Dec. 9, 2014
2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 10
#5/4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-1 / 0-0 ACC) vs. #25/25 DePaul Blue Demons (6-2 / 0-0 BIG EAST)
DATE: Dec. 10, 2014
TIME: 9:00 p.m. ET/8:00 p.m. CT
AT: Chicago, Ill. – McGrath-Phillips Arena (3,000)
SERIES: ND leads 20-19
1ST MTG: DPU 82-53 (1/30/79)
LAST MTG: ND 92-76 (11/26/13)
TV: Fox Sports 2 (live) (Eric Collins, p-b-p / LaChina Robinson, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
- For the second year in a row, Notre Dame is facing three consecutive ranked opponents after tackling that scenario just once in the preceding nine seasons.
- Since 1995-96, Notre Dame is 63-14 (.818) in its first game after a double-digit loss, including a current 10-game winning streak.
No. 5/4 Fighting Irish Return To Action Wednesday At No. 25 DePaul
With the lessons from its first loss of the season still fresh in its collective mind, No. 5/4 Notre Dame gets back on the hardwood at 9 p.m. ET (8 p.m. CT) Wednesday when it travels to Chicago to take on No. 25/25 DePaul at McGrath-Phillips Arena. The game will be televised live to a national cable audience on Fox Sports 2, marking the first time the Fighting Irish have ever played on that network.
Notre Dame saw its 34-game home winning streak and 60-game regular season success string end Saturday with a 76-58 loss to third-ranked Connecticut in the Jimmy V Classic at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish jumped out to a 10-point lead, then went ice-cold from the field and could never regain their momentum.
- Notre Dame is No. 5 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 4 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- DePaul is No. 25 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 25 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Notre Dame is ranked No. 5 in this week’s Associated Press poll, its 23rd consecutive week and 67th of the past 71 weeks in the AP Top 5.
- Notre Dame has appeared in the AP poll for 141 consecutive weeks (including the past 71 weeks in the AP Top 10), extending a program record that dates back to the 2007-08 preseason poll, and ranking sixth in the nation among active AP poll appearances. What’s more, every current Fighting Irish player has competed for a top-10 Notre Dame squad during her career, never ranking lower than seventh in that time (2011-12 to present).
- Notre Dame is ranked No. 4 in the latest Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll, after previously spending two weeks (Nov. 25 and Dec. 2) as the nation’s No. 1 team. It was the first time the Fighting Irish had been the top-ranked team in either major national poll since April 1, 2001, when they were No. 1in the coaches’ poll following a 68-66 win over Purdue that secured the program’s first NCAA national championship.
- Notre Dame ranks among the top 20 in 10 NCAA statistical categories (as of Monday), including seven top-10 rankings — scoring margin (2nd – +36.7 ppg.), scoring offense (3rd – 90.7 ppg.), field-goal percentage (3rd – .502), assists (4th – 20.7 apg.), assist/turnover ratio (4th – 1.54), free-throw percentage (7th – .781) and three-point percentage (10th – .400). The Fighting Irish also are 12th nationally in turnover margin (+8.33), 14th in rebounding margin (+12.5 rpg.) and 20th in steals (12.4 spg.).
- Notre Dame aims to continue its remarkable success at Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 406-91 (.817) all-time record in 38 seasons at the facility, including an 83-6 (.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 27 games, tied with Stanford (2011-12 to 2013-14) for the third-longest run in NCAA Division I history.
- Senior guards Madison Cable and Whitney Holloway, and senior forward Markisha Wright have helped Notre Dame to a 115-8 (.935) 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 43-7 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 671 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 759 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 943 as of Monday).
Other Notre Dame Notables
- Notre Dame is among the nation’s winningest programs during the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), tying for second with 175 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), most recently placing fourth in the nation last season with 8,694 fans per game. The Fighting Irish, who are averaging 8,760 fans this season, have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 214 of their last 216 home games (including an active streak of 57 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-DePaul Series
With less than 100 miles separating the two campuses, it’s no wonder Notre Dame and DePaul are among the most frequent rivals on each other’s schedules.
Wednesday will mark the 40th meeting between the Fighting Irish and Blue Demons, with Notre Dame having taken a 20-19 edge in the series on the strength of its current five-game winning streak (and victories in nine of the past 10 matchups with DePaul). However, the Blue Demons continue to hold an 11-7 series edge when the scene shifts to Chicago, although the Fighting Irish have won three of their last four games at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
The Last Time Notre Dame and DePaul Met
In her second game back after knee surgery in late October, Natalie Achonwa had 17 points and eight rebounds to help No. 5/6 Notre Dame beat No. 25 DePaul 92-76, on Nov. 26, 2013, at Purcell Pavilion.
DePaul was led by 18 points from reserve Megan Rogowski in the Blue Demons’ first game in eight days.
Notre Dame outrebounded DePaul 58-33 and held the Blue Demons to 30 percent shooting in a dominant second half.
DePaul opened the second half with turnovers on its first two possessions and Notre Dame capitalized with seven straight points to push a four-point halftime lead up to 11 in the first 1:11.
The Fighting Irish run grew to 19-5 at the 15:22 mark, with Achonwa scoring seven of those points as Notre Dame’s lead got to 18.
Three straight pull-up jumpers in the lane gave the Fighting Irish the largest lead either team had in the first half, six points, with nine minutes left before halftime.
Notre Dame shot 50 percent (19 of 38) from the field and outrebounded DePaul 30-17 in the first half, but 11 Fighting Irish turnovers and a five of 10 showing at the free-throw line helped the Blue Demons stay close, trailing 45-41 at the break.
The Last Time Notre Dame and DePaul Met In Chicago
Skylar Diggins posted her second career triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, and No. 2 Notre Dame won its 20th straight, beating DePaul 84-56 on Feb. 24, 2013, at McGrath-Phillips Arena in Chicago.
Jewell Loyd added a game-high 19 points. Kayla McBride scored 16, and the Fighting Irish cruised to another easy victory, winning by 20 or more for the fourth straight game while sending the Blue Demons to their second straight blowout loss.
Notre Dame forced 21 turnovers and held DePaul to 33.3-percent shooting.
Loyd hit eight of 15 shots, while McBride was seven of 13 from the field. Natalie Achonwa added 14 points and eight rebounds.
Brittany Hrynko scored 15 points but shot just four of 19, and the Blue Demons lost for the fourth time in six games.
Other Notre Dame-DePaul Series Tidbits
- Eight of the past 16 series games between Notre Dame and DePaul have been decided by single digits, including six of the past 12.
- Despite the long history of the Notre Dame-DePaul series (39 games since 1978-79), the aggregate point totals for the two teams are extremely close, separated by just 46 points — the Fighting Irish have scored 2,701 points (69.3 ppg.), while the Blue Demons have tallied 2,655 points (68.1 ppg.).
- In 15 of the past 20 series games, the winning team has scored at least 75 points. The only exceptions have been the second matchups in 2007-08 and 2008-09 (66-64 Notre Dame win in Chicago in 2008; 62-59 Fighting Irish win at Purcell Pavilion in 2009), as well as both games in 2010-11 (70-69 DePaul win in Chicago; 71-67 Notre Dame win in BIG EAST semifinals at Hartford) and most recently the 2012 BIG EAST quarterfinal (a 69-54 Fighting Irish victory in Hartford).
- The Fighting Irish have held DePaul to 70 points or fewer in nine of the past 10 series games after not having held DePaul to that mark only once in the previous seven series contests.
- The DePaul series is the second-most frequent in Notre Dame history, with this being the 40th game between the clubs. The only longer series in Fighting Irish annals is against Connecticut, with those two sides playing for the 43rd time last Saturday.
- DePaul’s 19 series wins are the third-most by one Fighting Irish opponent, exceeded only by Connecticut (32) and Tennessee (20).
- Notre Dame and DePaul have been members of the same conference twice, as part of both the North Star (1983-88) and BIG EAST (2005-13) conferences. Combining those two league memberships (regular season and conference tournament games), Notre Dame is 15-10 against DePaul, but when the two schools meet as non-conference opponents, the Blue Demons are 9-5 against the Fighting Irish.
- Notre Dame has had 15 players come from the state of Illinois (third-most from any state behind Indiana’s 20 and Michigan’s 17), including 14 from the Chicagoland area. Senior guard/tri-captain Whitney Holloway (Plainfield/Montini Catholic HS), junior guard Jewell Loyd (Lincolnwood/Niles West HS) and sophomore center Diamond Thompson (Wheaton/Wheaton Warrenville South HS) are the latest additions to a list that includes NCAA career three-point percentage record holder Alicia Ratay (Lake Zurich/Lake Zurich HS), two-time honorable mention All-America guard Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett/Bartlett HS) and 1,000-point scorer/2004 Purple Heart recipient Danielle Green (Chicago/Roosevelt HS).
- Both head coaches — Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw and DePaul’s Doug Bruno — have ties to the old Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL) which existed from 1978-81; McGraw was a point guard for the California Dreams in 1979 (the Orange County-based franchise’s only year of existence), while Bruno was the head coach and director of player personnel for the Chicago Hustle throughout its incarnation from 1978-80.
Notre Dame vs. The BIG EAST Conference
Even with the ever-changing landscape of college athletics, Notre Dame finds itself quite familiar with the new BIG EAST Conference lineup, which is made up of not only many of the same schools who comprised the Fighting Irish home from 1995-2013, but also a pair of schools (Butler and Xavier) with whom Notre Dame was a league member as part of the North Star and Midwestern Collegiate conferences during the 1980s and early 1990s.
The Fighting Irish are 205-54 (.792) all-time against the BIG EAST and have won 18 in a row against current BIG EAST schools since a 70-69 loss at No. 12/11 DePaul on Feb. 28, 2011.
What’s more, Notre Dame is 85-33 (.720) against present BIG EAST members on the road, with an active nine-game winning streak since the aforementioned 2011 loss at DePaul.
Loyd Named ACC Player Of The Week
Following stellar efforts against two top-10 opponents last week, Notre Dame junior guard Jewell Loyd was chosen as the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week, earning that honor Monday based on 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.
It’s the second time in Loyd’s career she has been selected as the ACC Player of the Week, having also garnered the award on Feb. 24, 2014. She is the first Notre Dame player to earn that honor this year, while rookie forward Brianna Turner collected the first two ACC Freshman of the Week citations on Nov. 17 and 24.
A prime candidate for numerous national player of the year honors, including the Wade Trophy, Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy, Loyd averaged 29.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game last week as Notre Dame posted a wire-to-wire 92-72 victory over No. 15/10 Maryland on Dec. 3 at the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Fort Wayne, Indiana, before falling to third-ranked Connecticut, 76-58 three days later in the Jimmy V Classic at Purcell Pavilion.
Loyd started her week by filling the box score with game highs of 27 points, eight rebounds and a career high-tying six assists against Maryland. She then fueled an early Fighting Irish surge against UConn, scoring 15 points in the opening 10 minutes as Notre Dame took a 10-point lead before the Huskies rallied for the win.
Loyd wound up tying her career highs with 31 points and four steals against UConn, becoming the fifth Fighting Irish player in program history with four career 30-point games, and the first to chalk up 25 points in consecutive games since Feb. 23 and 27, 2014, when Kayla McBride did so against Duke and North Carolina.
Junior guard Jewell Loyd is in the midst of one of the most explosive individual scoring runs in Notre Dame women’s basketball history.
- Loyd has scored exactly 200 points in her first nine games this season (22.2 points per game), matching the quickest run to a “double century” in program annals (Katryna Gaither scored her 200th point of the 1996-97 season in her ninth game, a win at Providence).
- Loyd is the first Fighting Irish women’s basketball player to register seven 20-point games in her first nine outings of a season, surpassing Gaither (who needed the first 10 games of 1996-97 to hit that mark).
- Loyd has scored 104 points (26.0 ppg.) in her last four games, the third-most points by a Notre Dame women’s basketball player in a four-game stretch in school history. Gaither scored 108 points in her last four contests at Notre Dame during the NCAA Championship from March 17-28, 1997 (29 in second round at Texas; 26 in Sweet 16 vs. Alabama; 25 in Elite Eight vs. George Washington; 28 in national semifinal vs. Tennessee), while Alicia Ratay scored 106 points in a four-game span from Feb. 19-March 3, 2002 (31 vs. West Virginia; 24 at Georgetown; 22 vs. Villanova; 29 vs. Syracuse).
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 an 83-6 (.933) record at Purcell Pavilion since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season, and a 406-91 (.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 27 consecutive road games (36 in a row in the regular season, and 43 of its last 48 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 27-game road winning streak is the longest active run in the nation, more than tripling the next-closest pursuer (eight by Indiana State, as of Monday), as well as tying 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 80-4 (.952) 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 Monday, Notre Dame owns the nation’s second-longest winning streak against unranked opponents (in the Associated Press poll), having earned 57 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.
Don’t Hassle The Huff(man)
Perhaps no Notre Dame player has shown greater development early this season than junior guard Hannah Huffman. The Diablo, California, native is averaging 4.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game (the latter tying for 10th in the ACC) with a .559 field goal percentage, all far surpassing her career averages entering this season (1.4 ppg., 1.6 rpg., 0.4 spg., .435 FG%).
In fact, Huffman, who averaged 7.6 minutes in 57 career games during her first two seasons, is playing more than 16 minutes per game this season and already has topped her total point production from last year (44 vs. 34 in 2013-14).
Huffman also has set career highs in virtually every single-game category, including her first career double-figure scoring game (12 points vs. Harvard on Nov. 24). She added a career-high seven rebounds against Holy Cross on Nov. 23, and had a personal-best four steals against Kansas on Nov. 30.
New Kids On The Block
Through nine games, all three members of the Notre Dame freshman class have made their presence felt, a clear indication that the future is indeed bright for the Fighting Irish.
Forward Brianna Turner earned the first two ACC Freshman of the Week awards, and currently ranks fourth nationally with an ACC-best .662 field goal percentage, as well as ranking 20th in the conference in scoring (13.4 ppg.). She also has scored in double figures five times, including a pair of 20-point games, highlighted by her 29 points in the season opener against UMass Lowell on Nov. 14 at Purcell Pavilion. It was not only the most points ever scored by a Notre Dame freshman in her debut game, but also the second-most by a Fighting Irish player in a season opener, topped only by Katryna Gaither’s 31 points at Indiana on Nov. 24, 1995.
Forward Kathryn Westbeld has chimed in with 7.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, the latter figure good for second on the team. Westbeld posted her first career double-double on Nov. 25 against Quinnipiac at Purcell Pavilion, collecting 10 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Westbeld also dropped in a career-best 15 points on Nov. 23 in a victory over Holy Cross also at Purcell Pavilion and has been Notre Dame’s leading rebounder in four games this season, averaging 7.4 rebounds in her last five outings.
Guard Mychal Johnson joins Westbeld as the top two Fighting Irish scorers off the bench, averaging 5.4 points and 1.9 assists per night. Johnson has shown diversity in her game thus far, providing solid scoring punch (career-high 17 points with five of six three-pointers on Nov. 21 against Chattanooga), playmaking ability (career-best seven assists and no turnovers against Quinnipiac) and defensive intensity (career-high four steals, also against Quinnipiac).
The Model Of Consistency
Junior guard Jewell Loyd has scored in double figures in 52 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 52-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 70 of her 82 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 #9 Recap: Connecticut
Jewell Loyd did all she could to lead Notre Dame over rival Connecticut.
Unfortunately for the Fighting Irish, the preseason All-American’s teammates did little on offense in No. 2/1 Notre Dame’s 76-58 loss to third-ranked UConn on Saturday in the Jimmy V Classic at Purcell Pavilion.
Loyd scored a career high-tying 31 points, but the other four Fighting Irish starters had just 20 points combined.
Loyd scored 15 points in the first 10 minutes as Notre Dame (8-1) jumped out to a 28-18 advantage much to the delight of the sellout crowd. Then UConn took over, scoring 16 straight during a 22-4 run to close the half.
It didn’t get much better in the second half for the Fighting Irish. Morgan Tuck scored six points during a 10-2 run to open the second half for UConn and extend the lead. Loyd tried to keep the Fighting Irish in it. She caught an acrobatic alley-oop and was fouled to get Notre Dame within 14, but the Fighting Irish couldn’t get much closer.
Beyond The Box Score: Connecticut
- Notre Dame’s 34-game home winning streak (second-longest in school history) and 60-game regular season winning streak (not including conference tournament games and like the home string, the longest active run in the nation) both ended — the last time the Fighting Irish either lost at Purcell Pavilion or in the regular season was the same game (Dec. 5, 2012 – a 73-61 setback to another third-ranked opponent, Baylor).
- This was just the eighth loss for Notre Dame in the past four seasons (the Fighting Irish are 115-8, .935, since 2011-12), and seven of those losses have come to opponents ranked fourth or higher in both major national polls (UConn four times, Baylor three times).
- The Fighting Irish led 28-18 with 10:13 left in the first half — this was the first time they lost after holding a double-digit lead for the first time since Feb. 12, 2012, when they gave up a 48-37 lead with 13:05 left against West Virginia, losing 65-63 at Purcell Pavilion.
- Notre Dame has forced 105 UConn turnovers in the Huskies’ last four visits to South Bend (averaging 26 takeaways per game in that span).
- Loyd tied her career high with 31 points, having first scored that many at Maryland on Jan. 27, 2014.
- This was Loyd’s fourth career 30-point game, tying her for fourth in Notre Dame history and making her just the fifth Fighting Irish women’s basketball player with four career 30-point nights.
- Loyd is the first Notre Dame player with consecutive 25-point games since Feb. 23, and 27, 2014, when Kayla McBride did so against Duke (31) and North Carolina (28).
- Loyd also tied her career best with four steals, a mark she had set three times previously (the last at Duke on Feb. 2, 2014).
- Loyd scored in double figures for the 52nd consecutive game, still the second-longest run of its kind in program history.
- Notre Dame drew its first sellout crowd of the season (9,149), as well as its 36th since 2009-10 and the 42nd in program history.
Notre Dame is ranked No. 5 in this week’s Associated Press preseason poll, its 71st consecutive week in the top 10 of the media balloting (67 of those in the top five), dating back to the middle of the 2010-11 season and marking 141 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 (64 consecutive weeks for the current senior class), spending the vast majority (60) 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 280 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, following two weeks 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 143 of the past 144 weeks (and 107 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 275 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 280 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 319-19 (.944) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 247 of their last 260 such contests (.950).
What’s more, in the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 156-2 (.987) 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 298-15 (.952) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game, including a 6-0 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 221-6 (.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 98-2 (.980) when topping the 80-point mark, including an active 65-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 257 of their last 287 games (.895), 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 83-6 (.933) — including wins in 59 of its last 62 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 123 of their last 133 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 406-91 (.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: Michigan
Notre Dame returns home at 1 p.m. (ET) Saturday as the Fighting Irish take on Michigan at Purcell Pavilion. It will be Notre Dame’s third game against a Big Ten Conference opponent this season, with the contest to be streamed live and free of charge on the official Fighting Irish athletics multimedia platform, WatchND.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director