Jan. 1, 2016

by Chris Masters

Notre Dame Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

2015-16 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 14

#3/3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-1 / 1-0 ACC) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (8-5 / 0-0 ACC)

DATE: Jan. 3, 2016
TIME: 3:00 p.m. ET
AT: Pittsburgh, Pa. – Petersen Events Center (12,508)
SERIES: ND leads 23-3
STREAK: ND – won 6
1ST MTG: ND 90-51 (2/7/96)
LAST MTG: ND 87-59 (2/26/15)
TV: ACC-Regional Sports Networks/ESPN3/WatchESPN (live) (Evan Lepler – p-b-p / LaChina Robinson, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TWITTER: @NDsidMasters / @ndwbb


  • Notre Dame has rung in the new year with wins in 10 of its last 11 January openers.
  • Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw needs one win to become the 10th NCAA Division I coach to earn 800 career victories.

No. 3 Fighting Irish Ring In New Year At Pittsburgh
As the calendar turns to 2016, No. 3 Notre Dame embarks on its first road trip of the ACC season when it heads to Pittsburgh on Sunday for a 3 p.m. (ET) matinee against the Panthers at the Petersen Events Center. The game will be televised live on the ACC-Regional Sports Networks as well as 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 Fighting Irish athletics multimedia platform, WatchND (watchnd.tv).

Notre Dame (12-1, 1-0 ACC) opened its third ACC campaign on Wednesday with an 85-76 victory over Georgia Tech at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish overcame an early deficit and led by as many as 22 points in the second half before holding off a late Tech rally for the win.

Sophomore forward Brianna Turner scored a game-high 20 points, and graduate student guard Madison Cable chipped in 19 points, including a career high-tying 5-of-9 three-pointers, to pace the Notre Dame offensive attack.


  • Notre Dame is No. 3 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 3 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
  • Pittsburgh is not ranked.

Quick Hitters

  • Notre Dame is off to a 12-1 start or better 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 16.0 ppg.) and sophomore forward Kathryn Westbeld (6.7 to 10.0 ppg.), as well as the reliable production off the bench from freshman guards Marina Mabrey (13.2 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 9.7 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 32.8 points per game, compared to 15.4 ppg. for their opponent’s bench.
  • Notre Dame ranks among the top 25 in seven NCAA statistical categories (as of Friday), including five top-10 rankings — three-point field-goal percentage (1st – .467), field-goal percentage (5th – .504), scoring offense (6th – 85.2 ppg.), assists (7th – 19.6 apg.) and assist/turnover ratio (10th – 1.40). The Fighting Irish also rank 25th in scoring margin (+18.7 ppg.) and 23rd in turnover margin (+4.46), while tying for 10th in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.923).
  • 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 425-91 (.824) all-time record in 39 seasons at the facility, including a 102-6 (.944) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
  • Including regular season and postseason play, the Fighting Irish have won 76 of their last 80 games against conference opponents (and 27 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 39-1 against conference foes (32-1 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 120-7 (.945) 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 711 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 799 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 971 as of Friday).

The Notre Dame-Pittsburgh Series
Notre Dame and Pittsburgh have played annually since the 1995-96 season, first as members of the BIG EAST Conference, and beginning in 2013-14 in the Atlantic Coast Conference when both schools moved to that league. The Fighting Irish hold a 23-3 lead in the all-time series against the Panthers, with an 11-2 record in the Steel City. Notre Dame also has won the past six times it has played Pittsburgh.

The Last Time Notre Dame and Pittsburgh Met
Fourth-ranked Notre Dame couldn’t miss a shot at the start of the second half against Pittsburgh.

The Fighting Irish already were up by 13 when Michaela Mabrey started Notre Dame’s field goal streak with a jumper 10 seconds into the half and added another half a minute later. Then, Jewell Loyd hit one. Then, Brianna Turner.

Notre Dame cruised to an 87-59 victory over the Panthers on Feb. 26, 2015, at Purcell Pavilion to clinch at least a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season league title as six players hit shots and the Fighting Irish put the game away by making their first 11 shots of the second half.

Notre Dame made 70 percent of its shots in the second half (63 percent for the game), while Pittsburgh made just 36 percent of its shots.

Loyd led five Fighting Irish players in double figures with 16 points, Turner had 15 points and nine rebounds, Lindsay Allen added 13 points and eight assists, Markisha Wright had a season-high 14 points and Taya Reimer added 10 points.

The one bright spot for the Panthers was the play of Brianna Kiesel, who led Pitt with 27 points, three points shy of her career high, on 8-of-15 shooting. She also was 10-of-11 from the free-throw line.

Notre Dame, which brought usual starters Turner, Reimer and Mabrey off the bench so Wright and fellow seniors Madison Cable and Whitney Holloway could start their final regular-season home game, had a 36-10 advantage in bench scoring. The Fighting Irish also dominated inside, outrebounding Pittsburgh 41-21 and outscoring the Panthers in the paint 44-26.

The Last Time Notre Dame and Pittsburgh Met At The Petersen Events Center
Kayla McBride and Jewell Loyd scored 20 points apiece, and second-ranked Notre Dame clamped down on Pittsburgh in a 109-66 victory on Jan. 16, 2014, in the Steel City.

Notre Dame shot 61 percent (40-of-66) from the field and held Pitt to 37.1 percent shooting. The Panthers had only nine field goals on 28.1 percent shooting in the first half.

Notre Dame grabbed control with a tiebreaking 12-0 run early in the first half and led 54-25 at the break. The advantage ballooned to as many as 45 points in the second half.

The Fighting Irish had 25 assists on their 40 field goals. They finished with only nine turnovers.

Brianna Kiesel led the Panthers with 20 points on 5-of-12 shooting. She also made all eight of her free-throw attempts and converted 2-of-3 attempts from beyond the arc. Marquel Davis added 10 points for Pitt.

Kiesel, who had played over 100 consecutive minutes, rested for the final 12 minutes. The Fighting Irish played the final nine minutes without a single starter on the floor.

Notre Dame had five players score in double figures. Natalie Achonwa had 14 points, reserve Michaela Mabrey scored 13 and Taya Reimer had 10.

The Fighting Irish were dominant inside, outscoring Pitt, 46-18 in the paint and outrebounding the Panthers, 35-31.

Other Notre Dame-Pittsburgh Series Tidbits

  • Pittsburgh is one of six ACC opponents Notre Dame previously had faced when it was a member of the BIG EAST Conference (others are Boston College, Louisville, Miami, Syracuse and Virginia Tech). The Fighting Irish went 21-3 against the Panthers during their shared BIG EAST membership (1995-96 through 2012-13), posting a 20-2 regular season record and 1-1 mark in the BIG EAST Tournament.
  • Ten of the first 11 series games were decided by double digits, before five of the next six games in the series featured single-digit victory margins by an average spread of 7.2 points per game. However, the past nine contests wound up being double-figure wins, with the Fighting Irish taking the 2007-08 regular-season matchup, 81-66, and Pittsburgh returning the favor in that year’s BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals by a 64-53 count, as well as the 2009 matchup in Pittsburgh (82-70) before Notre Dame won the past six meetings, including the last five by at least 25 points.
  • Notre Dame has scored at least 65 points in all but two of its 26 meetings with Pittsburgh, with both exceptions resulting in Panther victories (71-62 in 2007 and 64-53 at the 2009 BIG EAST Championship). Pittsburgh has reached that standard 11 times against the Fighting Irish, including nine of the past 15 games.
  • Pittsburgh is one of four opponents against which Notre Dame has scored at least 100 points twice in the program’s 39-year history — and all four are or were former conference opponents for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame topped the century mark against Xavier in 1985 and 1986 when both teams were in the now-defunct North Star Conference, then did likewise against West Virginia in 1997 and 1999 during their shared BIG EAST Conference membership. The Fighting Irish scored 100 points twice against BC, once in non-conference play in 2008 and then last season during in ACC competition.
  • Notre Dame graduate student guard Madison Cable is a native of the Pittsburgh suburb of Mt. Lebanon, and graduated from Mt. Lebanon High School in 2011. The versatile wing (who earned a fifth year of eligibility after being sidelined all of 2011-12 with stress fractures in her feet) led Mt. Lebanon to a 114-14 (.891) record and three Pennsylvania Class AAAA state titles during her storied career, capped off by her selection as a 2011 Parade Magazine All-American, the Pennsylvania Gatorade High School Player of the Year and the Associated Press Pennsylvania Class AAAA Player of the Year.
  • Pittsburgh freshman guard/forward Brenna Wise is the cousin of Notre Dame associate head women’s golf coach Kyle Lynne Demeter (née Veltri).
  • Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has an indirect connection with Pittsburgh graduate manager (and former forward) Monica Wignot. McGraw coached Wignot’s mother, the former Terri Guman (now Dr. Terese Wignot) during McGraw’s first season and Guman’s final year at Lehigh in 1982-83, as the then-Engineers (now Mountain Hawks) posted a 14-9 record while McGraw was named the East Coast Conference Coach of the Year (the first of six league coach-of-the-year awards McGraw has earned in her career).

Unlocking The Keystone State

  • Notre Dame will be playing its third opponent from the state of Pennsylvania this season, having previously defeated Bucknell (85-54) on Nov. 15 at Purcell Pavilion, and posting a 91-55 win at Saint Joseph’s on Dec. 21.
  • The Fighting Irish are 63-26 (.708) all-time against schools from the Keystone State, with a 33-21 (.611) record away from home (road/neutral sites combined).
  • Notre Dame also has won its last 20 games against Pennsylvania schools, with Villanova the last team from the Commonwealth to defeat Notre Dame (58-47 on March 10, 2009, in the BIG EAST Tournament quarterfinals at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut).

Ringing In The New Year

  • Notre Dame is 30-8 (.789) all-time in in its first game of a new calendar year, including a 20-6 (.769) record away from home (road/neutral sites combined) and a 22-6 (.786) record in the Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present).
  • The Fighting Irish have won 10 of their last 11 (and 19 of their last 21) games to begin the month of January, including last year’s 74-68 victory over Florida State in their ACC opener at Purcell Pavilion.

McGraw Nearing Milestone Moment

  • Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw enters Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh needing one win to become the 10th NCAA Division I coach to register 800 career victories. McGraw has a 34-year record of 799-263 (.752), including a 711-222 (.762) record in 29 seasons with the Fighting Irish.
  • McGraw can become 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 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 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 — 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 nine games this year, going 8-1 in those contests.
  • Since the start of the 2009-10 season, the Fighting Irish are 126-6 (.955) when they have four or more players reach double digits in the scoring column, including wins in 96 of their last 98 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 9.7 ppg.), three of whom are ranked among the top 30 in the Atlantic Coast Conference (as of Friday) — graduate student guard Madison Cable (5th – 16.0 ppg.), freshman guard Marina Mabrey (18th – 13.2 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 92 treys this season (7.1 per game), including 77 in its last nine 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 Friday), connecting at a .467 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 33 points per game and have outscored the opponent’s bench by more than a 2-to-1 margin (32.8 ppg. to 15.4 ppg.).
  • The Fighting Irish second unit has outscored its opposite number in 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 (13.2 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 11 games this year (total of 17 double-figure outings).

Streak Stats

  • Dating back to the start of the 2012-13 season, Notre Dame has posted a 120-7 (.945) 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 24 games decided by single digits and/or in overtime, including five times this season.
  • 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, winning six in a row and eight of its last 11 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.

Road Warriors

  • 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.

— 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).