Nov. 26, 2009
2009-10 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 5
10th annual Paradise Jam — Island Division
#5/6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0 / 0-0 BIG EAST) vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (2-2 / 0-0 SEC)
DATE: November 27, 2009
TIME: 2 p.m. AT/1 p.m. ET
AT: St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. – UVI Sports & Fitness Center (3,000)
SERIES: USC leads 2-0
1ST MTG: USC 124-48 (1/31/81)
LAST MTG: USC 76-54 (2/20/82)
WEBCAST: FCS Broadband (pay-per-view)/foxcollegesports.com (Brenda VanLengen, p-b-p)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/UND.com (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: paradisejam.com
- Notre Dame has won 19 of its last 22 regular season tournament games, dating back more than 14 seasons.
- The Irish and South Carolina will be meeting for the first time in more than 27 years, the second-longest hiatus between series games in Notre Dame women’s basketball history.
#5/6 Notre Dame Continues Play At Paradise Jam Friday Against South Carolina
After a wire-to-wire victory over No. 23/24 San Diego State in its tournament opener on Thursday, No. 5/6 Notre Dame will look to build on that momentum Friday when it faces South Carolina in an Island Division matchup on day two of the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Tipoff time from the University of the Virgin Islands Sports & Fitness Center is set for 2 p.m. AT/1 p.m. ET, with the game webcast live on a pay-per-view basis by Fox College Sports Broadband (visit foxcollegesports.com or paradisejam.com for more information).
The Irish (4-0) came storming from the gate in their opener on Thursday, bolting out to a 21-point lead midway through the first half, then holding off a frantic SDSU rally for an 84-79 win. Freshman guard Skylar Diggins scored a season/career-high 21 points, while senior guard Lindsay Schrader tallied 16 points and junior guard Brittany Mallory added 15 points, including five clutch free throws in the final 43 seconds to blunt the Aztecs’ comeback.
Not only was the win the second for Notre Dame over a ranked opponent in a week’s time, but it also was the 500th win under the Golden Dome for 23rd-year head coach Muffet McGraw. She is just the fourth coach in Notre Dame athletics history (in all sports) to lead an Irish team to 500 victories.
- Notre Dame is ranked fifth in the Associated Press poll and sixth in the current ESPN/USA Today poll.
- South Carolina is not ranked.
The Notre Dame-South Carolina Series
Friday’s game will be the third all-time meeting between Notre Dame and South Carolina, but the first since a home-and-home series in 1981 and 1982 during the Division I infancy of the Irish women’s basketball program. The Gamecocks won both of those matchups in the early 80s, taking a 124-48 win at Notre Dame, as well as a 76-54 victory the following season in Columbia.
The Last Time Notre Dame and South Carolina Met
Carrie Bates scored 14 points to lead three Notre Dame players in double figures, but the Irish were done in by sloppy ball-handling as South Carolina earned a 76-54 win over Notre Dame on Feb. 20, 1982, at the Carolina Coliseum in Columbia, S.C.
The Gamecocks’ defense harassed the Irish into 37 turnovers, offsetting a Notre Dame offense that shot 49 percent from the field (24-of-49) and shaded USC on the backboard, 36-35. Theresa Mullins scored 12 points, Laura Dougherty chipped in 11 points and Mary Beth Schueth registered eight points and 13 rebounds for the Irish in defeat.
Sheila Foster was a one-woman wrecking crew, chalking up 33 points and 12 rebounds for South Carolina, which led by 14 at halftime and kept Notre Dame at arm’s length in the second half to preserve the win.
Other Notre Dame-South Carolina Series Tidbits
- While Thursday’s series renewal with San Diego State was the longest hiatus between games in program history (28 years, eight months, five days), the revival of the series with South Carolina isn’t far off the pace, ranking second all-time at 27 years, nine months and seven days between matchups.
- South Carolina holds a special place in Irish women’s basketball history, as the Gamecocks’ former home, Carolina Coliseum/Frank McGuire Arena, was the site of Notre Dame’s 1997 NCAA East Regional championship, as victories over Alabama (87-71) and George Washington (62-52) propelled the Irish to their first NCAA Women’s Final Four berth.
- Notre Dame freshman guard Skylar Diggins and South Carolina freshman center Kelsey Bone were ranked among the top three players in the country in the 2009-10 incoming rookie class, according to all the major national recruiting services.
- Diggins and Bone developed a close friendship in recent years and were teammates on several high-profile all-star and U.S. national squads, including the 2009 USA Basketball U19 World Championship Team that struck gold at the FIBA U19 Worlds in Thailand this past August. That team was coached by former Notre Dame assistant and current Northern Illinois head coach Carol Owens, while former Irish assistant and current Iowa State skipper Bill Fennelly served as one of the U19 team’s assistants.
- Diggins and Bone also played together on the East team at the 2009 McDonald’s High School All-America Game in Coral Gables, Fla. (Diggins 18 pts, Bone 10 pts in 69-68 loss), as well as on the White team at the 2009 WBCA High School All-America Game in St. Louis (Diggins 24 pts, Bone 9 pts/13 rebs in 79-77 loss).
- South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley and former Notre Dame All-America center Ruth Riley were teammates on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team that went undefeated and won the gold medal at the Athens Games.
Notre Dame vs. The Southeastern Conference
Notre Dame is 8-30 (.211) all-time against the Southeastern Conference, although it should be noted that 20 of those losses have come to one opponent (Tennessee). The Irish also are 5-7 in their last 12 meetings with SEC opponents.
Last season, Notre Dame won both of its matchups with Southeastern Conference schools, with each victory coming on the road — 62-51 at No. 24/22 LSU in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic (Nov. 16, 2008) and 59-57 at No. 20/19 Vanderbilt on Dec. 30, 2008 (the latter win coming after an 18-point second-half comeback, the largest rally to win in program history).
The 2008-09 season marked the second time ever that the Irish defeated two SEC opponents in the same season (also 2000-01 with wins over Georgia and Vanderbilt), and the first time Notre Dame had ever won twice on an SEC foe’s home floor.
Notre Dame has felt right at home in tournament situations during the past 14 years. Starting with the 1996-97 season, the Irish have won 19 of their last 22 regular-season tournament games (multi-game events only), including a four-game run to the 2004 Preseason WNIT championship.
The only Notre Dame losses during this current stretch were a pair of defeats to third-ranked teams in the Preseason WNIT semifinals (72-59 vs. Tennessee at Ruston, La., in 1996; 75-59 at Maryland in 2007) and a 67-63 overtime setback at No. 20 Colorado on Nov. 15, 2003 in the finals of the WBCA Classic — a game that saw the Buffaloes sink a desperation 30-footer at the end of regulation to force the extra session.
Four Notre Dame seniors are poised to appear in their 100th college games during this weekend’s Paradise Jam. Guard Melissa Lechlitner and center Erica Williamson reached the century mark for career games played on Thursday against San Diego State, while guards Ashley Barlow and Lindsay Schrader have seen action in 99 games thus far.
At no time in Notre Dame women’s basketball history have four players hit the 100-game mark in the same season. Current Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey holds the school record with 132 games played from 1996-2001.
McGraw Joins Elite Notre Dame Club
With Thursday’s 84-79 win over No. 23/24 San Diego State, Irish head coach Muffet McGraw reached a personal milestone, becoming the fourth coach in school history (in any sport) to register 500 victories while coaching under the Golden Dome. McGraw now has a record of 500-197 (.717) in 23 seasons at Notre Dame (1987-88 to present) and a 588-238 (.712) record in 28 seasons overall — including a five-year stint at Lehigh from 1982-87.
Fencing’s Michael DeCicco (680-45 from 1962-86) and Yves Auriol (525-33 from 1986-2002), and baseball’s Jake Kline (558-449-5 from 1934-75) are the only other members of the “Fighting Irish Five Hundred Club,” with one able to connect 75 years of Notre Dame athletics history and success via just four degrees of separation (Kline to DeCicco to Auriol to McGraw).
November To Remember
Notre Dame’s success during the past 15 years has been aided by its ability to get off to a good start. To wit — the Irish are 59-11 (.843) in November games since they joined the BIG EAST Conference in time for the 1995-96 season.
Notre Dame also owns an active 12-game winning streak that started on Nov. 20, 2007 with a 94-41 victory at Central Michigan. That win came four days after a 75-59 loss at third-ranked Maryland in the Preseason WNIT semifinals.
Diggins scored 21 points and Mallory added 15 to lead the No. 5/6 Irish to an 84-79 victory over No. 23/24 San Diego State on Thursday in the Paradise Jam.
“I thought Skylar Diggins made a couple of big 3s that got us on a run,” said McGraw, who has 588 victories overall. “Brittany Mallory was the player of the game. She came off the bench and hit a key shot late and made the free throws. She was fantastic. I was really pleased with her overall poise. She gave us a huge lift off of the bench.”
The Irish (4-0) jumped out to a 21-point lead in the first half and led 44-29 at the break. The Aztecs whittled it down to 81-79 with 29 seconds left before Mallory made three of four free throws to seal the win.
“I thought we got off to a great start,” McGraw said. “I thought our defense in the first half was excellent. The second half I was extremely disappointed in our 3-point defense. The defense in general was bad.”
Jene Morris scored 32 points to lead San Diego State (3-1), which was ranked this week for the first time in 14 years. Quenese Davis added 25 points and nine assists.
“I’m obviously disappointed in our start,” San Diego State coach Beth Burns said. “After they calmed down and saw that they just have five and we just have five, they played an even game. We’re a little bit older, so I was a little disappointed in that.”
Lindsay Schrader scored 16 points for Notre Dame.
“They spread the floor so well and their experience really shows,” Burns said of the Irish. “They capitalize on every mistake. They hit us, they smacked us hard early in the game.”
Noting The San Diego State Game
- Notre Dame earns its second win over a ranked opponent in a week, having also won at No. 21 Michigan State (68-67) back on Nov. 19.
- Notre Dame evens its series record with San Diego State at 1-1, having last faced the Aztecs on March 21, 1981 at the Northern Lights Invitational in Anchorage, Alaska (a 71-34 SDSU win); the series hiatus of 28 years, eight months and five days is the longest in Notre Dame women’s basketball history, with the two series games to date also being played on neutral courts nearly 5,000 miles apart.
- The Fighting Irish improve to 9-2 (.818) against the current Mountain West Conference alignment (also 8-2 in the Muffet McGraw era, and 6-2 at road/neutral sites).
- Notre Dame moves to 22-14 (.611) all-time against California schools, with a 20-6 (.769) mark in the 23-year McGraw era and 13-11 (.542) record at road/neutral sites.
- The Fighting Irish were playing on Thanksgiving Day for the first time in the program’s 33-year history.
- Notre Dame was playing a regular season game outside the continental United States for the first time since Dec. 1-3, 1995, when they participated in the Kona Women’s Basketball Classic in Kona, Hawai’i.
- Senior guard Melissa Lechlitner and senior center Erica Williamson both appeared in their 100th career games on Thursday, while senior guards Ashley Barlow and Lindsay Schrader both played in career game #99 against San Diego State.
- Barlow scored seven points against SDSU, giving her 1,155 career points and moving her into 19th place on the Notre Dame all-time scoring list, passing Courtney LaVere (1,150 from 2002-06).
- Junior guard Brittany Mallory scored a season-high 15 points, her best offensive output since returning from off-season ACL surgery, and her highest scoring night in almost exactly a year, when she chalked up a career-high 19 points in a home win over Georgia Southern (Nov. 25, 2008).
- Freshman guard Skylar Diggins’ season/career-high 21 points are the most for a Notre Dame rookie in a game since Feb. 26, 2007, when Barlow tossed in a (then) career-best 21 points at DePaul.
— ND —