Dec. 29, 2015
by Chris Masters
2015-16 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 13
#3/3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-1 / 0-0 ACC) vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-3 / 0-0 ACC)
DATE: Dec. 30, 2015
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: ND leads 4-0
STREAK: ND – won 4
1ST MTG: ND 76-69 (11/30/96)
LAST MTG: ND 71-61 (2/19/15)
TV: ESPN3/WatchESPN (live) (Jack Nolan – p-b-p / Ruth Riley, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TEXT ALERT: UND.com
TWITTER: @NDsidMasters / @ndwbb
- Notre Dame tips off its third ACC season with the first of two meetings against Georgia Tech (one of two repeat opponents for the Fighting Irish on this year’s league slate).
- Notre Dame has won its last nine conference openers and 16 of its last 18 league lid lifters.
No. 3 Fighting Irish Open ACC Play Against Georgia Tech
On the heels of a demanding pre-conference schedule that featured five teams currently in the Associated Press poll, No. 3 Notre Dame now turns its attention to the always-challenging Atlantic Coast Conference season, as the Fighting Irish open league play at 7 p.m. (ET) Wednesday, playing host to Georgia Tech at Purcell Pavilion. The game will be televised live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app, while radio coverage will be available on South Bend’s Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) and worldwide online via the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND (watchnd.tv).
The Fighting Irish (11-1) are coming off a gritty 62-61 win over No. 10/9 Oregon State on Monday night at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame led by as many as 13 points, but saw OSU rally before the Fighting Irish scored six of the final eight points to claim the victory.
- Notre Dame is No. 3 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 3 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Georgia Tech is not ranked.
- Notre Dame is off to an 11-1 start for the fifth consecutive season and the eighth time in the past nine years (dating back to the 2007-08 season).
- 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 (21st this week).
- Despite losing two starters from the lineup that opened last April’s NCAA championship game in Tampa (and missing a third – sopphomore 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 15.8 ppg.) and sophomore forward Kathryn Westbeld (6.7 to 10.2 ppg.), as well as the reliable production off the bench from freshman guards Marina Mabrey (13.4 ppg.) and Arike Ogunbowale (11.4 ppg.).
- The Fighting Irish feature a very balanced attack with five players currently posting double-figure scoring averages (and junior Lindsay Allen at 9.9 ppg.). 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 33.8 points per game, compared to 14.3 ppg. for their opponent’s bench.
- Notre Dame ranks among the top 25 in seven NCAA statistical categories (as of Tuesday), including five top-10 rankings – three-point field-goal percentage (1st – .474), field-goal percentage (6th – .504), scoring offense (8th – 85.2 ppg.), assists (8th – 19.7 apg.) and assist/turnover ratio (10th – 1.42). The Fighting Irish also rank 22nd in scoring margin (+19.5 ppg.) and 23rd in turnover margin (+5.0), while tying for 12th in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.917).
- Including this week’s No. 3 ranking, Notre Dame has appeared in the Associated Press poll for 163 consecutive weeks (the past 93 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 105 of 116 weeks this decade (since 2010-11), ranking second in the nation in that category behind only Connecticut (116).
- Every current Fighting Irish player has competed for a top-10 Notre Dame squad during her career, with the vast majority of that time (61 of 67 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 has a remarkable tradition of success at home inside Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 424-91 (.823) all-time record in 39 seasons at the facility, including a 101-6 (.944) 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 119-7 (.944) 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 710 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 798 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 969 as of Tuesday).
The Notre Dame-Georgia Tech Series
Notre Dame and Georgia Tech will meet for the fifth time in their series history on Wednesday night. The Fighting Irish are 4-0 all-time against the Yellow Jackets (2-0 at home).
The Last Time Notre Dame and Georgia Tech Met
Notre Dame leaned on its star to extend its winning streak and protect its hold on first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Jewell Loyd scored a game-high 31 points, including 23 in the second half, and No. 4 Notre Dame survived a scare to beat Georgia Tech 71-61 for its 11th straight win on Feb. 19, 2015, at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta.
The Fighting Irish trailed 34-33 at halftime after a late three-pointer by the Yellow Jackets’ Katarina Vuckovic. However, Loyd shot 6-of-13 from the field and 10-of-11 from the line while playing the entire second half.
The final margin was the only double-digit lead of the game. The score was tied at 51 with 11 minutes remaining and Notre Dame led only 58-56 before a basket by Lindsay Allen and a three-pointer from Loyd stretched the advantage to seven.
The game featured two of the ACC’s top three scorers. Loyd led the conference with 20.7 points per game, coming into the contest. Zaire O’Neil led Georgia Tech with 20 points, while Kaela Davis, third in the ACC with 20.2 points per game, added 19 points.
Loyd was Notre Dame’s only scorer in double figures. Madison Cable had nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds, and Brianna Turner and Taya Reimer each had eight points, with Turner grabbing 10 rebounds.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Georgia Tech Met At Purcell Pavilion
No. 6/5 Notre Dame led wire-to-wire, going up by as many as 18 points in the first half on the way to defeating Georgia Tech, 89-76 on Jan. 22, 2015, at Purcell Pavilion.
The Fighting Irish had a 12-3 advantage in rebounding early in the game, but finished with just a 34-30 edge. The hosts also enjoyed a 54-40 margin on points in the paint.
Notre Dame used a 10-0 run midway through the first half to open a 32-14 lead and appeared to be on the verge of breaking the game open. However, Katarina Vuckovic banked in a three-pointer for Georgia Tech as the shot clock expired at the 9:08 mark, igniting a 22-8 spurt during the next five minutes and the Fighting Irish lead was down to 48-41 at halftime.
Notre Dame led by double digits virtually the entire second half, but didn’t shake the Yellow Jackets until layups by Lindsay Allen and Reimer and a pair of free throws by Loyd with 5:33 remaining gave the Fighting Irish a 17-point lead.
Notre Dame had a 14-0 advantage in fastbreak points and Brianna Turner added 14 points for the Fighting Irish, who shot 56.5 percent from the floor.
Kaela Davis led the Yellow Jackets with 24 points. Aaliyah Whiteside scored 16 points, Vuckovic had 12 and Zaire O’Neil added 10.
Other Notre Dame-Georgia Tech Series Tidbits
- The Fighting Irish are 8-2 (.800) all-time against Georgia schools (and have won their last eight), including a 4-1 record at home (Notre Dame lost to visiting Georgia, 81-75 on Dec. 21, 1992 – the last time the Fighting Irish lost a game at any location to a team from the Peach State).
- Notre Dame junior forward and Buford, Georgia, native Kristina Nelson is the third Peach State resident to suit up for the Fighting Irish and the second in recent seasons, following in the footsteps of Atlanta native Fraderica Miller (2008-12).
- Dating back to the end of its membership in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now the Horizon League) and covering the balance of its time in the BIG EAST Conference as well as last year’s debut in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Notre Dame is 18-4 (.818) in its last 22 conference openers, beginning with the 1993-94 season.
- The Fighting Irish have won 16 of their last 18 league lidlifters, as well as the past nine in a row.
- Last year, Notre Dame began its second season in the ACC with a 74-68 win over Florida State at Purcell Pavilion.
- The Fighting Irish are 17-5 (.773) in their last 22 conference home openers and have won eight of their last nine league debuts at Purcell Pavilion after last year’s victory over Florida State.
- Notre Dame is opening conference play before the start of the new year for the first time since the 2011-12 season, when the Fighting Irish tipped off their BIG EAST Conference slate with a 95-42 win at home over Marquette on Dec. 7.
Going Out On A High Note
- Notre Dame is 24-14 (.632) all-time in its last game of the calendar year, with a 9-3 (.750) record at home and a 21-7 (.750) record in the 29-year Muffet McGraw era.
- The Fighting Irish have won their last eight games when closing out the month of December, including an 82-67 win at UCLA last season (Dec. 28, 2014, at Pauley Pavilion).
- Notre Dame will be playing its final December game at home for the first time since the 2012-13 season, when the Fighting Irish defeated Saint Francis (Pa.), 128-55 on New Year’s Eve at Purcell Pavilion.
- Since the start of the 2008-09 season, Notre Dame has played 67 times when it has had a short one-day break (or less) between games.
- When faced with such a tight turnaround, the Fighting Irish have risen to the occasion in recent seasons, going 56-11 (.836) on the back half of these two-game (or more) blitzes during the past eight years.
- Wednesday’s game against Georgia Tech is the second quick turnaround of the season for Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish posted a 110-54 win at Valparaiso on Nov. 23, two days after a 75-64 victory at South Dakota State.
Spreading The Wealth
- Notre Dame has had at least four players score in double figures in eight games this year, going 7-1 in those contests.
- Since the start of the 2009-10 season, the Fighting Irish are 125-6 (.954) when they have four or more players reach double digits in the scoring column, including wins in 95 of their last 97 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 five players registering double-figure scoring averages (and another at 9.9 ppg.), three of whom are ranked among the top 30 in the Atlantic Coast Conference (as Tuesday) – graduate student guard Madison Cable (5th – 15.8 ppg.), freshman guard Marina Mabrey (17th – 13.4 ppg.; second among ACC rookies) and freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale (30th – 11.4 ppg.; sixth among ACC rookies).
Three For The Money
- Notre Dame has heated up from the three-point line in a big way, canning 81 treys this season (6.8 per game), including 66 in its last eight games alone.
- 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 Tuesday), connecting at a .474 clip from beyond the arc.
The Second Platoon
- Another reason for Notre Dame’s success this season has been the performance of its reserves, who are averaging nearly 34 points per game and have outscored the opponent’s bench by more than a 2-to-1 margin (33.8 ppg. to 14.3 ppg.).
- The Fighting Irish second unit has outscored its opposite number in all 12 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 (13.4 ppg.) and Arike Ogunbowale (11.4 ppg.) head up the strong Fighting Irish bench contingent, which has seen at least one reserve score in double figures in 10 games this season (total of 15 double-figure outings).
- Dating back to the start of the 2012-13 season, Notre Dame has posted a 119-7 (.944) record.
- In that four-year span, six of the seven Fighting Irish losses have come against top-three teams, including the past five against Connecticut – 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 – now known as the Smoothie King Center – in New Orleans, Louisiana), 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), No. 3 Connecticut (76-58 on Dec. 6, 2014, in the Jimmy V Classic at Purcell Pavilion), No. 1 Connecticut (63-53 on April 7, 2015, in the NCAA Women’s Final Four national championship game at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida) and No. 1 Connecticut (91-81 on Dec. 5, 2015, in the Jimmy V Classic in Storrs, Connecticut).
- The other loss came on Jan. 8, 2015, with a 78-63 setback at Miami. That defeat ended Notre Dame’s 61-game winning streak against unranked opponents in the Associated Press poll, the second-longest active run in the nation (research for this note provided by STATS via the AP).
Poise Under Pressure
- Notre Dame has won its last 23 games decided by single digits and/or in overtime, including four times this season – a 92-84 overtime win over UCLA on Nov. 28 in the Junkanoo Jam Freeport Division championship game in Freeport, Bahamas; a 75-72 victory over No. 10/12 Ohio State on Dec. 2 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at Purcell Pavilion; a 95-90 win over No. 18/17 DePaul on Dec. 9 at Purcell Pavilion, and a 62-61 win over No. 10/9 Oregon State on Dec. 28, also at Purcell Pavilion.
- The Fighting Irish last dropped a single-digit decision on March 6, 2012, falling 63-54 at No. 4 Connecticut in the BIG EAST Conference Tournament championship game at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
- Notre Dame has been sharp when pushed to overtime, having won six in a row and eight of its last 11 games when going to an extra session.
Visiting Century City
- Notre Dame’s 110-51 victory at Valparaiso on Nov. 23 was its 13th 100-point game since the start of the 2011-12 season (and 10 other games of 95-99 points), a remarkable offensive explosion considering Notre Dame had 13 triple-digit games in the first 34 years of the program’s existence – and just four in the 12 seasons prior to its current run.
- Notre Dame has enjoyed remarkable success on the road in recent seasons, having won 49 of its last 51 (and 56 of its last 63) regular season road games.
- The only blemishes for the Fighting Irish in this current run (which dates back to the early portion of the 2011-12 campaign) are a 78-63 loss at Miami on Jan. 8, 2015, and a 91-81 defeat at top-ranked Connecticut on Dec. 5, 2015, in the Jimmy V Classic.
- The loss in Miami snapped Notre Dame’s NCAA Division I record-tying 30-game road winning streak. 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, at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut, earning its fourth all-time win over a top-ranked opponent and first-ever victory on the road.
Allen Shares ACC Player of the Week Honor
For the first time in her career, junior guard Lindsay Allen was chosen as the ACC Player of the Week, sharing the honor with Virginia’s Faith Randolph on Monday.
Allen is the second Fighting Irish player in the past three weeks to earn the ACC Player of the Week award. Graduate student guard Madison Cable also picked up her first-ever conference weekly honor on Dec. 14. In addition, Notre Dame has had a pair of freshman guards garner ACC Rookie of the Week accolades this season, with Marina Mabrey taking the prize on Nov. 30, and Arike Ogunbowale doing likewise on Dec. 14.
Allen flirted with a triple-double in Notre Dame’s final game before the Christmas holiday, collecting 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting, along with a career high-tying nine assists, a season-high seven rebounds and two steals in a 91-55 Fighting Irish win on Dec. 21 at Saint Joseph’s (Pa.). Allen outscored the host Hawks all by herself in the third quarter, tallying eight points during a period when Notre Dame dominated Saint Joseph’s, 26-7.
A preseason all-ACC selection this year, and honorable mention All-America choice last season, Allen has started all 89 games in her career (the third-longest stretch of consecutive games started in program history). She currently averages 9.9 points per game and leads the ACC in assists (5.6 apg.), while ranking second in the conference with a 2.48 assist/turnover ratio.
McGraw Nearing Milestone Moment
- Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw enters Wednesday’s game against Georgia Tech needing two wins to become the 10th NCAA Division I coach to register 800 career victories. McGraw has a 34-year record of 798-263 (.752), including a 710-222 (.762) record in 29 seasons with the Fighting Irish.
- McGraw is poised to become the sixth-fastest Division I coach to reach the 800-win milestone, hitting 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 legendary former Texas head coach Jody Conradt (1,062 games).
- Four of the five Division I coaches who have reached 800 wins faster than McGraw is on pace to do are enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame – Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma (928 games), Tennessee’s Pat Summitt (958 games), Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer (997 games) and Conradt. The lone exception is Montana’s Robin Selvig (1,055 games).
- Coincidentally, 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.
— 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).