Jan. 3, 2015
2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 15
#4/4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (13-1 / 1-0 ACC) vs. #21/22 Syracuse Orange (10-3 / 0-0 ACC)
DATE: Jan. 4, 2015
TIME: 1:00 p.m. ET
AT: Syracuse, N.Y. – Carrier Dome (35,121)
SERIES: ND leads 27-2
1ST MTG: ND 81-64 (1/16/88)
LAST MTG: ND 101-64 (2/9/14)
TV: ACC-Regional Sports Networks/ESPN3-WatchESPN (live) (Mike Hogewood, p-b-p / Christy Winters Scott, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: cuse.com
- Notre Dame will be playing its fifth ranked opponent this season, posting a 3-1 record against Top 25 thus far (2-0 on the road).
- Since 2008-09, the Fighting Irish are 49-10 (.831) when playing on one day’s rest or less, including a 4-0 record this year.
No. 4 Fighting Irish Back On Road Sunday At No. 21/22 Syracuse
Although Notre Dame is in the midst of its winter break, the tests keep coming for the No. 4 Fighting Irish, who open the road portion of their Atlantic Coast Conference schedule at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday against No. 21/22 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York. The game will be televised on the ACC-Regional Sports Networks package, which covers numerous Fox Sports regional affiliates (including FSN Indiana) and ESPN3-WatchESPN.
Notre Dame (13-1, 1-0) tipped off conference play with a hard-fought 74-68 win over Florida State Friday night at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish shook off some cold early shooting by making more than 63 percent of their shots during the final 33 minutes to erase an early 12-point deficit and claim the win.
- Notre Dame is No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 4 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Syracuse is No. 21 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 22 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Notre Dame is ranked No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press poll, its 26th consecutive week and 70th of the past 74 weeks in the AP Top 5.
- Notre Dame has appeared in the AP poll for 144 consecutive weeks (including the past 74 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, never ranking lower than seventh in that time (2011-12 to present).
- Notre Dame is ranked No. 4 in the latest 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. 1in 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 nine NCAA statistical categories (as of Saturday), including five top-10 rankings — field-goal percentage (2nd – .499), three-point percentage (4th – .401), scoring offense (5th – 85.7 ppg.), scoring margin (5th – +27.6 ppg.) and assists (9th – 18.3 apg.). The Fighting Irish also rank 11th in the country in free-throw percentage (.767), 20th in personal fouls (14.7 per game) and 21st in both assist/turnover ratio (1.22) and rebounding margin (+9.7 rpg.), as well as fifth in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.929).
- Notre Dame aims to continue its remarkable success at Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 409-91 (.818) all-time record in 38 seasons at the facility, including a 86-6 (.935) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
- The Fighting Irish own the nation’s longest active road winning streak at 29 games, having tied Baylor for the second-longest run in NCAA Division I history with their Dec. 28 victory at UCLA.
- Senior guards Madison Cable and Whitney Holloway, and senior forward Markisha Wright have helped Notre Dame to a 120-8 (.938) 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 44-7 record against ranked teams (18-7 against AP Top 10).
- Of the eight losses suffered by the current Fighting Irish senior class, four were decided by 13 points or less.
- With 676 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 764 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 948 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 180 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 fourth in the nation (as of Saturday), averaging 8,800 fans per game at home this season, and have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 217 of their last 219 home games (with an active streak of 60 consecutive contests with 8,000 fans), logging 43 Purcell Pavilion sellouts, including 37 since the start of the 2009-10 campaign.
- 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-Syracuse Series
Notre Dame and Syracuse will square off for the 30th time on Sunday afternoon, with the Fighting Irish holding a 27-2 lead in the all-time series with the Orange. Notre Dame also has won the past 14 meetings and 26 of the last 27 against Syracuse.
The Fighting Irish are 12-1 all-time against the Orange in central New York, including a 4-0 record since Syracuse began playing at the Carrier Dome prior to the 2005-06 season (it had previously called historic Manley Field House its home for women’s basketball).
The Last Time Notre Dame and Syracuse Met
Jewell Loyd scored 23 points, Kayla McBride added 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, its most points in the first half this season. 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 nine of 11 shooting, including two of three 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 seven 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.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Syracuse Met At The Carrier Dome
After the final horn sounded in the Carrier Dome and Notre Dame had its 21st straight victory, Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw grimaced when she looked at the stat sheet.
Sure, Devereaux Peters had 21 points and Kayla McBride added 19, season highs for both players, in No. 2 Notre Dame’s 74-55 win over Syracuse on Feb. 7, 2012, but McGraw wasn’t happy with all the missed long-range shots and the three shot-clock violations.
Skylar Diggins, the Fighting Irish’s leading scorer, finished with 11 points, all in the second half, and they were key. She scored five straight points to get the Fighting Irish going after the Orange had pulled within 49-39 on a three-pointer by Rachel Coffey and two free throws by Shakeya Leary midway through the half.
Iasia Hemingway had 15 points to lead the Orange, but 11 came from the free throw line as she finished two of 13 from the field. Kayla Alexander added 11 points for Syracuse.
After a slow start — both teams combined to shoot five of 22 in the first five minutes — the Fighting Irish settled down and pulled away with a 16-4 run despite little help from Diggins. McBride more than made up for that with six points in the spurt, her jumper from the right wing giving Notre Dame a 20-8 lead midway through the period.
The lead ballooned to 30-12 with 4:39 left on consecutive layups by McBride and Peters. The Orange were held scoreless for nearly five minutes until Leary’s follow with 3:26 left and trailed 38-19 at halftime. Syracuse shot 18.8 percent (six of 32) in the half, repeatedly misfiring from in close, and finished the game 18 of 61 (29.5 percent).
After Brittany Mallory hit a three-pointer to open the second half for Notre Dame, the Orange ran off 11 consecutive points, two baskets coming on follows by Hemingway and Alexander as Syracuse began to assert itself on the glass. A pullup jumper in the lane by Phylesha Bullard and a three-point play by Alexander moved the Orange within 41-30 with 15:20 left.
Diggins’ layup, her first points of the game, stopped the surge and Mallory’s layup gave Notre Dame a 45-30 lead with 13:52 to go.
The Fighting Irish put the game out of reach with a 13-4 run keyed by Diggins, who scored five consecutive points, the last on a rebound of her missed free throw. Consecutive three-point plays by McBride and Peters gave Notre Dame a 62-43 lead with 7:30 left.
Other Notre Dame-Syracuse Series Tidbits
- Notre Dame has scored at least 70 points in 24 of the 29 series games with Syracuse (including 10 of the past 11), while the Orange have topped that mark four 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 29-game series and the second single-digit margin among its 27 series wins (71-66 on Dec. 8, 1990, at Purcell Pavilion).
- During its current series-best 14-game winning streak against Syracuse, Notre Dame has won seven times by 13 points or fewer, including four of the past seven meetings.
- Syracuse is one of three programs against which the Fighting Irish have at least 25 series victories, along with Marquette (32), Georgetown (26) and Valparaiso (25).
- In seven of its last 11 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.
- Two of New Jersey’s top young players (and close friends) will match up Sunday as Notre Dame junior guard Michaela Mabrey (Belmar/Manasquan HS) meets Syracuse junior guard Brittany Sykes (Newark/University). The pair were teammates (along with another Syracuse junior 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 (which included Notre Dame junior guard Jewell Loyd).
New York State Of Mind
Notre Dame is 56-5 (.918) all-time against New York-based teams, including a 26-5 (.839) record away from home (road/neutral sites combined) and wins in 14 of its last 15 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).
Notre Dame currently has won a school-record 37 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.
What’s more, the Fighting Irish set an ACC record with their 17th consecutive regular season conference win following Friday night’s 74-68 victory over Florida State at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame’s current 17-game ACC run is one better than four other squads — Virginia in 1995, and Duke in 2002, 2003 and 2013.
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 current streak has 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).
When factoring in postseason tournament results (league and NCAA), the Fighting Irish have won 47 of their last 49 games against conference opponents. Notre Dame’s only two losses to a league foe in the past two-plus 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).
Notre Dame has won a school-record 29 consecutive road games (38 in a row in the regular season, and 45 of its last 50 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 29-game road winning streak is the longest active run in the nation, more than four times longer than the next-closest pursuers (seven by Louisville and Princeton, as of Saturday), as well as tying the second-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, Connecticut, 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).
More Streak Stats
Dating back to the start of the 2012-13 season, Notre Dame has posted a 85-4 (.955) record. In that three-year span, the only 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).
As of Saturday, Notre Dame shares the nation’s second-longest winning streak against unranked opponents (in the Associated Press poll), having earned 61 consecutive victories since a last-second 65-63 home loss to West Virginia on Feb. 12, 2012 (research for this note provided by STATS via the AP).
Visiting Century City
Notre Dame has scored at least 100 points three times this season (and posted 97 points in another), already 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 11 100-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.
Turner Named National/Conference Freshman of the Week
Notre Dame freshman forward Brianna Turner closed out the 2014 calendar year in impressive fashion earlier this week, being selected as the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Week and the Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Week.
Turner is the first Notre Dame women’s basketball player ever to be named USBWA National Freshman of the Week, although two Fighting Irish players have earned the organization’s year-end National Freshman of the Year award — Jacqueline Batteast (2002) and current junior guard Jewell Loyd (2013).
Meanwhile, Turner was selected as the ACC Freshman of the Week for the third time this season, most by any conference rookie to date. She also becomes the sixth Fighting Irish player in program history to garner three conference freshman-of-the-week citations. Loyd was the most recent Notre Dame player to pull off that feat, earning four BIG EAST Conference Freshman of the Week honors during the 2012-13 season.
Turner earned this week’s national and conference freshman of the week awards after posting her first career double-double with 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, and matched a career-best five blocked shots in Notre Dame’s near wire-to-wire 82-67 victory at UCLA on Dec. 28. Despite facing a UCLA roster with five players standing taller than 6-foot-3, Turner more than held her own, collecting more offensive rebounds (nine) than any other player’s total rebound count during the game. Turner’s nine offensive rebounds also matched her previous career high for total rebounds (nine vs. UMass Lowell on Nov. 14), while her five blocks tied her personal best set in her previous outing on Dec. 21 against Saint Joseph’s (Pa.).
Junior guard Jewell Loyd leads the ACC and ranks 16th 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 303 points in her first 14 games this season (21.6 points per game), matching the quickest run to a “triple century” in program annals (Katryna Gaither also scored her 300th point in her 14th game during the 1996-97 season, a 74-67 loss at Ohio State).
- 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 now has nine 20-point games this season.
- 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 is 15th in school history with 1,440 career points in 87 career games, putting her within reach of the 1,500-point milestone, a mark she could hit in her next four games if she stays on her current career scoring pace of 16.6 points per game. Loyd would be the 13th player in program history to reach that statistical milepost and is on pace to be the second-quickest to do so (Cunningham 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 has scored in double figures in 57 consecutive games, dating 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 57-game double-digit scoring streak is the second-longest in school history, surpassing Natalie Novosel’s 27-game run from March 8, 2011-Jan. 21, 2012. In fact, Loyd has scored in double figures in 75 of her 87 career games (and 10 of those 12 single-digit games saw her within one basket of double figures).
Katryna Gaither has staked a seemingly ironclad claim to the school record with a remarkable 76-game double-figure scoring streak from 1994-97.
Game #14 Recap: Florida State
Lindsay Allen scored 18 points, added a career-high eight assists, and made all the tough plays down the stretch to help No. 4 Notre Dame beat Florida State, 74-68 on Friday night in the ACC opener for both teams at Purcell Pavilion.
Allen’s buzzer-beating half-court heave got the Fighting Irish within one point after a tough first half. Her pull-up jumper with 1:10 to play put the Irish up by seven and she added three free throws down the stretch, while guiding the offense as the primary ball-handler against an aggressive FSU defense.
Jewell Loyd led all players with 20 points, while Brianna Turner scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half, to go with a career high-tying five blocked shots, to help Notre Dame (13-1, 1-0) win its conference opener.
Shakayla Thomas scored 18 points to lead Florida State (13-2, 0-1), which had its nine-game winning streak snapped.
Down nine in the second half, the Fighting Irish went on an 11-0 run and took their first lead of the game on Madison Cable’s steal and layup with 12:46 left.
Leticia Romero scored 15 points and Morgan Jones finished with 14 for Florida State.
Beyond The Box Score: Florida State
- The Fighting Irish have won their last nine conference openers and 16 of their last 18 — they also have claimed eight of their last nine conference home openers.
- Notre Dame has won 19 of its last 21 games when starting a new year.
- The Fighting Irish have won 13 consecutive games against Florida schools (six in a row at home) and are 32-5 (.865) all-time against teams from the Sunshine State.
- Notre Dame moves to 3-0 all-time against Florida State, with this being the Seminoles’ first-ever visit to Purcell Pavilion.
- Notre Dame’s 12-point comeback win was its largest in nearly a year, dating back to an 86-70 victory at Tennessee on Jan. 20, 2014 (the Fighting Irish trailed 39-27 with 5:22 left in the first half before rallying past the Lady Vols).
- Notre Dame has won 14 consecutive games decided by single digits and/or in overtime, including all three such outings this season.
- Notre Dame shot better than 50 percent from the field for the fourth consecutive game, a remarkable achievement considering the Fighting Irish made just three of their first 14 shots against Florida State (Notre Dame shot 63.2 percent during the final 32:45).
- Loyd posted her ninth 20-point game of the season and moved into 15th place on the Fighting Irish career scoring list with 1,440 points, passing three players — Lindsay Schrader (1,429 from 2005-10), current Notre Dame assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Niele Ivey (1,430 from 1996-2001) and Sheila McMillen (1,439 from 1995-99).
- Loyd also scored in double figures for the 57th consecutive game, continuing the second-longest streak in school history.
- Allen’s eight assists tied her career high set on Jan. 30, 2014, against Virginia Tech at Purcell Pavilion.
- Allen connected on a shot from midcourt at the halftime horn, the first for a Notre Dame player in exactly eight years (Breona Gray at Seton Hall on Jan. 2, 2007).
- Turner tied her career high with five blocks for the third consecutive game. Turner’s 15 combined blocks in the past three games are the most for a Notre Dame player in a three-game span since Feb. 10-16, 2002, when another native Texan, Friendswood product Amanda Barksdale blocked a combined 16 shots at home against Boston College (school-record 11) and St. John’s (4), and at Rutgers (1).
- Notre Dame drew its second sellout crowd of the season (9,149) and the 43rd in program history.
Notre Dame is ranked No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press preseason poll, its 74th consecutive week in the top 10 of the media balloting (70 of those in the top five), dating back to the middle of the 2010-11 season and marking 144 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 (67 consecutive weeks for the current senior class), spending the vast majority (63) 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 283 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.
The Fighting Irish also are No. 4 in the 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 146 of the past 147 weeks (and 110 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 278 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 283 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 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 323-19 (.944) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 251 of their last 264 such contests (.951).
What’s more, in the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 160-2 (.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 300-15 (.952) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game, including a 8-0 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 223-6 (.974) 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 100-2 (.980) when topping the 80-point mark, including an active 67-game winning streak since a 94-81 loss at No. 1 Baylor on Nov. 20, 2011, in the Preseason WNIT title game.
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 260 of their last 290 games (.897), 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 86-6 (.935) — including wins in 62 of its last 65 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 205-30 (.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 125 of their last 135 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). 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 but one of its games at the former Joyce Center, posting a 409-91 (.818) 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 two sellouts (Dec. 6 vs. Connecticut; Jan. 2 vs. Florida State), while several other home games are rapidly approaching sellout status.
As of Saturday, Notre Dame ranks fourth in the nation in attendance, averaging 8,800 fans per game. That equates to 96.2 percent of Purcell Pavilion’s capacity, the second-highest such percentage of any team in the country (DePaul is at 97.8 percent).
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).
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 58 times, most recently in the Nov. 25 win over Quinnipiac.
Senior forward Markisha Wright leads all current Fighting Irish players with seven “Big Mac Baskets” apiece 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”), 27 different players have converted the “burger ball”, including nine current members of the Fighting Irish roster.
What’s more, of the 58 Big Mac games, 27 have been reached on two-point baskets, 18 on free throws, and 13 on three-pointers.
Next Game: Miami
Notre Dame will play its second consecutive ACC road game at 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday when it travels to Coral Gables, Florida, to take on Miami at the BankUnited Center. The game recently was added to the Fighting Irish television package and will air live on ESPN3.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director