Dec. 26, 2014
2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 13
#4/4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-1 / 0-0 ACC) vs. UCLA Bruins (4-6 / 0-0 Pac-12)
DATE: Dec. 28, 2014
TIME: 4:00 p.m. ET/1:00 p.m. PT
AT: Los Angeles, Calif. – Pauley Pavilion (13,800)
SERIES: UCLA leads 9-6
1ST MTG: UCLA 50-45 (12/5/81)
LAST MTG: ND 90-48 (12/7/13)
TV: Pac-12 Networks (live) (Anne Marie Anderson, p-b-p / Tammy Blackburn, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: uclabruins.com
- Notre Dame will be playing a team from the state of California for the eighth time since 2009-10, having won six of its previous seven games against the Golden State.
- The Fighting Irish are 8-1 in their last nine true road games against a California school, dating back to the 1993-94 season.
No. 4 Fighting Irish Return From Holiday Break With Visit To UCLA
Following a week-long break for the Christmas holiday, No. 4 Notre Dame gets back to action with its final pre-conference game of the season at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT Sunday when it travels to Los Angeles to take on UCLA at Pauley Pavilion. The game will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks, available on select cable and satellite providers nationwide (including Dish Network Channel 409).
Notre Dame has played just once in the past 15 days, earning a 64-50 victory over Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) on Dec. 21 at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish battled past the defensive-minded Hawks thanks to a .569 field-goal percentage and their own tough defense that forced six shot-clock violations and 16 turnovers.
Freshman forward Brianna Turner led a balanced Notre Dame offense with a game-high 19 points on seven of eight shooting. Junior guard Jewell Loyd added 16 points, while sophomore guard Lindsay Allen and sophomore forward Taya Reimer each chipped in 10 points.
- Notre Dame is No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 4 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- UCLA is not ranked.
- Notre Dame is ranked No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press poll, its 25th consecutive week and 69th of the past 73 weeks in the AP Top 5.
- Notre Dame has appeared in the AP poll for 143 consecutive weeks (including the past 73 weeks in the AP Top 10), extending a program record that dates back to the 2007-08 preseason poll, and ranking sixth in the nation among active AP poll appearances. What’s more, every current Fighting Irish player has competed for a top-10 Notre Dame squad during her career, never ranking lower than seventh in that time (2011-12 to present).
- Notre Dame is ranked No. 4 in the latest Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll, after previously spending two weeks (Nov. 25 and Dec. 2) as the nation’s No. 1 team. It was the first time the Fighting Irish had been the top-ranked team in either major national poll since April 1, 2001, when they were No. 1in the coaches’ poll following a 68-66 win over Purdue that secured the program’s first NCAA national championship.
- Notre Dame ranks among the top 25 in 10 NCAA statistical categories (as of Friday), including six top-10 rankings — scoring margin (4th – +30.4 ppg.), field-goal percentage (4th – .497), scoring offense (5th – 87.0 ppg.), assists (8th – 19.1 apg.), free-throw percentage (10th – .773) and assist/turnover ratio (10th – 1.33). The Fighting Irish also rank 11th in the country in rebounding margin (+11.7 rpg.), 18th in three-point percentage (.381), and 24th in both turnover margin (+6.00) and personal fouls (14.8 per game), as well as ninth in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.917).
- 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 28 games, having surpassed Stanford (2011-12 to 2013-14) for the third-longest run in NCAA Division I history with their Dec. 10 overtime victory at No. 25 DePaul.
- Senior guards Madison Cable and Whitney Holloway, and senior forward Markisha Wright have helped Notre Dame to a 118-8 (.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 674 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 762 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 946 as of Friday).
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 178 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 Friday), 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-UCLA Series
Notre Dame and UCLA will meet for the 16th time on Sunday afternoon, with the Bruins holding a 9-6 lead in the series, including a 5-2 edge at Pauley Pavilion. However, the Fighting Irish have won four of the past five meetings between the schools, as well as the past two series games played in Los Angeles.
The Last Time Notre Dame and UCLA Met
Madison Cable hit four straight three-pointers in the second half, making five of six for the game, and finished with a career-high 21 points and Notre Dame’s reserves outscored UCLA’s bench 46-0 en route to a 90-48 victory on Dec. 7, 2013, at Purcell Pavilion.
The Fighting Irish dominated in almost every category, outrebounding the Bruins 48-35, outscoring them 46-24 in the paint and owning a 12-2 advantage in fastbreak points.
Cable missed tying the Purcell Pavilion record for three-pointers in a game when she missed her final shot with 25 seconds left.
UCLA stayed close for the first five minutes, opening an 8-6 lead when Atonye Nyingifa hit a baseline jumper. But a three-pointer by Loyd that bounced off the rim three times before falling in sparked a 14-2 run that included three fastbreak layups.
The Fighting Irish shot 67 percent from the floor in the second half and shot 56 percent for the game. Notre Dame also finished the game going 10 of 17 from three-point range.
Nyingifa posted a double-double for UCLA with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Thea Lemberger was the only other Bruin to score in double figures, ending up with 17 points.
The Last Time Notre Dame and UCLA Met At Pauley Pavilion
Skylar Diggins was nowhere near her best against UCLA. Fortunately for the Fighting Irish, her teammates did more than enough to beat the Bruins.
Jewell Loyd had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists, Kayla McBride scored 18 points, and fifth-ranked Notre Dame wasn’t threatened in the second half in beating the No. 19/22 Bruins, 76-64 on Nov. 23, 2012, at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.
Diggins had 12 points, six rebounds and five assists, but shot five of 17 and committed four turnovers.
Natalie Achonwa had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Fighting Irish, who shot 29 of 60 (48.3 percent) to UCLA’s 24 of 61 (39.3 percent).
Loyd, who shot eight of 12, including two of three from three-point range, made three straight baskets midway through the first half to cap a 15-2 run that put the Fighting Irish ahead for good.
Achonwa scored four points during an 8-2 run to start the second half, giving the Fighting Irish a 44-31 lead. UCLA drew within eight on two straight baskets by Markel Walker, but that was as close as the Bruins would get. Notre Dame then went on another 8-2 spurt for a 57-43 advantage with 10 1/2 minutes left.
Walker had 21 points and nine rebounds and Alyssia Brewer added 10 points for UCLA.
Other Notre Dame-UCLA Series Tidbits
- Nearly half (7) of the 15 games in the series have been decided by single digits, including three in overtime (two in double OT, close to half of the five multiple-overtime games in Notre Dame history).
- Expect to see some offensive fireworks in this series, with three of the past five games featuring both teams topping the 80-point mark and at least one side doing so in six of the past seven meetings.
- Notre Dame is 26-15 (.634) all-time against teams from the state of California, with a 15-11 (.577) record away from home (road/neutral sites combined) and a 24-7 (.774) record in the Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present).
- This will mark the sixth consecutive season Notre Dame has played at least one California school, with the Fighting Irish going 6-1 against the Golden State since 2009-10, including an active five-game winning streak.
- Of the five multiple-overtime games in Notre Dame history, four have come at Purcell Pavilion, including UCLA’s 86-83 double-overtime victory over the Fighting Irish on Nov. 18, 2010, at Purcell Pavilion.
- The one road double-overtime game in Notre Dame history also involved UCLA, with the Fighting Irish edging the Bruins, 93-91 in Nov. 30, 1997, at Pauley Pavilion.
- The Notre Dame-UCLA men’s basketball rivalry is arguably the most famous in NCAA history, punctuated by the memorable 71-70 Fighting Irish win over the Bruins on Jan. 19, 1974, at Purcell Pavilion (then known as the Joyce Center), snapping UCLA’s record 88-game winning streak. Notre Dame’s Dwight Clay hit the decisive shot in that victory from the deep right corner in front of the Fighting Irish bench with 29 seconds remaining — at the time, the team benches were located on the north side of the court (currently where the broadcast tables sit), and the location of Clay’s historic shot is now directly in front of the ramp leading to the Notre Dame women’s basketball locker room off the northeast corner of the court.
- Notre Dame junior guard Jewell Loyd and UCLA junior guard Nirra Fields were teammates on the West squad at the 2012 McDonald’s High School All-America Game, which lost to its East counterpart (including Fighting Irish junior guard Michaela Mabrey), 79-78 at the United Center in Chicago.
- Notre Dame freshman forward Brianna Turner played alongside UCLA freshman guards Recee’ Caldwell and Jordin Canada and Bruins’ freshman forward Lajahna Drummer on 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 West’s 80-78 win over the East (a squad that included Fighting Irish freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld).
- First-year Notre Dame operations specialist Natalie Achonwa and UCLA junior guard Nirra Fields are two of the rising stars in the Canada Basketball system. Achonwa has played with her country’s Senior National Team since 2009 (most recently helping Canada to a silver medal at the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship in Xalapa, Mexico), while Fields was added to the player pool for that squad in the summer of 2013. However, she and Achonwa have yet to play for Canada in the same tournaments due to their varying schedules and other commitments, as well as Achonwa’s continuing rehabilitation from a knee injury suffered last March.
- Notre Dame will be appearing on the Pac-12 Networks for the third time, having previously earned wins at UCLA in 2012 (76-64) and Oregon State in 2013 (70-58) while playing on the fledgling outlet.
Notre Dame vs. The Pac-12 Conference
The Fighting Irish are 27-20 (.574) all-time against current Pac-12 Conference teams, with a 16-16 (.500) record away from home (road/neutral sites combined). Notre Dame also has won 24 of its last 31 games against Pac-12 schools since a 93-72 loss at UCLA in the first round of the 1992 NCAA Championship (in what was the first-ever NCAA tournament game for the Fighting Irish).
Notre Dame has its last six games against Pac-12 opponents since an 86-83 double-overtime loss to No. 15 UCLA on Nov. 18, 2010, at Purcell Pavilion. Last season, the Fighting Irish won all three games they played against Pac-12 teams, defeating UCLA at home (90-48), winning at Oregon State (70-58) and defeated Arizona State (84-67) in the second round of the NCAA Championship in Toledo, Ohio.
Another Present Under The Tree
Notre Dame is 26-11 (.703) all-time in in its first game after the Christmas holiday, with a 12-5 (.706) record away from home (road/neutral sites combined) and a 20-7 (.741) record in the Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present).
The Fighting Irish also have won their last 11 games coming off the Christmas break, including last season’s 70-58 win over another Pac-12 Conference opponent, Oregon State (Dec. 29, 2013, at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Oregon).
Junior guard Jewell Loyd leads the ACC and ranks 12th in the nation in scoring, thanks in part to one of the most explosive individual scoring runs in Notre Dame women’s basketball history.
- Loyd has scored 271 points in her first 12 games this season (22.6 points per game), matching the quickest run to a “double century” in program annals (like Loyd, Katryna Gaither scored her 200th point in her ninth game during the 1996-97 season, a win at Providence).
- 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 has scored 175 points (25.0 ppg.) in her last seven games, the second-most points by a Notre Dame women’s basketball player in a seven-game stretch in school history (Gaither had 179 in 1996-97). Included in Loyd’s current run were three ranked opponents, against whom she averaged 33.0 points per game–for the season, Loyd averages 31.8 ppg. against Top 25 teams.
- Loyd is 18th in school history with 1,408 career points in 85 career games, putting her within reach of the 1,500-point milestone, a mark she could hit in her next six games if she stays on her current career scoring pace of 16.6 points per game. Loyd would be the 13th player in program history to reach that statistical milepost and is on pace to be the second-quickest to do so (Cunningham scored her 1,500th point at Notre Dame in her 80th career game on Feb. 21, 1996, at home against Miami).
The Comforts Of Home
The Dec. 6 loss to third-ranked Connecticut put an end to Notre Dame’s 34-game home winning streak, at the time the nation’s longest active success string at home and the second-longest run in school history behind only a 51-game spree from Dec. 12, 1998- Feb. 19, 2002.
This latest streak ended almost exactly two years to the day after it began (Dec. 8, 2012–a 109-70 win over Utah State–three days after a 73-61 loss to another third-ranked opponent, Baylor, at Purcell Pavilion).
Nevertheless, Notre Dame continues to have one of the nation’s toughest home court environments, having posted a 85-6 (.934) record at Purcell Pavilion since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season, and a 408-91 (.818) record at the facility that was originally known as the Athletic and Convocation Center when it was built in 1968 (and later rededicated as the Rev. Edmund P. Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center in 1987).
Notre Dame still maintains a bit more modest 18-game home winning streak in conference play, a run that dates back to the program’s membership in the BIG EAST Conference. On Feb. 14, 2012, the Fighting Irish defeated Providence, 66-47 at Purcell Pavilion–two days after a 65-63 loss to West Virginia (which, like Notre Dame, has since changed conference affiliations, now competing in the Big 12).
Notre Dame has won a school-record 28 consecutive road games (37 in a row in the regular season, and 44 of its last 49 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 28-game road winning streak is the longest active run in the nation, nearly tripling the next-closest pursuer (10 by Indiana State, as of Friday), as well as the third-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 is 83-4 (.954) and has won 36 consecutive conference games (regular season only). 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 Friday, Notre Dame shares the nation’s longest winning streak against unranked opponents (in the Associated Press poll), having earned 59 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.
The Model Of Consistency
Junior guard Jewell Loyd has scored in double figures in 55 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 55-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 73 of her 85 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 #12 Recap: Saint Joseph’s (Pa.)
Freshman forward Brianna Turner returned from a three-game injury absence with a game-high 19 points in 30 minutes for No. 5/4 Notre Dame in a 64-50 win over Saint Joseph’s on Dec. 21 at Purcell Pavilion.
After sitting out with a shoulder injury suffered Dec. 3 against No. 15/10 Maryland, Turner missed just one field goal attempt (seven of eight) and blocked a career-high five shots.
Jewell Loyd added 16 points for the Fighting Irish (11-1). After falling behind by seven points midway through the first half, Notre Dame picked it up defensively and outscored the Hawks 26-7 to take a 12-point lead into halftime. The Fighting Irish then scored eight straight after the break to take a 20-point lead.
Natasha Cloud scored 16 points and Ciara Andrews had 15 for Saint Joseph’s (3-7).
The Hawks have lost four of their last five, and it also was their seventh straight on the road dating back to last season – the longest skid in program history.
Saint Joseph’s tried to shorten the game with long offensive possessions, but committed six shot clock violations and had 16 turnovers. The Fighting Irish scored 25 points off those turnovers.
Saint Joseph’s opened the second half with a shot clock violation and a Turner block on its first two possessions. The Fighting Irish used a 12-2 run to go up 22 points with 13:26 to play.
Notre Dame outscored the Hawks 44-10 in the paint.
Notre Dame’s lead was down to 10 with 4:58 to go after Cloud’s 15-footer capped a 15-3 Saint Joseph’s run. But the Fighting Irish got two buckets by Taya Reimer in the post and Lindsay Allen’s layup to provide breathing room. Reimer finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
After falling behind 8-0 in the first three minutes, Saint Joseph’s went on a 12-1 run. Kathleen Fitzpatrick hit two three-pointers early and Andrews’ bucket with 10:02 left put the Hawks up 20-13.
Turner’s four blocked shots helped Notre Dame finish the first half strongly and take a 12-point lead into halftime. Turner scored 10 points on perfect shooting (three field goals, four free throws) in the first half.
Beyond The Box Score: Saint Joseph’s (Pa.)
- After allowing at least 70 points in three consecutive games, including 93 in an overtime win at No. 25 DePaul, Notre Dame has given up just 50 points in each of its last two games.
- The Fighting Irish now have won 27 consecutive games coming off their final exam break, and 19 consecutive games heading into the Christmas holiday.
- Notre Dame takes a 2-1 series lead against Saint Joseph’s (the alma mater of Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw) in the first meeting between the schools since 1990.
- The Fighting Irish have won 12 in a row and are 47-13 (.783) all-time against current members of the Atlantic 10 Conference, including a 21-6 (.778) record at home.
- Notre Dame is 31-18 (.633) all-time against members of the Big Five, including a 15-4 (.789) record at home.
- Notre Dame shot at least 50 percent from the field for the eighth time this season.
- The Fighting Irish had a season-low 27 rebounds.
- Notre Dame did not make a three-pointer for the first time since Nov. 9, 2012, against No. 19/21 Ohio State in the Carrier Classic aboard the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (ending a string of 85 consecutive games with at least one triple).
- Turner’s five blocks were the most by a Notre Dame player since March 29, 2012, when Natalie Achonwa had five blocks in a win over No. 21/18 Oklahoma State in the NCAA Sweet 16 at Purcell Pavilion.
- Saint Joseph’s had two assists, the fewest by a Notre Dame opponent since March 25, 2012, when No. 21/25 St. Bonaventure also had two assists in a 79-35 Fighting Irish win in the NCAA Sweet 16 at Raleigh, North Carolina.
- Notre Dame forced Saint Joseph’s into six shot-clock violations after hounded its opponents into a combined eight shot-clock violations in its first 11 games this season.
- This was the 500th home game in Notre Dame women’s basketball history (409-91, .818 record), with all but one game played at Purcell Pavilion (earlier this season, a 92-72 win over Maryland on Dec. 3 at Fort Wayne, Indiana).
Notre Dame is ranked No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press preseason poll, its 73rd consecutive week in the top 10 of the media balloting (69 of those in the top five), dating back to the middle of the 2010-11 season and marking 143 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 (66 consecutive weeks for the current senior class), spending the vast majority (62) 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 282 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 145 of the past 146 weeks (and 109 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 277 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 282 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 322-19 (.944) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 250 of their last 263 such contests (.951).
What’s more, in the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 159-2 (.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 222-6 (.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 99-2 (.980) when topping the 80-point mark, including an active 66-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.
In fact, while some additional tickets may be available on the week of the game for individual contests this season (depending on returned inventory by visiting teams and other constituencies), it’s entirely possible that, for the fourth consecutive season, Notre Dame will flirt with a sellout for every home game.
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 home game.
In the eight-year history of the promotion, Notre Dame has hit the 88-point mark 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: Florida State
Notre Dame returns home to not only ring in the new year, but also tip off its second season in the Atlantic Coast Conference when it plays host to Florida State at 7 p.m. (ET) Jan. 2 at Purcell Pavilion. The game will be streamed live and free of charge on the official Fighting Irish athletics multimedia platform, WatchND.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director