Dec. 19, 2016
By Leigh Torbin
The No. 2 Notre Dame women’s basketball team hopes to head off into its Christmas break with a happy feeling as it faces Michigan State (10-2) on Tuesday night at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan. Notre Dame claimed a 85-68 victory on Sunday afternoon at Toledo (8-2) and bussed northward from there for the third of a school-record six consecutive road games.
The Irish have now won 13 consecutive games on the road, the second-longest active streak in the country behind only UConn’s 28. Here are a few things to know about Tuesday night’s game as the Irish will shoot to make it 14 road wins in a row.
About the Spartans
Michigan State stands at 10-2 on the year with the two losses coming on the road at Oregon and Syracuse. The Spartans are 5-0 at home where they average 4,092 fans per game, but have not faced a team of Notre Dame’s caliber there as of yet. Tori Jankoska is a prime All-America candidate for the Spartans and ranks among the country’s top scorers at 22.0 points per game while also grabbing 7.8 rebounds per game and assisting on 59 baskets.
The series with the Spartans could not get more event. Not only is it tied at 8-8 overall, tied at 4-4 in East Lansing and tied at 4-4 in Notre Dame, but the aggregate score is just 12 points different over 16 games ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢’Â¬” just a scant 0.75 points per game difference.
Notre Dame has won each of the last four meetings, including a 71-63 Irish win on Nov. 19, 2014, at the Breslin Center. Jewell Loyd scored 28 points and added 11 rebounds to help the Irish to victory. Brianna Turner scored 17 points while Lindsay Allen added 14 more with nine rebounds and five assists.
The Irish are 1-0 this year against Big Ten schools, defeating Iowa, 73-58, on Nov. 30 in Iowa City as a part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Notre Dame is on a 16-game winning streak against Big Ten teams (at game time), dating back to a loss to Minnesota in the 2009 NCAA Championship. That run extends to 24 games if counting wins against Maryland and Rutgers when they competed in the ACC and BIG EAST, respectively.
Allen leads the Nation
Two-time Nancy Lieberman Award finalist Lindsay Allen has made a quick claim to her status as the country’s top point guard, not only in how she keeps the Irish under control, but also for her passing ability. Allen leads the nation with a 4.39 assist-to-turnover ratio. She is sixth nationally with 79 assists and ninth with 7.2 assists per game. Allen leads the ACC in all three categories as well.
Allen’s 638 career assists rank second among active players behind only Northwestern’s Ashley Deary who has 661.
Allen is also 34th nationally in steals (29) and 52nd in steals per game (2.64).
Irish Consistently Start Strong
The 2016-17 Irish needed just 11 games to hit the double figures mark in victories with 10. This high rate of success is not uncommon.
This is the ninth time in the past 10 seasons that Notre Dame has started a season 10-1 or better.
Notre Dame started the season at 10-0 in 2009-10 and 2013-14. The Irish went 10-1 in 2007-08, 2008-09, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17.
The only exception in this 10-year run of 10 wins coming by the 11th game was the 2010-11 season when the Irish needed 13 games to get to 10 wins.
Two Days. Two Games.
Since the start of the 2008-09 season, this span between games at Toledo (Dec. 18) and Michigan State (Dec. 20) marks the 75th time the Irish have played a pair of games with just one (or no) days off inbetween.
The Irish have risen to the occasion in recent seasons, going 63-11 (.851) on the back half of these two-game (or more) blitzes during the past eight years.
Notre Dame has been victorious in the last eight such scenarios, dating back to a loss to UConn in the 2015 national championship game, two days after beating South Carolina in the national semifinals.
This is the second such scenario in 2016-17. Notre Dame beat No. 17 Washington, 71-60, on Nov. 20 in the Preseason WNIT championship game and then turned around to beat Louisiana-Lafayette, 91-51, on Nov. 22 in Houston.
Following Christmas, the Irish will once again face a two-day turn-around on the road, facing Chattanooga on Dec. 27 and NC State on Dec. 29 on their home courts.
How to Watch/Listen
Tuesday night’s game will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network with Lisa Byington and Vera Jones on the call.
For those who subscribe to Big Ten Network but can’t be around their TVs, the game will be streamed online at BTN2Go here.
Bob Nagle returns for his 12th season as the radio voice of the Irish. Notre Dame’s local home on the radio is Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) while the audio is also available globally via WatchND.tv and the WatchND app. The direct link to the radio call is here.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications associate director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for Notre Dame’s women’s basketball and men’s golf teams. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.