Notre Dame freshman forward Kathryn Westbeld is averaging 9.0 points and shooting 54.5 percent from the field in her last four games.

#6/5 Irish Open ACC Road Swing Saturday At Clemson

Jan. 23, 2015

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2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 21

#6/5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (18-2 / 5-1 ACC) vs. Clemson Tigers (9-10 / 1-5 ACC)

DATE: Jan. 24, 2015
TIME: 5:00 p.m. ET
AT: Clemson, S.C. – Littlejohn Coliseum (10,000)
SERIES: ND leads 1-0
LAST MTG: ND 71-51 (1/5/14)
TV: (live)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TWITTER: @NDsidMasters/@ndwbb
TICKETS: (800) 253-6766;


  • Notre Dame makes its first-ever visit to Clemson on Saturday afternoon.
  • Since 2008-09, the Fighting Irish are 50-10 (.833) when playing on one day’s rest or less, including a 5-0 record this year.

No. 6/5 Fighting Irish Open ACC Road Swing Saturday At Clemson
The challenges of the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule don’t stop for No. 6/5 Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish quickly shift back into life on the road with a two-game conference swing, beginning at 5 p.m. (ET) Saturday when they travel to Clemson, South Carolina, to take on Clemson at Littlejohn Coliseum. The game will be streamed live on the Clemson athletics web site (, while live radio coverage is available in South Bend on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) and worldwide online through the free Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND.

Notre Dame (18-2, 5-1) is coming off a wire-to-wire 89-76 win over Georgia Tech on Thursday night at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish led by double digits much of the evening, opening up an 18-point margin in the first half and shooting 56.5 percent for the contest.

Junior guard Jewell Loyd led Notre Dame with game highs of 29 points and seven assists, the latter also tying her career best. Sophomore forward Taya Reimer added 19 points and a game-high eight rebounds, while freshman forward Brianna Turner chipped in 14 points.


  • Notre Dame is No. 6 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 5 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
  • Clemson is not ranked.

Quick Hitters

  • Notre Dame is ranked No. 6 in this week’s Associated Press poll, its 77th consecutive week in the AP Top 10.
  • Notre Dame has appeared in the AP poll for 147 consecutive weeks, extending a program record that dates back to the 2007-08 preseason poll, and ranking sixth in the nation among active AP poll appearances. What’s more, every current Fighting Irish player has competed for a top-10 Notre Dame squad during her career, never ranking lower than seventh in that time (2011-12 to present).
  • Notre Dame is ranked No. 5 in this week’s Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll, after previously spending two weeks (Nov. 25 and Dec. 2) as the nation’s No. 1 team. It was the first time the Fighting Irish had been the top-ranked team in either major national poll since April 1, 2001, when they were No. 1 in the coaches’ poll following a 68-66 win over Purdue that secured the program’s first NCAA national championship.
  • Notre Dame ranks among the top 25 in eight NCAA statistical categories (as of Friday), including four top-10 rankings — field-goal percentage (2nd – .503), scoring offense (3rd – 85.9 ppg.), assists (6th – 19.1 apg.) and scoring margin (7th – +23.1 ppg.). The Fighting Irish also rank 14th in both three-point percentage (.381) and free-throw percentage (.761), 17th in assist/turnover ratio (1.27), and 24th in rebounding margin (+8.3 rpg.), plus ninth in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.900).
  • Notre Dame aims to continue its remarkable success at Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 412-91 (.819) all-time record in 38 seasons at the facility, including a 89-6 (.937) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
  • The Fighting Irish tied the NCAA Division I record for the longest road winning streak (30 games) before the run ended Jan. 8 with a 78-63 loss at Miami.
  • Senior guards Madison Cable and Whitney Holloway, and senior forward Markisha Wright have helped Notre Dame to a 125-9 (.933) record in their careers, putting them on pace to challenge last year’s senior class of Natalie Achonwa, Ariel Braker and Kayla McBride, who helped Notre Dame to 138 wins during their four seasons.
  • Since arriving at Notre Dame in 2011-12, Cable, Holloway and Wright have paced Notre Dame to two NCAA national championship games and three NCAA Women’s Final Fours (plus three conference regular-season titles and two league tournament crowns), as well as a 47-7 record against ranked teams (19-7 against AP Top 10).
  • Of the nine losses suffered by the current Fighting Irish senior class, four were decided by 13 points or less.
  • With 681 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 769 career wins, McGraw ranks 10th in NCAA Division I coaching history. She also is one of two active ACC coaches in the top 10 along with North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell (second with 952 as of 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 185 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 8,859 fans per game at home this season, and have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 220 of their last 222 home games (with an active streak of 63 consecutive contests with 8,000 fans), logging 45 Purcell Pavilion sellouts, including 39 since the start of the 2009-10 campaign and four this season.
  • The Fighting Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as 12 Notre Dame players have been selected in the past 14 seasons. Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa were the most recent Fighting Irish players to be chosen, with McBride going to the San Antonio Stars in the first round (third overall selection) and Achonwa six picks later (No. 9 overall) to the Indiana Fever in the 2014 WNBA Draft. It marked the third consecutive year Notre Dame had a player selected No. 3 overall (Devereaux Peters went third to Minnesota in 2012 and Skylar Diggins was chosen in that same spot by Tulsa in 2013), making the Fighting Irish the second program with lottery choices in three consecutive seasons.
  • Diggins was a 2014 All-WNBA First Team selection and the league’s Most Improved Player, in addition to earning the starting nod for the West at the 2014 WNBA All-Star Game. Meanwhile, McBride was chosen for the 2014 WNBA All-Rookie Team, the second Fighting Irish alumna in as many years to be selected for the squad (Diggins was picked for 2013 all-rookie honors).
  • Peters earned her first WNBA Championship in 2013 with the Lynx (and fifth by a Notre Dame alumna), who defeated the Atlanta Dream (and former Fighting Irish All-American Ruth Riley) in the WNBA Finals. Riley previously had won a pair of crowns with the Detroit Shock (2003 Finals MVP, 2006), while Coquese Washington toiled for the 2000 Houston Comets and Jacqueline Batteast was Riley’s teammate on the 2006 title-winning squad in Detroit.
  • For the eighth year in a row, the Fighting Irish posted a perfect 100 Graduation Success Rate (GSR) score, according to figures released by the NCAA in October. Notre Dame was one of only four schools in the previous seven years to record a perfect GSR score and play for a national championship in the same season (and the only program to do it more than once, pulling off that feat in 2011, 2012 and 2014).

The Notre Dame-Clemson Series
Notre Dame and Clemson will play for just the second time on Saturday afternoon, with last year’s ACC opener marking the first time the Fighting Irish and Tigers had met in the sport of women’s basketball.

The Last Time Notre Dame and Clemson Met
When the shots weren’t falling in the first half, Jewell Loyd and No. 2 Notre Dame picked it up on the defensive end.

Up by just four points at halftime on Clemson, the Fighting Irish used a 17-4 run out of the break to take control in their ACC debut, a 71-51 win over the visiting Tigers on Jan. 5, 2014, at Purcell Pavilion.

Clemson hit just one of its first eight shots in the second half, and Loyd had a three-point play and a three-pointer during the decisive Fighting Irish run.

After shooting just 28 percent in the first half, Notre Dame shot it at a 63-percent clip in the second half, led by Loyd, who scored 12 of her game-high 16 points after the break.

Natalie Achonwa had 15 points and 13 rebounds and Kayla McBride also had a game-high 16 points for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame also finished with 42 points in the paint.

Kelly Gramlich led Clemson with 13 points, making three of her five three-point attempts.

Nikki Dixon averaged 19.7 points in Clemson’s three games prior to the Notre Dame contest, but she picked up her fourth foul against the Fighting Irish on a Loyd offensive putback early in the second half and sat for nearly eight minutes. Dixon then fouled out with 5:36 to play and finished with just five points.

That fifth foul led to a McBride three-point play that pushed Notre Dame’s lead to 16 points as the hosts continued to pull away.

Other Notre Dame-Clemson Series Tidbits

  • Clemson’s Littlejohn Coliseum is the last ACC arena Notre Dame has yet to visit. The Fighting Irish played in Miami’s new arena, the BankUnited Center on Jan. 8 (UM formerly played at the on-campus Knight Sports Complex) and made their first-ever trip to North Carolina’s Carmichael Arena back on Jan. 15, following first-time visits last season to Florida State, North Carolina State, Virginia and Wake Forest. Notre Dame also will play at Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion (formerly Alexander Memorial Coliseum) for the first time since 1996 when the Fighting Irish travel to Atlanta on Feb. 19.
  • Notre Dame has played a team from South Carolina only four times in program history, posting a 2-2 record against the Palmetto State (in addition to last year’s win over Clemson, the Fighting Irish are 1-2 all-time against South Carolina).
  • Notre Dame is making its first visit to the state of South Carolina since the 2012-13 season opener, when the Fighting Irish posted a 57-51 win over No. 19/21 Ohio State in the Carrier Classic, played outdoors on the deck of the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
  • The state of South Carolina played host to one of the first marquee moments in Notre Dame women’s basketball history, as the Fighting Irish advanced to the first of their six NCAA Women’s Final Fours in 1997 by defeating No. 8/7 Alabama (87-71) and No. 22/16 George Washington (62-52) in the NCAA East Regional at the Carolina Coliseum in Columbia.
  • Notre Dame has never had a South Carolina native on its roster, one of only 13 states in the Union that have yet to produce a Fighting Irish women’s basketball player since the program achieved varsity status in 1977-78. The others on this short list are: Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Vermont.
  • Clemson assistant athletics director for football communications Tim Bourret is a “Double Domer,” having earned his undergraduate degree in business administration from Notre Dame in 1977, followed by his master’s degree in communication arts from the University in 1978. He also worked as an undergraduate and graduate assistant in Notre Dame’s sports information (now athletic media relations) office under legendary Hall of Famer Roger Valdiserri and later co-authored two books with former Fighting Irish men’s basketball coach Digger Phelps, including “Tales From The Notre Dame Hardwood,” which was released in September 2004.

Turner Earns Trio Of Weekly Honors
One day after sweeping Atlantic Coast Conference Player and Freshman of the Week honors, Notre Dame freshman forward Brianna Turner earned an even bigger prize with her second selection as the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Week on Tuesday. Thanks to her conference honors, Turner automatically was placed under consideration for the USBWA national weekly award, which was chosen by Mel Greenberg, the USBWA coordinator for women’s basketball, from among a list of NCAA Division I conference freshman-of-the-week selections.

Turner, who also was chosen for the USBWA National Freshman of the Week award on Dec. 29, is the first Notre Dame women’s basketball player ever to earn that honor, let alone do so twice. Two Fighting Irish players have earned the organization’s year-end National Freshman of the Year award — Jacqueline Batteast (2002) and current junior guard Jewell Loyd (2013).

On Monday, Turner became the first player in the 38-year history of the Notre Dame women’s basketball program to sweep both the conference player and freshman of the week awards in the same week in any of the four leagues the Fighting Irish have competed in — North Star, Midwestern Collegiate/Horizon League, BIG EAST and Atlantic Coast.

Turner also garnered her fifth ACC Freshman of the Week award on Monday, becoming just the third player in program history to earn five weekly conference freshman honors in one season — Batteast was a six-time BIG EAST Freshman of the Week in 2001-02, following in the footsteps of Alicia Ratay, who did likewise in 1999-2000.

According to STATS, Turner became the second NCAA Division I player in 16 seasons to register 29 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocked shots in a game when she posted those career-high totals on Jan. 15 in Notre Dame’s 89-79 win at No. 12/10 North Carolina. The only other Division I player to reach those marks since STATS began tracking women’s basketball statistics was Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris, who had 30 points, 20 rebounds and seven blocks on March 11, 2008, in a 70-64 overtime loss to Missouri in the first round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri.

Turner picked up her fourth double-double and fifth 20-point outing of her rookie season at North Carolina. She also logged the most rebounds by a Notre Dame player since March 10, 2013, when Natalie Achonwa had 20 rebounds against South Florida in the BIG EAST Tournament quarterfinals at Hartford, Connecticut.

As of Friday, Turner leads the nation with a .686 field-goal percentage this season. She also is tied for second in the ACC and ranks 21st nationally in blocked shots (2.9 bpg.), while placing eighth in the conference in scoring (15.8 ppg.) and 11th in rebounding (7.2 rpg.).

Conference Conquests
Notre Dame’s 78-63 loss at Miami on Jan. 8 ended a school-record 38 consecutive regular season conference games, dating back to the end of its BIG EAST Conference membership and through the first two seasons of its affiliation with the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Prior to the Miami loss, the Fighting Irish last dropped a conference regular season game on Feb. 12, 2012, falling 65-63 to then-BIG EAST foe West Virginia at Purcell Pavilion (on two free throws by WVU’s Brooke Hampton with 4.6 seconds left).

Notre Dame’s recent streak erased the prior school-record 33-game run from Feb. 25, 1989-Feb. 14, 1991 — that streak took place during the program’s dominant seven-year tenure as part of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now known as the Horizon League).

Despite the loss at Miami, and when factoring in postseason tournament results (league and NCAA), the Fighting Irish have won 51 of their last 54 games against conference opponents (and 21 in a row at home). Notre Dame’s other two losses to a league foe in the past three seasons both came at the hands of Connecticut in the 2012 BIG EAST Championship title game (63-54 in Hartford, Connecticut) and the 2013 NCAA Women’s Final Four national semifinals (83-65 in New Orleans, Louisiana).

Road Warriors
With Notre Dame’s 78-63 loss at Miami on Jan. 8, the Fighting Irish saw their NCAA Division I record-tying 30-game road winning streak snapped. It was an amazing string of success in hostile territory, a streak that lasted exactly three years (Jan. 4, 2012-Jan. 4, 2015) and ended with the Fighting Irish tied with Connecticut for the NCAA Division I all-time mark in that category.

Prior to the setback at Miami, the Fighting Irish last tasted defeat on the road on March 6, 2012, falling at No. 4 Connecticut, 63-54 in the BIG EAST Conference Championship final at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.

In addition, the Miami loss was the first for the Fighting Irish in a regular season road game since Nov. 20, 2011, a 94-81 defeat at No. 1 Baylor in the Preseason WNIT championship game.

Notre Dame also had its streak of a school-record 25 consecutive conference road wins snapped at Miami, with the last Fighting Irish road loss in league play coming as part of the BIG EAST Conference on Feb. 28, 2011 (a last-second 70-69 loss at No. 12/11 DePaul).

The highlight of Notre Dame’s remarkable recent road run came on Jan. 5, 2013, when Notre Dame edged No. 1 Connecticut, 73-72, in Storrs, Connecticut, earning its fourth all-time win over a top-ranked opponent and first-ever victory on the road.

Even with the Jan. 8 loss at Miami, Notre Dame still has won 40 of its last 41 (and 47 of its last 53) regular season road games.

More Streak Stats
Dating back to the start of the 2012-13 season, Notre Dame has posted a 90-5 (.947) record. In that three-year span, four of the five Fighting Irish losses have come against top-three teams — No. 3 Baylor (73-61 on Dec. 5, 2012, at Purcell Pavilion), No. 3 Connecticut (83-65 on April 7, 2013, in the NCAA Women’s Final Four national semifinals at New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana), No. 1 Connecticut (79-58 on April 8, 2014, in the NCAA Women’s Final Four national championship game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee) and No. 3 Connecticut (76-58 on Dec. 6, 2014, in the Jimmy V Classic at Purcell Pavilion).

The other loss came Jan. 8 with a 78-63 setback at Miami. That defeat ended Notre Dame’s 61-game winning streak against unranked opponents (in the Associated Press poll), the second-longest active run in the nation. The Fighting Irish last fell to an unranked team on Feb. 12, 2012, suffering a last-second 65-63 home loss to West Virginia (research for this note provided by STATS via the AP).

Poise Under Pressure
Notre Dame hasn’t had to deal with many close games in recent seasons, but when faced with such a challenge, the Fighting Irish have risen to the occasion.

Notre Dame has won its last 15 games decided by single digits and/or in overtime, including all three close games this season. The Fighting Irish last dropped a single-digit decision on March 6, 2012, falling 63-54 at No. 4 Connecticut in the BIG EAST Conference Tournament championship game at Hartford, Connecticut.

Don’t Call It A Comeback
Twice in less than two weeks earlier this season, Notre Dame has rallied from a double-digit deficit to earn a victory.

On Jan. 2, the Fighting Irish trailed Florida State, 20-8 with 7:41 left in the first half before charging back to win, 74-68 at Purcell Pavilion.

On Jan. 15, Notre Dame fell behind at No. 12/10 North Carolina, 34-23 with 5:28 to go in the first half, but the Fighting Irish rallied to register an 89-79 victory in Chapel Hill.

Even in its second loss of the season on Jan. 8 at Miami, Notre Dame showed remarkable character, erasing nearly all of a 22-point second-half deficit (45-23 with 17:00 to play) and getting within 55-49 with eight minutes left before UM held on for the win.

Visiting Century City
Notre Dame has scored at least 100 points four times this season (and posted 97 points in another), already challenging last year’s school-record mark of five triple-digit outings, erasing the 2012-13 standard of three such contests.

The Fighting Irish have piled up 12 100-point games since the start of the 2011-12 season (and nine other games of 95-99 points), a remarkable offensive explosion considering Notre Dame had 13 triple-digit games in the first 34 years of the program’s existence–and just four in the 12 seasons prior to its current run.

This season marked the first time the Fighting Irish opened with three 100-point games in their first six contests. In fact, prior to 2012-13, Notre Dame had never had more than two triple-digit outings in an entire season, something it has now done for a third consecutive campaign.

Crown Jewell
Junior guard Jewell Loyd leads the ACC and ranks 13th in the nation in scoring (as of Friday), thanks in part to one of the most explosive individual scoring seasons in Notre Dame women’s basketball history.

  • Loyd has scored 437 points in her first 20 games this season (21.9 points per game), matching the quickest run to a “quad century” in program annals (like Loyd, Katryna Gaither scored her 400th point in her 19th game during the 1996-97 season, a 65-49 win at home over Pittsburgh on Jan. 18, 1997).
  • Loyd is the first Fighting Irish women’s basketball player to register eight 20-point games in her first 10 outings of a season, surpassing Gaither (who had seven 20-point games in first 10 contests of 1996-97).
  • Loyd currently leads the ACC with 13 20-point games this season, and she has 28 career 20-point games, good for eighth in Fighting Irish history.
  • Loyd is the first Notre Dame women’s basketball player to register back-to-back 30-point games and for good measure, she did it against a pair of ranked opponents in No. 3 UConn (31 points) and No. 25 DePaul (school record-tying 41 points). Current Fighting Irish associate coach Beth (Morgan) Cunningham had two 30-point games in three days on Dec. 1 and 3, 1995, in close losses to No. 12/13 Penn State (32) and No. RV/22 Texas A&M (34) at the Kona Women’s Basketball Classic in Kona, Hawaii, although there was a game between those two (Cunningham scored 23 points in a win over Washington).
  • For the second consecutive year, Loyd has tied the program record with three 30-point games in one season, most recently dropping in 34 points against No. 5/6 Tennessee on Jan. 19 at Purcell Pavilion. It was the third-highest single-game point total by a Notre Dame player in arena history, and most since Feb. 22, 2000, when Ruth Riley scored 36 points against Miami.
  • Loyd’s six career 30-point games tie the school record set by Gaither from 1993-97.
  • Loyd is 10th in school history with 1,574 career points, moving into the top 10 on Jan. 22 with her 29-point effort against Georgia Tech at Purcell Pavilion. Loyd needs to 16 points to jump two rungs on the Notre Dame career scoring list, with Trena Keys (1,589 points from 1982-86) and Karen Robinson (1,590 points from 1987-91) on the horizon.
  • Loyd scored her 1,500th career point in her 90th career game on Jan. 11, 2015, vs. Boston College at Purcell Pavilion. Loyd is the second-quickest player to score to 1,500 points in program history, trailing only Cunningham, who scored her 1,500th point at Notre Dame in her 80th career game on Feb. 21, 1996, at home against Miami.

The Model Of Consistency
Junior guard Jewell Loyd scored eight points in Notre Dame’s 89-79 win at No. 12/10 North Carolina on Jan. 15, ending Loyd’s streak of scoring in double figures at 60 consecutive games. This remarkable run dated back to March 11, 2013, when she had eight points in Notre Dame’s 83-59 BIG EAST Championship semifinal win over No. 16/15 Louisville at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.

Loyd’s 60-game double-digit scoring streak was the second-longest in school history, topped only by Katryna Gaither’s 76-game string from 1994-97.

In less than three seasons at Notre Dame, Loyd has scored in double figures in 80 of her 93 career games — and 11 of those 13 single-digit games saw her within one basket of double figures.

Turner Throwing A Block Party
Freshman forward Brianna Turner has recorded 39 blocked shots in her last nine games (4.3 bpg.), all since returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined her for the better part of the four previous games.

Following her return on Dec. 21 against Saint Joseph’s (Pa.), the Pearland, Texas, native has logged at least five blocks in six games, including a career-high seven rejections at No. 21/22 Syracuse on Jan. 4 and at No. 12/10 North Carolina on Jan. 15.

Turner’s 22 blocks from Dec. 21-Jan. 4 were the most by a Notre Dame player in a four-game span since Nov. 21-Dec. 2, 1998, when Ruth Riley had 22 blocks against No. 6/4 Duke, No. 25/23 Illinois, San Francisco and Toledo.

As of Friday, Turner is tied for second in the ACC and ranks 21st in the nation at 2.9 blocks per game, while her 50 total blocks already rank fourth in school history among Fighting Irish freshmen (current Notre Dame sophomore forward Taya Reimer logged 52 blocks last year, third-most in program annals).

In A Class By Themselves
For the fourth consecutive season, a Notre Dame senior class is threatening to set the bar in terms of career wins by one group. The current class of tri-captains Whitney Holloway and Markisha Wright, along with Madison Cable, stands third all-time with 125 wins (125-9, .933), trailing only the seniors from 2012-13 and 2013-14.

Last year, Notre Dame’s three-player senior class of Natalie Achonwa, Ariel Braker and Kayla McBride posted the best four-year record (138-15, .902) in school history, topping the win total (130) compiled by the previous year’s seniors (Skylar Diggins and Kaila Turner).

The year before Diggins and Turner departed, Notre Dame’s Class of 2012 (Brittany Mallory, Fraderica Miller, Natalie Novosel and Devereaux Peters) rang up 117 wins to set the early benchmark in this current era of Fighting Irish women’s basketball success.

Prior to the 2011-12 season, the highest four-year win total by a senior class was 109, set by the Class of 2001 that capped their careers with the program’s first NCAA national championship and included (among others) consensus national player of the year and 13-year WNBA veteran Ruth Riley, as well as current Fighting Irish assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Niele Ivey.

Game #20 Recap: Georgia Tech
No. 6/5 Notre Dame led wire-to-wire, going up by as many as 18 points in the first half on the way to defeating Georgia Tech, 89-76 Thursday night at Purcell Pavilion.

Jewell Loyd put up 29 points and Taya Reimer added 19 points and eight rebounds for the Fighting Irish, who won their fourth consecutive game.

The Yellow Jackets (12-8, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) shot 50 percent. The only other team to shoot at least 50 percent against the Irish was Miami, which who 53 percent in a 78-63 loss by Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish (18-2, 5-1) had a 12-3 advantage in rebounding early in the game, but finished with just a 34-30 edge. The hosts also enjoyed a 54-40 margin on points in the paint.

Notre Dame used a 10-0 run midway through the first half to open a 32-14 lead and appeared to be on the verge of breaking the game open. However, Katarina Vuckovic banked in a three-pointer for Georgia Tech as the shot clock expired at the 9:08 mark, igniting a 22-8 spurt during the next five minutes and the Fighting Irish lead was down to 48-41 at halftime.

Notre Dame led by double digits virtually the entire second half, but didn’t shake the Yellow Jackets until layups by Lindsay Allen and Reimer and a pair of free throws by Loyd with 5:33 remaining gave the Fighting Irish a 17-point lead.

Notre Dame had a 14-0 advantage in fastbreak points and Brianna Turner added 14 points for the Fighting Irish, who shot 56.5 percent from the floor.

Kaela Davis led the Yellow Jackets with 24 points. Aaliyah Whiteside scored 16 points, Vuckovic had 12 and Zaire O’Neil added 10.

Beyond The Box Score: Georgia Tech

  • Notre Dame led wire-to-wire for the second consecutive game.
  • The Fighting Irish improved to 3-0 all-time in the abbreviated series with Georgia Tech.
  • Notre Dame is 7-2 all-time (4-1 at home) against teams from the state of Georgia, and has won its last seven games against the Peach State.
  • The Fighting Irish shot better than 50 percent from the field for the ninth time in 10 games, and topped 55 percent shooting for the second consecutive game, the second time this year they have posted back-to-back 55 percent nights (three in a row from Nov. 25-Dec. 3 vs. Quinnipiac, Kansas and No. 15/10 Maryland).
  • Notre Dame shot better than 55 percent in both halves for the first time since that Dec. 3 win over Maryland.
  • Notre Dame has won 51 of its last 54 conference regular season games overall and 21 consecutive home conference games.
  • Loyd moved into the top 10 on the Fighting Irish career scoring list with 1,574 points, passing current operations specialist/former teammate and All-America forward Natalie Achonwa (1,546 points from 2010-14), Charel Allen (1,566 points from 2004-08) and another former All-American named Natalie, Natalie Novosel (1,569 points from 2008-12).
  • This marked the third time this season Loyd has scored at least 25 points in consecutive games.
  • This was Loyd’s 13th 20-point game of the season and 28th of her career, the latter good for eighth place in program history.
  • Loyd tied her career high with seven assists, having previously dished out seven assists at UCLA on Dec. 28.
  • Loyd’s nine of nine performance at the free-throw line was the best foul shooting game of her career, one better than her eight of eight day on March 8, 2014, against No. 14/17 North Carolina State in the ACC Tournament semifinals at Greensboro, North Carolina.
  • Reimer’s 19 points were two shy of her career set on Dec. 3 against No. 15/10 Maryland and represented her ninth double-figure scoring game of the season.
  • Allen delivered at least five assists for the seventh consecutive game.
  • The Fighting Irish senior class of Madison Cable, Whitney Holloway and Markisha Wright earned its 125th win at Notre Dame, the program’s third consecutive group of seniors to help the Fighting Irish win at least 125 games in their four-year careers.

Polling Station
Notre Dame is ranked No. 6 in this week’s Associated Press preseason poll, its 77th consecutive week in the top 10 of the media balloting (71 of those in the top five), dating back to the middle of the 2010-11 season and marking 147 consecutive weeks in the AP poll.

The Fighting Irish reached a milestone on Nov. 26, 2012, with their 100th consecutive AP poll appearance. It extended the program record that started with the AP preseason poll in 2007-08 (the old record was 59 consecutive weeks from 1998-2001), and it made the Fighting Irish one of seven teams in the nation with an active streak of 100 consecutive AP poll appearances.

What’s more, every current Notre Dame player has competed for a top-10 Fighting Irish squad throughout her career (70 consecutive weeks for the current senior class), spending the vast majority (64) 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 286 weeks during the program’s 38-year history, with every one of those appearances coming in the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88). McGraw is eighth among all active NCAA Division I head coaches for weeks in the AP poll, and 16th all-time in that category.

Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish are No. 5 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today coaches’ poll, after spending two weeks earlier this season as the nation’s No. 1 team (Nov. 25 and Dec. 2). It was the first time Notre Dame stood atop the rankings since April 1, 2001, following the program’s first NCAA national championship. The Fighting Irish were the first ACC team to be ranked No. 1 in either major national poll since March 12, 2007, when Duke was in that position prior to the NCAA Championship.

Notre Dame has been ranked in the coaches’ poll for 149 of the past 150 weeks (and 113 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 281 weeks during their history (all coming during McGraw’s tenure).

This marks the seventh consecutive season Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 10 of the WBCA/USA Today poll, as well as 13 of the past 17 campaigns (1998-99 to present).

More Polling Data
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is one of 33 people in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history who have both played for and coached a team that has appeared in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Besides her 286 AP poll appearances while coaching at Notre Dame, McGraw was the starting point guard at Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) as a senior in 1977, helping the Hawks to No. 3 in the nation.

Of the 33 people on this list, 18 currently are NCAA Division I head coaches (see accompanying chart), with McGraw and Baylor’s Kim Mulkey the only active skippers to play for and coach a team in the AP poll, and coach that team to a national title (McGraw in 2001, Mulkey in 2005 and 2012).

Half And Half
During the past 15 seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Fighting Irish are 328-19 (.945) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 256 of their last 269 such contests (.952).

What’s more, in the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 165-2 (.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 301-15 (.953) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game, including a 9-0 record this season.

…But Sometimes You Have To Score If You Want To Win
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. During the past 20 seasons (since 1995-96), the Fighting Irish are 228-6 (.974) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are three overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and UCLA (86-83 in double OT) in 2010, as well as a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998, an 81-80 loss to DePaul in 2008, and a 94-81 setback at Baylor in 2011.

In the past six years (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 105-2 (.981) when topping the 80-point mark, including an active 72-game winning streak since a 94-81 loss at No. 1 Baylor on Nov. 20, 2011, in the Preseason WNIT title game.

Now That’s A Home Court Advantage
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame’s success has been its stellar play at home. In fact, the Fighting Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 263 of their last 293 games (.898), all but one game/win at the 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion, including winning streaks of 51, 34, 25 and 20 games in that span.

Since Purcell Pavilion was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season, Notre Dame is 89-6 (.937) — including wins in 65 of its last 68 games — and three of the six Fighting Irish losses in their refurbished facility have come by three points or fewer (two in overtime).

Notre Dame also has a 207-30 (.873) record in regular season conference play at the former Joyce Center, sporting a program-record 31-game league winning streak at home before it ended with a 48-45 loss to BIG EAST foe Villanova in the ’02 home finale.

The Fighting Irish have been especially strong when it comes to non-league home games, winning 126 of their last 136 out-of-conference home contests (.926), dating back to the 1994-95 season. Five of the 10 losses in that span came at the hands of Big Ten opponents (four by 12 points or less) — Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54), Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT), Indiana in 2006 (54-51) and Minnesota in 2009 (79-71) — with the other defeats coming to Tennessee in 2005 (62-51) and 2008 (87-63), UCLA in 2010 (86-83 in 2OT), Baylor in 2012 (73-61) and Connecticut in 2014 (76-58). The Purdue loss snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak that began after the UW setback.

Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all but one of its games at the former Joyce Center, posting a 412-91 (.819) record at the venerable facility, including a school-record 17 wins in both 2011-12 and 2013-14.

Fighting Irish Are Hottest Ticket In Town
The past five seasons have seen an unprecedented surge in fan support for Notre Dame women’s basketball, as the Fighting Irish set new program records for the highest year-end NCAA attendance ranking (fourth in 2009-10 and 2013-14), highest average attendance (8,979 fans per game in 2012-13) and most sellouts in a single season (11 in 2012-13). And, as the old saying goes — “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

For the sixth consecutive year, Notre Dame fans all but exhausted the program’s season ticket packages (approximately 7,500) and have snapped up single-game ducats at a rate that helped the Fighting Irish post four sellouts (Dec. 6 vs. Connecticut; Jan. 2 vs. Florida State; Jan. 11 vs. Boston College; Jan. 19 vs. Tennessee), while several other home games are rapidly approaching sellout status.

As of Friday, Notre Dame ranks fourth in the nation in attendance, averaging 8,859 fans per game. That equates to 96.83 percent of Purcell Pavilion’s capacity, the highest such percentage of any team in the country (DePaul is second at 96.48 percent).

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.

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).

Achonwa, Fighting Irish Lend A Hand To Help Ailing Staffer
Although it’s been nearly a year since Natalie Achonwa last put on the Notre Dame uniform, the 2014 graduate continues to selflessly give back to her alma mater.

Achonwa is in her first year as an operations specialist on the Fighting Irish coaching staff, having assumed that post last June. A first-round selection by the Indiana Fever in the 2014 WNBA Draft, Achonwa currently lives in South Bend and commutes regularly to Indianapolis while continuing rehabilitation of her left knee following surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament last spring (the injury occurred in Notre Dame’s NCAA Elite Eight win over Baylor on March 31, 2014, at Purcell Pavilion).

In her current role, Achonwa oversees the program’s travel plans, social media outlets and other day-to-day office operations, helping to fill the void left by fellow operations specialist Katie Schwab, who remains hospitalized following complications related to her Type I diabetes.

The Notre Dame women’s basketball program and several of Schwab’s supporters within and outside the University have banded together to hold several fundraisers to help defray some of Schwab’s medical expenses. The most notable of these fundraisers came in August, when the group (known informally as “Team Katie”) generated approximately $21,000 through a live and silent auction at the legendary Linebacker Lounge (across from the Notre Dame campus), as well as through online donations.

Notre Dame held its first Diabetes Awareness Day on Nov. 23 prior to the Fighting Irish home win over Holy Cross, and the team is active with the local chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (JDRF), including participation in its annual JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes on Sept. 14, 2014, in nearby Mishawaka, Indiana.

Schwab’s family continues to provide regular updates on her condition through the CaringBridge web site:

Pink Zone Game Coming Feb. 1
On Feb. 1, Notre Dame will not only face Wake Forest at Purcell Pavilion (1 p.m. ET), but it also will play host to its seventh annual Pink Zone Game, an event designed to raise money for cancer research (known nationally as Play4Kay). In the past six years, the Fighting Irish women’s basketball program has generated nearly $750,000 in donations through its Pink Zone Game and related fundraising events, with monies divided between local cancer charities such as the Foundation of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, and the national Kay Yow Cancer Fund, named for the late N.C. State women’s basketball coach.

The Fighting Irish are holding numerous other Pink Zone events this year, including the annual Spin-A-Thon at the Knollwood Country Club in Granger. Fans also can purchase special Pink Zone merchandise at every home game at the Pink Zone table (Heritage Hall, upper concourse of Purcell Pavilion) or by contacting Sharla Lewis in the Notre Dame women’s basketball office (574-631-5420).

More information on the 2015 Notre Dame Pink Zone Game can be found on its official web site:

Riley Earns 2015 Moose Krause Award
The Notre Dame Monogram Club has selected former women’s basketball star Ruth Riley (’01) as this year’s recipient of the Edward “Moose” Krause Distinguished Service Award.

Riley will receive the organization’s highest honor during Notre Dame’s game vs. Louisville on Feb. 23 at Purcell Pavilion.

A 13-year WNBA veteran, Riley retired from the sport in June 2014 and currently serves as an NBA/WNBA Cares Ambassador. Back in November, Riley traveled to Leipzig, Germany, where she was honored as a 2014 Junior Chamber International Ten Outstanding Young Persons of The World recipient in the category of humanitarian and/or voluntary leadership. She was the first American to receive the global award since 2008.

Irish Fans Crave Another Big Mac Attack
Now in its eighth season, Notre Dame’s wildly-successful “Big Mac” promotion once again looks to send fans home with full bellies, offering a coupon for a free Big Mac from South Bend-area McDonald’s restaurants if the Fighting Irish score at least 88 points in an regular season or exhibition game at Purcell Pavilion.

In the eight-year history of the promotion, Notre Dame has hit the 88-point mark at home 61 times, most recently in the Jan. 22 win over Georgia Tech.

Senior forward Markisha Wright leads all current Fighting Irish players with seven “Big Mac Baskets” apiece during her career.

And for those tracking such things (or perhaps falling under the heading of “the media relations director has way too much time on his hands”), 28 different players have converted the “burger ball”, including 10 current members of the Fighting Irish roster.

What’s more, of the 61 Big Mac games, 29 have been reached on two-point baskets, 19 on free throws, and 13 on three-pointers.

Next Game: Virginia Tech
Notre Dame wraps up the month of January and the first half of its ACC slate on Jan. 29 when it heads to Blacksburg, Virginia, for a 7 p.m. (ET) game against Virginia Tech. The game, which will mark the first time the Fighting Irish have played at Cassell Coliseum since 2003, will be televised live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director