Senior guard Madison Cable grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds in Notre Dame's 74-48 win over Virginia Tech last year at Purcell Pavilion.

#7 Irish Play Host To #6 Tennessee On ESPN2's Big Monday

Jan. 18, 2015

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2014-15 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 19

#7/7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (16-2 / 4-1 ACC) vs. #6/6 Tennessee Lady Volunteers (15-2 / 5-0 SEC)

DATE: Jan. 19, 2015
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: UT leads 20-4
1ST MTG: UT 71-56 (11/25/83)
LAST MTG: ND 86-70 (1/20/14)
TV: ESPN2/WatchESPN (live) (Beth Mowins, p-b-p / Stephanie White, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
TWITTER: @NDsidMasters/@ndwbb
TICKETS: (574) 631-7356;


  • Notre Dame is playing on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day for the fifth time (and second year in a row), owning a 2-2 record on the federal holiday celebrating the memory of the slain civil rights leader.
  • The Fighting Irish are making the first of three appearances on ESPN2’s “Big Monday” package this season, tying South Carolina for the most Big Monday games in 2014-15.

No. 7 Fighting Irish Play Host To No. 6 Tennessee On ESPN2’s Big Monday
After a hard-fought road win over a top-10 ACC opponent on Thursday night, No. 7 Notre Dame steps out of conference play for another stern test at 7 p.m. (ET) Monday when the Fighting Irish play host to No. 6 Tennessee at Purcell Pavilion. The game will air live on ESPN2 and the WatchESPN app.

Notre Dame (16-2, 4-1) is coming off its fifth win over a ranked opponent this year, posting an 89-79 victory at No. 12/10 North Carolina on Jan. 15. The Fighting Irish erased an early 11-point deficit and led by as many as 14 points in the second half en route to the win.

Freshman forward Brianna Turner turned in a stellar effort with career highs of 29 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocks, while sophomore guard Lindsay Allen added career highs of 24 points and nine assists.


  • Notre Dame was No. 7 in last week’s Associated Press poll and was No. 7 in last week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
  • Tennessee was No. 6 in last week’s Associated Press poll and was No. 6 in last week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.

Quick Hitters

  • Notre Dame was ranked No. 7 in last week’s Associated Press poll, its 76th consecutive week in the AP Top 10.
  • Notre Dame has appeared in the AP poll for 146 consecutive weeks (as of Jan. 12), 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 was ranked No. 7 in last 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 Sunday), including five top-10 rankings — field-goal percentage (2nd – .496), scoring offense (3rd – 85.6 ppg.), scoring margin (6th – +24.3 ppg.), assists (7th – 18.7 apg.) and three-point percentage (9th – .393). The Fighting Irish also rank 15th in the country in free-throw percentage (.760), 18th in assist/turnover ratio (1.23), and 21st in rebounding margin (+8.9 rpg.), as well as 10th in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.882).
  • Notre Dame aims to continue its remarkable success at Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 410-91 (.818) all-time record in 38 seasons at the facility, including a 87-6 (.935) 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 123-9 (.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 46-7 record against ranked teams (18-7 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 679 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 767 career wins, McGraw ranks 10th in NCAA Division I coaching history. She is one of two active ACC coaches in the top 10 along with North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell (second with 950 as of Sunday).

Other Notre Dame Notables

  • Notre Dame is among the nation’s winningest programs during the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), tied for second with 183 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 Sunday), averaging 8,832 fans per game at home this season, and have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 218 of their last 220 home games (with an active streak of 61 consecutive contests with 8,000 fans), logging 44 Purcell Pavilion sellouts, including 38 since the start of the 2009-10 campaign.
  • The Fighting Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as 12 Notre Dame players have been selected in the past 14 seasons. Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa were the most recent Fighting Irish players to be chosen, with McBride going to the San Antonio Stars in the first round (third overall selection) and Achonwa six picks later (No. 9 overall) to the Indiana Fever in the 2014 WNBA Draft. It marked the third consecutive year Notre Dame had a player selected No. 3 overall (Devereaux Peters went third to Minnesota in 2012 and Skylar Diggins was chosen in that same spot by Tulsa in 2013), making the Fighting Irish the second program with lottery choices in three consecutive seasons.
  • Diggins was a 2014 All-WNBA First Team selection and the league’s Most Improved Player, in addition to earning the starting nod for the West at the 2014 WNBA All-Star Game. Meanwhile, McBride was chosen for the 2014 WNBA All-Rookie Team, the second Fighting Irish alumna in as many years to be selected for the squad (Diggins was picked for 2013 all-rookie honors).
  • Peters earned her first WNBA Championship in 2013 with the Lynx (and fifth by a Notre Dame alumna), who defeated the Atlanta Dream (and former Fighting Irish All-American Ruth Riley) in the WNBA Finals. Riley previously had won a pair of crowns with the Detroit Shock (2003 Finals MVP, 2006), while Coquese Washington toiled for the 2000 Houston Comets and Jacqueline Batteast was Riley’s teammate on the 2006 title-winning squad in Detroit.
  • For the eighth year in a row, the Fighting Irish posted a perfect 100 Graduation Success Rate (GSR) score, according to figures released by the NCAA in October. Notre Dame was one of only four schools in the previous seven years to record a perfect GSR score and play for a national championship in the same season (and the only program to do it more than once, pulling off that feat in 2011, 2012 and 2014).

The Notre Dame-Tennessee Series
Notre Dame and Tennessee will celebrate the silver anniversary meeting in their rivalry, playing for the 25th time in the series on Monday night. The Lady Vols hold a 20-4 edge all-time against the Fighting Irish, although Notre Dame has won the past four games against UT, including its first in nine all-time matchups at Purcell Pavilion back in 2012.

The Last Time Notre Dame and Tennessee Met
Kayla McBride scored 22 points to lead five players in double figures as No. 2 Notre Dame erased an early 12-point deficit in an 86-70 win at No. 11/10 Tennessee on Jan. 20, 2014, in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Since losing the first 20 games in the series, Notre Dame has beaten Tennessee four straight times by an average margin of 17 points, continuing its recent mastery by outscoring the Lady Vols 45-24 in the second half.

After getting off to a sizzling start, Tennessee shot eight of 32 and committed 12 turnovers in the second half.

Michaela Mabrey and Natalie Achonwa each scored 15 points for Notre Dame, which hit 10 of 20 three-pointers. Madison Cable had 12 points and Jewell Loyd added 11. Mabrey and Cable helped Notre Dame’s bench outscore Tennessee’s reserves 36-16.

Meighan Simmons had 23 points and shot 10 of 14 for Tennessee. Isabelle Harrison had 13 points and 16 rebounds and Ariel Massengale had 14 points, all in the first nine minutes.

Tennessee grabbed a 42-30 lead by beating the hot-shooting Fighting Irish at their own game in the first half. UT shot 55.9 percent (19 of 34) overall and went five of six from three-point range in the period against a Notre Dame team that hadn’t allowed any opponent to make more than 44.9 percent of its shots all season.

Notre Dame committed three turnovers in the first 90 seconds of the game and had to adjust to playing without Loyd, who picked up two fouls in the first six minutes of the game and sat out the rest of the first half.

After making 19 of its first 28 shots, Tennessee missed 17 of its next 18 attempts to allow Notre Dame to claw back into the game. Tennessee missed its last six shots of the first half and started the second half shooting one of 12.

Notre Dame pulled ahead 49-48 when Taya Reimer capped a 14-2 run that started late in the first half by converting a three-point play with 15:27 remaining. After Tennessee briefly regained the lead, Notre Dame sank a trio of three-pointers (two from Mabrey, one from Cable) on a 9-0 spurt in a span of 1:10 that gave the Fighting Irish a 58-51 advantage.

Simmons hit a three-pointer that cut Notre Dame’s advantage to 60-56 with 10:09 remaining, but the Fighting Irish scored the next 13 points to put the game away.

The Last Time Notre Dame and Tennessee Met At Purcell Pavilion
Notre Dame lost the first 20 times it played Tennessee. Now the Fighting Irish have carved out a modest but impressive winning streak against the Lady Vols.

It wasn’t so much how second-ranked Notre Dame won but how easily the Fighting Irish did it, routing the Lady Vols 72-44 at Purcell Pavilion on Jan. 23, 2012, and holding No. 7 Tennessee to the lowest-scoring game and second-worst margin of defeat in the school’s modern history.

Skylar Diggins matched her season high with 27 points, Devereaux Peters had 16 points and a (then) career-high 16 rebounds, and Kayla McBride added 17 points for Notre Dame.

Diggins had 17 of her points after the half and Notre Dame quickly expanded a 10-point lead into runaway mode. Diggins hit a three-pointer and Peters worked inside for three baskets in an 11-3 run that put the Fighting Irish up 18 and ended any chance of a Lady Vols’ comeback.

Tennessee got 13 points from Meighan Simmons, but the Lady Vols shot just 27.9 percent from the field in the lopsided loss.

Other Notre Dame-Tennessee Series Tidbits

  • Notre Dame has won the past four series games against Tennessee, all by double digits. Prior to 2011, the Fighting Irish had not only never defeated the Lady Vols, but had come within single digits of them just three times (none since 1992).
  • Notre Dame’s 72-44 victory over UT in 2012 marked the first time the Fighting Irish had defeated Tennessee in nine series games at Purcell Pavilion.
  • Tennessee is one of only six teams to have earned at least 10 victories over Notre Dame (the others are Connecticut – 32, DePaul – 19, Rutgers – 16, Purdue – 14 and Villanova – 10).
  • Notre Dame and Tennessee are part of an elite group of 14 schools who have won NCAA national championships since the NCAA began sponsoring the Division I women’s basketball tournament in 1982. The eight-time champion Lady Vols are one of four NCAA champions the Fighting Irish will face this season (along with nine-time victor Connecticut, 2006 champion Maryland and 1994 winner North Carolina). Notre Dame has gone 50-91 (.355) all-time against other former or current national champions, having won 13 of their last 16 games against NCAA titleists during the past three seasons. Among the NCAA champions group, the Fighting Irish have a series record of .500 or better against USC (8-2), North Carolina (4-1), Maryland (5-4) and Texas (1-1).
  • Notre Dame junior guard Michaela Mabrey and Tennessee junior forward Bashaara Graves were teammates on the 2012 USA Basketball Under-18 National Team that went 5-0 and won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Puerto Rico. Mabrey started four of five games, averaging 12.8 points, 4.8 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game with a .500 three-point percentage, while Graves made an impact off the bench, averaging 7.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game with a .520 field goal percentage. One other tie-in with that team — the U18 squad’s athletic trainer in 2012 was current Notre Dame athletic trainer Anne Marquez.
  • Mabrey and Graves also played alongside one another for the East Team at the 2012 McDonald’s High School All-America Game, while another Fighting Irish junior guard, Jewell Loyd, suited up for the West Team in that same game. The East Team won the all-star contest, 79-78, on Graves’ free throw with less than one second remaining.
  • Four players from the 2013 McDonald’s High School All-America Game are represented between the two programs, as Notre Dame’s Lindsay Allen and Taya Reimer (who played for the East Team) will once again square off with Tennessee’s Jordan Reynolds and Mercedes Russell (who played for the victorious West squad that afternoon in Chicago). Allen and Reimer also were teammates on the East squad with UT sophomore guard Diamond DeShields, who is sitting out this season after transferring from North Carolina.
  • Another quartet of players appearing in Monday’s Notre Dame-Tennessee game also competed in last year’s McDonald’s High School All-America Game. Notre Dame freshman forward Brianna Turner and Tennessee freshman guard/forward Jaime Nared suited up for the West Team that pulled out an 80-78 win over the East Team, whose roster included Notre Dame rookie forward Kathryn Westbeld and Tennessee rookie guard Alexa Middleton.
  • Some of the top high school players to come out of the Chicagoland area in recent seasons will be on hand Monday night. Notre Dame has three natives of the Windy City and surrounding area — senior guard/tri-captain Whitney Holloway (Plainfield/Montini Catholic HS), junior guard Jewell Loyd (Lincolnwood/Niles West HS) and sophomore center Diamond Thompson (Wheaton/Wheaton Warrenville South) — while Tennessee has a pair of graduates from Bolingbook (Ill.) High School in senior guard Ariel Massengale and junior center Nia Moore.

Notre Dame vs. The Southeastern Conference
Notre Dame is 17-33 (.340) all-time against the current Southeastern Conference membership, although it should be noted that 20 of those losses have come to one opponent (Tennessee). The Fighting Irish also are 13-8 in their last 21 meetings with SEC opponents, including wins in 10 of their last 11 games against that conference (not including the 2011 NCAA national championship game matchup with Texas A&M, which came before the Aggies joined the SEC in the summer of 2012).

The Fighting Irish are 5-11 (.313) all-time against SEC teams at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame most recently played an SEC school on its home court on Jan. 23, 2012, when it defeated Tennessee, 72-44.

The Rare Air Up There
Starting with their 2011 NCAA Elite Eight win over Tennessee in Dayton, Ohio (the year before the current Notre Dame seniors arrived on campus), the Fighting Irish have gone a combined 11-4 (.733) against Connecticut and Tennessee.

What’s more, the Notre Dame Class of 2015 (guards Madison Cable and Whitney Holloway and forward Markisha Wright) has helped the Fighting Irish to nine wins against those two traditional powers, trailing only the last two years’ Fighting Irish seniors (11) since 1988-89, when Connecticut made its first NCAA postseason appearance.

Coming Up Big On “Big Monday”
Notre Dame will make the first of three appearances this season on ESPN2’s “Big Monday” women’s basketball package when it plays host to Tennessee Monday night.

The Fighting Irish have played eight times on Big Monday in the past three seasons, going 8-0 in those games (5-0 on the road, 3-0 at home) and not including a pair of appearances (victories over Duke) on ESPN’s new Sunday afternoon women’s basketball package that debuted last season.

Notre Dame will be playing a Big Monday game at home for the first time since March 4, 2013, when the Fighting Irish posted a 96-87 triple-overtime win over Connecticut to clinch their second consecutive outright BIG EAST Conference regular season title.

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 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).

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 88-5 (.946) 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 the past two weeks, 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 Thursday, 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 20th in the nation in scoring (as of Sunday), thanks in part to one of the most explosive individual scoring seasons in Notre Dame women’s basketball history.

  • Loyd has scored 374 points in her first 18 games this season (20.8 points per game), matching the quickest run to a “triple century” in program annals (like Loyd, Katryna Gaither scored her 300th point in her 14th game during the 1996-97 season, a 74-67 loss at Ohio State).
  • 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 now has 11 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).
  • Loyd is 13th in school history with 1,511 career points in 90 career games, making her the second-quickest to 1,500 points in program history (Cunningham 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 Thursday’s win at No. 12/10 North Carolina, ending her streak of scoring in double figures at 60 consecutive games, dating back to March 11, 2013, when she had eight points in Notre Dame’s 83-59 BIG EAST Championship semifinal win over No. 16/15 Louisville at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.

Loyd’s 60-game double-digit scoring streak was the second-longest in school history. In fact, even with Thursday’s eight-point outing, Loyd has scored in double figures in 78 of her 91 career games (and 11 of those 13 single-digit games saw her within one basket of double figures, as was the case this week at UNC).

Turner Throwing A Block Party
Freshman forward Brianna Turner has recorded 33 blocked shots in her last seven games (4.7 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 five 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 third in the ACC and 21st in the nation at 2.9 blocks per game, while her 44 total blocks already ranked fifth 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 #18 Recap: North Carolina
Freshman forward Brianna Turner tied or set career highs with 29 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocks to help No. 7 Notre Dame beat No. 12/10 North Carolina, 89-79 on Thursday at Carmichael Arena in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It gave Notre Dame its fifth win in six tries against a Top 25 opponent this year.

That includes a 4-0 mark on the road, the latest coming after Notre Dame (16-2, 4-1 ACC) shot 63 percent after halftime and turned away a late push by the Tar Heels (15-3, 2-2).

Sophomore Lindsay Allen added a career-best 24 points and nine assists, helping Notre Dame overcome a quiet game from its leading scorer, junior guard Jewell Loyd. She came in averaging 21.5 points but battling illness, she finished with just eight on four of 11 shooting.

Notre Dame rallied from 11 down in the first half then blew a 14-point lead in the second when the Tar Heels got within 78-77 on Stephanie Mavunga’s three-pointer with 4:29 left.

But Allen immediately scored to start a clinching 9-0 run, which included a critical three-pointer from Michaela Mabrey with 2:41 left.

Allisha Gray scored 20 points and Mavunga added 13 points and 11 rebounds for North Carolina, which shot 37 percent.

Beyond The Box Score: North Carolina

  • Turner is just the second NCAA Division I women’s basketball player since 1999-2000 to record 29 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocked shots in a single game. Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris 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 (research provided by STATS).
  • Notre Dame improves to 5-1 against ranked opponents this season, including a 4-0 record on the road, and a 2-1 mark against top-10 teams (according to either major national poll).
  • The Fighting Irish are 4-1 all-time against North Carolina, with Thursday representing Notre Dame’s first-ever visit to Chapel Hill and historic Carmichael Arena (formerly known as Carmichael Auditorium and previously the home of the UNC men’s basketball team for many years, including the Michael Jordan era of the early 1980s, before the construction of the Dean Smith Center aka “The Dean Dome” and Carmichael’s subsequent renovation).
  • Notre Dame is 23-2 (.920) all-time against schools from the state of North Carolina (8-1 in true road games) and has won its last 13 games against teams from that state.
  • The Fighting Irish have won their last 10 games they have played in the state of North Carolina, covering the past seven seasons (starting with a 68-61 win at Charlotte on Dec. 28, 2008), and including neutral-site wins over St. Bonaventure and Maryland in the 2012 NCAA Raleigh Regional (played at PNC Arena in Raleigh) and over Florida State, North Carolina State and Duke in the 2014 ACC Tournament (played at the Greensboro Coliseum).
  • The Fighting Irish shot at least 50 percent from the floor for the seventh time in their last eight games.
  • Notre Dame blocked a season-high 10 shots, its first double-digit block total since it had 10 rejections against No. 21/18 Oklahoma State on March 29, 2014, in the NCAA Sweet 16 (regional semifinals) at Purcell Pavilion.
  • Turner had seven blocks in a game for the second time in 11 days, having also pulled off that feat on Jan. 4 at Syracuse — the seven blocks also tied for the fifth-most swats by a Fighting Irish player in a single game (record is 11 by Amanda Barksdale vs. Boston College on Feb. 16, 2002, at Purcell Pavilion).
  • Turner’s 18 rebounds tied for eighth-most caroms by one player in a single game in Notre Dame history and the most by a Fighting Irish player since March 10, 2013, when Natalie Achonwa had 20 rebounds against South Florida in the BIG EAST Tournament quarterfinals at Hartford, Connecticut.
  • Turner collected her fifth 20-point game and her fourth “5-5-5” game of the season, in addition to her fourth double-double of the year.
  • Turner’s previous career highs had been 29 points (Nov. 14 in her college debut vs. UMass Lowell at Purcell Pavilion), 16 rebounds (Dec. 28 at UCLA) and seven blocks (Jan. 4 at Syracuse).
  • Allen topped her previous career scoring high of 22 points, set on Dec. 28 at UCLA, and she erased her prior personal best with nine assists, one more than her previous high set twice before (most recently on Jan. 2 against Florida State at Purcell Pavilion).
  • Gray was the first Notre Dame opponent to go 10 for 10 at the free-throw line since Dec. 5, 2012, when Baylor’s Odyssey Sims posted the same efficiency in a 73-61 BU win at Purcell Pavilion.

Polling Station
Notre Dame was ranked No. 7 in last week’s Associated Press preseason poll, its 76th 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 146 consecutive weeks in the AP poll.

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

What’s more, every current Notre Dame player has competed for a top-10 Fighting Irish squad throughout her career (69 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 285 weeks during the program’s 38-year history, with every one of those appearances coming in the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88). McGraw is eighth among all active NCAA Division I head coaches for weeks in the AP poll, and 16th all-time in that category.

The Fighting Irish also were No. 7 in last 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 148 of the past 149 weeks (and 112 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 280 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 285 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 326-19 (.945) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 254 of their last 267 such contests (.951).

What’s more, in the past six seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 163-2 (.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 226-6 (.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 103-2 (.981) when topping the 80-point mark, including an active 70-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 261 of their last 291 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 87-6 (.935) — including wins in 63 of its last 66 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 125 of their last 135 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 410-91 (.818) 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 three sellouts (Dec. 6 vs. Connecticut; Jan. 2 vs. Florida State; Jan. 11 vs. Boston College), while several other home games are rapidly approaching sellout status.

As of Sunday, Notre Dame ranks fourth in the nation in attendance, averaging 8,832 fans per game. That equates to 96.54 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 59 times, most recently in the Jan. 11 win over Boston College.

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 59 Big Mac games, 28 have been reached on two-point baskets, 18 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 has been hospitalized the past seven months 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 also held its first Diabetes Awareness Day on Nov. 23 prior to the Fighting Irish win over Holy Cross at Purcell Pavilion, and the team has been 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
When Notre Dame takes the Purcell Pavilion floor on Feb. 1 against Wake Forest (1 p.m. ET), it will be playing host to its seventh annual Pink Zone Game, an event designed to raise money for cancer research and sometimes referred to 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 the proceeds divided between local cancer charities such as the Foundation of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, and the national Kay Yow Cancer Fund, named in honor of the late North Carolina 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:

Next Game: Georgia Tech
Notre Dame returns to conference play at 7 p.m (ET) Thursday when it begins the second of its two home-and-home ACC series, welcoming Georgia Tech to Purcell Pavilion. Thursday night’s game will air live on ESPN3.

— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director