Jan. 21, 2015
2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 20
#6/5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (17-2 / 4-1 ACC) vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (12-7 / 2-3 ACC)
DATE: Jan. 22, 2015
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: ND leads 2-0
1ST MTG: ND 76-69 (11/30/96)
LAST MTG: ND 87-72 (2/17/14)
TV: ESPN3/WatchESPN (live) (Rich Hidy, p-b-p / Jac Collinsworth, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TICKETS: (574) 631-7356; UND.com/buytickets
- Notre Dame begins the second of its two ACC home-and-home series, having played host to Boston College back on Jan. 11. The Fighting Irish will make return trips to BC and Georgia Tech next month.
- Notre Dame will hold its annual Reading One-on-One book drive, with fans encouraged to bring new or gently-used children’s books to Thursday’s game for donation to the South Bend Community School Corporation’s Education Foundation.
No. 6/5 Fighting Irish Welcome Georgia Tech To Town Thursday Night
Fresh off a challenging non-conference win over another top-10 opponent earlier this week, No. 6/5 Notre Dame returns to Atlantic Coast Conference play at 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday when it plays host to Georgia Tech at Purcell Pavilion. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
The Fighting Irish (17-2, 4-1) closed out their regular season non-conference slate in fine fashion on Monday, leading virtually wire-to-wire in an 88-77 win over No. 5/6 Tennessee at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame shot a blistering 58.2 percent from the floor en route to their fifth consecutive win over the Lady Vols.
- Notre Dame is No. 6 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 5 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Georgia Tech is not ranked.
- 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 Wednesday), including five top-10 rankings — field-goal percentage (2nd – .500), scoring offense (3rd – 85.7 ppg.), scoring margin (7th – +23.6 ppg.), assists (7th – 18.6 apg.) and three-point percentage (7th – .390). The Fighting Irish also rank 16th in free-throw percentage (.759), 18th in assist/turnover ratio (1.24), and 23rd in rebounding margin (+8.5 rpg.), plus 10th in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.895).
- Notre Dame aims to continue its remarkable success at Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 411-91 (.819) all-time record in 38 seasons at the facility, including a 88-6 (.936) 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 124-9 (.932) 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 680 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 768 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 951 as of Wednesday).
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 184 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 Wednesday), averaging 8,859 fans per game at home this season, and have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 219 of their last 221 home games (with an active streak of 62 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-Georgia Tech Series
Notre Dame and Georgia Tech will be meeting for only the third time in their abbreviated series history, with the Fighting Irish having won both prior matchups with the Yellow Jackets — 76-69 on Nov. 30, 1996, in the Comfort Inn Downtown Classic title game in Atlanta, and last year’s 87-72 decision at Purcell Pavilion in the first ACC contest between the schools.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Georgia Tech Met
Jewell Loyd collected 27 points and nine rebounds to lead second-ranked Notre Dame to an 87-72 victory over Georgia Tech on Feb. 17, 2014, at Purcell Pavilion.
Loyd scored seven straight at the end of the first half, capped by an alley-oop, then had back-to-back layups in the second half to give the Fighting Irish a 16-point lead that stretched to 22.
Playing on Senior Night, forward/tri-captain Natalie Achonwa, who started the game one of three from the floor and one of five from the free-throw line, scored 18 points in the second half to finish with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Fellow senior and captain Kayla McBride finished with 12 points despite struggling on three of 13 shooting, making up for it with a career-high eight assists.
The Fighting Irish earned their 25th consecutive win, moving within five victories of (at the time) the longest winning streak in program history, set the previous season. The loss ended a four-game winning streak for the Yellow Jackets, who were led by a career-high 21 points by Aaliyah Whiteside.
Georgia Tech had 26 offensive rebounds, leading to 26 second-chance points. The Yellow Jackets also scored 22 points off of 15 Notre Dame turnovers, but couldn’t overcome their poor shooting, winding up at .313 (26 of 83) for the night.
Georgia Tech’s Tyaunna Marshall came into the contest averaging 24.1 points in her eight previous games, scoring at least 20 points in seven of them. She made eight of 24 shots at Notre Dame and finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Kaela Davis added 15 points for the Yellow Jackets, and Sydney Wallace had 11 points for Georgia Tech, which was making its first-ever appearance in South Bend.
Other Notre Dame-Georgia Tech Series Tidbits
- The Fighting Irish are 6-2 all-time against Georgia schools (and have won their last six), including a 3-1 record at home (Notre Dame lost to visiting Georgia, 81-75 on Dec. 21, 1992 — the last time the Fighting Irish lost a game at any location to a team from the Peach State).
- Notre Dame sophomore forward and Buford, Georgia, native Kristina Nelson is the third Peach State resident to suit up for the Fighting Irish and the second in recent seasons, following in the footsteps of Atlanta native Fraderica Miller (2008-12).
- Nelson and Georgia Tech sophomore guard Kaela Davis were teammates at Buford (Ga.) High School for their final two prep seasons, helping the Wolves reach the Class 2A state title game in 2011-12 and a quarterfinal berth in 2012-13 (Nelson missed much of the latter season due to a shoulder injury).
- Nelson and Davis also played on the same AAU team, Georgia Ice, which was coached by Davis’ father Antonio, a 16-year NBA veteran who was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 1990. With Nelson and Davis on the roster, the Georgia Ice won 2009 state and national titles at the 13-and-under level.
- Davis also played alongside Notre Dame sophomore guard Lindsay Allen, sophomore forward Taya Reimer and freshman forward Brianna Turner on the 2012 USA Basketball U17 World Championship Team that won the gold medal with a perfect 8-0 record in the tournament, which was contested in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
- Turner and Davis earned a gold medal with USA Basketball at the 2012 FIBA 3×3 U18 World Championship in Alcobendas, Spain.
- Reimer and Davis made up half the USA Basketball roster at the inaugural FIBA 3×3 U18 World Championship in 2011 in Rimini, Italy. That squad earned honorary bronze medals from FIBA after being forced to forfeit its third-place game vs. Japan when Reimer and current Duke redshirt freshman guard Rebecca Greenwell were injured.
- Reimer and Davis were teammates on the 2011 USA Basketball U16 National Team that won gold at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Merida, Mexico.
- Allen, Reimer and Davis joined forces as teammates on the East Team at the 2013 McDonald’s High School All-America Game, but their side fell to the West Team, 92-64, at the United Center in Chicago.
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.
Turner, who added 13 points and a game-high five blocks in Monday’s 87-77 win over No. 5/6 Tennessee, leads the ACC and ranks second in the nation with a .678 field-goal percentage this season. She also ranks second in the ACC and 19th nationally in blocked shots (3.1 bpg.), while placing eighth in the conference in scoring (15.9 ppg.) and 11th in rebounding (7.4 rpg.).
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 50 of their last 53 games against conference opponents. 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).
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 89-5 (.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.
Junior guard Jewell Loyd leads the ACC and ranks 13th in the nation in scoring (as of Wednesday), thanks in part to one of the most explosive individual scoring seasons in Notre Dame women’s basketball history.
- Loyd has scored 408 points in her first 19 games this season (21.5 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 12 20-point games this season.
- 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 13th in school history with 1,545 career points, one point behind former All-America forward and current Fighting Irish operations specialist/2014 WNBA first-round draft pick Natalie Achonwa (1,546 from 2010-14). Loyd also needs 24 points to move into the top 10 on Notre Dame’s career scoring list.
- 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 79 of her 92 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 38 blocked shots in her last eight games (4.8 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.
For the season, Turner ranks second in the ACC and 19th in the nation at 3.1 blocks per game, while her 49 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).
Game #19 Recap: Tennessee
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw laughed when she was asked if the sixth-ranked Fighting Irish finally `’got the number” of fifth-ranked Tennessee, beating the Lady Vols for a fifth straight time.
“Well, we had an 0-20 start, so we’re kind of coming out of a hole there,” McGraw said. “We had nothing to lose. I think we’ve just got momentum going and we feel like we have a lot of confidence going into the game.”
The momentum has come from Notre Dame’s star players. Skylar Diggins started to turn the series around by averaging 28 points in three straight wins over Tennessee and then last season Kayla McBride had 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in a win. On Monday night it was Jewell Loyd hitting 13 of 23 shots for 34 points with five rebounds and four assists in an 88-77 victory.
“Jewell was Jewell. She was phenomenal today,” McGraw said. “She’s so fun to watch and so hard to guard.”
Loyd drove through the lane, scored on backdoor passes and hit baskets even when Tennessee defended her well, spinning inside and hitting a shot over a crowd inside.
“One of the best players that we’ve played against and seen,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. “We tried to switch on her, we face-guarded her, but she was in a zone. We just didn’t have an answer for her.”
Loyd credited teammates.
“They look for me. They encourage me. I give all the credit to them,” Loyd said. “When you have people encouraging you, it makes it a lot easier.”
Warlick said the Lady Vols just didn’t do enough to win and missed too many shots inside.
“We had opportunities, we just didn’t finish plays,” she said.
The Lady Vols (15-3) hadn’t allowed any opponents to shoot better than 54 percent all season, but the Fighting Irish (17-2) shot 58 percent and the 88 points were 16 points more than Tennessee had allowed all season.
“It’s tough to beat a team when they’re getting good looks and they’re finishing,” Warlick said.
Tennessee cut the lead to 42-41 early in the second half on a layup by Isabelle Harrison and cut it again to 46-44 on a rebound basket by Bashaara Graves, who led Tennessee with 22 points. The Irish responded with a 6-0 spurt on a rebound by Lindsay Allen, a basket inside by Brianna Turner and a backdoor layup by Loyd to extend the lead to eight points.
When Ariel Massengale hit a three-pointer, Loyd responded with a three-point play. The Fighting Irish eventually used a 9-3 run, highlighted by a 3-pointer by Loyd and an alley-oop layup by Turner on a pass from Allen to open a 66-52 lead.
Warlick gave much of the credit of Tennessee’s defensive struggles to Notre Dame’s offense, but said the Lady Volunteers defense wasn’t aggressive enough. “Our games where we’ve held people we’ve attacked and we’ve dictated. I thought the majority of the time we didn’t dictate anyone one defense.”
Tennessee narrowed the lead 80-74 on a layup by Graves with 56 seconds left, but couldn’t get any closer.
The Lady Vols outrebounded the Fighting Irish 18-13 in the first half, but Notre Dame outrebounded UT 23-16 in the second half and finished with a 36-34 edge on the boards. Taya Reimer led the Fighting Irish with 10 rebounds and added nine points while Turner scored 13 for Notre Dame.
Cierra Burdick added 15 for Tennessee while Harrison had 12 and Massengale 11 as the Lady Vols shot 43 percent.
Beyond The Box Score: Tennessee
- Notre Dame picked up its sixth win in seven tries against a ranked opponent this season, and its third against a top-10 opponent (according to either major national poll).
- The Fighting Irish earned their first win over a top-five team (according to the Associated Press poll) since March 31, 2014, when they defeated No. 5/6 Baylor, 88-69 in the NCAA Elite Eight at Purcell Pavilion.
- Notre Dame is 9-0 on ESPN2’s Big Monday during the past four seasons (5-0 on road, 4-0 at home).
- The Fighting Irish are a combined 12-4 (.750) against Tennessee (5-0) and Connecticut (7-4) in the past four-plus seasons, starting with the victory over UT in the 2011 NCAA Elite Eight at Dayton, Ohio.
- Notre Dame’s 88 points were the most it has scored in the 25-game series against Tennessee (previous high came in last year’s 86-70 win at UT).
- The Fighting Irish have won 11 of their last 12 games against Southeastern Conference opponents.
- Notre Dame shot better than 50 percent from the field for the eighth time in its last nine games, and posted its second-highest field-goal percentage of the season (.603 vs. Chattanooga on Nov. 21 at Purcell Pavilion).
- Loyd’s three 30-point games this season all have come against ranked opponents (against whom she is now averaging 27.7 points in seven games), and she ties the school single-season record for 30-point games (she did so last year, while Shari Matvey did it in 1979-80, Katryna Gaither did so in 1994-95 and current associate coach Beth Cunningham pulled off the feat in 1995-96).
- Loyd’s six career 30-point games ties the program’s all-time mark, first set by Gaither from 1993-97.
- Loyd’s 34 points tied for the third-most points in a game by a Notre Dame player in Purcell Pavilion history and most since Ruth Riley tied her own arena record with 36 points against Miami (Fla.) on Feb. 22, 2000 — Riley also scored 36 points against Providence on Jan. 10, 1999, at Purcell Pavilion.
- Turner logged her sixth five-block game this season (all within the past eight games).
- Notre Dame drew its third consecutive home sellout, fourth of the season and 45th in program history.
- This was head coach Muffet McGraw’s 900th game at Notre Dame (680-220, .756 record since arriving in South Bend prior to the 1987-88 season).
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 327-19 (.945) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 255 of their last 268 such contests (.951).
What’s more, in the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 164-2 (.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 227-6 (.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 104-2 (.981) when topping the 80-point mark, including an active 71-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 262 of their last 292 games (.897), 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 88-6 (.936) — including wins in 64 of its last 67 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 206-30 (.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 411-91 (.819) 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 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 Wednesday, Notre Dame ranks fourth in the nation in attendance, averaging 8,859 fans per game. That equates to 96.82 percent of Purcell Pavilion’s capacity, the highest such percentage of any team in the country (DePaul is second at 96.48 percent).
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 game at Purcell Pavilion.
In the eight-year history of the promotion, Notre Dame has hit the 88-point mark at home 60 times, most recently in the Jan. 19 win over Tennessee.
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 60 Big Mac games, 28 have been reached on two-point baskets, 19 on free throws, and 13 on three-pointers.
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: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/katieschwab.
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: http://www.und.com/pinkzone.
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 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.
Next Game: Clemson
Notre Dame make its first visit to Clemson, South Carolina, at 5 p.m. (ET) Saturday, taking on ACC foe Clemson at Littlejohn Coliseum. Video coverage of the game will be available on a pay-per-view basis through the Clemson athletics web site, clemsontigers.com.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director