Nov. 22, 2015
by Chris Masters
2015-16 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 4
#3/3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-0 / 0-0 ACC) vs. Valparaiso Crusaders (0-1 / 0-0 Horizon League)
DATE: Nov. 23, 2015
TIME: 8:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. CT
AT: Valparaiso, Ind. – Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000)
SERIES: ND leads 25-0
STREAK: ND – won 25
1ST MTG: ND 48-41 (12/3/77)
LAST MTG: ND 96-46 (11/16/13)
TV: ESPN3/WatchESPN (live) (Brandon Vickrey, p-b-p / Parker Gatewood and Renee Turpa, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: valpoathletics.com
TEXT ALERT: UND.com
TWITTER: @NDsidMasters / @ndwbb
- Notre Dame renews the oldest rivalry in program history when it takes on Valparaiso, who provided the opposition in the first-ever Fighting Irish women’s basketball game (a 48-41 Notre Dame win on Dec. 3, 1977).
- Since 2008-09, the Fighting Irish are 55-11 (.833) when playing on one day’s rest or less.
#3 Irish Ready For Monday Night Hoops At Valparaiso
On the heels of an impressive character win in its road opener over the weekend, No. 3 Notre Dame doesn’t have much time to savor the feeling as the Fighting Irish make the drive west down the Indiana Toll Road Monday night to take on in-state foe Valparaiso at 8 p.m. ET (7 p.m. CT) at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The game will be televised live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app, with South Bend’s Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) and the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND (watchnd.tv) providing live radio coverage.
The Fighting Irish (3-0) remained unbeaten on the young season with a 75-64 win at South Dakota State Saturday afternoon. Notre Dame used a 12-4 run late in the first half to take the lead for good and turn back a spirited effort from a scrappy SDSU side and its rabid fans.
Sophomore forward Brianna Turner scored a team-high 20 points and grabbed a game-best nine rebounds to pace a balanced Fighting Irish attack at South Dakota State.
- Notre Dame was No. 3 in last week’s Associated Press poll and was No. 3 in last week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Valparaiso was not ranked last week.
- Including last 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 was ranked No. 3 in last week’s 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 111-6 (.949) 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 702 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 790 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 964 as of Sunday).
The Notre Dame-Valparaiso Series
It’s the original series in Notre Dame women’s basketball history, as the Fighting Irish face Valparaiso for the 26th time on Monday night. Notre Dame has won all 25 prior meetings with the Crusaders, including the first game in Fighting Irish history – 48-41 on Dec. 3, 1977, at Purcell Pavilion.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Valparaiso Met
Prior to its Nov. 16, 2013, game against Valparaiso at Purcell Pavilion, the Notre Dame women’s basketball program honored former star Skylar Diggins by inducting her into the school’s Ring of Honor.
For the first few minutes, the No. 5/6 Fighting Irish played like they could have used the services of the former All-American, who graduated the previous spring and now plays for the WNBA’s Dallas Wings (formerly Tulsa Shock).
“No more emotional pregames,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, whose team did not score its first basket until 2:21 had elapsed. “We got off to such a slow start. I thought the emotion of the day was what the problem was.”
From there, though, it was all Fighting Irish as they stomped the Crusaders 96-46.
“(Allen) and Jewell were really kind of the sparks offensively,” McGraw said of her backcourt duo. “Really pleased with both of them.”
Leading by 10 late in the first half, the Fighting Irish closed the half with a 19-5 run that put them in control. If there was any doubt, Notre Dame erased it by scoring the first 12 points of the second half.
Loyd hit 9-of-14 from the field and all four of her free throws to pace Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish shot 53 percent from the field while limiting Valparaiso to 28 percent.
Notre Dame also owned a 34-8 advantage in points off turnovers and outscored the Crusaders 16-0 on the fast break.
Liz Horton was the only Valparaiso player in double figures with 11 points.
The Last Time The Irish and Crusaders Met In Valparaiso
Natalie Novosel scored 18 points while Natalie Achonwa and Brittany Mallory added 12 apiece to help No. 17/16 Notre Dame easily beat Valparaiso 94-43 on Dec. 20, 2010, at the Athletics-Recreation Center in Valparaiso, Indiana.
Notre Dame had 24 steals and led by as many as 50 in the second half.
The Fighting Irish, who had a tradition of slow starts against the Crusaders, jumped out to a 10-2 lead at the first media time out and never looked back.
They built the lead to 34-11 with 6:45 left in the first half before subbing liberally.
Novosel and Mallory had 10 points each at halftime for Notre Dame, which also recorded 14 steals and four blocked shots at the intermission.
The second half was more of the same as the Fighting Irish built their lead as high as 54 points in the final five minutes.
Stefanie Lang was the only Valparaiso player to score in double figures, finishing with 11 points to lead the Crusaders.
Other Notre Dame-Valparaiso Series Tidbits
- Notre Dame’s 25-0 record against Valparaiso represents the most victories against one opponent without a loss in school history.
- The 25 series wins also are the fourth-most against one opponent in program history (trailing only the 32 victories against Marquette, 28 against Syracuse and 26 against Georgetown).
- The Fighting Irish have held the Crusaders to 60 points or fewer in 23 of 25 series matchups. Conversely, Notre Dame has scored at least 60 points in 18 of 25 meetings, including 16 of the past 18 games.
- Prior to 2009, the series had tightened considerably, with six of the eight games from 2001-08 decided by 10 points or fewer (with the majority of those nailbiters coming at Valparaiso’s Athletics-Recreation Center).
- Notre Dame is 11-0 all-time at the Athletics-Recreation Center, winning by an average of 21.5 points per game.
- Notre Dame’s 25 wins over Valparaiso are the most victories for the Fighting Irish against an Indiana opponent.
- Valparaiso holds a special place in Notre Dame women’s basketball history as the first-ever opponent for the Fighting Irish as a varsity-level program on Dec. 3, 1977 (a 48-41 Notre Dame win at Purcell Pavilion). It was the start of three seasons the Fighting Irish spent as an AIAW Division III entity before elevating to Division I in 1980-81.
- With junior forward (and Fishers, Ind., native) Taya Reimer and freshman guard Ali Patberg (from Columbus, Ind.) on this year’s roster, Notre Dame now has had 21 Indiana resident suit up for the Fighting Irish, the most from any state in program history. That total will increase next season when Princeton, Indiana, product and Class of 2016 incoming freshman guard Jackie Young arrives at Notre Dame.
- Valparaiso redshirt junior forward Haylee Thompson previously faced Notre Dame while playing for Utah State. Thompson, who sat out the 2013-14 season in accordance with NCAA transfer guidelines, played nine minutes for USU against Notre Dame on Dec. 8, 2012, collecting five points and two rebounds in a 109-70 Fighting Irish victory at Purcell Pavilion.
- This will mark Valparaiso head coach Tracey Dorow’s second official matchup against Notre Dame, although her first meeting with the Fighting Irish came in an exhibition game when she coached at Division II Ferris State. On Nov. 10, 2005, Notre Dame posted a 96-45 win over Dorow’s Bulldogs at Purcell Pavilion behind 24 points, seven rebounds, five assists and five steals from All-America point guard Megan Duffy.
Notre Dame vs. The Horizon League
Notre Dame is 68-5 (.932) all-time against the current Horizon League membership, including a 29-4 (.879) record on the road.
The Fighting Irish have won 43 consecutive games against the present Horizon League alignment, a streak that began following a 69-65 loss at Wisconsin-Green Bay on Dec. 4, 1987 (the third game of head coach Muffet McGraw’s 29-year career at Notre Dame).
Monday’s matchup is the first for the Fighting Irish against a Horizon League opponent since the last time they faced Valparaiso on Nov. 16, 2013 (a 96-46 victory).
The last time Notre Dame visited a Horizon League team was Dec. 20, 2010, when the Fighting Irish posted a 94-43 win at Valparaiso. It was the 22nd consecutive road win for the Fighting Irish against the current Horizon League configuration, stretching back to that 1987 loss at Green Bay.
Valparaiso is the lone in-state opponent on Notre Dame’s schedule this season.
The Fighting Irish are 125-32 (.796) all-time against other Indiana schools, with a 92-21 (.814) record outside of Purcell Pavilion (road and neutral-site games combined).
Notre Dame also has won 20 consecutive games against in-state foes since a 54-51 loss to Indiana on Dec. 3, 2006, at Purcell Pavilion.
Since the start of the 2008-09 season, Notre Dame has played 66 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 55-11 (.833) on the back half of these two-game (or more) blitzes during the past eight years.
Last season, Notre Dame went 10-1 in the second game of these tight turnarounds, a record highlighted by a pair of ACC Tournament victories (over Duke and Florida State), and two more in the NCAA Championship (over DePaul and Baylor).
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 91-14 (.867) in November games since 1995-96 (when they joined the BIG EAST Conference).
Notre Dame has won 28 of its last 29 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 three games this season, allowing just 52.3 points while holding the opposition to a .315 field-goal percentage (including a .260 mark from the three-point line).
- Notre Dame has allowed just 157 points in those opening three contests, the third-best defensive scoring total through two games in program history. Only the 1981-82 club (123 points) and the 2011-12 squad (138 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.
Dealing With Rejection
- An added element to Notre Dame’s early-season success on defense has been its penchant for shot blocking. The Fighting Irish rank sixth in the nation (as of Sunday) and third in the Atlantic Coast Conference, averaging 7.7 blocks per game this season.
- Leading the way is sophomore forward Brianna Turner, who ranks second in the ACC and 18th nationally at 3.3 blocks per game.
- Turner has 99 career swats, while junior forward Taya Reimer has 98 career rejections. Notre Dame has not had two active players with 100 blocks on the same roster since Nov. 20, 2004, when Teresa Borton recorded her 100th block in the Preseason WNIT championship game win over No. 10/9 Ohio State at Purcell Pavilion, joining Jacqueline Batteast in the triple-digit club.
Notre Dame has enjoyed remarkable success on the road in recent seasons, having won 46 of its last 47 (and 53 of its last 59) 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).