Dec. 19, 2014
2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 12
#5/4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-1 / 0-0 ACC) vs. Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) Hawks (3-6 / 0-0 Atlantic 10)
DATE: Dec. 21, 2014
TIME: 1:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: Series tied 1-1
1ST MTG: SJU 71-57 (1/24/87)
LAST MTG: ND 72-53 (12/29/90)
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 head coach Muffet McGraw will coach against her alma mater for the fifth time, but the first since 1990.
- Notre Dame will hold its 10th annual Teddy Bear Toss at halftime, with fans invited to bring stuffed animals to Sunday’s game for donation to local children’s charities.
No. 5/4 Irish Play Host To Saint Joseph’s Sunday Afternoon
Now that pencils are down and textbooks are closed, No. 5/4 Notre Dame returns to the hardwood, coming back from its final exam break at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday when it plays host to Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) at Purcell Pavilion. The game will be streamed live and free of charge on the official Fighting Irish athletics multimedia platform, WatchND.
Notre Dame has enjoyed its longest break of the season to date, having last played on Dec. 13 when it posted a wire-to-wire 70-50 win over Michigan at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish posted nearly-identical statistical totals in both halves, shooting 51.7 percent from the field while holding one of the nation’s top three-point shooting teams to three of 14 from the arc.
Sophomore guard Lindsay Allen led a balanced Notre Dame offense with a career-high 17 points on seven of eight shooting. Junior guard Jewell Loyd added 14 points, while freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld chipped in 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
- Notre Dame is No. 5 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 4 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) is not ranked.
- Notre Dame is ranked No. 5 in this week’s Associated Press poll, its 24th consecutive week and 68th of the past 72 weeks in the AP Top 5.
- Notre Dame has appeared in the AP poll for 142 consecutive weeks (including the past 72 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 15 in eight NCAA statistical categories (as of Friday), including seven top-10 rankings — scoring margin (3rd – +31.9 ppg.), assists (4th – 19.9 apg.), scoring offense (5th – 89.1 ppg.), field-goal percentage (5th – .493), free-throw percentage (9th – .773), assist/turnover ratio (9th – 1.37) and rebounding margin (10th – +12.8 rpg.). The Fighting Irish also rank 15th in the country in three-point percentage (.393), and are in the top 15 in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage, (13th – .909).
- Notre Dame aims to continue its remarkable success at Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 407-91 (.817) all-time record in 38 seasons at the facility, including an 84-6 (.933) 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 117-8 (.936) 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 673 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 761 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 944 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 176 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 Friday), averaging 8,778 fans per game at home this season, and have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 215 of their last 217 home games (with an active streak of 58 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-Saint Joseph’s Series
Notre Dame and Saint Joseph’s will be playing for the third time–but the first in nearly 24 years–with each team having won once. Sunday’s game also will be the first between the schools at Purcell Pavilion.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Saint Joseph’s Met
Karen Robinson collected 16 points and six assists, while Margaret Nowlin added 14 points and eight rebounds as Notre Dame won the inaugural Texaco-Hawk Classic title with a 72-53 win over host Saint Joseph’s on Dec. 29, 1990, at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse in Philadelphia.
Playing without injured starting point guard/captain Sara Liebscher and one day after an emotional win over nationally-ranked Louisiana Tech, the Fighting Irish found themselves in another battle against Saint Joseph’s, trailing early and leading just 42-35 at halftime.
However, Notre Dame used a stout defensive performance in the second half to pull away from the Hawks, holding Saint Joseph’s to just 18 points and a .258 field-goal percentage after the break.
One Proud Alum
Sunday’s game will have special meaning for Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw, who is a 1977 graduate of Saint Joseph’s and was a four-year starter on the Hawks’ women’s basketball team during its first four seasons of existence, serving as co-captain her final two years including the 1976-77 SJU squad that finished 23-5, placed sixth at the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) national tournament and was ranked No. 3 in the nation in the final Associated Press poll (still the highest ranking in Saint Joseph’s women’s basketball history).
Playing under maiden name of O’Brien, McGraw averaged 7.9 points, 3.5 assists and 3.1 steals during her college career. She led Saint Joseph’s in scoring (10.8 ppg.) during its first varsity season (1973-74) and her 102 steals in 1976-77 remain among the top 10 on the school’s single-season list.
A native of West Chester, Pennsylvania, McGraw returned to her alma mater in 1980, serving as an assistant coach for two seasons under Jim Foster (now the head coach at Chattanooga) before beginning her head coaching career at Lehigh University.
In 1986, McGraw was inducted into the Saint Joseph’s University Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (1986), and in 2002, she was enshrined in the Saint Joseph’s University Athletics Hall of Fame (2002).
Other Notre Dame-Saint Joseph’s Series Tidbits
- Sunday marks the fifth time Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw will walk the sidelines against her alma mater (1-3 record). In addition to the 1990 Fighting Irish victory over the Hawks, McGraw coached Lehigh in three meetings against Saint Joseph’s during the 1984-85, 1985-86 and 1986-87 seasons, with the Hawks winning all three matchups.
- Notre Dame’s wins over No. 11 Louisiana Tech and Saint Joseph’s at the 1990 Texaco-Hawk Classic propelled the Fighting Irish into the Associated Press and USA Today coaches’ polls for the first time in program history two days later (No. 25 in both polls).
- Notre Dame sophomore forward Taya Reimer and Saint Joseph’s sophomore forward Jessica Pongonis were teammates at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Indiana, from 2009-13, highlighted by a 20-1 record and No. 1 record in Indiana’s Class 4A for much of the 2011-12 season.
Notre Dame vs. The Atlantic 10 Conference
Notre Dame is 46-13 (.780) all-time against the current members of the Atlantic 10 Conference, including a 20-6 (.769) record at home.
The Fighting Irish also have an active 11-game winning streak against that league’s present alignment. The last time Notre Dame lost to a current A-10 school was on Feb. 18, 1995, when La Salle defeated Notre Dame, 84-68, in Philadelphia, when both schools were then part of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now known as the Horizon League).
This will mark the third consecutive season the Fighting Irish have played an Atlantic 10 member. In 2012, Notre Dame opened its home schedule with a 94-50 win over UMass. Last year, the Fighting Irish defeated Duquesne, 100-61, on a neutral court in Toronto, Ontario, in a homecoming game for then senior All-America forward (and current operations specialist) Natalie Achonwa.
Notre Dame vs. The Big Five
Notre Dame is 30-18 (.625) all-time when playing teams that are members of the Big Five, an informal association of college programs in the Philadelphia metro area that was created in 1955. The majority (30) of the 48 Fighting Irish games against the Big Five have come against Villanova, who also was a member of the BIG EAST Conference along with Notre Dame from 1995-2013.
Even with its departure from the BIG EAST, Notre Dame has maintained its annual link to the Big Five (courtesy of its head coach and West Chester, Pennsylvania, native Muffet McGraw), visiting Penn last year and earning a 76-54 victory at the legendary Palestra.
The Fighting Irish are 14-4 (.778) all-time at home against Big Five schools, most recently defeating Villanova, 76-43 on Jan. 21, 2012.
Caution — Falling Bears!
Sunday’s game has been designated for the 10th annual Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Teddy Bear Toss, in which fans bring teddy bears and other stuffed animals to donate to several South Bend-area children’s charities.
At halftime, on the public address announcer’s cue, fans will be invited to toss their teddy bears onto the court at Purcell Pavilion, creating the memorable sight of stuffed animals raining down on the floor (and occasionally pelting an unsuspecting media member or game official sitting courtside).
Last year, the Notre Dame women’s basketball program collected approximately 2,000 stuffed animals through its Teddy Bear Toss.
No More Teachers, No More Books
Notre Dame has won 26 consecutive games coming off the final exam break (in 1994 and 1997, no games were played between the end of exams and Christmas). However, because of the extended layoff due to finals and associated sluggishness, the results of these post-exam break games have varied wildly, from exceptionally close to blowouts.
Recent examples of the nailbiters came in 1999 (a 68-62 win at Florida International, closing the game on an 11-5 run in the final 2:43), 2004 (a 50-47 win at Marquette on Jacqueline Batteast’s three-pointer at the horn that lifted Muffet McGraw past Digger Phelps as the winningest coach in Notre Dame basketball history) and 2011 (a 92-83 home win over No. 8/7 Kentucky, taking the lead for good on an 11-0 run after UK led 75-74 with less than five minutes to play).
However, with the exception of that 2011 thriller against Kentucky, the Fighting Irish have looked remarkably fresh in their recent post-exam games, winning the other five contests by an average of 49.8 points per game in victories over Loyola-Chicago (89-45), Charlotte (90-31), Valparaiso (94-43), Alabama A&M (100-39) and most recently, Central Michigan (106-72).
The last time Notre Dame lost a game when coming out of its final exam break was Dec. 21, 1985, when Mary DiStanislao’s Fighting Irish squad dropped a 73-67 decision to UCLA at Purcell Pavilion.
Going Out On A High Note
Notre Dame has made a habit of heading into the Christmas holiday with a victory, having won 18 consecutive pre-Yuletide games and going 28-9 (.757) all-time in such contests, most recently earning a 106-72 win over Central Michigan on Dec. 22, 2013, at Purcell Pavilion.
The last time the Fighting Irish lost their final game before Christmas was Dec. 21, 1995 (their first season in the BIG EAST Conference), when Michigan State pulled out an 87-83 overtime win in East Lansing, Michigan.
Loyd Earns espnW National/ACC Player Of The Week
After averaging 27.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game last week, junior guard Jewell Loyd was selected as the espnW National Player of the Week and, for the second week in a row, the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week. Loyd earned both honors on Monday, garnering the espnW honor from that media outlet’s panel of national women’s basketball experts, and receiving the ACC award through a vote of the conference’s Blue Ribbon Panel, which 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.
Loyd pulled off the espnW National Player of the Week/ACC Player of the Week double for the second time in her career, having previously done so on Feb. 24, 2014. The 5-foot-10 wing also has earned ACC Player of the Week accolades three times in her career and is the first two-time ACC Player of the Week this season, not to mention the first Notre Dame player to earn conference player of the week honors in consecutive weeks since Feb. 18 and 25, 2002, when Alicia Ratay pulled off that feat during BIG EAST Conference play.
Loyd is the second Fighting Irish player this season to collect multiple ACC weekly honors. Freshman forward Brianna Turner began her career in fine form, earning the first two ACC Freshman of the Week citations on Nov. 17 and 24.
One of the leading candidates for every major national player of the year honor, including the Wade Trophy, Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy, Loyd was stellar at both ends of the court last week. At DePaul on Dec. 10, she converted 12 of 28 shots and 15 of 18 free-throws on the way to matching Ruth Riley’s nearly 16-year-old school single-game scoring record of 41 points (Riley reached that mark at Providence on Jan. 30, 1999). Loyd also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds for her second double-double of the year and sank the two game-winning free-throws with 5.3 seconds left in overtime–after making two foul shots with 13.5 seconds to go in regulation–lifting Notre Dame to a 94-93 win over the Blue Demons, the third win in four tries for the Fighting Irish over a ranked opponent this season.
Loyd capped off her week on Dec. 13 with an efficient 14-point, five-rebound performance against Michigan at Purcell Pavilion. Loyd made seven of her 14 shots in the contest, which Notre Dame led from the opening tip to the final horn and by a comfortable double-digit margin for the balance of the afternoon.
For the season, Loyd leads the ACC and ranks ninth in the nation in scoring (as of Friday) at 23.2 points per game. She also is seventh in the conference with a .869 free-throw percentage and has scored at least 20 points in eight of 11 games this season.
Junior guard Jewell Loyd leads the ACC and ranks ninth 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 255 points in her first 11 games this season (23.2 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 159 points (26.5 ppg.) in her last six games, the second-most points by a Notre Dame women’s basketball player in a six-game stretch in school history (Gaither had 161 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 1,392 career points in 84 career games, putting her within reach of the 1,500-point milestone, a mark she could hit in her next seven 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 84-6 (.933) record at Purcell Pavilion since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season, and a 407-91 (.817) 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, more than tripling the next-closest pursuer (nine 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 82-4 (.953) 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 58 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 54 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 54-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 72 of her 84 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 #11 Recap: Michigan
Lindsay Allen scored a career-high 17 points and Jewell Loyd added 14 for No. 5/4 Notre Dame, which led all the way in a 70-50 win over Michigan on Dec. 13 at Purcell Pavilion.
The Fighting Irish (10-1) shot 52 percent against the Wolverines, held them to 35 percent and outscored them 48-24 in the paint.
But Notre Dame didn’t shake the Wolverines until it used a 13-4 run in the second half to open an 18-point lead. The Fighting Irish extended the lead to 68-45 on a layup by Kathryn Westbeld, who had 13 points and eight rebounds.
Cyesha Goree led Michigan (6-3) with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Beyond The Box Score: Michigan
- Michigan came into the game ranked fourth in the nation in three-point percentage (.423), but the Fighting Irish held the Wolverines to a .214 three-point percentage (three of 14).
- Notre Dame earns its second consecutive win over Michigan and fifth in the past six series meetings, improving to 11-7 all-time against the Wolverines (8-1 at Purcell Pavilion).
- The Fighting Irish also are 10-1 all-time against Michigan when holding the Wolverines to 65 points or less.
- Notre Dame evens its all-time record against the current Big Ten Conference alignment at 69-69, with a 35-24 (.593) record at home and 61-48 (.560) mark in the 28-year Muffet McGraw era.
- Notre Dame has won 24 of its last 30 games against current Big Ten schools, including an active 13-game winning streak (three victories this season).
- The Fighting Irish are 59-20 (.747) all-time against schools from the state of Michigan, with a 39-8 (.830) record in the McGraw era.
- Notre Dame has won 16 of its last 17 games against Michigan schools, dating back to the 2005-06 season.
Notre Dame is ranked No. 5 in this week’s Associated Press preseason poll, its 72nd consecutive week in the top 10 of the media balloting (68 of those in the top five), dating back to the middle of the 2010-11 season and marking 142 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 (65 consecutive weeks for the current senior class), spending the vast majority (61) 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 281 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 144 of the past 145 weeks (and 108 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 276 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 281 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 321-19 (.944) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 249 of their last 262 such contests (.950).
What’s more, in the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 158-2 (.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 299-15 (.952) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game, including a 7-0 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 258 of their last 288 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 84-6 (.933) — including wins in 60 of its last 63 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 124 of their last 134 out-of-conference home contests (.925), 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 407-91 (.817) 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: UCLA
Following the Christmas holiday, Notre Dame will head to the West Coast to take on UCLA at 4 p.m. (ET) Dec. 28 at historic Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. The game will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director