March 6, 2016
By Chris Masters
Inside The Game: #2/3 Notre Dame 68, #17 Syracuse 57
March 6, 2016 – Greensboro, North Carolina (Greensboro Coliseum)
It Was Over When: Graduate student guard and tournament MVP Madison Cable drilled her career-high sixth three-pointer of the day with 8:54 remaining to give Notre Dame a 65-47 lead. Although the Fighting Irish would score just three points the rest of the way, their defense carried them to the title, holding Syracuse to 4-of-11 shooting in the fourth quarter, including 0-of-5 from three-point range, as the Orange never got closer than the final margin (on Briana Day’s uncontested putback as time expired).
Game Ball Goes To: Who else, but Cable? The fifth-year Fighting Irish guard turned in a virtuoso performance on Sunday, canning a career-high 6-of-9 three-pointers and tying for team-high scoring honors with 18 points. The Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, native, also became the 34th Notre Dame player to score 1,000 career points, reaching the milestone on her first basket of the game, a three-pointer (of course) from the left wing with 4:35 left in the first quarter.
Unsung Heroes: Notre Dame’s ACC Tournament title win was a team effort in every sense of the phrase, with four players standing with Cable center stage in leading the Fighting Irish to victory. Sophomore forward Brianna Turner (18 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks) and junior guard/captain Lindsay Allen (eight points, six assists, five rebounds) joined Cable on the All-ACC Tournament First Team. Meanwhile, sophomore forward Kathryn Westbeld got Notre Dame off and running in the championship game against Syracuse with eight of her 10 points in the first 4:28 (making her first four shots). And, senior guard Hannah Huffman was a bulldog on both ends of the floor, particularly on the glass, where she grabbed six rebounds (four offensive) in addition to tallying four points, two assists and two steals.
Unofficial Play of the Game: In the past two games, Westbeld has shown a knack for beating the shot clock buzzer at key times and she did so again on Sunday. Late in the third quarter with Notre Dame leading 52-41, Westbeld posted up on the right side of the lane and, with the shot clock winding down, wheeled and tossed in a sweeping scoop shot off the glass (reminiscent of former Fighting Irish forward Becca Bruszewski) to give her team a 13-point lead with 3:46 left in the period.
Stat Of The Game: Notre Dame is just the second ACC women’s basketball program to sweep the conference’s regular-season and tournament titles in three consecutive seasons, and the first to do so since Duke from 2001-04. The Fighting Irish also are the first program to win three consecutive ACC Tournament crowns since North Carolina from 2006-08.
Additional Notes: Notre Dame wins its ninth conference tournament title and ties a program record with its fourth in a row, adding the past three ACC crowns to one in its final season in the BIG EAST (2013) – the Fighting Irish also won five Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now Horizon League) tournaments, including four in a row from 1989-92, plus another in 1994 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ this marks a program-record fourth consecutive year (and eighth time overall) Notre Dame has swept its conference regular-season and tournament championships – the Fighting Irish also swept both league crowns in the MCC on four occasions (1989-91, 1994) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ in the 10 seasons Notre Dame has been the No. 1 seed for its conference tournament (since its first such event appearance in the 1989 MCC Tournament), the Fighting Irish have gone on to win the championship seven times (1990, 1991 and 1994 in the MCC; 2013 in the BIG EAST; 2014-16 in the ACC) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ since it joined the BIG EAST in 1995-96, Notre Dame is 27-7 (.794) as the higher-seeded team in conference tournament play ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ the Fighting Irish are 57-1 against ACC opponents since joining the conference in 2013-14, posting a 47-1 regular-season mark and 10-0 postseason record (which includes a win over then-ACC foe Maryland at the 2014 NCAA Women’s Final Four in Nashville, Tennessee) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Notre Dame has won 35 consecutive games against ACC opponents (29 in the regular season, six in the postseason) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ the Fighting Irish have won 24 consecutive games overall, the third-longest winning streak in program history behind only runs in 2012-13 (30 games) and 2013-14 (37 games) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Notre Dame has set a new program record with 193 three-pointers made this season, topping the old mark of 190 set in 2013-14 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ this marks just the second time in program history the Fighting Irish have had two players make 60 three-pointers in the same season (Cable-68, Michaela Mabrey-60) – in 1999-2000, Alicia Ratay made 73 treys, while current Notre Dame associate coach/recruiting coordinator Niele Ivey knocked down 61 triples ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Turner recorded four blocks on Sunday, giving her 82 this year which ranks sixth on the Fighting Irish single-season list (passing the 78-block seasons by Amanda Barksdale in 2001-02 and Devereaux Peters in 2011-12) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Turner is the second Notre Dame player ever to register multiple 80-block seasons (she had 89 last year), following in the footsteps of Ruth Riley, who pulled off that feat during her final three seasons with the Fighting Irish (1998-99, 1999-2000 and 2000-01) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Notre Dame continues to enjoy playing in the state of North Carolina (and particularly in Greensboro), having amassed a 22-1 (.957) record all-time when playing in the Tar Heel State, including an 11-0 record at neutral sites (9-0 at the Greensboro Coliseum) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ the Fighting Irish are 10-1 against ranked teams this season and have posted a 64-9 (.877) record against Top 25 opponents in the past five years, with 44 of those 64 wins coming by double digits ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ since 2008-09, Notre Dame is 61-11 (.847) when playing on one day’s rest or less, including a 6-0 record this year ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Cable’s six three-pointers were not only a career high (one more than she had on four previous occasions), but also tied for the most by a Notre Dame player this season (Mabrey had six treys in the regular-season matchup with Syracuse on Jan. 21 at Purcell Pavilion) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Cable’s six triples were the most by a Fighting Irish player in a postseason game (conference or NCAA) since March 26, 2011, when Brittany Mallory made six three-pointers in a NCAA Dayton Regional semifinal (Sweet 16) win over Oklahoma in Dayton, Ohio – coincidentally, Mallory was in attendance at all three Fighting Irish ACC Tournament games this weekend as part of her recognition as Notre Dame’s representative in the 2016 ACC Women’s Basketball Legends Class ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ with her 18 points on Sunday, Cable not only became the 34th member of Notre Dame’s 1,000-Point Club, but now she ranks 32nd on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,017 points, passing both Melissa Lechlitner (1,005 from 2006-10) and Kelley Siemon (1,006 points from 1997-2001) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Notre Dame’s senior class of Cable, Huffman and Mabrey has helped lead the Fighting Irish to a 139-7 (.952) record in its four-year tenure, the second-most wins by any senior class in program history, passing the Class of 2014 (Natalie Achonwa, Ariel Braker and Kayla McBride), which posted a 138-15 (.902) record, and only trailing last year’s seniors (Whitney Holloway and Markisha Wright), who went 143-10 (.935) in their four seasons.
Up Next For The Fighting Irish: Notre Dame has earned the ACC’s automatic berth into the 2016 NCAA Championship, with the Fighting Irish set to make their 21st consecutive NCAA tournament appearance and 23rd in program history. The 64-team field for this year’s NCAA Championship will be announced at 7 p.m. (ET) March 14 live on ESPN and WatchESPN.
– ND –
Chris Masters, associate athletics communications director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2001 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s basketball and women’s golf programs. A native of San Francisco, California, Masters is a 1996 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, earned his master’s degree from Kansas State University in 1998, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).