Feb. 22, 2015
2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 28
#4/4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (25-2 / 12-1 ACC) vs. #8/7 Louisville Cardinals (23-3 / 11-2 ACC)
DATE: Feb. 23, 2015
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: ND leads 10-4
1ST MTG: UL 80-75 (3/22/91)
LAST MTG: ND 83-59 (3/11/13)
TV: ESPN2/WatchESPN (live) (Beth Mowins, p-b-p / Stephanie White, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TICKETS: (574) 631-7356/UND.com/buytickets
- Notre Dame will be playing its ninth ranked opponent this season, having posted a 7-1 record against Top 25 teams to date.
- The Fighting Irish are making their third appearance of the season on ESPN2’s Big Monday, and second in as many weeks.
No. 4 Fighting Irish Back On ESPN2’s Big Monday Against No. 8/7 Louisville
With less than a week to go in the 2014-15 Atlantic Coast Conference regular season, nothing has been settled as No. 4 Notre Dame plays host to No. 8/7 (and ACC newcomer) Louisville at 7 p.m. (ET) Monday at Purcell Pavilion. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 and the WatchESPN app as part of the network’s “Big Monday” package.
The Fighting Irish (25-2, 12-1) stretched their current winning streak to a season-high 11 games on Thursday, posting a 71-61 victory at Georgia Tech. Notre Dame trailed by a point at halftime, but quickly took the lead in the second half and held the Yellow Jackets at arm’s length down the stretch to earn the important conference road win.
Junior guard Jewell Loyd was the lone Fighting Irish player to score in double figures with a game-high 31 points, while senior guard Madison Cable came off the bench and nearly posted a double-double, collecting nine points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
- Notre Dame was No. 4 in last week’s Associated Press poll and was No. 4 in last week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Louisville was No. 8 in last week’s Associated Press poll and was No. 7 in last week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Notre Dame was ranked No. 4 in last week’s Associated Press poll, its 81st consecutive week in the AP Top 10 and 75th of the past 81 weeks in the AP Top 5.
- As of Feb. 16, Notre Dame had appeared in the AP poll for 151 consecutive weeks, 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, never ranking lower than seventh in that time (2011-12 to present).
- Notre Dame was ranked No. 4 in last week’s Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll, after previously spending two weeks (Nov. 25 and Dec. 2) as the nation’s No. 1 team. It was the first time the Fighting Irish had been the top-ranked team in either major national poll since April 1, 2001, when they were No. 1 in the coaches’ poll following a 68-66 win over Purdue that secured the program’s first NCAA national championship.
- Notre Dame ranks among the top 25 in eight NCAA statistical categories (as of Saturday), including five top-10 rankings — field-goal percentage (3rd – .495), scoring offense (4th – 83.6 ppg.), scoring margin (5th – +23.4 ppg.), assists (6th – 18.6 apg.) and three-point percentage (7th – .385). The Fighting Irish also rank 13th in assist/turnover ratio (1.24), 19th in rebounding margin (+8.6 rpg.), and 21st in personal fouls (14.8 per game), plus 26th in free-throw percentage (.744) and fifth in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.926).
- Notre Dame aims to continue its remarkable success at Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 415-91 (.820) all-time record in 38 seasons at the facility, including a 92-6 (.939) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
- Including regular season and postseason play, the Fighting Irish have won 58 of their last 61 games against conference opponents (and 24 in a row at home), dating back to their membership in the BIG EAST. Since joining the ACC prior to last season, Notre Dame is 32-1 against conference foes (28-1 regular season, 4-0 postseason).
- Senior guards Madison Cable and Whitney Holloway, and senior forward Markisha Wright have helped Notre Dame to a 132-9 (.936) record in their careers, putting them on pace to challenge last year’s senior class of Natalie Achonwa, Ariel Braker and Kayla McBride, who helped Notre Dame to 138 wins during their four seasons.
- Since arriving at Notre Dame in 2011-12, 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 48-7 record against ranked teams (20-7 against AP Top 10).
- Of the nine losses suffered by the current Fighting Irish senior class, four were decided by 13 points or less.
- With 688 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 776 career wins, McGraw ranks 10th in NCAA Division I coaching history. She also is one of two active ACC coaches in the top 10 along with North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell (second with 956 as of Saturday).
Other Notre Dame Notables
- Notre Dame is among the nation’s winningest programs during the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), ranking second with 192 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). The Fighting Irish rank fifth in the nation (as of Saturday), averaging 8,832 fans per game at home this season, and have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 223 of their last 225 home games (with an active streak of 66 consecutive contests with 8,000 fans), logging 45 Purcell Pavilion sellouts, including 39 since the start of the 2009-10 campaign and four this 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-Louisville Series
Notre Dame and Louisville will play for the 15th time in series history on Monday night, with the Fighting Irish holding a 10-4 lead over the Cardinals, including wins in the last seven matchups.
Notre Dame also is 3-2 all-time against Louisville at Purcell Pavilion, including wins in three of the last four games played in South Bend.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Louisville Met
Kayla McBride scored 17 points and Skylar Diggins added 14 to help No. 2 Notre Dame beat 16th-ranked Louisville 83-59 on March 11, 2013, in the BIG EAST Conference Tournament semifinals at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
The Fighting Irish led the Cardinals by six at the half before opening the second period with a 13-2 run to take command. Louisville coach Jeff Walz got the play he wanted to start the second half when Antonita Slaughter had an open three-point attempt, which she missed.
It only got worse for Louisville as its deficit kept expanding. Notre Dame’s lead ballooned to 31 before Louisville closed the gap against the Fighting Irish reserves. Shoni Schimmel scored 20 points and Sara Hammond added 12 to lead the Cardinals.
Notre Dame had no trouble with Louisville. With the exception of a five-minute stretch in the first half, the Fighting Irish were in command.
Notre Dame jumped out to a 12-0 lead before Schimmel started heating up, tying it at 16 on her second three-pointer of the opening half. Diggins answered with two threes of her own to make it 26-20 and the Fighting Irish led 32-26 at the half.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Louisville Met At Purcell Pavilion
Second-ranked Notre Dame got its inside game going in the second half and overwhelmed No. 10 Louisville.
The Fighting Irish outrebounded the Cardinals 26-8 in the second half and outscored them 26-10 in the paint in the final 20 minutes en route to a 93-64 victory on Feb. 11, 2013, at Purcell Pavilion.
Natalie Achonwa led the Irish with 22 points on eight of 11 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Louisville managed to cut Notre Dame’s lead to seven points early in the second half, but the Fighting Irish quickly responded with a 10-0 run and the Cardinals didn’t threaten again.
The loss ended a six-game winning streak for Louisville, its second longest BIG EAST winning streak since joining the league in 2005-06. Bria Smith led the Cardinals with 18 points.
Other Notre Dame-Louisville Series Tidbits
- Louisville 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, Miami, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Virginia Tech). The Fighting Irish went 9-2 against the Cardinals during their shared BIG EAST membership (2005-06 through 2012-13), posting a 6-2 regular season record and 3-0 mark in the BIG EAST Tournament.
- Eight of the 14 games in the series have been decided by 15 points or fewer. When Louisville joined the BIG EAST in 2005-06, the first four series games were decided by 10 points or fewer, before six of the next seven series matchups, all Notre Dame victories, exceeded that margin. The lone exception was a 63-53 Fighting Irish win in the 2011 BIG EAST Tournament quarterfinals at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
- Eight times in the 14-game series has either team scored at least 70 points, and ironically, both teams did it in the same game twice. The Cardinals won the first-ever matchup, 80-75, in the 1991 National Women’s Invitation Tournament (NWIT) consolation semifinals at Amarillo, Texas, while the Fighting Irish won in 2008 at Freedom Hall, 82-74. In five of its past seven matchups with Louisville, Notre Dame has topped 70 points, including an 83-59 victory in their most recent matchup in the 2013 BIG EAST Tournament semifinals.
- The home team has won only four of the 10 on-campus games in the series, with the Cardinals winning at Freedom Hall in 2006 (61-51) and the Fighting Irish taking contests at Purcell Pavilion in 2007 (64-55), 2011 (80-60) and 2013 (93-64).
- Notre Dame junior guard Jewell Loyd and Louisville senior forward Sara Hammond were teammates (along with Tennessee’s Cierra Burdick and South Carolina’s Tiffany Mitchell) this past summer on the USA Basketball 3×3 World Championship Team that struck gold at the FIBA 3×3 World Championships in Moscow, Russia (Loyd was named the tournament MVP after finishing as the event’s second-leading scorer at 7.3 points per game).
- Notre Dame freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld was teammates with Louisville freshman forwards Myisha Hines-Allen and Mariya Moore on the East Team at the 2014 McDonald’s High School All-America Game, played at the United Center in Chicago. The East Team dropped an 80-78 decision to the West squad, led by Notre Dame freshman forward Brianna Turner, who was named the game’s MVP after posting 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
- Half of the East Team’s roster at the 2015 McDonald’s High School All-America Game (April 1 at 6:30 p.m. ET at Chicago’s United Center, live on ESPNU) will be made up of players who will suit up for Monday night’s participants. Notre Dame incoming freshman guards Marina Mabrey, Arike Ogunbowale and Ali Patberg will be joined Louisville incoming rookies Taja Cole, Asia Durr and Samantha Fuehring on this year’s McDonald’s East Team.
- Turner earned her fifth gold medal with USA Basketball this past summer at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Colorado Springs, Colorado. One of Team USA’s assistant coaches on that squad was Louisville head coach Jeff Walz, while Marina Mabrey also suited up for the American side.
- Carole Banda, the Director of Olympic Sports Medicine at Louisville, spent 10 years on the sports medicine staff at Notre Dame from 1991-2000, the last four as the athletic trainer for the Fighting Irish women’s basketball team (including Notre Dame’s 1996-97 NCAA Women’s Final Four squad).
Coming Up Big On “Big Monday”
Notre Dame will make the last of three appearances this season on ESPN2’s “Big Monday” women’s basketball package when it plays host to Louisville Monday night — the Fighting Irish defeated No. 5/6 Tennessee, 88-77 on Jan. 19, and No. 10/11 Duke, 63-50 on Feb. 16, both at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame has played 10 times on Big Monday in the past four seasons (2011-12 to present), going 10-0 in those games (5-0 at home, 5-0 on the road) and not including a pair of appearances (victories over Duke) on ESPN’s new Sunday afternoon women’s basketball package that debuted last season.
Peaking When It Counts
When the regular season enters its stretch run in the month of February, Notre Dame historically seems to raise its level of play. Since 1995-96, the Fighting Irish are 119-28 (.810) in February games (including an active 24-game winning streak), as well as a 66-6 (.917) mark at home.
In the 28-year Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present), the Fighting Irish are 167-43 (.795) in the month of February, including a 88-12 (.880) home record. In that time, Notre Dame has never posted a losing record in February (a standard that already has continued this season), and only once did the Fighting Irish end the month at .500 (4-4 in 1988-89, McGraw’s second year in South Bend).
Notre Dame continues to make impressive strides this season, considering the Fighting Irish came in looking to replace three senior starters who accounted for nearly 40 percent of the team’s scoring, rebounding and assists last season.
This year, Notre Dame hasn’t featured a senior in its most common starting lineup, and four of the team’s top five scorers and three of its top four rebounders are freshmen or sophomores, the lone exception in both cases being the ACC’s leading scorer, junior guard Jewell Loyd.
Leading the Fighting Irish youth movement is freshman forward Brianna Turner. A six-time ACC Freshman of the Week and two-time United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Week, Turner ranks among the top 12 in the ACC in points, rebounds, blocks and field-goal percentage (leading the nation in the latter category), the only conference rookie to rank in the top 12 in the league in those four categories — no other ACC freshman ranks in the top 12 in more than two of those areas.
A pair of Notre Dame sophomore starters are making their mark as well, with both guard Lindsay Allen (10.3 ppg., 5.0 apg.) and forward Taya Reimer (9.6 ppg., 6.3 rpg.) logging career-high averages in virtually all statistical categories.
Allen ranks among the top five in the ACC in assists (first), assist/turnover ratio (second) and field-goal percentage (fifth), while Reimer has come within an eyelash of five double-doubles in her last nine contests, missing the mark by a mere three points or three rebounds in each case.
Another Notre Dame rookie Kathryn Westbeld also continues to blossom. The Kettering, Ohio, native leads all Fighting Irish reserves in scoring (7.7 ppg.) and rebounding (4.4 rpg.), and during ACC play, she ranks third in the conference in field-goal percentage (.582), while averaging 8.8 ppg. in her inaugural ACC campaign.
Westbeld has been particularly sharp of late, averaging 9.3 points per game and shooting .597 (40 of 67) from the field in the past 11 games, highlighted by a career-high 17 points on eight of 14 shooting in a Jan. 29 win at Virginia Tech.
Notre Dame Is Hoop City, USA
Virtually no other campus in America is enjoying the kind of success on the basketball court that Notre Dame has seen in 2014-15. The Fighting Irish men’s and women’s basketball programs are a combined 49-6 (.891) on the hardwood this season, slightly trailing Gonzaga (50-6, .904) for the most total basketball wins and the best combined winning percentage among both basketball programs on a national level.
Notre Dame also was the first school this season to have both basketball teams top the 20-win mark, with each Fighting Irish squad now approaching 25 victories in the same season for the fourth time in eight years (also 2007-08, 2010-11 and 2012-13) after never having previously reached that win total in the same season.
This year’s Fighting Irish squads also are challenging the school records for combined men’s/women’s basketball victories and winning percentage in a single season, with Notre Dame amassing a combined 60-12 (.833) record on the hardwood in 2012-13 (women 35-2; men 25-10).
Nearly In A Class By Themselves
For the fourth consecutive season, a Notre Dame senior class is threatening to set the bar in terms of career wins by one group. The current class of tri-captains Whitney Holloway and Markisha Wright, plus Madison Cable, is second all-time with 132 wins (132-9, .936), trailing only the 2014 seniors.
Last year, Notre Dame’s three-player senior class of Natalie Achonwa, Ariel Braker and Kayla McBride posted the best four-year record (138-15, .902) in school history, topping the win total (130) compiled by the previous year’s seniors (Skylar Diggins and Kaila Turner).
The year before Diggins and Turner departed, Notre Dame’s Class of 2012 (Brittany Mallory, Fraderica Miller, Natalie Novosel and Devereaux Peters) rang up 117 wins to set the early benchmark in this current era of Fighting Irish women’s basketball success.
Prior to the 2011-12 season, the highest four-year win total by a senior class was 109, set by the Class of 2001 that capped their careers with the program’s first NCAA national championship and included (among others) consensus national player of the year and 13-year WNBA veteran Ruth Riley, as well as current Fighting Irish assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Niele Ivey.
Notre Dame’s 78-63 loss at Miami on Jan. 8 ended a school-record 38 consecutive regular season conference games, dating back to the end of its BIG EAST Conference membership and through the first two seasons of its affiliation with the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Prior to the Miami loss, the Fighting Irish last dropped a conference regular season game on Feb. 12, 2012, falling 65-63 to then-BIG EAST foe West Virginia at Purcell Pavilion (on two free throws by WVU’s Brooke Hampton with 4.6 seconds left).
Notre Dame’s recent streak erased the prior school-record 33-game run from Feb. 25, 1989-Feb. 14, 1991 — that streak took place during the program’s dominant seven-year tenure as part of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now known as the Horizon League).
Despite the loss at Miami, and when factoring in postseason tournament results (league and NCAA), the Fighting Irish have won 58 of their last 61 games against conference opponents (and 24 in a row at home). Notre Dame’s other two losses to a league foe in the past three seasons both came at the hands of Connecticut in the 2012 BIG EAST Championship title game (63-54 in Hartford, Connecticut) and the 2013 NCAA Women’s Final Four national semifinals (83-65 in New Orleans, Louisiana).
With Notre Dame’s 78-63 loss at Miami on Jan. 8, the Fighting Irish saw their NCAA Division I record-tying 30-game road winning streak snapped. It was an amazing string of success in hostile territory, a streak that lasted exactly three years (Jan. 4, 2012-Jan. 4, 2015) and ended with the Fighting Irish tied with Connecticut for the NCAA Division I all-time mark in that category.
Prior to the setback at Miami, 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.
In addition, the Miami loss was the first for the Fighting Irish in a regular season road game since Nov. 20, 2011, a 94-81 defeat at No. 1 Baylor in the Preseason WNIT championship game.
Notre Dame also had its streak of a school-record 25 consecutive conference road wins snapped at Miami, with the last Fighting Irish road loss in league play coming as part of the BIG EAST Conference on Feb. 28, 2011 (a last-second 70-69 loss at No. 12/11 DePaul).
The highlight of Notre Dame’s remarkable 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.
Even with the Jan. 8 loss at Miami, Notre Dame still has won 44 of its last 45 (and 51 of its last 57) regular season road games.
More Streak Stats
Dating back to the start of the 2012-13 season, Notre Dame has posted a 97-5 (.951) record. In that three-year span, four of the five Fighting Irish losses have come against top-three teams — 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 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) and No. 3 Connecticut (76-58 on Dec. 6, 2014, in the Jimmy V Classic at Purcell Pavilion).
The other loss came Jan. 8 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. The Fighting Irish last fell to an unranked team on Feb. 12, 2012, suffering a last-second 65-63 home loss to West Virginia (research for this note provided by STATS via the AP).
Poise Under Pressure
Notre Dame hasn’t had to deal with many close games in recent seasons, but when faced with such a challenge, the Fighting Irish have risen to the occasion.
Notre Dame has won its last 15 games decided by single digits and/or in overtime, including all three close games 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 Hartford, Connecticut.
Don’t Call It A Comeback
Twice in less than two weeks last month, Notre Dame has rallied from a double-digit deficit to earn a victory.
On Jan. 2, the Fighting Irish trailed Florida State, 20-8 with 7:41 left in the first half before charging back to win, 74-68 at Purcell Pavilion.
On Jan. 15, Notre Dame fell behind at No. 12/10 North Carolina, 34-23 with 5:28 to go in the first half, but the Fighting Irish rallied to register an 89-79 victory in Chapel Hill.
Even in its second loss of the season on Jan. 8 at Miami, Notre Dame showed remarkable character, erasing nearly all of a 22-point second-half deficit (45-23 with 17:00 to play) and getting within 55-49 with eight minutes left before UM held on for the win.
Visiting Century City
Notre Dame has scored at least 100 points four times this season (and posted 97 points in another), challenging last year’s school-record mark of five triple-digit outings, erasing the 2012-13 standard of three such contests.
The Fighting Irish have piled up 12 100-point games since the start of the 2011-12 season (and nine 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.
This season marked the first time the Fighting Irish opened with three 100-point games in their first six contests. In fact, prior to 2012-13, Notre Dame had never had more than two triple-digit outings in an entire season, something it has now done for a third consecutive campaign.
Junior guard Jewell Loyd leads the ACC and ranks 17th in the nation in scoring (as of Saturday), thanks in part to one of the most explosive individual scoring seasons in Notre Dame women’s basketball history.
- Loyd has scored 569 points through 27 games this season (21.1 points per game). She scored her 500th point in her 24th game (Feb. 5 against Virginia), marking the quickest run to 500 points in a single season in program history (Katryna Gaither scored her 500th point in her 26th game during the 1996-97 season, a 91-64 win at home over Boston College on Feb. 12, 1997).
- Loyd is the first Fighting Irish women’s basketball player to register eight 20-point games in her first 10 outings of a season, surpassing Gaither (who had seven 20-point games in first 10 contests of 1996-97).
- Loyd currently leads the ACC with 16 20-point games this season, tying her for fourth in school history, and she has 31 career 20-point games, good for sixth in Fighting Irish annals.
- Loyd is the first Notre Dame women’s basketball player to register back-to-back 30-point games and for good measure, she did it against a pair of ranked opponents in No. 3 UConn (31 points) and No. 25 DePaul (school record-tying 41 points). Current Fighting Irish associate coach Beth (Morgan) Cunningham had two 30-point games in three days on Dec. 1 and 3, 1995, in close losses to No. 12/13 Penn State (32) and No. RV/22 Texas A&M (34) at the Kona Women’s Basketball Classic in Kona, Hawaii, although there was a game between those two (Cunningham scored 23 points in a win over Washington).
- Loyd has set a program record with four 30-point games in this season, most recently dropping in 31 points at Georgia Tech on Feb. 19.
- Loyd’s seven career 30-point games also set a school record topping the previous mark of six 30-point games established by Gaither from 1993-97.
- In eight games against ranked opponents this season, Loyd is averaging 26.9 points per game, with seven 20-point outings to her credit. The lone exception came on Jan. 15 at No. 12/10 North Carolina, when she scored eight points.
- Loyd is eighth in school history with 1,706 career points, moving up two rungs on the Notre Dame career scoring list on Jan. 24 with a game-high 17 points at Clemson, passing both Trena Keys (1,589 points from 1982-86) and Karen Robinson (1,590 points from 1987-91).
- Loyd scored her 1,500th career point in her 90th career game on Jan. 11, 2015, vs. Boston College at Purcell Pavilion. Loyd is the second-quickest player to score to 1,500 points in program history, trailing only Cunningham, who scored her 1,500th point at Notre Dame in her 80th career game on Feb. 21, 1996, at home against Miami.
The Model Of Consistency
Junior guard Jewell Loyd scored eight points in Notre Dame’s 89-79 win at No. 12/10 North Carolina on Jan. 15, ending Loyd’s streak of scoring in double figures at 60 consecutive games. This remarkable run dated back to March 11, 2013, when she had eight points in Notre Dame’s 83-59 BIG EAST Championship semifinal win over No. 16/15 Louisville at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
Loyd’s 60-game double-digit scoring streak was the second-longest in school history, topped only by Katryna Gaither’s 76-game string from 1994-97.
In less than three seasons at Notre Dame, Loyd has scored in double figures in 87 of her 100 career games — and 11 of those 13 single-digit games saw her within one basket of double figures.
Turner Throwing A Block Party
Freshman forward Brianna Turner has recorded 51 blocked shots in her last 16 games (3.2 bpg.), all since returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined her for the better part of the four previous games.
Following her return on Dec. 21 against Saint Joseph’s (Pa.), the Pearland, Texas, native has logged at least five blocks in six games, including a career-high seven rejections at No. 21/22 Syracuse on Jan. 4 and at No. 12/10 North Carolina on Jan. 15.
Turner’s 22 blocks from Dec. 21-Jan. 4 were the most by a Notre Dame player in a four-game span since Nov. 21-Dec. 2, 1998, when Ruth Riley had 22 blocks against No. 6/4 Duke, No. 25/23 Illinois, San Francisco and Toledo.
As of Saturday, Turner ranks fourth in the ACC at 2.6 blocks per game, while her 62 total blocks are third in school history among Fighting Irish freshmen (and the most by a Fighting Irish rookie in one season since Riley’s 71 rejections in 1997-98).
In addition, Turner is on pace for the second-best blocked shot average by a freshman in program history, and best since 1979-80, when Shari Matvey averaged 3.1 blocks per game.
Allen Throws Wrench Into Opposing Game Plans
Sophomore guard Lindsay Allen has emerged as one of the top point guards in not only the ACC, but the nation as well.
Allen ranks among the top five in the ACC in assists (first – 5.0 apg.), assist/turnover ratio (second – 2.03) and field-goal percentage (fifth – .564), with the latter figure particularly notable as she is one of only two guards (along with Miami’s Adrienne Motley) ranked among the top 15 in the ACC in field-goal percentage.
In conference play, Allen leads the ACC in assists (5.9 apg.) and assist/turnover ratio (2.08), while ranking sixth in field-goal percentage (.511) and free-throw percentage (.800).
Allen also has logged at least five assists in 12 of her last 14 games, including 6.5 assists per game in four outings against ranked opponents during that span.
In addition, Allen has developed into a potent scoring threat for the Fighting Irish, increasing her offensive output by more than 66 percent to 10.3 points per game, and she has scored in double figures 13 times this season (after doing so eight times as a rookie in 2013-14).
Allen is in her second season as the starting point guard for Notre Dame, having not missed a game since she set foot on campus last year. With Allen at the helm, the Fighting Irish have amassed a stellar 62-3 (.954) 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 89-4 (.957) in the past three years when she’s been in the starting lineup.
Stealing Cable Is Legal Here
Senior guard Madison Cable has emerged as one of Notre Dame’s top defenders this season, with the Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, product currently tied for 11th in the ACC in steals (1.7 spg.) and fifth in that category during conference play (2.0 spg.).
Cable picked off a career-high six steals on Feb. 1 against Wake Forest, matching the most by any ACC player in a conference game this season. It also was the most thefts by a Fighting Irish player in a game since Dec. 19, 2012, when Kaila Turner logged seven steals against Alabama A&M.
Cable is enjoying her finest season in a Notre Dame uniform, posting career-high averages in nearly all categories, including scoring (6.2 ppg.), rebounding (4.4 rpg.), steals and three-point percentage (.491). She also registered her first career double-double back on Dec. 10 in an overtime win at No. 25 DePaul, collecting 20 points and 11 rebounds despite missing parts of the second half and overtime with cramping in both of her calves.
In addition to her defensive prowess, Cable leads the ACC in three-point percentage and ranks second during conference play (.452).
Game #27 Recap: Georgia Tech
Notre Dame leaned on its star to extend its winning streak and protect its hold on first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Jewell Loyd scored a game-high 31 points, including 23 in the second half, and No. 4 Notre Dame survived a scare to beat Georgia Tech 71-61 for its 11th straight win on Thursday night at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta.
The Fighting Irish (25-2, 12-1) trailed 34-33 at halftime after a late three-pointer by the Yellow Jackets’ Katarina Vuckovic. However, Loyd shot six for 13 from the field and 10 of 11 from the line while playing the entire second half.
The final margin was the only double-digit lead of the game. The score was tied at 51 with 11 minutes remaining and Notre Dame led only 58-56 before a basket by Lindsay Allen and a three-pointer from Loyd stretched the advantage to seven.
Georgia Tech (14-13, 4-9) has lost four straight and five of six.
The game featured two of the ACC’s top three scorers. Loyd led the conference with 20.7 points per game, coming into Thursday’s contest. Zaire O’Neil led Georgia Tech with 20 points, while Kaela Davis, third in the ACC with 20.2 points per game, added 19 points.
Loyd was Notre Dame’s only scorer in double figures. Madison Cable had nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds, and Brianna Turner and Taya Reimer each had eight points, with Turner grabbing 10 rebounds.
Beyond The Box Score: Georgia Tech
- Notre Dame picked up its 25th win of the season, the sixth consecutive year and seventh time in eight seasons the Fighting Irish have reached the 25-win mark.
- With the win and Miami’s loss at North Carolina State, Notre Dame clinched a top-four seed and a double-bye for the 2015 ACC Tournament.
- Notre Dame trailed at halftime for only the fifth time this season (3-2 record; other wins at No. 15/17 Michigan State on Nov. 19 and home vs. Florida State on Jan. 2).
- The Fighting Irish are 4-0 all-time against Georgia Tech (2-0 on the road, 2-0 at home).
- Notre Dame is 8-2 (.800) all-time against Georgia schools, having won its last eight in a row, and the Fighting Irish are 3-1 all-time on the road against teams from the state of Georgia.
- This marked the first time the Fighting Irish had only one player score in double figures since March 8, 2010, when Skylar Diggins had a team-high 10 points in a 59-44 loss at top-ranked Connecticut in the BIG EAST Conference Tournament championship game at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
- Loyd posted her fourth 30-point game of the season and seventh of her career, setting school records in both categories.
- Turner had three blocked shots, giving her 62 on the season and making her just the fifth player in program history to record 60 blocks in a season (Ruth Riley did it four times, Devereaux Peters did so twice, while Shari Matvey and Amanda Barksdale did it once) — Peters had the most recent 60-block season with 78 in 2011-12, while Riley is the last Fighting Irish freshman to hit that mark with 71 in 1997-98.
Notre Dame was ranked No. 4 in last week’s Associated Press preseason poll, its 81st consecutive week in the top 10 of the media balloting (75 of those in the top five), dating back to the middle of the 2010-11 season and marking 151 consecutive weeks in the AP poll.
The Fighting Irish continue to extend the program record for consecutive poll appearances that started with the AP preseason poll in 2007-08 (the old record was 59 consecutive weeks from 1998-2001), while Notre Dame is one of six teams in the nation with an active streak of at least 150 consecutive AP poll appearances.
What’s more, every current Notre Dame player has competed for a top-10 Fighting Irish squad throughout her career (74 consecutive weeks for the current senior class), spending the vast majority (68) of those appearances in the AP Top 5 (and never lower than seventh).
Notre Dame was No. 3 in the preseason AP poll, representing 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 290 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 15th all-time in that category.
Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish were No. 4 in last week’s WBCA/USA Today coaches’ poll, after spending two weeks earlier this season as the nation’s No. 1 team (Nov. 25 and Dec. 2). It was the first time Notre Dame stood atop the rankings since April 1, 2001, following the program’s first NCAA national championship. The Fighting Irish were the first ACC team to be ranked No. 1 in either major national poll since March 12, 2007, when Duke was in that position prior to the NCAA Championship.
Notre Dame has been ranked in the coaches’ poll for 153 of the past 154 weeks (and 117 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 285 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 33 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 290 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 33 people on this list, 18 currently are NCAA Division I head coaches (see accompanying chart), with McGraw and Baylor’s Kim Mulkey 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 334-19 (.946) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 262 of their last 275 such contests (.953).
What’s more, in the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 171-2 (.988) 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 306-15 (.953) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game (14-0 record this 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 230-6 (.975) 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 107-2 (.982) when topping the 80-point mark, including an active 74-game winning streak since a 94-81 loss at No. 1 Baylor on Nov. 20, 2011, in the Preseason WNIT final.
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 266 of their last 296 games (.899), all but one game/win at the 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion, including winning streaks of 51, 34, 25 and 20 games in that span.
Since Purcell Pavilion was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season, Notre Dame is 92-6 (.939) — including wins in 68 of its last 71 games — and three of the six Fighting Irish losses in their refurbished facility have come by three points or fewer (two in overtime).
Notre Dame also has a 210-30 (.875) 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 126 of their last 136 out-of-conference home contests (.926), dating back to the 1994-95 season. Five of the 10 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), Baylor in 2012 (73-61) and Connecticut in 2014 (76-58).
Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all but one of its games at the former Joyce Center, posting a 415-91 (.820) record at the venerable facility, including a school-record 17 wins in both 2011-12 and 2013-14.
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.
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 post four sellouts (Dec. 6 vs. Connecticut; Jan. 2 vs. Florida State; Jan. 11 vs. Boston College; Jan. 19 vs. Tennessee), while several other home games are rapidly approaching sellout status.
As of Saturday, Notre Dame ranks fifth in the nation in attendance, averaging 8,832 fans per game. That equates to 96.53 percent of Purcell Pavilion’s capacity, the highest such percentage of any team in the country (DePaul is second at 91.03 percent, while Gonzaga and Kentucky are the only other Division I schools currently filling their arenas to better than 70 percent capacity this season).
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 is the 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).
Riley Earns 2015 Moose Krause Award
The Notre Dame Monogram Club has selected former women’s basketball star Ruth Riley (’01) as this year’s recipient of the Edward “Moose” Krause Distinguished Service Award.
Riley will receive the organization’s highest honor during Notre Dame’s game vs. Louisville on Monday night at Purcell Pavilion.
A 13-year WNBA veteran, Riley retired from the sport in June 2014 and currently serves as an NBA/WNBA Cares Ambassador. Back in November, Riley traveled to Leipzig, Germany, where she was honored as a 2014 Junior Chamber International Ten Outstanding Young Persons of The World recipient in the category of humanitarian and/or voluntary leadership. She was the first American to receive the global award since 2008.
Achonwa Named To 2015 ACC Women’s Basketball Legends Class
Natalie Achonwa (’14), one of the cornerstones of the most successful four-year run in Notre Dame women’s basketball history and a tri-captain on last year’s Fighting Irish squad that earned the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season and tournament championships with a combined 19-0 record, has been named to the 11th annual class of ACC Women’s Basketball Legends, the conference office announced Jan. 27.
Achonwa (pronounced uh-CHAWN-wuh) and the rest of the 2015 ACC Legends Class (which includes 14 former student-athletes and one former head coach who represent five decades of women’s basketball) will be honored at the annual ACC Women’s Basketball Legends Brunch at 10 a.m. (ET) March 7 in Greensboro, North Carolina. The group then will be introduced to the crowd at the Greensboro Coliseum at halftime of the first ACC Tournament semifinal that afternoon.
The ACC Women’s Basketball Legends program honors both players and coaches from each of the ACC’s 15 schools who have contributed to the conference’s rich tradition. The full list of this year’s ACC Women’s Basketball Legends can be found on the conference’s official web site, theacc.com.
Tickets to the ACC Women’s Basketball Legends Brunch are priced at $35 each and can be purchased by calling (336) 369-4673 — quantities are limited.
A two-time All-America forward, Achonwa helped lead Notre Dame to a 138-15 (.902) record from 2010-11 through 2013-14, along with four NCAA Women’s Final Four appearances and three trips to the NCAA title game, as well as three conference championships (two in the BIG EAST Conference before last year’s perfect run through the ACC) and two conference tournament crowns (2013 in the BIG EAST, 2014 in the ACC). She also ranks among the program’s all-time leaders in points (13th – 1,546 points), rebounds (fourth – 970), field goal percentage (sixth – .562) and double-doubles (tied-fifth – 28).
Later this year, Achonwa will continue her basketball career as a member of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, who selected her in the first round (No. 9 overall) of the 2014 WNBA Draft. Achonwa missed the 2014 season while recovering from knee surgery.
A native of Guelph, Ontario, Achonwa graduated from Notre Dame in May 2014, earning her bachelor’s degree in management-consulting from the top-ranked Mendoza College of Business. She currently serves as an operations specialist for the Fighting Irish women’s basketball program, coordinating team travel arrangements, supervising the team’s student managers, helping oversee the program’s popular summer camps, and serving as a liaison for the team’s numerous community service projects.
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 game at Purcell Pavilion.
In the eight-year history of the promotion, Notre Dame has hit the 88-point mark at home 62 times, most recently in the Feb. 1 win over Wake Forest.
Senior forward Markisha Wright leads all current Fighting Irish players with seven “Big Mac Baskets” during her career.
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”), 28 different players have converted the “burger ball”, including 10 current members of the Fighting Irish roster.
What’s more, of the 62 Big Mac games, 30 have been reached on two-point baskets, 19 on free throws, and 13 on three-pointers.
Next Game: Pittsburgh
Notre Dame plays its final regular season home game at 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday when it welcomes Pittsburgh to Purcell Pavilion for a contest that will air live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
Prior to the game, the Fighting Irish will recognize their senior class — guards Madison Cable and Whitney Holloway, forward Markisha Wright and student manager Giuliana Figliomeni — in a brief ceremony.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director