Feb. 4, 2015
2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 24
#4/4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (21-2 / 8-1 ACC) vs. Virginia Cavaliers (15-7 / 5-4 ACC)
DATE: Feb. 5, 2015
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: UVA leads 2-1
1ST MTG: UVA 68-40 (2/22/81)
LAST MTG: ND 79-72 (1/12/14)
TV: ESPN3/WatchESPN (live) (Jimmy Moley, p-b-p / Conor Clingen, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
- Notre Dame will play host to Virginia for the first time in the schools’ short series history. The Cavaliers are the eighth Fighting Irish opponent this season (and second ACC foe, following Florida State) to make their inaugural appearance at Purcell Pavilion.
- Notre Dame is 6-1 all-time at home against schools from the Commonwealth of Virginia.
No. 4 Fighting Irish Continue ACC Home Slate Thursday Against Virginia
While the snow continues to pile up outside, the competition continues to be anything but chilly for No. 4 Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish tackle another tough Atlantic Coast Conference opponent at 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday, welcoming Virginia to Purcell Pavilion for a game that will air live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
Notre Dame (21-2, 8-1) kept its hand on a piece of the top spot in the ACC standings with a near wire-to-wire 92-63 win over Wake Forest on Sunday at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish used a 14-0 run midway through the first half and a 13-0 run in the second stanza to turn back the Demon Deacons.
Junior guard Jewell Loyd paced five Notre Dame player in double figures with a team-high 20 points, while sophomore guard Lindsay Allen added 18 points and a game-high eight assists and senior guard Madison Cable rang up a career-high six steals for the Fighting Irish, who shot 52.3 percent from the field in 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.
- Virginia is not ranked.
- Notre Dame is ranked No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press poll, its 79th consecutive week in the AP Top 10 and 73rd of the past 79 weeks in the AP Top 5.
- Notre Dame has appeared in the AP poll for 149 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 is ranked No. 4 in this 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 20 in eight NCAA statistical categories (as of Wednesday), including five top-10 rankings — field-goal percentage (2nd – .502), scoring offense (3rd – 85.1 ppg.), scoring margin (5th – +24.0 ppg.), assists (6th – 18.8 apg.) and three-point percentage (10th – .381). The Fighting Irish also rank 15th in both assist/turnover ratio (1.25) and rebounding margin (+9.1 rpg.), and 19th in free-throw percentage (.754), plus sixth in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.913).
- Notre Dame aims to continue its remarkable success at Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 413-91 (.819) all-time record in 38 seasons at the facility, including a 90-6 (.938) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
- Including regular season and postseason play, the Fighting Irish have won 54 of their last 57 games against conference opponents (and 22 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 28-1 against conference foes (24-1 regular season, 4-0 postseason).
- Senior guards Madison Cable and Whitney Holloway, and senior forward Markisha Wright have helped Notre Dame to a 128-9 (.934) 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 47-7 record against ranked teams (19-7 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 684 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 772 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 953 as of Wednesday).
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 188 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 Wednesday), averaging 8,851 fans per game at home this season, and have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 221 of their last 223 home games (with an active streak of 64 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-Virginia Series
Notre Dame and Virginia will meet for the fourth time on Thursday night, with the Cavaliers holding a 2-1 edge in the series with the Fighting Irish. UVa won a pair of non-conference games against Notre Dame (68-40 on Feb. 22, 1981, in Chicago; 79-59 on Jan. 4, 1988, in Charlottesville), before the Fighting Irish claimed their first win over the Cavaliers last season.
Thursday will mark the first time Notre Dame and Virginia have squared off at Purcell Pavilion.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Virginia Met
Natalie Achonwa scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed 16 rebounds and the Fighting Irish survived a late challenge to beat Virginia 79-72 on Jan. 12, 2014, in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The Cavaliers close to within 71-69 with 3:49 remaining before the Fighting Irish held on for their 38th consecutive regular-season victory, their 27th consecutive regular-season road game and its 23rd consecutive regular-season league game.
Kayla McBride added 23 points and five assists for the Fighting Irish, including an acrobatic driving layup less than a minute after Virginia closed to within two. Jewell Loyd added 17 points for Notre Dame.
Faith Randolph led Virginia with a (then) career-best 23 points and Sarah Imovbioh had 18 points and 12 rebounds. The Cavaliers were coming off a victory at Virginia Tech in which they rallied from 17 points down to win, but couldn’t quite repeat the feat despite getting so close and firing up the crowd of 4,451 at John Paul Jones Arena.
Notre Dame led 43-36 at halftime and seemed poised to blow the game open when it opened the second half on an 8-2 run to go ahead 51-38. Achonwa had five points and Loyd hit a three-pointer in the burst, but after a timeout, Virginia got three consecutive baskets from Randolph to begin a stirring comeback.
The Fighting Irish rebuilt their lead to 61-51, but an 11-4 run by Virginia pulled them within three. Randolph had five points in the burst and fed Ataira Franklin for another basket to get the Cavaliers within 65-62.
Three times the Fighting Irish scored to stretch their lead to five, and each time Virginia responded, finally getting the margin down to 71-69 on Imovbioh’s free throw with 3:49 remaining. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, Imovbioh missed her first two free throws on the trip before Franklin rebounded the second, and when Imovbioh was fouled again, she made one.
With its lead smaller than it had been since late in the first half, Notre Dame got a tough driving basket from McBride, rebounded a Virginia miss and got two free throws by Achonwa, then followed a turnover by the Cavaliers with Achonwa’s inside basket, extending the lead to 77-69 with 1:14 left.
Other Notre Dame-Virginia Series Tidbits
- With Notre Dame’s move to the ACC last season, the Fighting Irish have been in the process of welcoming several conference schools (including Virginia) to Purcell Pavilion for the first time. Following Thursday’s game, the only remaining ACC school that has yet to play in South Bend is North Carolina State — and that won’t change this season, as the Fighting Irish travel to Raleigh, North Carolina, for the second consecutive year to face the Wolfpack in the regular season finale on March 1.
- Notre Dame is 12-8 (.600) all-time against Virginia schools, having won their last six games against the Commonwealth. Back on Jan. 29, the Fighting Irish posted a 74-50 win at Virginia Tech.
- The Fighting Irish are 6-1 (.857) all-time at home against Virginia schools, and have won their last six following an 82-65 loss to Old Dominion on Jan. 10, 1989.
- Fighting Irish associate coach Beth Cunningham is no stranger to Virginia, having spent 11 seasons (2001-12) on the women’s basketball staff at VCU, the final nine (2003-12) as the Rams’ head coach before returning to her alma mater prior to last season.
- Of the 157 players who have suited up for the Notre Dame women’s basketball program during its 38-year history, only one has been a Virginia native. Cynthia Battel, a guard from Fairfax, Va., appeared in 12 games for the Fighting Irish during the program’s second varsity seaon (1978-79), averaging 1.8 points and 0.8 assists per game.
- Prior to assuming his current post, Virginia baseball coach Brian O’Connor spent nine seasons (1995-2003) as assistant/associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Notre Dame, most notably serving as the pitching coach while helping the Fighting Irish reach the 2002 College World Series.
- Virginia football associate head coach for defense/defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Jon Tenuta served two seasons in a similar role (2008-09) at Notre Dame and helped the Fighting Irish to a victory in the 2008 Hawaii Bowl.
- Virginia football defensive line coach Jappy Oliver held down the same post at Notre Dame from 2005-08 (following two seasons at South Carolina where he served under former Fighting Irish head coach Lou Holtz).
- Virginia assistant athletics director for media relations Jim Daves served as assistant and associate sports information director at Notre Dame from 1986-92, spending his first four years in South Bend as the Fighting Irish women’s basketball media relations contact (the last three of those alongside current Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw, who arrived in South Bend in 1987).
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 115-28 (.804) in February games (including an active 20-game winning streak), as well as a 64-6 (.914) mark at home.
In the 28-year Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present), the Fighting Irish are 163-43 (.791) in the month of February, including a 86-12 (.878) home record. In that time, Notre Dame has never posted a losing record in February, 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 into the campaign looking to replace three senior starters who accounted for close to 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 underclassmen (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 11 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 11 in the league in those four categories — in fact, no other ACC freshman ranks in the top 11 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 (10.7 ppg., 5.1 apg.) and forward Taya Reimer (9.9 ppg., 6.6 rpg.) logging career-high averages in virtually all statistical categories.
Allen is averaging 6.6 assists in her last 10 games, while Reimer has come within an eyelash of four double-doubles in her last five contests, missing the mark by a mere two points or two 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 (7.8 ppg.) and rebounding (4.4 rpg.), and during ACC play, she leads the conference in free-throw percentage (.905) and ranks fourth in field-goal percentage (.576).
Westbeld has been particularly sharp of late, averaging 10.6 points per game and shooting .596 (28 of 47) from the field in the past seven 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
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 41-5 (.891) on the hardwood this season, edging past Gonzaga (39-5, .886) for joint cage supremacy on the national level.
As of Wednesday, Notre Dame also is the only school in the country to have both its basketball teams already top the 20-win mark.
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, stands third all-time with 128 wins (128-9, .934), trailing only the seniors from 2012-13 and 2013-14.
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 54 of their last 57 games against conference opponents (and 22 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 42 of its last 43 (and 49 of its last 55) regular season road games.
More Streak Stats
Dating back to the start of the 2012-13 season, Notre Dame has posted a 93-5 (.949) 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 15th in the nation in scoring (as of Wednesday), thanks in part to one of the most explosive individual scoring seasons in Notre Dame women’s basketball history.
- Loyd has scored 490 points in her first 23 games this season (21.3 points per game), putting her on the cusp of 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 14 20-point games this season, and she has 29 career 20-point games, tying her with Trena Keys (1982-86) and Charel Allen (2004-08) for sixth in Fighting Irish history.
- 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).
- For the second consecutive year, Loyd has tied the program record with three 30-point games in one season, most recently dropping in 34 points against No. 5/6 Tennessee on Jan. 19 at Purcell Pavilion. It was the third-highest single-game point total by a Notre Dame player in arena history, and most since Feb. 22, 2000, when Ruth Riley scored 36 points against Miami.
- Loyd’s six career 30-point games tie the school record set by Gaither from 1993-97.
- Loyd is eighth in school history with 1,627 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 83 of her 96 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 41 blocked shots in her last 12 games (3.4 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 Wednesday, Turner ranks fourth in the ACC and 22nd in the nation at 2.6 blocks per game, while her 52 total blocks already tie her for third in school history among Fighting Irish freshmen (current Notre Dame sophomore forward Taya Reimer also logged 52 blocks last year, at the time 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 (second – 5.1 apg.), assist/turnover ratio (second – 2.09), free-throw percentage (second – .873) and field-goal percentage (.574).
In conference play, Allen leads the ACC in assists (6.7 apg.), while ranking third in assist/turnover ratio (2.22) and free-throw percentage (.889) and 11th in field-goal percentage (.516).
Allen also has logged at least five assists in each of her last 10 games, averaging 6.6 assists per contest in that span.
In addition, Allen has developed into a potent scoring threat for the Fighting Irish, increasing her offensive output by more than 70 percent to 10.7 points per game, and she has scored in double figures 12 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 58-3 (.951) 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 85-4 (.955) 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 ranking 10th in the ACC in steals (1.7 spg.), and tied for third in that category during conference play (2.1 spg.).
Cable picked off a career-high six steals in her last outing on Sunday against Wake Forest, one shy of the most by any ACC player 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 (5.9 ppg.), rebounding (3.9 rpg.), steals and three-point percentage (.500). 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, Cable is on the brink of leading the ACC in three-point percentage, but she is presently one made three-point basket shy of the minimum needed for qualification (1.0 3FGM/game).
Game #23 Recap: Wake Forest
The Notre Dame press impressed coach Muffet McGraw.
The fourth-ranked Fighting Irish turned up the pressure and forced Wake Forest into 30 turnovers, leading to 42 points by Notre Dame in a 92-63 win Sunday at Purcell Pavilion.
After the Demon Deacons drew within 10 points, the Fighting Irish held them to three baskets in the final 11 minutes.
“I thought we did a really good job during that stretch,” McGraw said. “The press was effective, we caused some turnovers there and we made them rush a little bit and they threw it away at the other end. So I thought the press made a difference.”
After cutting the lead to 63-53, the Demon Deacons turned the ball over on their next five possessions. They had 10 turnovers in the last 11 minutes.
“We’ve just got to take care of the ball better,” Wake Forest coach Jen Hoover. “We got too careless with the basketball. You can’t give a team 42 points off of turnovers. Those are freebies. We can’t beat ourselves in those situations.”
The Fighting Irish (21-2, 8-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) took control with a 14-0 run in the first half and ended a threat by the Demon Deacons (10-13, 1-8) in the second half with a 13-0 burst.
“We just can’t give them those runs and those runs are typically sparked by turnovers,” Hoover said.
Jewell Loyd led the Fighting Irish with 20 points, Lindsay Allen added 18 points, eight assists and four steals and Madison Cable had 12 points and a career-high six steals and provided a spark for the Fighting Irish, including a four-point play.
“I thought Madison Cable has played as well as she’s played all year long,” McGraw said. “That was a phenomenal game defensively.”
Dearica Hamby, third in the ACC in scoring, led Wake Forest with 23 points and 10 rebounds and Milan Quinn finished with a career-high 14 points.
Hamby kept the Demon Deacons in the game early, scoring 11 of Wake Forest’s first 22 points in the opening 12 minutes. Wake Forest led briefly, going ahead 9-6 lead early on a 17-foot jumper by Kelila Atkinson. The Fighting Irish twice opened six-point leads, but Hamby kept hitting shots to keep the Demon Deacons close.
She followed a three-point play with a layup to cut the lead to 19-18 and scored inside again moments later to cut the lead to 23-22. But after Allen made a pair of free throws to give Notre Dame a 25-22 lead, Hamby was taken out for a moment. The Fighting Irish responded with a pair of fastbreak baskets by Brianna Turner and Allen and the run continued when Hamby returned to the game with another fastbreak layup by Allen as Notre Dame used a 14-0 run to open a 37-22 lead.
Beyond The Box Score: Wake Forest
- This was Notre Dame’s seventh annual Pink Zone game, with the Fighting Irish wearing special white/pink uniforms and using the day to help raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research.
- Notre Dame topped the 90-point mark for the eighth time this season, and first since a 104-58 win over Boston College on Jan. 11 at Purcell Pavilion (the Fighting Irish also have scored 88-89 points in five other games this year).
- The Fighting Irish posted their 12th 20-point win this season, and ninth by at least 25 points.
- Notre Dame had five double-figure scorers for the fifth time this season (5-0 record) and at least four in double digits for the 12th time this year (12-0 record).
- Notre Dame moves to 3-0 all-time against Wake Forest, including a 2-0 record at Purcell Pavilion. This year’s score nearly mirrored the only other time the teams played in South Bend (a 92-69 Fighting Irish win on Nov. 27, 2010, in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Classic).
- Notre Dame is 24-2 (.923) all-time against schools from North Carolina, including an active 14-game winning streak, and the Fighting Irish are 8-0 all-time against North Carolina teams at home.
- Notre Dame forced 30 turnovers, its highest production on defense since March 4, 2013, when it caused 35 turnovers in a 96-87 triple-overtime win over Connecticut at Purcell Pavilion.
- The Fighting Irish wound up one shy of their season best with 17 steals, while Cable’s six steals not only were a career high, but the most by a Notre Dame player in a game since Dec. 19, 2012, when Kaila Turner had seven thefts in a 100-39 win over Alabama A&M at the World Vision Classic in Las Vegas.
- Allen also tied her career high with four steals.
- Cable’s four-point play with 9:52 remaining in the game was the first by a Fighting Irish player in almost exactly five years, dating back to Jan. 30, 2010, when Ashley Barlow pulled off the feat with 8.4 seconds left in the first half of a 74-73 Notre Dame win at Syracuse.
- Notre Dame improves to 6-1 all-time in its Pink Zone games, as well as 6-2 all-time when playing on Super Bowl Sunday.
Notre Dame is ranked No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press preseason poll, its 79th consecutive week in the top 10 of the media balloting (73 of those in the top five), dating back to the middle of the 2010-11 season and marking 149 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 one of seven 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 (72 consecutive weeks for the current senior class), spending the vast majority (66) 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 288 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.
Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish are No. 4 in this 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 151 of the past 152 weeks (and 115 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 283 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 288 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 331-19 (.946) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 259 of their last 272 such contests (.952).
What’s more, in the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 168-2 (.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 303-15 (.953) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game (11-0 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 229-6 (.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 106-2 (.981) when topping the 80-point mark, including an active 73-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 264 of their last 294 games (.898), 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 90-6 (.938) — including wins in 66 of its last 69 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 208-30 (.874) 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 413-91 (.819) 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 Wednesday, Notre Dame ranks fourth in the nation in attendance, averaging 8,851 fans per game. That equates to 96.74 percent of Purcell Pavilion’s capacity, the highest such percentage of any team in the country (DePaul is second at 91.09 percent, while Gonzaga and Kentucky – both at 87.21 percent – 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).
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.
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 Feb. 23 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.
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” 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”), 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: Boston College
Notre Dame faces the first of its repeat ACC opponents at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday when the Fighting Irish travel to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, to take on Boston College. The game will be streamed live and free of charge on the BC web site, bceagles.com.
Back on Jan. 11, Notre Dame defeated Boston College, 104-58, at Purcell Pavilion behind a game-high 21 points from freshman forward Brianna Turner and a season-high six Fighting Irish players scoring in double figures.
Emilee Daley had a team-high 12 points for the Eagles, who made 13 of 22 three-pointers in the loss.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director