Jan. 28, 2015
2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 22
#4/4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (19-2 / 6-1 ACC) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (10-10 / 1-6 ACC)
DATE: Jan. 29, 2015
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Blacksburg, Va. – Cassell Coliseum (9,847)
SERIES: ND leads 6-1
1ST MTG: ND 75-64 (1/3/01)
LAST MTG: ND 74-48 (1/30/14)
TV: ESPN3/WatchESPN (live) (Danny Nokes, p-b-p / Mack McCarthy, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: hokiesports.com
- Notre Dame is seeking its 20th victory of the season, a mark the Fighting Irish have reached in 20 of the past 21 years.
- Notre Dame aims to reach the midpoint of its conference schedule with 0-1 losses for the sixth consecutive season.
No. 4 Fighting Irish Reach Midpoint Of ACC Schedule Thursday At Virginia Tech
There are numerous landmarks on the long journey that is the college basketball season and No. 4 Notre Dame will reach another of these mileposts at 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday when it arrives at the midpoint of the 2014-15 Atlantic Coast Conference season, traveling to Blacksburg, Virginia, to take on Virginia Tech at Cassell Coliseum. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
The Fighting Irish (19-2, 6-1) picked up their fifth consecutive win last Saturday with a 74-36 victory at Clemson. In its first-ever visit to Littlejohn Coliseum, Notre Dame used a 40-6 run early in the first half to seize control and led by at least 30 points for the majority of the game.
The Fighting Irish featured a balanced attack at Clemson, with four players scoring in double figures, led by junior guard Jewell Loyd, who had a game-high 17 points and eight rebounds. Freshman forward Brianna Turner posted her fifth double-double of the year (15 points, 10 rebounds), while classmate Kathryn Westbeld had 11 points and sophomore forward Taya Reimer added 10 points and eight rebounds.
- 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 Tech is not ranked.
- Notre Dame is ranked No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press poll, its 78th consecutive week in the AP Top 10 and 72nd of the past 78 weeks in the AP Top 5.
- Notre Dame has appeared in the AP poll for 148 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 Tuesday), including four top-10 rankings — field-goal percentage (2nd – .501), scoring offense (4th – 85.3 ppg.), scoring margin (5th – +23.8 ppg.) and assists (6th – 19.0 apg.). The Fighting Irish also rank 12th in three-point percentage (.377), 14th in free-throw percentage (.759), 16th in assist/turnover ratio (1.27), and 18th in rebounding margin (+8.9 rpg.), plus seventh in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.905).
- Notre Dame aims to continue its remarkable success at Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 412-91 (.819) all-time record in 38 seasons at the facility, including a 89-6 (.937) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
- The Fighting Irish tied the NCAA Division I record for the longest road winning streak (30 games) before the run ended Jan. 8 with a 78-63 loss at Miami.
- Senior guards Madison Cable and Whitney Holloway, and senior forward Markisha Wright have helped Notre Dame to a 126-9 (.933) 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 682 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 770 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 952 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 186 victories.
- Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in average attendance annually since 2000-01 (including top-five rankings the past five years). The Fighting Irish rank fifth in the nation (as of Tuesday), averaging 8,859 fans per game at home this season, and have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 220 of their last 222 home games (with an active streak of 63 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 Tech Series
Notre Dame and Virginia Tech will meet for the eighth time on Thursday night, with the Fighting Irish holding a 6-1 series lead against the Hokies, beginning with the teams’ former membership in the BIG EAST Conference and continuing into their current ACC affiliation.
Notre Dame and Virginia Tech will play for just the third time at Cassell Coliseum (and the first since the 2002-03 season), with the Fighting Irish have split their previous two visits to Blacksburg.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Virginia Tech Met
Six players scored for second-ranked Notre Dame during a 15-1 run to end the first half against Virginia Tech that broke the game open and turned the game into a 74-48 rout on Jan. 30, 2014, at Purcell Pavilion.
Kayla McBride led the Fighting Irish with 18 points, sparking the run with a jumper. The hosts then opened the second half with an 8-2 spurt to quickly extend the lead to 24 points and eventually led by 30.
One of the highlights for Notre Dame was an alley-oop layup by Jewell Loyd, who made a steal, passed to Lindsay Allen and Allen passed it back for one of her season-high eight assists. It was the third straight basket for Loyd, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds and three steals.
The Fighting Irish outscored the Hokies 32-12 in the paint and had a 41-34 advantage in rebounds. Notre Dame led 37-19 at intermission, the fewest points allowed by the Fighting Irish in the first half (at that time) last season, and the Hokies were held to their lowest point total up to that juncture last year. Virginia Tech was held to 27.4 percent shooting, matching its season-low field-goal percentage to date last year.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Virginia Tech Met In Blacksburg
Carrie Mason converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 13.1 seconds remaining to lift Virginia Tech to a 53-50 BIG EAST Conference victory over Notre Dame on Feb. 9, 2003, at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Virginia.
It was Virginia Tech’s first win over the Fighting Irish in five series meetings and marked the fourth consecutive weekend Notre Dame played a game decided by five points or less.
Mason’s shot was the final act in a thrilling two-hour drama that featured 14 ties, 12 lead changes, and saw neither side lead by more than four points the entire game. The Fighting Irish had a chance to send the game to overtime, but Jacqueline Batteast had her three-point attempt from the left wing rattle out with one second to play.
Batteast led Notre Dame in scoring with 13 points and set a new career high with five blocked shots. Katy Flecky chipped in with 11 points off the bench, marking her second consecutive double-figure scoring game.
Ieva Kublina scored a game-high 21 points, including 11 of 11 free throws, to lead three players in double digits for Virginia Tech. Kublina also tied a (then) Notre Dame opponent record with seven blocked shots, matching the mark set three times previously (most recently by Pittsburgh’s Nickeia Morris on Feb. 15, 1998).
This game was decided at the free-throw line. The Fighting Irish came into the contest as the second-best free-throw shooting team in the BIG EAST at 74.5 percent, but they struggled at the stripe all afternoon, making only 15 of 23 charity tosses (65.2 percent). Conversely, the Hokies were extremely solid from the line, hitting a Notre Dame opponent season-best 91.7 percent of their free throws (22 of 24).
Virginia Tech’s aptitude at the foul line made up for its problems from the floor. For the second consecutive game, Notre Dame held an opponent below 30 percent shooting from the field, limiting the Hokies to a .286 ratio (14 of 49). The Fighting Irish held a 34-31 rebounding edge, but also turned the ball over 21 times, compared to 16 giveaways for Virginia Tech.
Other Notre Dame-Virginia Tech Series Tidbits
- Notre Dame is 11-8 (.579) all-time against Virginia schools, having won its last five games against the Commonwealth. The Fighting Irish will play host to Virginia on Feb. 5 at Purcell Pavilion.
- The Fighting Irish are 3-5 (.833) all-time on the road against Virginia schools, but have won their last two visits to the Commonwealth, defeating Richmond (84-59 on Jan. 2, 2008) and most recently, Virginia (79-72 on Jan. 12, 2014).
- Notre Dame actually has won its last four games in the Commonwealth of Virginia, having also earned victories over Kansas (93-63) and Duke (87-76) in the 2013 NCAA Norfolk Regional semifinals and final at Old Dominion University’s Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Virginia.
- Fighting Irish associate coach Beth Cunningham 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 the 2012-13 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, appeared in 12 games for the Fighting Irish during the program’s second varsity season (1978-79), averaging 1.8 points and 0.8 assists per game.
- Virginia Tech head coach Dennis Wolff is a close friend of Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Mike Brey, and previously coached against Brey’s Fighting Irish men’s program while at the helm at Boston University (a 74-67 Notre Dame win on Dec. 13, 2008, at Purcell Pavilion).
- Former Fighting Irish guard Anne Weese (’04) currently works as a staff counselor at the Cook Counseling Center on the Virginia Tech campus. Weese (first name is pronounced Annie) played two seasons at Notre Dame (2002-04) as a rare junior college transfer to the Fighting Irish women’s basketball program, coming from Seward County (Kansas) Community College. Weese played in 19 games during her two years at Notre Dame, averaging 0.5 points and 0.4 rebounds per game while helping the Fighting Irish advance to the NCAA Sweet 16 both seasons.
- Notre Dame sports nutrition associate Stephanie Horvath earned her master’s degree in education from Virginia Tech and worked as the Hokies’ sports nutrition graduate assistant before accepting her current post with the Fighting Irish in 2013.
Loyd, Turner Sweep Weekly ACC Honors
During the first 10 weeks of the 2014-15 ACC season, junior guard Jewell Loyd and freshman forward Brianna Turner took turns earning weekly accolades from the conference, with one garnering either ACC Player or Freshman of the Week honors in seven of those 10 weeks.
On Monday, Loyd and Turner synchronized their awards, with Loyd receiving her third ACC Player of the Week honor this season (fourth of her career), and Turner tying the program record with her sixth ACC Freshman of the Week citation this season. Both honors were chosen by the conference’s Blue Ribbon Panel that is comprised of the ACC’s 15 head coaches, local and national media members and the women’s basketball media relations directors for each school.
This marks the second consecutive week Notre Dame has swept the ACC Player and Freshman of the Week honors, with Turner copping both accolades last week (the sixth freshman in conference history to pull off that feat and second in as many seasons, following North Carolina’s Diamond DeShields). Monday’s twin citations represents the first time two different Fighting Irish players have garnered conference player and freshman honors in the same week since Feb. 25, 2002, when Alicia Ratay was chosen as BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week, while Katy Flecky took home the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week award.
Loyd is the sixth Notre Dame player to be named a three-time conference player-of-the-week honoree in one season, and the first since Skylar Diggins collected three awards during the 2012-13 season while the Fighting Irish were members of the BIG EAST. The only Notre Dame player with more conference player-of-the-week certificates in one season than Loyd, Diggins (also 2011-12) and fellow three-time recipients Katryna Gaither (1996-97), Niele Ivey (1998-99) and Ruth Riley (1998-99 and 2000-01) is Jacqueline Batteast, who was a four-time BIG EAST Player of the Week in 2004-05.
Meanwhile, Turner has collected more than half of the conference’s 11 Freshman of the Week awards this season, with no other player earning that distinction more than once (and no school doing so more than twice) in the 2014-15 campaign. She is the 12th ACC rookie to earn six Freshman of the Week honors in one season, and the first since North Carolina’s Xylina McDaniel took six awards in 2012-13.
In addition, Turner is the third Notre Dame player in program history to earn a school-record six conference freshman-of-the-week accolades in one season, and the first since Batteast copped six BIG EAST weekly rookie awards in 2001-02 — Ratay also collected six BIG EAST freshman accolades in 1999-2000.
Loyd is one of the leading candidates for every major national player of the year honor, including the Wade Trophy, Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy, and a unanimous choice as the espnW Midseason Player of the Year that also was announced Monday.
Loyd set the pace in all three Notre Dame wins last week, averaging 26.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game with a .617 field-goal percentage and .364 three-point percentage as the Fighting Irish led virtually wire-to-wire in all three victories, including a route-going effort in a win over No. 5/6 Tennessee.
Loyd currently leads the ACC in scoring (21.6 points per game), ranks fifth in free-throw percentage (.846), ninth in steals (1.7 steals per game), tied for 11th in assist/turnover ratio (1.43) and tied for 12th in assists (3.3 assists per game). She also ranks 12th in the nation in scoring while leading the ACC with 13 20-point games and three 30-point games this season, the latter tying the school record for one campaign.
This season, Loyd is registering career-high averages in scoring, assists, steals, assist/turnover ratio and free-throw percentage, and she has elevated her game when the stakes are highest. She is averaging 27.7 points per game in seven outings against ranked opponents, including 30-point outings against No. 3 Connecticut (31 points), No. 25 DePaul (career-high and school record-tying 41 points) and No. 5/6 Tennessee (34 points).
Turner earned her latest weekly ACC honor after averaging 14.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game with a double-double and a .680 field-goal percentage last week.
A two-time United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Week (the only multiple-time recipient of the honor this year), Turner leads the nation in field-goal percentage (675), while ranking third in the ACC in blocks (2.8 blocks per game; 22nd in the nation), eighth in scoring (15.7 ppg.) and 11th in rebounding (7.3 rebounds per game) — no other ACC freshman ranks among the top 11 in more than two of these categories and no other ACC player ranks among the top 11 in more than three.
Like Loyd, Turner has been sharp against top competition — in four full games against ranked teams (not counting an injury-shortened four-minute stretch against No. 15/10 Maryland on Dec. 3), Turner is averaging 19.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 5.8 blocks per game with two double-doubles and a .682 field-goal percentage, including 29 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocks at No. 12/10 North Carolina on Jan. 15 (just the second NCAA Division I player since 1999-2000 to record those marks in one game).
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 52 of their last 55 games against conference opponents (and 21 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 41 of its last 42 (and 48 of its last 54) regular season road games.
More Streak Stats
Dating back to the start of the 2012-13 season, Notre Dame has posted a 91-5 (.948) 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 earlier this season, 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), 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 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 12th in the nation in scoring (as of Tuesday), thanks in part to one of the most explosive individual scoring seasons in Notre Dame women’s basketball history.
- Loyd has scored 454 points in her first 21 games this season (21.6 points per game), matching the quickest run to a “quad century” in program annals (like Loyd, Katryna Gaither scored her 400th point in her 19th game during the 1996-97 season, a 65-49 win at home over Pittsburgh on Jan. 18, 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 13 20-point games this season, and she has 28 career 20-point games, good for eighth 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 1,591 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 81 of her 94 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 40 blocked shots in her last 10 games (4.0 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 Tuesday, Turner ranks third in the ACC and 22nd in the nation at 2.8 blocks per game, while her 51 total blocks already rank fourth in school history among Fighting Irish freshmen (current Notre Dame sophomore forward Taya Reimer logged 52 blocks last year, third-most in program annals).
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.
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, along with Madison Cable, stands third all-time with 126 wins (126-9, .933), 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.
Game #21 Recap: Clemson
After allowing Georgia Tech to shoot 50 percent two nights ago, Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw told her team its defense must get better.
The No. 6/5 Fighting Irish (19-2, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) responded with a 74-36 win over Clemson on Jan. 24 at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, South Carolina, holding the Tigers to the lowest number of points Notre Dame has allowed in an ACC game since joining the league last season.
The Fighting Irish pulled down 46 rebounds, 20 more than Clemson. They had 20 offensive rebounds, while the Tigers had just 26 rebounds total.
Notre Dame was playing its fourth game in 10 days and it briefly looked like that might have caught up with the Fighting Irish, turning the ball over on their first two possessions and falling behind 5-2 just over two minutes into the game. But the Fighting Irish went on a 40-6 run over the next 14 minutes as they improved to 26-1 in the ACC since joining the league two seasons ago.
Clemson was held under 40 points in an ACC game for the first time in 49 games since a 68-36 loss to Virginia in February 2012.
Notre Dame simply pounded Clemson into submission early. The Fighting Irish had 24 shots inside in paint in the first half, making 14 of them. On the other end of the floor, the Tigers couldn’t solve Notre Dame’s zone. They had four shots in the paint in the opening half, making two.
The Fighting Irish shot 45.6 percent (26 of 57). It was only the sixth time this year they have made less than half their shots, but Clemson shot just 28.6 percent (14 of 49).
Jewell Loyd was the game’s leading scorer with 17 points, less than her ACC-leading average of nearly 22 points a game, but she played just 24 minutes (seven in the second half).
Brianna Turner added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Fighting Irish.
Nikki Dixon had 15 for Clemson, attempting 17 of the team’s 49 shots, but making only six.
Beyond The Box Score: Clemson
- Notre Dame held Clemson to 36 points, the fewest points the Fighting Irish have allowed in a conference game since Jan. 4, 2012, when they posted the exact same winning score (74-36) in their BIG EAST opener at Seton Hall.
- Notre Dame posted its largest margin of victory on the road since Jan. 16, 2014, when it earned a 109-66 win at Pittsburgh.
- Notre Dame is 2-0 all-time against Clemson and 3-2 all-time against teams from the state of South Carolina (the Fighting Irish are 1-2 against South Carolina).
- Since 2008-09, Notre Dame is 51-10 (.836) when playing a game on one day’s rest or less, including a 6-0 record this season.
- Turner posted her fifth double-double of the season (fourth in seven ACC games).
- Sophomore forward Taya Reimer collected her 10th double-digit scoring day of the season, and second in as many games.
- Freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld posted her fifth double-digit scoring game of the season.
- Sophomore guard Lindsay Allen had at least five assists for the eighth consecutive game.
- Junior guard/tri-captain Michaela Mabrey handed out six assists, one off her career high set twice before (most recently on Nov. 23 against Holy Cross at Purcell Pavilion).
- Sophomore center Diamond Thompson converted a free throw with 1:44 remaining, scoring her first point since Nov. 30, when she sank a basket against Kansas (at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut).
- Thompson’s foul shot put all 11 active Notre Dame players in the scoring column (senior guard/tri-captain Whitney Holloway is sidelined with an injured right foot and sophomore forward Kristina Nelson is sitting out this season while recovering from shoulder surgery), the fifth time this year every healthy Fighting Irish player has scored in a game, and first since all four games of the Hall of Fame Challenge from Nov. 23-30 vs. Holy Cross, Harvard, Quinnipiac and Kansas.
Notre Dame is ranked No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press preseason poll, its 78th consecutive week in the top 10 of the media balloting (72 of those in the top five), dating back to the middle of the 2010-11 season and marking 148 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 (71 consecutive weeks for the current senior class), spending the vast majority (65) 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 287 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 150 of the past 151 weeks (and 114 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 282 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 287 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 329-19 (.945) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 257 of their last 270 such contests (.952).
What’s more, in the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 166-2 (.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 302-15 (.953) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game, including a 10-0 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 228-6 (.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 105-2 (.981) when topping the 80-point mark, including an active 72-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 263 of their last 293 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 89-6 (.937) — including wins in 65 of its last 68 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 207-30 (.873) 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). 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 412-91 (.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 Tuesday, Notre Dame ranks fifth in the nation in attendance, averaging 8,859 fans per game. That equates to 96.83 percent of Purcell Pavilion’s capacity, the highest such percentage of any team in the country (DePaul is second at 93.71 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).
Pink Zone Game Coming Sunday
On Sunday, Notre Dame will not only face Wake Forest at Purcell Pavilion (1 p.m. ET), but it also will play host to its seventh annual Pink Zone Game, an event designed to raise money for cancer research (known nationally as Play4Kay). In the past six years, the Fighting Irish women’s basketball program has generated nearly $750,000 in donations through its Pink Zone Game and related fundraising events, with monies divided between local cancer charities such as the Foundation of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, and the national Kay Yow Cancer Fund, named for the late N.C. State women’s basketball coach.
The Fighting Irish are holding numerous other Pink Zone events this year, including the annual Spin-A-Thon at the Knollwood Country Club in Granger. Fans also can purchase special Pink Zone merchandise at every home game at the Pink Zone table (Heritage Hall, upper concourse of Purcell Pavilion) or by contacting Sharla Lewis in the Notre Dame women’s basketball office (574-631-5420).
More information on the 2015 Notre Dame Pink Zone Game can be found on its official web site: http://www.und.com/pinkzone.
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 Tuesday.
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 61 times, most recently in the Jan. 22 win over Georgia Tech.
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 61 Big Mac games, 29 have been reached on two-point baskets, 19 on free throws, and 13 on three-pointers.
Next Game: Wake Forest
Notre Dame returns home to begin the second half of its ACC season and tip off the month of February when it plays host to Wake Forest at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday at Purcell Pavilion. The game will be televised live on the ACC-Regional Sports Networks package, which includes Comcast Channel 101 in South Bend and northern Indiana, as well as numerous Fox Sports regional affiliates within the ACC footprint. In addition, ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app will carry the game, although some blackout restrictions may apply.
Sunday’s game against Wake Forest also has been designated as Notre Dame’s annual Pink Zone game, supporting the national women’s basketball initiative to raise money in the fight against breast cancer. This will be the seventh year the Fighting Irish women’s basketball program has participated in the event, having raised nearly $750,000 to date for several cancer-related charities in the Michiana area, as well as nationally through the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director