Jan. 20, 2016
by Chris Masters
2015-16 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 19
#3/3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (17-1 / 5-0 ACC) vs. #RV/24 Syracuse Orange (14-4 / 4-1 ACC)
DATE: Jan. 21, 2016
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: ND leads 28-2
STREAK: ND – won 15
1ST MTG: ND 81-64 (1/16/88)
LAST MTG: ND 85-74 (1/4/15)
TV: ESPN3/WatchESPN (live) (Conor Clingen, p-b-p / Nik Valdiserri, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TEXT ALERT: UND.com
TWITTER: @NDsidMasters / @ndwbb
- Notre Dame will face its sixth ranked opponent this season, having posted a 4-1 record against Top 25 teams to date.
- Notre Dame will be holding its annual Heart of the Irish Book Drive, with fans encouraged to bring a new or gently-used children’s book to donate to the South Bend-area schools.
No. 3 Fighting Irish Tangle With No. RV/24 Syracuse Thursday
After stepping out of conference to face one ranked opponent earlier this week, No. 3 Notre Dame returns to ACC play Thursday to take on another Top 25 foe, as the Fighting Irish play host to No. RV/24 Syracuse at 7 p.m. (ET) inside 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 (17-1, 5-0) earned their season-high 10th consecutive win on Monday, toppling No. 18/15 Tennessee, 79-66 at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame led by as many as 25 points to earn its sixth straight win over UT.
- Notre Dame is No. 3 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 3 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Syracuse is receiving votes in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 24 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Notre Dame is off to a 17-1 start or better for the fourth time in five years and sixth time in program history (also 2000-01, 2009-10, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14).
- The Fighting Irish are 4-1 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 (UCLA is 20th in this week’s AP poll and 25th in the current WBCA/USA Today coaches’ poll).
- Despite losing two starters from the lineup that opened last April’s NCAA championship game in Tampa (and missing a third – sophomore 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 14.4 ppg.) and sophomore forward Kathryn Westbeld (6.7 to 9.5 ppg.), as well as the reliable production off the bench from freshman guards Marina Mabrey (12.9 ppg.) and Arike Ogunbowale (11.4 ppg.).
- The Fighting Irish feature a very balanced attack with four players currently posting double-figure scoring averages (and two others at 9.0 ppg. or better). 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 31.4 points per game, compared to 13.7 ppg. for their opponent’s bench.
- Notre Dame ranks among the top 15 in six NCAA statistical categories (as of Wednesday), including five top-10 rankings – three-point field-goal percentage (1st – .449), field-goal percentage (2nd – .496), scoring offense (8th – 82.0 ppg.), scoring margin (9th – +18.9 ppg.) and assists (10th – 18.4 apg.). The Fighting Irish also rank 15th in assist/turnover ratio (1.24), while tying for fourth in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.944).
- Including this week’s No. 3 ranking, Notre Dame has appeared in the Associated Press poll for 166 consecutive weeks (the past 96 weeks in the AP Top 10), extending a program record that dates back to the 2007-08 preseason poll, and ranking fifth in the nation among active AP poll appearances.
- Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll for 108 of 119 weeks this decade (since 2010-11), ranking second in the nation in that category behind only Connecticut (119).
- Every current Fighting Irish player has competed for a top-10 Notre Dame squad during her career, with the vast majority of that time (64 of 70 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, making its 133rd consecutive appearance in that survey. It’s also 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 427-91 (.824) all-time record in 39 seasons at the facility, including a 104-6 (.945) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
- Including regular season and postseason play, the Fighting Irish have won 80 of their last 84 games against conference opponents (and 28 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 43-1 against conference foes (36-1 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 125-7 (.947) 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 43-6 (.878) record against ranked teams (24-6 against top-10 opponents).
- With 716 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 804 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 973 as of Wednesday).
The Notre Dame-Syracuse Series
Notre Dame and Syracuse will meet for the 31st time in their series when they take the Purcell Pavilion hardwood on Thursday night. The Fighting Irish hold a 28-2 lead in the all-time series with the Orange (14-0 at home) and have won the past 15 games in the series.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Syracuse Met
Jewell Loyd had 25 points and four steals, Brianna Turner added 20 points and 13 rebounds, and fourth-ranked Notre Dame beat No. 21/22 Syracuse 85-74 on Jan. 4, 2015, at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.
Notre Dame won its 30th straight road game to tie the record set by Connecticut.
Diamond Henderson and Brianna Butler led Syracuse with 19 points apiece.
The Fighting Irish went on a 14-4 run early in the second half to go up 12 points.
After Butler’s three-pointer pulled Syracuse within 46-44, Orange forward Briana Day picked up her fourth foul. With the 6-foot-4 Day on the bench, the Fighting Irish got a three-point play from Taya Reimer and seven points from Loyd to take a double-digit lead.
Consecutive three-point plays by Henderson had the Orange within 73-67 with 5:12 to go. Loyd countered with a layup, and the Fighting Irish quickly extended the lead back to double figures.
Day had five blocks and four rebounds in the first half to keep the Orange close. Notre Dame took a 42-41 edge into halftime behind its three-point shooting. The Fighting Irish were 6-of-14, including four three-pointers from Michaela Mabrey, while Syracuse was just 2-of-9.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Syracuse Met at Purcell Pavilion
Jewell Loyd scored 23 points, Kayla McBride add 18 and No. 2 Notre Dame opened a 33-point halftime lead on the way to a 101-64 victory over Syracuse on Feb. 9, 2014, at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame took control from the start, beating the Syracuse zone inside and outside, jumping to a 14-2 lead, extending it to 29-10 midway through the first half and 61-28 at halftime. The Fighting Irish shot 61 percent in the first half, holding the Orange to 31 percent shooting, and outscoring Syracuse 20-8 inside.
Notre Dame matched its season high with 10 three-pointers, hitting seven of its first nine, while holding the Orange to five, two below their average. The Fighting Irish also forced 24 turnovers.
Loyd was 9-of-11 shooting, including 2-of-3 from three-point range, and the only thing that could slow her was sitting on the bench for nearly half the first half after picking up her second foul. McBride was 7-of-12 shooting as the Irish improved to 23-0, matching the best start in school history.
Michaela Mabrey added 18 points for the Fighting Irish, including hitting three straight three-pointers in the first half, and Natalie Achonwa had 14. Brittney Sykes led the Orange with 14 points and Rachel Coffey had 12.
Other Notre Dame-Syracuse Series Tidbits
- Notre Dame’s 28 wins against Syracuse are the second-most against one opponent in school history (32 vs. Marquette).
- Syracuse is one of four programs against which the Fighting Irish have at least 25 series victories, along with Marquette (32), Georgetown (26) and Valparaiso (26).
- The Fighting Irish have scored at least 70 points in 25 of the 30 series games with Syracuse (including 11 of the past 12), while the Orange have topped that mark five times in the series.
- The 74-73 Fighting Irish win in 2010 at the Carrier Dome was the closest victory for Notre Dame in the 30-game series and the second single-digit margin among its 28 series wins (71-66 on Dec. 8, 1990, at Purcell Pavilion).
- During its current series-best 15-game winning streak against Syracuse, Notre Dame has won eight times by 13 points or fewer, including five of the past eight meetings.
- In seven of its last 12 games vs. Syracuse, Notre Dame has had at least one player set (at the time) a new career scoring high – Breona Gray (17 on Jan. 5, 2005), Charel Allen (17 on Jan. 19, 2005), Lindsay Schrader (24 on Jan. 31, 2006), Melissa Lechlitner (18 on Jan. 20, 2007), Becca Bruszewski (20 on Feb. 24, 2009), Skylar Diggins (21 on Jan. 30, 2010) and Kayla McBride (25 on Feb. 26, 2012). Each player eclipsed those point totals later in their careers.
- Three of New Jersey’s top young players (and close friends) will match up Thursday as Notre Dame senior guard/captain Michaela Mabrey (Belmar/Manasquan HS) and her younger sister/freshman guard Marina Mabrey, meet Syracuse redshirt junior guard Brittany Sykes (Newark/University HS). The elder Mabrey and Sykes were teammates (along with Syracuse senior guard, Brianna Butler) on the East Team at the 2012 McDonald’s High School All-America Game (played at the United Center in Chicago), earning a 79-78 victory over the West Team.
New York State Of Mind
Notre Dame is 57-5 (.919) all-time against New York-based teams, including a 30-0 record at Purcell Pavilion, and wins in 15 of its last 16 games overall (only loss a 76-71 setback at St. John’s on Feb. 16, 2010).
St. John’s and Syracuse account for all five New York wins over Notre Dame (three for the Red Storm, two for the Orange – four road, one neutral site).
Turner of Fortune
- Sophomore forward Brianna Turner has had a significant effect on Notre Dame’s fortunes throughout her young career, and entered this year as the ACC Preseason Player of the Year. Thus, when she was sidelined for six games earlier this season with a shoulder injury, the Fighting Irish saw a noticeable change in their productivity, mainly at the defensive end of the court without their 6-foot-3 rim protector.
- Through 12 games with Turner in the lineup, Notre Dame has allowed just 56.2 points per game, while holding opponents to a .358 field-goal percentage and .304 three-point percentage, while posting a +5.9 rebounding margin. In fact, just one opponent has scored more than 70 points against the Fighting Irish with Turner in uniform this season (Georgia Tech in an 85-76 Notre Dame win on Dec. 30), and eight of those 12 foes did not top 60 points.
- Conversely, when Turner was out from Nov. 27-Dec. 12, the Fighting Irish allowed 76.8 points per game, while opponents shot .458 from the field, .339 from the three-point line and Notre Dame’s rebounding margin was trimmed to +4.5 rpg.
Allen Is The Iron Woman
- Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has often noted that she seeks the kind of point guard to whom she can roll the ball out as a freshman and then take it back when that player graduates four years later. As it turns out, junior guard/captain Lindsay Allen is following that notion to the letter.
- Allen has started all 95 games of her Fighting Irish career, matching the second-longest streak of consecutive games started in Notre Dame history. Only Jacqueline Batteast (97 from 2002-05) and Katryna Gaither (95 from 1994-97) have equal or longer strings of consecutive starts than Allen.
- When Allen took the reins for Notre Dame’s 2013-14 season opener against UNC Wilmington on Nov. 9, 2013 (a 99-50 win at Purcell Pavilion), she became the first true freshman to start at point guard for Notre Dame in a season opener since Nov. 26, 1994, when Mollie Peirick led the Fighting Irish offense in a 65-60 overtime loss at 25th-ranked Seton Hall.
- Allen’s current run of consecutive starts is longer than a pair of recent All-America guards who were poised to challenge the school record in Skylar Diggins (86 from 2011-13) and Jewell Loyd (86 from 2013-15). Diggins twice gave up her starting spot for graduating seniors to start on Senior Day, while Loyd started nearly every game of her three seasons at Notre Dame before forgoing her final year of eligibility in 2015-16 to enter the WNBA Draft.
- With Allen at the helm, the Fighting Irish have amassed a stellar 90-5 (.947) record – and when you factor in her final prep season at St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., Allen’s teams are a combined 117-6 (.951) in the past four years when she’s been in the starting lineup.
McGraw Earns 800th Career Win
- With her team’s 65-55 win on Jan. 3 at Pittsburgh, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw became the 10th NCAA Division I coach to register 800 career victories. McGraw has a 34-year record of 804-263 (.754), including a 716-222 (.763) record in 29 seasons with the Fighting Irish.
- McGraw is 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 became the sixth-fastest Division I coach to reach the 800-win milestone, doing so in 1,063 career games to hit 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 reached 800 wins faster than McGraw 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 11 games this year, going 10-1 in those contests.
- Since the start of the 2009-10 season, the Fighting Irish are 128-6 (.955) when they have four or more players reach double digits in the scoring column, including wins in 98 of their last 100 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 four players registering double-figure scoring averages (and two others at better than 9.0 ppg.), three of whom are ranked among the top 30 in the Atlantic Coast Conference (as of Wednesday) – graduate student guard Madison Cable (12th – 14.4 ppg.), freshman guard Marina Mabrey (21st – 12.9 ppg.; third among ACC rookies) and freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale (29th – 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 115 treys this season (6.4 per game), including 100 in its last 14 games (7.1 per game).
- 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 Wednesday), connecting at a .449 clip from beyond the arc, while graduate student guard Madison Cable (.506) currently ranks as the nation’s top individual three-point shooter.
The Second Platoon
- Another reason for Notre Dame’s success this season has been the performance of its reserves, who are averaging more than 31 points per game and have outscored the opponent’s bench by more than a 2-to-1 margin (31.4 ppg. to 13.7 ppg.).
- The Fighting Irish second unit has outscored its opposite number in 17 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 (12.9 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 15 games this year (total of 24 double-figure outings).
- Dating back to the start of the 2012-13 season, Notre Dame has posted a 125-7 (.947) 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).
— 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).