Jan. 1, 2015
2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 14
#4/4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-1 / 0-0 ACC) vs. Florida State Seminoles (13-1 / 0-0 ACC)
DATE: Jan. 2, 2015
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: ND leads 2-0
1ST MTG: ND 81-60 (2/6/14)
LAST MTG: ND 83-57 (3/7/14)
TV: WatchND (live)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1 (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TICKETS: (574) 631-7356; UND.com/buytickets
- Notre Dame begins its second season in the Atlantic Coast Conference, having won the league’s regular season and tournament titles last year.
- The Fighting Irish have won 15 of their last 17 conference openers, including the past eight in a row.
No. 4 Fighting Irish Open ACC Play Friday Night Against Florida State
The challenges of non-conference competition give way to the gauntlet that is Atlantic Coast Conference play, as No. 4 Notre Dame rings in the new year and tips off its second season as an ACC member at 7 p.m. (ET) Friday, playing host to Florida State at Purcell Pavilion.
The Fighting Irish (12-1) wrapped up their pre-conference slate with four consecutive victories, most recently posting a near wire-to-wire 82-67 win at UCLA on Sunday afternoon. Notre Dame bolted to a double-digit lead late in the first half and maintained that comfortable edge for virtually the remainder of the afternoon.
Sophomore guard Lindsay Allen scored a career-high 22 points and freshman forward Brianna Turner posted her first career double-double with 14 points and career highs of 16 rebounds and five blocks to lead a balanced Fighting Irish attack.
- Notre Dame is No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 4 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Florida State is receiving votes in this week’s Associated Press poll and is receiving votes 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 20 in eight NCAA statistical categories (as of Thursday), including five top-10 rankings — field-goal percentage (3rd – .498), three-point percentage (3rd – .406), scoring margin (5th – +29.2 ppg.), scoring offense (6th – 86.6 ppg.) and assists (7th – 19.0 apg.). The Fighting Irish also rank 12th in the country in free-throw percentage (.768), 13th in rebounding margin (+11.1 rpg.) and 17th in assist/turnover ratio (1.27), as well as eighth in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.923).
- Notre Dame aims to continue its remarkable success at Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 408-91 (.818) all-time record in 38 seasons at the facility, including a 85-6 (.934) 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 119-8 (.937) 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 675 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 763 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 947 as of Thursday).
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 179 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 Thursday), averaging 8,762 fans per game at home this season, and have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 216 of their last 218 home games (with an active streak of 59 consecutive contests with 8,000 fans), logging 42 Purcell Pavilion sellouts, including 36 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-Florida State Series
Notre Dame and Florida State had never met before the Fighting Irish joined the ACC prior to last season. Friday will mark only the third meeting between the two programs (the first at Purcell Pavilion), with Notre Dame having won both games last season (81-60 in the regular season in Tallahassee; 83-57 in the ACC Championship quarterfinals in Greensboro, North Carolina).
The Last Time Notre Dame and Florida State Met
Notre Dame made its Atlantic Coast Conference tournament debut look a lot like nearly every other game it played in the league during its inaugural season.
Jewell Loyd scored 17 points to lead the No. 2 Fighting Irish past Florida State 83-57 in the tournament quarterfinals on March 7, 2014, at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum, keeping them unbeaten with yet another lopsided win in their new league.
Notre Dame ran off 21 straight points in the first half, led by 22 at halftime and never let the Seminoles flirt with any sort of a comeback.
The closest thing to a hiccup? Missing their first six shots and falling behind 6-0 shortly before that 21-0 burst.
It marked the 13th time in 17 games that the Fighting Irish defeated an ACC opponent by at least 20 points last season, according to STATS LLC. The Irish beat league opponents by an average of 23 points in the regular season.
Kayla McBride added 13 for the top-seeded Fighting Irish, who shot 65 percent before halftime and finished at 60 percent. Notre Dame also had 24 assists on 32 baskets while getting the chance to rest its starters, none of whom played more than 30 minutes.
Natasha Howard followed up her big second-round performance with 29 points to lead ninth-seeded Florida State, which led 12-11 before Notre Dame took over.
Howard went for 30 points and 16 rebounds in FSU’s overtime win against Miami in the second round of the tournament, then made 14 of 22 shots with five rebounds and two blocks in 36 minutes. No other Seminoles player reached double figures, with Cheetah Delgado — who scored 20 against the Hurricanes — going scoreless with six turnovers.
The Fighting Irish didn’t need long to put their dominant form on display. After missing its first six shots, Notre Dame made 17 of 20 shots during the remainder of the first half, with Loyd going five for six.
The Seminoles got as close as 15 four times in the second half, the last coming at 66-51 on Howard’s layup with 6:18 left. But Achonwa answered with a score, McBride hit two free throws and Ariel Braker followed with a layup to push the lead back up to 72-51 with 4:07 remaining.
Notre Dame also scored 23 points off turnovers and made seven of 14 three-pointers.
Other Notre Dame-Florida State Series Tidbits
- Notre Dame sophomore guard Lindsay Allen and sophomore forward Taya Reimer were teammates with Florida State sophomore center Kai James on the East Team at the 2013 McDonald’s High School All-America Game, played at Chicago’s United Center (the West defeated the East, 92-64).
- Allen, Reimer and James, as well as Notre Dame freshman forward Brianna Turner, were teammates on the 2012 USA Basketball Under-17 National Team that went 8-0 and struck gold at the FIBA U17 World Championships in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
- Notre Dame freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld played alongside Florida State freshman forward Shakayla Thomas on the East Team, which dropped an 80-78 decision to Fighting Irish freshman forward Brianna Turner and the West Team in the 2014 McDonald’s High School All-America Game at the United Center in Chicago. Turner was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after collecting 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, as well as the game-winning basket in the final minute, while Thomas scored a game-high 19 points for the East Team.
- Notre Dame associate head coach Carol Owens and Florida State head coach Sue Semrau have a friendship that dates back more than two decades to their days at Northern Illinois, when Owens was completing her career at NIU in 1990 (and subsequently returning to campus to train when she was playing professionally overseas) and Semrau was arriving on the DeKalb, Illinois, campus as an assistant coach (1991-94). The pair also have previously served together on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Board of Directors, with Semrau currently the WBCA President.
- Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw presently serves alongside Semrau as an at-large representative on the WBCA Executive Committee.
- Florida State director of athletics Stan Wilcox is a 1981 Notre Dame graduate and was a four-year monogram recipient on the Fighting Irish men’s basketball team, playing for legendary coach Digger Phelps and helping Notre Dame to its first NCAA Final Four appearance in 1978. Wilcox later returned to his alma mater as deputy athletics director from 2005-08.
Sunshine State Success
Notre Dame is 31-5 (.861) all-time against Florida schools, including a 12-3 (.800) record against Sunshine State teams at Purcell Pavilion. Last year, the Fighting Irish went 3-0 against the state, defeating Florida State twice (81-60 during the regular season in Tallahassee; 83-57 in the ACC Championship quarterfinals at Greensboro, North Carolina) as well as downing Miami at home (79-52).
The Fighting Irish have won their last 12 games against Florida schools, with South Florida the most recent team from the Sunshine State to defeat Notre Dame (an 87-78 overtime win in Tampa in 2007).
In addition, the Fighting Irish have won their last five home games against Florida teams, following a 68-64 overtime loss to USF on Jan. 28, 2006.
Dating back to the end of its membership in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now the Horizon League) and covering the balance of its time in the BIG EAST Conference as well as last year’s debut in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Notre Dame is 17-4 (.810) in its last 21 conference openers, beginning with the 1993-94 season. The Fighting Irish also have won 15 of their last 17 league lidlifters, as well as the past eight in a row. Last year, Notre Dame began its inaugural season in the ACC with a 71-51 win over Clemson at Purcell Pavilion
The Fighting Irish are 16-5 (.762) in their last 21 conference home openers and have won seven of their last eight league debuts at Purcell Pavilion after last year’s victory over Clemson.
Ringing In The New Year
Notre Dame is 29-8 (.784) all-time in in its first game of a new calendar year, including a 9-2 (.818) record at home and a 21-6 (.778) record in the Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present).
The Fighting Irish also have won nine of their last 10 (and 18 of their last 20) games to begin the month of January, including last year’s 94-51 victory over South Dakota State in their pre-conference finale at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame currently has won a school-record 36 consecutive regular season conference games, dating back to the end of its BIG EAST Conference membership and through the first season of its affiliation with the Atlantic Coast Conference.
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 46 of their last 48 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, nearly tripling the next-closest pursuer (10 by Indiana State, as of Thursday), 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 84-4 (.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 Thursday, Notre Dame owns the nation’s second-longest winning streak against unranked opponents (in the Associated Press poll), having earned 60 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 Sunday afternoon. 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 last outing on Dec. 21 against Saint Joseph’s (Pa.).
Turner currently leads the nation with a .667 field-goal percentage. She also ranks sixth in the ACC in blocked shots (2.1 bpg.), is tied for 14th in the conference in scoring (14.0 ppg.) and stands 18th in rebounding (6.3 rpg.).
Junior guard Jewell Loyd leads the ACC and ranks 16th in the nation in scoring, thanks in part to one of the most explosive individual scoring seasons in Notre Dame women’s basketball history.
- Loyd has scored 283 points in her first 13 games this season (21.8 points per game), putting her in position to match the quickest run to a “triple century” in program annals (Katryna Gaither 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 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 18th in school history with 1,420 career points in 86 career games, putting her within reach of the 1,500-point milestone, a mark she could hit in her next five games if she stays on her current career scoring pace of 16.5 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 56 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 56-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 74 of her 86 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 #13 Recap: UCLA
Lindsay Allen scored a career-high 22 points and set numerous other personal bests to help No. 4 Notre Dame beat UCLA 82-67 on Sunday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.
Allen was eight of 10 from the field, including four of five from three-point range. The sophomore guard matched her previous career high of 17 points by halftime and set career highs in field goals and three-pointers made.
With Allen firing on all cylinders early, Notre Dame went into halftime with a comfortable 42-29 lead. The Fighting Irish kept it up in the second half and never let UCLA get closer than nine points after the break.
Brianna Turner added 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds for her first career double-double and Jewell Loyd had 12 points, seven rebounds and a career-high seven assists for Notre Dame. Michaela Mabrey had 11 points to give the Fighting Irish four players in double figures and six Notre Dame players made at least three field goals.
Nirra Fields scored 20 points and Jordin Canada had 16 for UCLA, which dropped to 0-5 against Top 25 teams this season.
Beyond The Box Score: UCLA
- Notre Dame tied its season high with nine three-pointers (also at DePaul on Dec. 10), one game after failing to make a trey for the first time in a span of 85 games dating back to the 2012 season opener against No. 19/21 Ohio State.
- Notre Dame’s .750 three-point percentage tied for the 10th-best single-game mark from distance in school history, and best since a similar nine of 12 (.750) performance at Pittsburgh on Jan. 16, 2014.
- In their last two games against UCLA, the Fighting Irish have made a combined 19 of 29 three-point attempts (.655).
- Notre Dame is 9-1 in its last 10 true road games against California schools, dating back to the 1993-94 season.
- The Fighting Irish are 27-15 (.643) all-time against California teams, including an active six-game winning streak.
- Notre Dame improves to 28-20 (.583) all-time against current Pac-12 Conference members, having won seven in a row and 25 of its last 32 games against that league.
- The Fighting Irish earn their third consecutive win over UCLA and fifth in the last six meetings against the Bruins, trimming UCLA’s series lead over Notre Dame to 9-7.
- The Fighting Irish have won the past three times they have visited Pauley Pavilion after not winning on their first five trips to the legendary arena.
- Notre Dame has won its last 12 games coming back from the Christmas holiday break, improving to 27-11 (.711) all-time in post-Christmas games, including a 21-7 (.750) record in the Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present).
- Allen is the fifth different Fighting Irish player to score 20 points in a game this season, eclipsing her previous career scoring high of 17 points set two games earlier (Dec. 13 against Michigan at Purcell Pavilion).
- Turner posted her first career double-double with 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds (previous high was nine vs. UMass Lowell in her college debut on Nov. 14); Turner also tied her career best with five blocks for the second consecutive game, securing her first career “5-5-5” game.
- Loyd posted her fourth “5-5-5” game of the season (ninth of her career) with 12 points, seven rebounds and a career-high seven assists (previous best was six assists on two occasions against Maryland – Jan. 27, 2014, and Dec. 3, 2014).
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 259 of their last 289 games (.896), 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 85-6 (.934) — including wins in 61 of its last 64 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 204-30 (.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 408-91 (.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 already sell out the Dec. 6 game with Connecticut, while several other home games are rapidly approaching sellout status.
As of Thursday, Notre Dame ranks fourth in the nation in attendance, averaging 8,762 fans per game. That equates to 95.8 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: Syracuse
It’s a quick turnaround for Notre Dame, which opens the road portion of its ACC schedule at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday at No. 21/22 Syracuse. The game will be televised live from the Carrier Dome as part of the ACC/Regional Sports Networks package (check local listings or go online to theacc.com to find where the game will air around the country).
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director