May 25, 2016
By Chris Masters
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – During the past five seasons, the University of Notre Dame women’s basketball program has enjoyed tremendous success on the road, winning 56 of its last 58 regular-season road games, including an NCAA Division I record-tying 30 consecutive road wins from 2012-15.
That success will be tested next year, when the Fighting Irish play the University of Iowa on Nov. 30, 2016, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa, highlighting the 10th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge that was announced Wednesday by both the Atlantic Coast and Big Ten conference offices. The exact tip time and broadcast coverage will be announced at a later date.
“Iowa has a great fan base that truly appreciates women’s basketball,” said Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame’s Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Women’s Basketball Coach. “We’re looking forward to matching up with a talented Iowa team and representing the ACC in next year’s Challenge.”
Iowa posted a 19-14 record last season, earning a berth in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). Head coach Lisa Bluder’s Hawkeyes expect to have three starters and nine veterans returning next year, led by all-Big Ten guard Ally Disterhoft and a pair of Big Ten All-Freshman Team picks in Tania Davis and Megan Gustafson.
Notre Dame and Iowa have played twice before, both in Iowa City, with the Fighting Irish winning both prior games against the Hawkeyes. The teams last met on March 26, 2013 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, with Notre Dame earning a 74-57 victory over Iowa in the second round of the NCAA Championship. It was an early step for the Fighting Irish on the road to the 2013 NCAA Norfolk Regional title and the third of the program’s five consecutive NCAA Women’s Final Four appearances from 2011-15.
Notre Dame is 3-0 all-time in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, following last season’s 75-72 win over Ohio State at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish previously earned Challenge wins at Penn State in 2013 (77-67) and against Maryland in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 2014 (92-72). Louisville is the only other school with an unblemished record in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, having won the past two seasons (its first in the ACC).
The ACC is 6-0-3 all-time in ACC/Big Ten Challenge events, and holds a 62-46 all-time record against the Big Ten in the Challenge, with the 2011, 2014 and 2015 competitions ending in a tie (each conference earned six victories in 2011 and seven wins apiece the past two seasons).
All 14 Big Ten schools and 14 of the 15 ACC members will compete in this year’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge (all but Clemson). The Challenge expanded to 14 games in 2014 after the conferences played 12 times during the previous three seasons (2011-13), and 11 times in the first four years of the event, which debuted in 2007.
The ACC and Big Ten conference offices determine the Challenge schedule each season. In addition, the official title of the Challenge rotates each year, with the 2016 event to be referred to as the ACC/Big Ten Women’s Basketball Challenge, continuing to mirror the official title of the two conferences’ Challenge agreement for men’s basketball.
For the full slate of games in the 2016 ACC/Big Ten Women’s Basketball Challenge, visit the official ACC web site.
Notre Dame is expected to return three starters and eight monogram recipients from its 2015-16 squad that went 33-2 and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the seventh consecutive season and eighth time in nine years. The Fighting Irish, who were ranked No. 2 in the final 2015-16 Associated Press poll and No. 6 in the year-end Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll, also are the three-time defending ACC regular-season and tournament champions, the first program to sweep both ACC titles in three consecutive seasons since Duke from 2001-02 through 2003-04, and just the second ACC school ever to pull off that feat.
Next season, Notre Dame will be led by a pair of two-time All-Americans in senior guard Lindsay Allen (Mitchellville, Md./St. John’s College) and junior forward/ACC Player of the Year Brianna Turner (Pearland, Texas/Manvel). The Fighting Irish also will be welcoming back sophomore guard Ali Patberg (Columbus, Ind./Columbus North), the 2015 MaxPreps National High School Player of the Year and Indiana Miss Basketball, who missed her freshman year with a knee injury.
As a team, Notre Dame will return more than 70 percent of its scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks and steals from a year ago, including five players who averaged at least 7.9 points per game.
In addition, Notre Dame will add one of the nation’s top incoming freshman classes for 2016-17 (currently ranked No. 3 by Prospects Nation and No. 4 by espnW Hoopgurlz), featuring a pair of national high school players of the year in Gatorade Award recipient Erin Boley (Hodgenville, Ky./Elizabethtown) and Naismith Award honoree Jackie Young (Princeton, Ind./Princeton Community).
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s basketball program, visit the main women’s basketball page on the University’s official athletics web site (UND.com/ndwbb), sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women’s basketball Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat accounts (@ndwbb), like the program on Facebook, or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
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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).