Nov. 13, 2014
2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 1
#3/3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-0 / 0-0 ACC) vs. UMass Lowell River Hawks (0-0 / 0-0 America East)
DATE: Nov. 14, 2014
TIME: 6:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: First meeting
TV: WatchND (live)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TEXT ALERT: UND.com
TICKETS: (574) 631-7356; UND.com/buytickets
- Notre Dame has won 19 consecutive season openers and is 24-3 (.889) in lidlifters during the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88).
- The Fighting Irish are 43-3 (.935) against first-time opponents since the start of the 2000-01 season, including an active 19-game winning streak in such contests.
No. 3 Fighting Irish Play Host To UMass Lowell Friday In Season Opener
Following months of preparation and a lone exhibition game, No. 3 Notre Dame tips off the 2014-15 regular season at 6 p.m. (ET) Friday, playing host to UMass Lowell at Purcell Pavilion. The game, which will be streamed live and free of charge on the official Fighting Irish athletics multimedia platform, WatchND, is the first of two Notre Dame basketball home games on Friday, as the Fighting Irish men facing Binghamton in their season opener at 9 p.m. (ET).
The Notre Dame women’s basketball team shook off the rust in its only preseason game on Nov. 5, racing out to a 28-0 lead and rolling past NCAA Division II foe Ferris State, 92-32 at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish shot 61.1 percent from the field in the first half en route to the win.
Junior All-America guard Jewell Loyd made nine of 10 shots and scored a game-high 20 points for Notre Dame, while freshman forward Brianna Turner (13 points/10 rebounds) and sophomore forward Taya Reimer (10 points/11 rebounds) chipped in with double-doubles.
- Notre Dame is No. 3 in the preseason Associated Press poll and is No. 3 in the preseason WBCA/USA Today poll.
- UMass Lowell is not ranked.
- Including its No. 3 preseason ranking, Notre Dame has appeared in the Associated Press poll for 137 consecutive weeks (including the past 67 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 (56 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 sixth consecutive season the Fighting Irish have appeared in the preseason coaches’ poll.
- For the fifth time in six 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) and 2011-12 (second).
- Notre Dame will play 10 of the other 24 teams in the preseason polls this year, including seven of the other top 14.
- Senior guards Madison Cable and Whitney Holloway, and senior forward Markisha Wright have helped Notre Dame to a 107-7 (.939) record in their three-year careers, the best record by any school during the past three seasons and far and away the most victories by a Fighting Irish class in its first three years, outdistancing last year’s senior class of Natalie Achonwa, Ariel Braker and Kayla McBride, who helped Notre Dame to 101 wins through the end of their junior seasons.
- In their first three seasons, Cable, Holloway and Wright have paced Notre Dame to two NCAA national championship games and three NCAA Women’s Final Fours (plus three conference regular-season titles and two league tournament crowns), as well as a 41-6 record against ranked teams (18-6 against AP Top 10).
- Of the seven losses suffered by the current Fighting Irish senior class, four were decided by 13 points or less.
- Notre Dame aims to continue its remarkable success at Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 401-90 (.817) all-time record in 37 seasons at the facility, including a 78-5 (.940) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
- With 663 victories in her 28 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 751 career wins, McGraw ranks 10th in NCAA Division I coaching history. She is one of two active ACC coaches in the top 10 along with North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell (second with 935).
Other Notre Dame Notables
- Notre Dame is among the nation’s winningest programs during the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), tying for third with 167 victories.
- Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in average attendance annually since 2000-01 (including top-five rankings the past five years), most recently placing fourth in the nation last season with 8,694 fans per game. The Fighting Irish also have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 207 of their last 209 home games (including an active streak of 50 consecutive contests with 8,000 fans), logging 41 Purcell Pavilion sellouts, including 35 since the start of the 2009-10 campaign (five of their final six last season).
- The Fighting Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as 12 Notre Dame players have been selected in the past 14 seasons. Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa were the most recent Fighting Irish players to be chosen, with McBride going to the San Antonio Stars in the first round (third overall selection) and Achonwa six picks later (No. 9 overall) to the Indiana Fever in the 2014 WNBA Draft. It marked the third consecutive year Notre Dame had a player selected No. 3 overall (Devereaux Peters went third to Minnesota in 2012 and Skylar Diggins was chosen in that same spot by Tulsa in 2013), making the Fighting Irish the second program with lottery choices in three consecutive seasons.
- Diggins was a 2014 All-WNBA First Team selection and the league’s Most Improved Player, in addition to earning the starting nod for the West at the 2014 WNBA All-Star Game. Meanwhile, McBride was chosen for the 2014 WNBA All-Rookie Team, the second Fighting Irish alumna in as many years to be selected for the squad (Diggins was picked for 2013 all-rookie honors).
- Peters earned her first WNBA Championship in 2013 with the Lynx (and fifth by a Notre Dame alumna), who defeated the Atlanta Dream (and former Fighting Irish All-American Ruth Riley) in the WNBA Finals. Riley previously had won a pair of crowns with the Detroit Shock (2003 Finals MVP, 2006), while Coquese Washington toiled for the 2000 Houston Comets and Jacqueline Batteast was Riley’s teammate on the 2006 title-winning squad in Detroit.
- For the eighth year in a row, the Fighting Irish posted a perfect 100 Graduation Success Rate (GSR) score, according to figures released by the NCAA in October. Notre Dame was one of only four schools in the previous seven years to record a perfect GSR score and play for a national championship in the same season (and the only program to do it more than once, pulling off that feat in 2011, 2012 and 2014).
The Notre Dame-UMass Lowell Series
Notre Dame and UMass Lowell are slated to play for the first time in women’s basketball on Friday night.
Other Notre Dame-UMass Lowell Series Tidbits
- UMass Lowell will be the 205th different opponent in the 38-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball.
- UMass Lowell is the first of five new opponent on this year’s Notre Dame schedule, all within the first six games of the season and all at Purcell Pavilion. Following UML, the Fighting Irish will play host to Chattanooga, Holy Cross, Harvard and Quinnipiac, with the final three games taking place as part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge.
- The Fighting Irish have won their last 19 games against first-time opponents, most recently earning an 89-72 victory over No. 21/18 Oklahoma State in the NCAA Sweet 16 on March 29, 2014, at Purcell Pavilion.
- During their current 19-game winning streak against new opposition, the Fighting Irish have won by an average score of 91-49.
- Notre Dame is 63-7 (.900) against first-time opponents since 1995-96, including a 43-3 (.935) mark vs. new teams this century (since the start of the 2000-01 season).
- Including last year’s NCAA Sweet 16 win over Oklahoma State, the Fighting Irish have won 32 consecutive home games against first-time opponents, dating back to Jan. 18, 1996, when Connecticut posted an 87-64 win at Purcell Pavilion.
- Friday marks the fourth time in six years Notre Dame will open its season at home against a first-time opponent. In 2009, the Fighting Irish debuted with a 102-57 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, followed a year later by a 99-48 victory over another America East Conference member, New Hampshire. Last season, Notre Dame began its campaign by defeating UNC Wilmington, 99-50.
- Friday’s game will be the first basketball meeting (either gender) for Notre Dame and UMass Lowell, as well as the first time any UML team has set foot on the Notre Dame campus for intercollegiate competition.
- Notre Dame and UMass Lowell are conference rivals in Hockey East. The River Hawks are 3-0 all-time against the Fighting Irish, with UML scheduled to make its first-ever appearance in South Bend in less than a week, coming to the Compton Family Ice Arena on Nov. 20-21 for a two-game Hockey East series.
- For the second time in three years, Notre Dame will tip off its women’s basketball home schedule against a team from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Fighting Irish faced the flagship institution of the University of Massachusetts system, UMass (Amherst) on Nov. 18, 2012, earning a 94-50 win at Purcell Pavilion.
- Notre Dame is 16-3 (.842) all-time against Massachusetts schools (14-3 vs. Boston College, 2-0 vs. UMass), including a 9-0 record at home (8-0 vs. BC, 1-0 vs. UMass). The Fighting Irish have won their last five games against the Commonwealth since a 78-61 loss to Boston College on March 19, 2006, in the first round of the NCAA Championship in West Lafayette, Indiana.
- Notre Dame will play five games against Massachusetts teams this season, including a home-and-home series against Boston College during Atlantic Coast Conference play. In addition to BC and UMass Lowell, the Fighting Irish will take on Holy Cross and Harvard on Nov. 23-24 as part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge at Purcell Pavilion.
- Fighting Irish athletic trainer Anne Marquez is a native of Framingham, Massachusetts.
- Former Notre Dame forward (and 2001 national championship team member) Meaghan Leahy was a resident of Wilbraham, Massachusetts, and one of only two Fighting Irish women’s basketball alumnae to come from the Commonwealth (the other being Worcester native Carola Cummings from 1977-79).
Notre Dame vs. The America East Conference
Notre Dame has a pretty thin history when it comes to playing America East Conference schools, with Friday’s game with UMass Lowell being just the fifth all-time matchup between Notre Dame and the America East. The Fighting Irish are 3-1 all-time against the current America East membership, with all four prior games also being played at Purcell Pavilion.
On Jan. 19, 1986 (17 months before Muffet McGraw was hired as Notre Dame’s head coach), Boston University edged the Fighting Irish, 74-72 at Purcell Pavilion, behind a game-high 23 points from Kim Dukes. Notre Dame was led by All-America forward Trena Keys (18 points) and Sandy Botham (14 points, 11 rebounds).
On March 23, 2010, Notre Dame rallied from an early 10-point deficit to down Vermont, 84-66 in the second round of the NCAA Championship’s Kansas City Region. Skylar Diggins led the way for the Fighting Irish with career highs of 31 points and seven steals, while Lindsay Schrader added a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
On Nov. 12, 2010, Notre Dame tipped off its season with a 99-48 win over New Hampshire. The Fighting Irish forced 48 UNH turnovers, thanks in large part to a school-record 36 steals, and got 23 points from Devereaux Peters to fuel the victory.
Most recently, Notre Dame downed Hartford, 98-43 on Nov. 17, 2011, in the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) semifinals. Diggins scored 22 points and Natalie Novosel added 20 points for the Fighting Irish. Current Notre Dame senior captains (and then-freshmen) Whitney Holloway and Markisha Wright each scored six points in the win over Hartford.
Blowing The Lid Off
Notre Dame is 29-8 (.784) all-time in season openers and carries a 19-game winning streak into Friday’s game against UMass Lowell. The Fighting Irish also are 24-3 (.889) 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 99-50 win over UNC Wilmington at Purcell Pavilion.
Like their overall record, the Fighting Irish are 29-8 (.784) all-time in home openers, with a 22-4 (.852) record during McGraw’s 27-year tenure. The Fighting Irish also have won 19 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?
Two years ago (Nov. 18, 2012), Notre Dame opened its home schedule against another Massachusetts school (UMass) 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 three freshmen on the Notre Dame roster, chances are good that one or more of the Fighting Irish rookies will see significant action in Friday’s season opener against UMass Lowell.
In recent years, Notre Dame’s freshmen have wasted little time in making their presence felt. In 2009, Skylar Diggins came off the bench to score 14 points in her debut game in the season and home opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Two seasons later, current senior forward/tri-captain Markisha Wright tossed in 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds against visiting Akron. In 2012, current junior guard Jewell Loyd collected five points and a game-high 12 rebounds in a win over No. 19/21 Ohio State aboard the USS Yorktown at the Carrier Classic in Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Last year, current sophomores Lindsay Allen (11 points) and Taya Reimer (12 rebounds) got the starting nod in a victory over UNC Wilmington. Allen also was the first Fighting Irish rookie point guard to start a season opener since 1994, when Mollie Peirick did so at Seton Hall.
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, Ind.), when Notre Dame was still playing at the AIAW Division III level.
November To Remember
Notre Dame’s success during the past 20 seasons has been aided by its ability to get off to a good start. The Fighting Irish are 81-14 (.853) in November games since 1995-96 (when they joined the BIG EAST Conference).
Notre Dame has won 18 of its last 19 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.
The Comforts Of Home
Notre Dame has won 28 consecutive home games since a 73-61 loss to third-ranked Baylor on Dec. 5, 2012, at Purcell Pavilion.
Entering the 2014-15 season, the Fighting Irish own the nation’s second-longest active home winning streak (behind only Chattanooga’s current 39-game run), with this run also the second-longest in school history (longest since a school-record 51-game stretch from Dec. 12, 1998-Feb. 19, 2002).
Notre Dame also has won its last 18 conference home games since a 65-63 loss to West Virginia on Feb. 12, 2012, when both the Fighting Irish and Mountaineers were members of the BIG EAST Conference.
Notre Dame has won a school-record 26 consecutive road games (35 in a row in the regular season, and 42 of its last 47 overall). The Fighting Irish last tasted defeat on the road on March 6, 2012, falling at No. 4 Connecticut, 63-54 in the BIG EAST Conference Championship final at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
The last time the Fighting Irish lost a regular season road game was Nov. 20, 2011, a 94-81 setback at No. 1 Baylor in the Preseason WNIT championship game.
Notre Dame’s current 26-game road winning streak also is the longest active run in the nation, doubling the next-closest pursuers (13 by Connecticut, as of Tuesday), as well as tying the fourth-longest road winning streak in NCAA Division I history.
The highlight of this current run came on Jan. 5, 2013, when Notre Dame edged No. 1 Connecticut, 73-72, in Storrs, Conn., earning its fourth all-time win over a top-ranked opponent and first-ever victory on the road.
The Fighting Irish also have won a school-record 24 consecutive conference road games, with their last loss coming as part of the BIG EAST Conference on Feb. 28, 2011 (a last-second 70-69 loss at No. 12/11 DePaul).
Exhibition Recap: Ferris State
It was only a test drive for her team, but Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw had to be pleased with the first spin around the block for the 2014-15 Fighting Irish.
Looking at times like a sports car on the Autobahn, No. 3 Notre Dame zipped up and down the floorboards at Purcell Pavilion on Nov. 5, jumping out to a 28-0 lead and rolling to a 92-32 exhibition win over NCAA Division II foe Ferris State before an enthusiastic crowd of 8,174 fans, the second-largest preseason audience in program history.
It was the 30th consecutive exhibition victory for the Fighting Irish, who also improved to 35-1 in preseason games dating back to the 1993-94 season.
Junior All-America guard Jewell Loyd looked every bit the part, scoring a game-high 20 points on nine of 10 shooting (her only miss coming from beyond the three-point line) and adding eight rebounds in 16 minutes of action.
Notre Dame also unveiled its blossoming post game, as freshman forward Brianna Turner logged a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and sophomore forward Taya Reimer collected 10 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks and three assists.
The Fighting Irish added a dash of perimeter spice, courtesy of freshman guard Mychal Johnson, who scored 15 points off the bench on five of eight shooting (three of five from the three-point line). Junior guard/tri-captain Michaela Mabrey picked up where she left off last season, as the Notre Dame sharpshooter tallied 12 points thanks to four three-point field goals on eight attempts.
Playing not far from her hometown of St. Joseph, Michigan, Katie Mavis scored a team-high 10 points and was the lone double-figure scorer for Ferris State.
For the night, the Fighting Irish shot 48.6 percent from the field, including a sharp 61.1 percent in the first half. Notre Dame also showed promise on the defensive end with a 51-30 rebounding edge while forcing 32 Ferris State turnovers (18 coming on Fighting Irish steals).
Notre Dame rode its defense during its game-opening 28-0 run, as Ferris State missed its first 12 shots and turned the ball over nine times, incuding two shot clock violations. By the time Bulldog forward Christina Branch finally got the visitors on the board with a swinging hook in the lane at the 10:12 mark of the first half, the only mystery left in the game would be whether the crowd would walk out with coupons for a McDonald’s Big Mac — a question answered by senior forward/tri-captain Markisha Wright, whose free throw with 4:53 left pushed Notre Dame over the magic 88-point mark needed to feed the masses.
Beyond The Box Score: Ferris State
- Notre Dame is 35-1 in its last 36 exhibition games, having won 30 preseason games in a row, dating back to 1993-94.
- The Fighting Irish held Ferris State to 32 points, the fourth-fewest points allowed by Notre Dame in an exhibition game, and fewest since a school-record 88-28 win over Edinboro in 2012.
- Notre Dame has held six of its last eight preseason opponents to fewer than 40 points.
- Ferris State’s 11 first-half points were the fewest allowed by the Fighting Irish in any half of an exhibition game. The previous low was 12 points by Christian Brothers University in the first half of an 87-39 Notre Dame win on Nov. 13, 2001, at Purcell Pavilion.
- Had it been a regular-season game, Ferris State’s 11 points would have been the fewest allowed by Notre Dame since Jan. 2, 2011, when the Fighting Irish held Southeast Missouri State to a school record-low six points in a 97-21 win at Purcell Pavilion.
- Speaking of that Southeast Missouri State game, that was the last time Notre Dame opened a game with a longer streak of unanswered points (a school-record 36-0 run) that the 28-0 spurt to begin this year’s exhibition victory over Ferris State.
- The Fighting Irish won their lone exhibition game by at least 60 points for the fifth time in seven years.
- Notre Dame’s 58-11 halftime lead was its second-largest margin at the break in a preseason game, topped only by last year’s 70-20 halftime lead against California (Pa.).
- Had it been a regular-season game, the 47-point halftime margin against Ferris State would have been a school record, eclipsing the 58-15 lead Notre Dame held at the intermission against Indiana State on Nov. 13, 2011, in a Preseason WNIT quarterfinal game at Purcell Pavilion.
- In its last seven exhibition games, Notre Dame has forced an average of 34.4 turnovers per game (32 against Ferris State).
- In three career exhibition games, Loyd is averaging 22.3 points per outing (she also had 20 points in 2012 against Edinboro before scoring 27 points last year against California-Pa.).
- The Fighting Irish had two players register double-doubles in the same exhibition game for the first time since Nov. 3, 2003, when Jacqueline Batteast (20 points/10 rebounds) and Megan Duffy (12 points/13 assists) did so in an 85-65 win over Northwest Sports at Purcell Pavilion.
- Reimer’s five blocks would have been a career high, had it been a regular season game. As it stood, it was the most blocked shots by a Notre Dame player in an exhibition game since Nov. 5, 2007, when Devereaux Peters had five blocks in a 96-64 win over Hillsdale at Purcell Pavilion.
- Mabrey’s four three-pointers were the most for a Notre Dame player in an exhibition game since 2005, when Megan Duffy connected on four of five from distance in a 96-45 victory, coincidentally also over Ferris State at Purcell Pavilion.
- The crowd of 8,174 was the second-largest crowd ever to see a Notre Dame women’s basketball exhibition game, coming up just short of the record-setting mark of 8,226 set in the 2012 win over Edinboro.
Loyd Named AP Preseason All-American
For the second time in three years, Notre Dame had a player unanimously voted to the preseason Associated Press All-America Team when junior guard Jewell Loyd was chosen for the 2014-15 squad, according to balloting released by the AP on Nov. 4.
Skylar Diggins was the first Fighting Irish player to earn unanimous recognition for preseason AP All-America honors, doing so in 2012. Jacqueline Batteast is the only other Notre Dame player to be selected for the preseason AP squad (although not unanimously), earning her spot in 2004.
Unlike Diggins and Batteast, Loyd is the first Fighting Irish non-senior to receive preseason AP All-America status.
Also the Preseason Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, Loyd averaged career highs of 18.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last year, collecting AP second-team All-America honors, as well as a place on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), United States Basketball Writers Association USBWA), espnW and Full Court Press All-America teams. Loyd also is the No. 2-returning scorer in the ACC this season behind only Wake Forest’s Dearica Hamby (22.0 ppg.).
Notre Dame Tops 2014-15 ACC Preseason Polls
Notre Dame was the clear favorite in the 2014-15 Atlantic Coast Conference preseason women’s basketball polls, according to separate balloting from the league’s Blue Ribbon Panel and its 15 head coaches. The conference announced its preseason polls and all-conference honorees Oct. 22 in conjunction with ACC Women’s Basketball Media Day at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The Fighting Irish received 38 of 41 first-place votes and 835 total points from the Blue Ribbon Panel, which is comprised mainly of local and national media members. Duke was the Panel’s No. 2 choice, earning one first-place vote and 733 total points.
Rounding out the top five in the Blue Ribbon Panel Preseason Poll were conference newcomer Louisville (724 points, two first-place votes), North Carolina (707 points) and Florida State (545 points).
In the ACC coaches’ preseason poll, Notre Dame earned 14 of the 15 first-place votes and 223 total points. Duke was chosen second (one first-place vote, 196 points), while Louisville (194 points), North Carolina (193 points) and Florida State (152 points) completed the upper third of the balloting.
Three Notre Dame Players Earn Preseason All-ACC Mention
Along with the team balloting, three Notre Dame players received individual accolades as part of the Atlantic Coast Conference preseason voting that was released Oct. 22 at the conference’s Media Day in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Junior guard Jewell Loyd was chosen as the Preseason ACC Player of the Year and earned a spot on the Preseason All-ACC Team from both the Blue Ribbon Panel, in addition to being unanimously chosen as a preseason Associated Press All-American (see prior note).
Sophomore guard Lindsay Allen joined Loyd on this year’s Preseason All-ACC Team, earning recognition from both the Blue Ribbon Panel and the conference coaches. Allen received third-team Freshman All-America honors from Full Court Press last year after starting all 38 games for the Fighting Irish as a rookie point guard, averaging 6.2 points and 3.9 assists per game. She also led the ACC with a 2.24 assist/turnover ratio and her 150 total assists set a Notre Dame freshman record, eclipsing Mary Gavin’s previous mark of 116 assists in 1984-85.
Freshman forward Brianna Turner completed the trio of Notre Dame honorees, earning a spot on the ACC Newcomer Watch Lists from both the Blue Ribbon Panel and the league’s coaches.
Turner was the 2014 Gatorade National High School Female Athlete of the Year, 2014 USA Today National High School Player of the Year, 2014 Texas Miss Basketball and a three-time All-America selection during her prep career. A graduate of Manvel High School in Manvel, Texas, Turner averaged 21.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.9 blocks, 3.1 steals and 3.0 assists per game in her four prep seasons, culminating with Most Valuable Player honors in the 2014 Texas Class 5A state title game, when she had 17 points and 17 rebounds to help Manvel end Duncanville High School’s 105-game winning streak. Turner went on to add MVP laurels at the 2014 McDonald’s High School All-America Game, thanks to another double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks) and the game-winning basket in the West Team’s 80-78 win over the East Team at the United Center in Chicago.
In August, Turner earned her fifth gold medal with USA Basketball, serving as co-captain for the USA Under-18 National Team and averaging 13.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game with a .600 field goal percentage for the American squad that took the crown at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Notre Dame is ranked No. 3 in the 2014-15 Associated Press preseason poll, its 67th consecutive week in the top 10 of the media balloting (63 of those in the top five), dating back to the middle of the 2010-11 season and marking 137 consecutive weeks in the AP poll.
The Fighting Irish reached a milestone on Nov. 26, 2012, with their 100th consecutive AP poll appearance. It extended the program record that started with the AP preseason poll in 2007-08 (the old record was 59 consecutive weeks from 1998-2001), and it made the Fighting Irish are one of six teams in the nation with an active streak of 100 consecutive AP poll appearances.
What’s more, every current Notre Dame player has competed for a top-10 Fighting Irish squad throughout her career (60 consecutive weeks for the current senior class), spending the vast majority (56) of those appearances in the AP Top 5 (and never lower than seventh).
This year’s No. 3 ranking represents the 15th time in 16 years (starting with the 1999-2000 campaign) that Notre Dame has appeared in the preseason AP poll, something only five schools in the nation have done — Connecticut, Duke and Tennessee have shown up in all 16 during that span, while Stanford joins the Fighting Irish with 15 preseason AP poll berths.
Notre Dame has been ranked in the AP poll for 276 weeks during the program’s 38-year history, with every one of those appearances coming in the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88). McGraw is eighth among all active NCAA Division I head coaches for weeks in the AP poll, and 16th all-time in that category.
In addition, the Fighting Irish are ranked No. 3 in the preseason WBCA/USA Today coaches’ poll.
Notre Dame has been ranked in the coaches’ poll for 139 of the past 140 weeks (and 103 in a row), falling just outside the Top 25 in the final poll of the 2008-09 season. Nevertheless, the Fighting Irish have appeared in the coaches’ poll for a total of 271 weeks during their history (all coming during McGraw’s tenure).
This marks the seventh consecutive season Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 10 of the WBCA/USA Today poll, as well as 13 of the past 17 campaigns (1998-99 to present).
More Polling Data
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is one of 32 people in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history who have both played for and coached a team that has appeared in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Besides her 276 AP poll appearances while coaching at Notre Dame, McGraw was the starting point guard at Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) as a senior in 1977, helping the Hawks to No. 3 in the nation.
Of the 32 people on this list, 17 currently are NCAA Division I head coaches (see accompanying chart), with McGraw and Baylor’s Kim Mulkey are the only active skippers to play for and coach a team in the AP poll, and coach that team to a national title (McGraw in 2001, Mulkey in 2005 and 2012).
Half And Half
During the past 15 seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Fighting Irish are 312-19 (.943) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 240 of their last 253 such contests (.949).
What’s more, in the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 149-2 (.987) when leading at the half, with the only losses coming on April 5, 2011, in the NCAA national championship game at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis (Notre Dame led Texas A&M, 35-33 at intermission before falling 76-70), and Feb. 12, 2012, against West Virginia (Fighting Irish led 33-30 at the break before the visiting Mountaineers rallied to win in the closing seconds, 65-63).
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense…
During the past 20 seasons, Notre Dame has discovered that a solid defensive effort can almost certainly guarantee a victory. In fact, since the beginning of the 1995-96 season, the Fighting Irish have an amazing 292-15 (.951) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game, including a 14-0 record last season.
…But Sometimes You Have To Score If You Want To Win
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. During the past 20 seasons (since 1995-96), the Fighting Irish are 214-6 (.973) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are three overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and UCLA (86-83 in double OT) in 2010, as well as a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998, an 81-80 loss to DePaul in 2008, and a 94-81 setback at Baylor in 2011.
In the past six years (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 91-2 (.978) when topping the 80-point mark, including a 29-0 record last season.
Now That’s A Home Court Advantage
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame’s success has been its stellar play at home. In fact, the Fighting Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 251 of their last 280 games (.896) at the 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion, including winning streaks of 51, 28, 25 and 20 games in that span (most recently the program’s current 28-game run).
Since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season, Notre Dame is 78-5 (.940) — including wins in 54 of its last 56 home games — and three of the five Fighting Irish losses in their refurbished facility have come by three points or fewer (two in overtime).
Notre Dame also has a 204-30 (.872) record in regular season conference play at the former Joyce Center, sporting a program-record 31-game league winning streak at home before it ended with a 48-45 loss to BIG EAST foe Villanova in the ’02 home finale.
The Fighting Irish have been especially strong when it comes to non-league home games, winning 117 of their last 126 out-of-conference contests (.929) at Purcell Pavilion, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Five of the nine losses in that span came at the hands of Big Ten opponents (four by 12 points or less) — Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54), Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT), Indiana in 2006 (54-51) and Minnesota in 2009 (79-71) — with the other defeats coming to Tennessee in 2005 (62-51) and 2008 (87-63), UCLA in 2010 (86-83 in 2OT) and Baylor in 2012 (73-61). The Purdue loss snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak that began after the UW setback.
Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the former Joyce Center, posting a 401-90 (.817) record at the venerable facility, including a school-record 17 wins in both 2011-12 and 2013-14.
Fighting Irish Are Hottest Ticket In Town
The past five seasons have seen an unprecedented surge in fan support for Notre Dame women’s basketball, as the Fighting Irish set new program records for the highest year-end NCAA attendance ranking (fourth in 2009-10 and 2013-14), highest average attendance (8,979 fans per game in 2012-13) and most sellouts in a single season (11 in 2012-13). And, as the old saying goes — “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
For the sixth consecutive year, Notre Dame fans all but exhausted the program’s season ticket packages (approximately 7,500) and have snapped up single-game ducats at a rate that helped the Fighting Irish already sell out the Dec. 6 game with Connecticut, while several other home games are rapidly approaching sellout status.
In fact, while some additional tickets may be available on the day or week of the game for individual contests this season (depending on returned inventory by visiting teams and other constituencies), it’s entirely possible that, for the fourth consecutive season, Notre Dame will flirt with a sell out for every one of its home games.
One Of Nation’s Toughest Cities To Play In
According to a study released by the University of Utah Athletic Media Relations Office, Notre Dame and Purcell Pavilion are among the toughest places in the nation to play. In fact, Notre Dame is one of just 11 programs in the nation to own a winning percentage of .800 or better in its home city.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Senior guard Whitney Holloway, senior forward Markisha Wright and junior guard Michaela Mabrey are serving as Notre Dame’s team captains for the 2014-15 season. All three players received the captain’s honor for the first time in their respective careers following a preseason vote by their teammates.
This will be seventh time in 11 seasons the Fighting Irish have had a trio of captains, as well as the second year in a row (Natalie Achonwa, Ariel Braker and Kayla McBride filled the captaincy trio last season).
Irish Fans Crave Another Big Mac Attack
Now in its eighth season, Notre Dame’s wildly-successful “Big Mac” promotion once again looks to send fans home with full bellies, offering a coupon for a free Big Mac from South Bend-area McDonald’s restaurants if the Fighting Irish score at least 88 points in an regular season or exhibition home game.
In the eight-year history of the promotion, Notre Dame has hit the 88-point mark 53 times, including the Nov. 5 exhibition win over Ferris State.
And for those tracking such things (or perhaps falling under the heading of “the media relations director has way too much time on his hands”), 25 different players have converted the “burger ball”, including seven current members of the Fighting Irish roster.
What’s more, of the 53 Big Mac games, 24 have been reached on two-point baskets, 17 on free throws, and 12 on three-pointers.
Next Game: Michigan State
Notre Dame heads out on the road for the first time this season when it travels to No. 14/15 Michigan State on Nov. 19 for a 7 p.m. (ET) contest against the Spartans at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan. The game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.
MSU returns three starters and eight letterwinners from last year’s 23-10 squad that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship, led by a pair of sophomores in all-Big Ten Conference forward Aerial Powers and sharpshooting guard Tori Jankoska.
The Spartans defeated Grand Valley State, 70-51 on Nov. 9 in their lone exhibition game, getting a game-high 20 points from Powers, 15 points and 11 rebounds from Jankoska, and 11 points and 11 rebounds from the third returning starter, senior forward Becca Mills.
Michigan State will tip off its 2014-15 regular season Sunday when it plays host to Eastern Michigan at the Breslin Center.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director