membership, including a 2-1 (.667) record on the road. All but three of those games have come against that conference’s Indiana members (IPFW and IUPUI), with the Fighting Irish a combined 7-0 against those squads (the two losses both came at the hands of South Dakota in 1980, well before the Coyotes joined the Summit League).

Notre Dame last played a current Summit League team on the road on Dec. 21, 2007, posting a 67-44 win over IUPUI in Indianapolis behind 12 points from Charel Allen and 11 points from Devereaux Peters.

Saturday’s game is the first of two this season for Notre Dame against Summit League opponents, with both games coming less than a week apart. The Fighting Irish will face Denver for the first time in program history on Nov. 27 in the opening round of the Junkanoo Jam in Freeport, Bahamas.

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 90-14 (.865) in November games since 1995-96 (when they joined the BIG EAST Conference).

Notre Dame has won 27 of its last 28 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.

Department of Defense

  • While Notre Dame’s offensive prowess has been well-noted for several years, the Fighting Irish defense has showed its teeth in the first two games this season, allowing just 46.5 points while holding the opposition to a .304 field-goal percentage (including a .194 mark from the three-point line).
  • Notre Dame has allowed just 93 points in those opening two contests, the third-best defensive scoring total through two games in program history. Only the 2010-11 club (76 points) and the 1996-97 squad (91 points) have allowed fewer points in their first two games than this year’s Fighting Irish – and both of those teams went on to reach the NCAA Final Four during their respective seasons.
  • Road Warriors
    Notre Dame has enjoyed remarkable success on the road in recent seasons, having won 45 of its last 46 (and 52 of its last 58) regular season road games.

The only blemish for the Fighting Irish in this current run (which dates back to the early portion of the 2011-12 season) came last season with a 78-63 loss at Miami on Jan. 8, as the Fighting Irish saw their NCAA Division I record-tying 30-game road winning streak snapped. It was an amazing string of results in hostile territory, a streak that lasted exactly three years (Jan. 4, 2012-Jan. 4, 2015) and left Notre Dame tied with Connecticut for the NCAA Division I all-time mark in that category.

One of the more notable highlights of Notre Dame’s sensational recent road run came on Jan. 5, 2013, when Notre Dame edged No. 1 Connecticut, 73-72, in Storrs, Connecticut, earning its fourth all-time win over a top-ranked opponent and first-ever victory on the road.

— 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).