Jan. 1, 2007
DATE: January 2, 2007
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: South Orange, N.J.
Walsh Gymnasium (2,600)
SERIES: ND leads 14-4
1ST MTG: 12/11/93 (SHU 62-55)
LAST MTG: 1/7/06 (SHU 74-61)
RADIO: ESPN Radio 1490 AM
Sean Stires, p-b-p
LIVE STATS: None
TICKETS: (973) 275-4255
- Notre Dame has won seven of its 11 BIG EAST openers since joining the conference in 1995-96.
- The last three times the Irish have played at Seton Hall, the margin of victory has been 5.7 ppg.
Irish Open BIG EAST Play Tuesday Night At Seton Hall
After a productive non-conference season that saw Notre Dame win nine of 13 games, including two over teams currently ranked in the national Top 25, the Irish will tip off BIG EAST Conference play Tuesday when they pay a visit to Seton Hall for a 7 p.m. (ET) contest at Walsh Gymnasium. Notre Dame put a pair of significant deposits into its NCAA postseason resume bank with victories over Purdue and Bowling Green in the season’s first two months and now will look to enhance its standing with a strong performance in the always-rugged BIG EAST.
The Irish closed out non-conference action with a 78-54 loss at No. 4 Tennessee on Saturday. Notre Dame played the Lady Vols virtually even in the first half, trailed by just two points at the break, and was still within striking distance five minutes into the second half before UT went on a 22-2 run to take control.
- Notre Dame received one vote in last week’s Associated Press poll.
- Seton Hall is not ranked.
- Notre Dame: http://www.und.com
- Seton Hall: http://www.shupirates.com
- BIG EAST: http://www.bigeast.org
A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
Less than two months into the 2006-07 season, the growth of the Notre Dame women’s basketball team already is evident, and the best may be yet to come.
With a young and inexperienced roster that has only two seniors and is missing its top returning scorer from a year ago, the Irish have had to learn on the run – and run is exactly what they have done this season. Notre Dame is averaging 70.5 points per game thus far, a significant improvement over the previous five Irish squads, none of which has averaged better than 66.3 points per night.
Of course, the Irish have traditionally hung their hat on their defense, a trait that is much harder to master and takes a bit longer. On the one hand, Notre Dame’s aggressive style has rattled opponents, causing 21.9 turnovers per game (including a BIG EAST-best 12.3 steals per night). However, the flip side has seen the Irish allow opponents to shoot .409 from the floor (.380 from the three-point line), while the Irish claim just a 1.5 rpg. edge on the boards), two areas Notre Dame will continue to focus on as it begins BIG EAST play.
Junior guard Charel Allen has been one of the main offensive catalysts for the Irish to this point, averaging a team-high 14.2 ppg., while scoring in double figures in 11 of 13 outings to date. The Monessen, Pa., native, who was limited last year while recovering from knee surgery in the summer of 2005, also is collecting 5.7 rebounds and a team-high 2.5 steals per game and was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll on Dec. 4 after averaging 18.0 ppg. and 6.0 rpg. against Richmond, Michigan and Indiana.
Allen’s classmate and backcourt running partner, Tulyah Gaines, is an early candidate as one of the conference’s most improved players. The speedy Gaines has assumed the large footprint left at the point by All-American (and WNBA Draft pick) Megan Duffy and has stoked the Notre Dame offensive fire to an even hotter level, averaging 10.2 points and 3.4 assists per game with a .489 field goal percentage. Gaines, who came into the season with a 3.7 ppg. career scoring average, has twice score 20 points in a game this year, including a career-high 25 points in a Nov. 13 overtime win vs. Bowling Green.
Another Irish junior, 6-foot-5 center Melissa D’Amico, continues to make strides in the post. The second-year starter is averaging 10.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game with a .569 field goal percentage, and has looked even better of late, averaging 12.7 points and 6.3 rebounds with a .607 field goal percentage in the past six games. She also earned a spot on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll on Dec. 18.
The most pleasing contributions of the year for Notre Dame to this point have come from its freshmen, three of whom have seen significant playing time. Guard Ashley Barlow is second on the team in scoring (10.9 ppg.) and steals (2.4 spg.), and came up with a career-high 21-points and nine rebounds on Dec. 28 vs. Prairie View A&M. Center Erica Williamson (6.6 ppg., 5.3 rpg., 1.5 bpg.) is proving to be a capable understudy to D’Amico, amassing a season-high 15 points vs. Prairie View A&M. And, guard Melissa Lechlitner (4.3 ppg., 2.5 apg.) has shown little drop off at the point behind Gaines, registering at least five assists in a game three times this year, and carding a season-high 11 points (3-of-4 3FG) at Penn State.
Potent Notables About The Irish
- Notre Dame is among the nation’s winningest programs during the past 11 seasons (1996-97 to present), ranking seventh with 256 victories in that span.
- Notre Dame’s incoming class of 2007 (announced Nov. 8) has been ranked 11th in the nation by Blue Star Basketball, marking the 11th consecutive season that the Irish have had a top-25 recruiting class. Notre Dame is one of only three schools (along with Connecticut and Tennessee) to have an active streak of that length. A thumbnail sketch of the newest Irish signees can be found on page 8 of these notes.
- Notre Dame currently is ranked ninth nationally in attendance (6,495 fans per game). Last season marked the sixth consecutive campaign the Irish were among the national top 20 in attendance (No. 11 ranking). Notre Dame also has attracted 5,000-or-more fans to 86 of its last 88 home games, including three Joyce Center sellouts of 11,418 (most recently on Dec. 31, 2005 vs. Tennessee).
- For the sixth time in school history, Notre Dame has been selected to host NCAA Tournament action, as the Joyce Center will be the site of NCAA Tournament first- and second-round games in 2010. In four of the five previous instances, Notre Dame was involved in NCAA Tournament play, going 6-1 all-time and advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16 three times (2000, 2001, 2004), with only a first-round loss to Minnesota in 1994 blotting the resume. Notre Dame also hosted the 1983 NCAA Mideast Regional at the Joyce Center, with Georgia defeating Tennessee, 67-63 in the regional final.
- The Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as six Notre Dame players have been selected in the past six seasons. All-America guard Megan Duffy was the most recent Irish player to be chosen, going to the Minnesota Lynx in the third round (31st overall pick) of the 2006 WNBA Draft. Other active Notre Dame players in the WNBA during the 2006 season included Ruth Riley and Jacqueline Batteast (league champion Detroit Shock), while Niele Ivey sat out this year as a free agent, rehabilitating an injury after previously playing with Indiana, Detroit and Phoenix. Riley’s WNBA title with Detroit was her second (she was the 2003 WNBA Finals MVP), while Batteast earned her first pro crown this year.
- Notre Dame has been an elite program in the classroom as well. The Irish posted a perfect 100-percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR), according to figures released by the NCAA in October 2006. Notre Dame was one of 16 Division I-A programs to achieve this distinction, and one of only two BIG EAST programs (Syracuse is the other). Furthermore, since Muffet McGraw became the Irish head coach in 1987, every Notre Dame women’s basketball player that has completed her athletic and academic eligibility at the University has graduated.
A Quick Look At Seton Hall
You could hardly blame any of the Seton Hall players or coaches if they came into the 2006-07 season with a bit of a chip on their shoulders. The Pirates were picked 16th in the preseason BIG EAST coaches’ poll, and SHU has taken that sign of disrespect and run with it, all the way to a 9-3 record (1-0 in the BIG EAST) through the first two months of the campaign.
After splitting its first four games, Seton Hall has won seven of its last eight, including a road win at defending America East Conference champion Hartford (59-53 on Nov. 29) and a victory at Providence in the Pirates’ BIG EAST opener (66-52 on Dec. 21). In fact, SHU’s only loss since Thanksgiving has been a 20-point setback at Atlantic Coast Conference stalwart Virginia (85-65 on Dec. 2).
In-season tournament titles also can provide a team with a lift and Seton Hall got a boost by winning the Lehigh Christmas City Classic last weekend in Bethlehem, Pa. The Pirates defeated Central Michigan, 79-55 in their tourney opener before rallying from a 12-point halftime deficit to edge the host Mountain Hawks, 51-48 in the title game. Freshman guard Ashley Booker was the hero, banking in a shot from mid-court at the horn to pull out the victory. Senior forward Monique Blake was the only SHU player to score in double figures with 10 points, but it was enough to earn her a place on the all-tournament team. Junior guard Ela Mukosiej was named the tournament MVP after averaging 12 points and four assists in two games.
Blake is Seton Hall’s leader in several categories – scoring (12.4 ppg), rebounding (8.6 rpg.) and blocked shots (1.7 bpg.) among them. She also is second on the squad in field goal percentage (.509) and steals (1.6 spg.). Senior guard/forward Heta Korpivaara is the other Pirate scoring in double figures this season (11.1 ppg.), although Mukosiej (9.6 ppg.) and sophomore forward Noteisha Womack (7.1 ppg., 6.3 rpg.) also have made solid contributions.
Phyllis Mangina is in her 22nd season as the head coach at Seton Hall, owning a 303-309 (.495) record at her alma mater. Mangina is 4-14 all-time against Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-Seton Hall Series
Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Seton Hall, 14-4, including a 6-2 record at Walsh Gymnasium. After the Pirates won the first two games against the Irish (non-conference battles in 1993 and 1994), Notre Dame took the upper hand in the series with 12 consecutive victories to open their BIG EAST Conference rivalry.
However, the series has been much closer of late, with the teams splitting the past four meetings – winning once each at home and on the road during that time.
Other Notre Dame-Seton Hall Series Tidbits
- Four of the past six series games have been decided by single digits, including each of the past three matchups at Walsh Gym.
- Only once in the past six games has either team managed to break the 70-point mark. Seton Hall did it last season in a 74-61 victory at the Joyce Center. By contrast, Notre Dame had scored at least 70 points in nine of 10 games vs. the Pirates from 1996-2002.
- SHU’s 74 points last year were the most they scored against Notre Dame since their first-ever BIG EAST meeting in 1996 (an 88-79 overtime win for the Irish). The 13-point margin of victory also was the Pirates’ largest in the 18-game series to date.
- Notre Dame’s 51-45 loss at Seton Hall in 2004 marked just the second time in program history (and first as a Division I member) the Irish failed to have at least one player score in double figures.
- The 2005 game at Walsh Gym (a 41-35 Irish victory) yielded two school records for Notre Dame – fewest points allowed in a BIG EAST road game and fewest points scored in any road game.
- Notre Dame has opened its BIG EAST season against Seton Hall once before. Ironically, that game took place exactly two years ago to the day on Jan. 2, 2005, with the Irish claiming a 54-33 verdict at the Joyce Center.
- The coaching matchup between Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw and Seton Hall’s Phyllis Mangina dates back nearly a quarter of a century to McGraw’s previous tenure at Lehigh (1982-87), when her clubs split two games with Mangina’s SHU squads.
- Seton Hall and Rutgers are the only two New Jersey schools Notre Dame has faced on the hardwood. The Irish are 14-4 all-time vs. SHU and 9-13 lifetime against RU, good for a combined 23-17 (.575) record against the Garden State. On the road, Notre Dame is 9-10 vs. teams from New Jersey – 6-2 at Seton Hall, 3-8 at Rutgers.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Seton Hall Met
Heta Korpivaara scored 13 of her 18 points in the second half, including six points during a decisive 17-6 run, to lead Seton Hall to a 74-61 upset of No. 12 Notre Dame on Jan. 7, 2006 at the Joyce Center.
The loss was the third in a row for the Irish (9-4, 0-2 BIG EAST), their longest losing streak in eight years. The victory was the first for Seton Hall (5-8, 0-2) against a ranked team since beating No. 23 Notre Dame 51-48 in South Orange on Feb. 8, 2004.
Korpivaara made a pair of free throws with 11:20 left to give the Pirates a 45-44 lead, then added another pair of free throws and a 17-foot jumper to make it 51-46. The Pirates extended the lead to 58-50 when Shantel Brown made a three-pointer and led by 10 when Monique Blake scored off her own miss.
The Pirates, who outrebounded the Irish 32-14 in the second half, made 12 of 14 free throws during the final 1:50 to hold on for the victory.
Jadis Rhodin had 13 points and six rebounds for Seton Hall and Amber Harris and Brown had 12 points each. Harris also added 11 rebounds and the Pirates had 14 second-chance points compared to five for the Irish.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Seton Hall Met In South Orange
Charel Allen had 14 points and nine rebounds and No. 10 Notre Dame overcame a school record-tying low point total for a road game in posting a 41-35 victory over Seton Hall on March 1, 2005, at Walsh Gym in South Orange, N.J.
Jacqueline Batteast added 11 points as the Irish (25-4, 13-3 BIG EAST) overcame 22 percent shooting (13-of-59) from the field to win for the 12th time in 13 games.
The 41 points tied the school record for fewest points on the road, set in a 66-41 loss at Marquette in 1978, the first year of women’s basketball at Notre Dame. The record low for a game at home was set last year, when the Irish beat Villanova 38-36.
Ashley Bush had 19 points and 11 rebounds for Seton Hall in her final home game. Asia Carroll hit two late three-pointers for the Pirates (14-13, 6-10), with the last getting them within 36-31 with 1:11 to go. Allen then iced the game with four late free throws.
Down 17-15 at the half, Notre Dame took the lead for good with a 7-0 spurt that came during a span where the officials changed a three-pointer by Bush into a two-point basket. The switch cut the lead to 19-18 and Allen hit two free throws to put the Irish ahead 20-19. Batteast then scored the next five points, hitting one of two free throws, a shot in the lane and a layup for a 25-19 lead with 14:16 to play.
Seton Hall twice cut the lead to four points, but Batteast hit a jumper to ignite a seven-point spurt that Megan Duffy capped with her only basket of the game.
Bush almost single-handedly gave Seton Hall its two-point halftime lead. She scored 11 of her team’s 17 points and frustrated Batteast with her tough defense, limiting the conference’s second-leading scorer to two points on 1-of-5 shooting.
Notre Dame did not score in the final 7:31 of the period, and it had only two points in the final 10:09 in matching its season-low for a half.
Blowing The Lid Off The BIG EAST
Notre Dame is 7-4 (.636) in BIG EAST Conference openers since it joined the league for the 1995-96 season. The Irish have won five of their last seven BIG EAST lidlifters, but are coming off a 66-63 loss at St. John’s to begin last year’s conference slate.
Tuesday’s game will mark the sixth time Notre Dame has opened BIG EAST play on the road, having gone 2-3 its previous five outings. The last two times the Irish have encountered this scenario, they have come out on the losing side of the ledger, falling at Georgetown in 2004 (76-73) and last year at St. John’s (66-63).
Ringing In The New Year
Notre Dame is 21-8 (.724) all-time in its first game of a new calendar year, with a 14-6 (.700) mark when that first January game takes place on the road. The Irish have celebrated the new year with a victory in 10 of their last 12 opportunities, including a 9-2 mark since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96. In that time, the only blemishes on the Notre Dame record have been losses to Purdue in 2003 (71-54) and last year at St. John’s (66-63).