Jan. 22, 2007
2006-07 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 19
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (13-5 / 4-1 BIG EAST) vs.
#19/19 Marquette Golden Eagles (17-2 / 5-1 BIG EAST)
|DATE:||January 23, 2007|
|TIME:||8:00 p.m. CT|
|Al McGuire Center (4,000)|
|SERIES:||ND leads 27-4|
|1ST MTG:||2/3/78 (MU 66-41)|
|LAST MTG:||1/10/06 (ND 67-65, ot)|
|RADIO:||ESPN Radio 1490 AM|
|Sean Stires, p-b-p|
|Greg Amsinger, p-b-p|
|Debbie Antonelli, color|
Notre Dame opens a stretch of three consecutive BIG EAST Conference games, all against ranked opponents. The Irish offense has been particularly potent of late, averaging 81.3 ppg. in the past four games.
Winners in four of its last five and eight of its last 10 games, Notre Dame will tip off arguably its toughest stretch of the regular season Tuesday when it travels to No. 19 Marquette for an 8 p.m. (CT) contest at the Al McGuire Center. The game will be broadcast live to a national audience on College Sports Television (CSTV) as the nightcap of a BIG EAST women’s basketball doubleheader (Providence at Seton Hall is the opener).
The Irish turned in a sharp performance at both ends of the floor in their last outing, leading virtually from the opening tip to the final horn in an 83-55 win over Syracuse at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame held the Orange to an opponent season-low .356 field goal percentage, while topping the 80-point mark for the third time in the past four games. Junior guard Charel Allen rang up her second career double-double (both this season) with a game-high 25 points and a career-high tying 10 rebounds. Freshman guard Melissa Lechlitner added career bests of 18 points and six rebounds off the bench for the Irish.
Notre Dame is not ranked. Marquette was 19th in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls last week.
Setting The Standard Under the guidance of 20th-year head coach Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame has evolved into one of the country’s leading women’s basketball powers. The Irish have appeared in 13 NCAA Tournaments (including a current streak of 11 in a row) and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the previous 10 years. Notre Dame also has reached the NCAA Women’s Final Four twice, winning college basketball’s ultimate prize with the 2001 national championship.
In its history, Notre Dame has developed eight All-Americans, nine WNBA players (including six draft picks in the past six years) and four USA Basketball veterans (eight medals won). Now in their 30th season in 2006-07, the Irish own an all-time record of 606-271 (.691).
Notre Dame Head Coach Muffet McGraw
Saint Joseph’s ’77 20th season at Notre Dame
- 442-172 (.720) at Notre Dame.
- 530-213 (.713) in 25 years as head coach. NOTES 2001 consensus National Coach of the Year Four-time Naismith Coach of the Year finalist Four-time conference Coach of the Year
- BIG EAST Conference (2001)
- Midwestern Collegiate Conference (1991)
- North Star Conference (1988)
- East Coast Conference (@ Lehigh) (1983)
A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
Just beyond the halfway point of 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 72.5 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 21.3 turnovers per game (including a BIG EAST-best 11.7 steals per night). However, the flip side has seen the Irish allow opponents to shoot .413 from the floor (.372 from the three-point line), while the Irish claim just a 2.8 rpg. edge on the boards), two areas Notre Dame will continue to focus on during the BIG EAST season.
Junior guard Charel Allen has been one of the main offensive catalysts for the Irish to this point, averaging a team-high 15.9 ppg., while scoring in double figures in 16 of 18 outings to date. The Monessen, Pa., native is a the reigning BIG EAST Player of the Week, who also is collecting 6.1 rebounds and a team-high 2.3 steals per game. Last week, she averaged 28.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game with a .641 field goal percentage and a double-double in wins over St. John’s and Syracuse.
Allen’s classmate and backcourt running partner, Tulyah Gaines, is a candidate as one of the conference’s most improved players. The speedy Gaines has stoked the Notre Dame offensive fire to an even hotter level, averaging 10.4 points and 3.9 assists per game. Gaines, who came into the season with a 3.7 ppg. career scoring average, has scored 20 points in a game three times this year, including a career-high 27 points on Jan. 10 in a win over Cincinnati.
Another Irish junior, 6-foot-5 center Melissa D’Amico, continues to make strides in the post. The second-year starter is carding 9.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game with a team-high .536 field goal percentage. She also earned a spot on the BIG EAST Honor Roll on Dec. 18, and has posted two double-doubles this year. The most pleasing contributions of the year for Notre Dame to this point have come from its freshmen. Guard Ashley Barlow is second on the team in scoring (10.6 ppg.) and steals (2.1 spg.), and came up with a career-high 21 points and nine rebounds on Dec. 28 vs. Prairie View A&M. Center Erica Williamson (6.9 ppg., 6.3 rpg., 1.3 bpg.) logged her first career double-double at South Florida with 11 points and 18 rebounds (an Irish freshman record). And, guard Melissa Lechlitner (5.5 ppg., 3.0 apg.) is averaging 11.3 points and 6.0 assists in her last three games, including career highs of 18 points and six rebounds vs. Syracuse and a personal-best nine assists (without a turnover) vs. St. John’s.
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 260 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 10th nationally in attendance (6,331 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 89 of its last 91 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 Marquette
Perhaps no team in the BIG EAST Conference has gotten off to a more impressive start this season than Marquette. Building upon last year’s trip to the WNIT championship game, the Golden Eagles have charged to a 17-2 record (5-1 BIG EAST) and a No. 19 national ranking (as of Jan. 15), having moved back into the polls this season for the first time since the 1999-2000 campaign. MU’s only two losses this season have been at Virginia (84-76) and Pittsburgh (91-87, overtime), with the latter coming on Jan. 9.
Marquette has won its last two games, most recently taking a 79-77 decision at Providence on Saturday. The Golden Eagles jumped out to a 19-point lead in the first half, but the Friars rallied and actually held a four-point edge with less than two minutes to play. However, MU recovered well and got six points down the stretch from senior forward Danielle Kamm, as well as the go-ahead layup by sophomore guard Krystal Ellis with 11 seconds to play, and came away with the key conference road win.
Although only in her second year, Ellis has looked every bit like a seasoned veteran, averaging 19.3 points per game (fourth in the BIG EAST) and 4.0 assists per game (ninth in the BIG EAST) with a .471 field goal percentage (.382 three-point percentage, seventh in the BIG EAST). Senior forward Christina Quaye has been a solid complement on the blocks, averaging 15.7 ppg. (11th in the BIG EAST) and 6.5 rpg., along with a .493 field goal percentage. Kamm is the third Golden Eagle scoring in double digits (10.6 ppg.), and adds 5.8 rpg.
As a team, Marquette is third in the BIG EAST in scoring (75.6 ppg.) and scoring margin (+13.4 ppg.), and ranks fourth in three-point percentage (.344) and rebounding margin (+6.4 rpg.).
Head coach Terri Mitchell is in her 11th season as the Marquette skipper with a 208-111 (.652) record in Milwaukee. She is 0-7 all-time against Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-Marquette Series
Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Marquette, 27-4, including a 10-3 record in Milwaukee. The Irish have won the past 10 matchups with the Golden Eagles, and four in a row on the road. It should be noted that Marquette’s record book reflects two more games played vs. Notre Dame (both MU wins), but the Irish record books does not list those games since they took place before Notre Dame achieved varsity status in 1977-78.
The series dates back to that first varsity season (1977-78), when the Golden Eagles (then known as the Warriors) defeated Notre Dame, 66-41 on Feb. 3, 1978 in Milwaukee. The teams met almost annually through the 1995-96 season before the series went on a three-year hiatus. It returned in the 1999-2000 campaign and has been played annually since then.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Marquette Met
Megan Duffy hit a running layup as the buzzer sounded to give No. 20 Notre Dame a 67-65 overtime win over Marquette on Jan. 10, 2006 at the Joyce Center. Duffy finished with a career-high 32 points, including the tying basket with 26 seconds left in the extra period as the Irish (10-4, 1-2 BIG EAST) beat the Golden Eagles at the horn for the second straight year.
Marquette (10-4, 1-2) forced the overtime when Krystal Ellis hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to tie the score at 57. Ellis then hit a three to start the overtime and MU led until Duffy, who scored 17 points in the second half, tied it with her trey.
The Golden Eagles had a chance to go ahead in the closing seconds of overtime, but Christina Quaye missed inside in traffic and Duffy came up with the loose ball and took off for the game-winning shot. After she hit the right-handed basket (her off-hand), the Irish mobbed Duffy and Courtney LaVere picked up her teammate.
Danielle Kamm led the Golden Eagles with 17 points, but had just six after halftime. Jasmine McCullough had 12 points and eight rebounds before fouling out late in the second half. Carolyn Kieger had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Quaye had 10 points and 12 rebounds.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Marquette Met In Milwaukee
Jacqueline Batteast’s three-pointer as time expired gave No. 7 Notre Dame a 50-47 victory over Marquette on Dec. 19, 2004 at the Al McGuire Center.
It was Notre Dame’s only three-point field goal of the game, which was highlighted by each team’s star post players – Batteast and Marquette’s Christina Quaye. Batteast had game highs of 27 points and 10 rebounds to pick up her third double-double of the season, while Quaye led Marquette with 20 points and eight rebounds.
Neither team shot well as defense was the order of the day. Marquette shot 28.6 percent (16-of-56) while Notre Dame shot 34.8 percent (16-of-46), making rebounding and turnovers the key stats in the game. Marquette won the battle of the boards 47-31, with 20 rebounds coming on the offensive end. It was Notre Dame’s largest rebounding deficit of the season, but the Irish countered by forcing 19 turnovers, including 11 steals (seven by Megan Duffy).
The game stayed close early in the second half as the lead changed hands seven times in the first 10 minutes of the half. Notre Dame slowly pulled away thereafter, extending its lead to five, 38-33, at the 7:29 mark on Charel Allen’s lay-in.
Both teams found their shooting touch late in game as the teams began to trade baskets. Marquette tied the score at 40 when Danielle Kamm hit a falling 17-footer as the shot clock expired with 3:23 remaining. Breona Gray quieted the home crowd of 2,573 with a jumper that gave the Fighting Irish a 45-44 lead with 1:32 remaining.
The score stayed that way until Kamm fouled Duffy with 16 seconds remaining. Duffy made both free throws, giving the Fighting Irish a three-point advantage and the Golden Eagles the ball. Kamm hit a three-pointer from the deep right corner with 6.7 seconds left to tie the game, but the Irish hurried down the floor as Batteast took a pass from Duffy and hit the three as the buzzer sounded to earn the win.
Other Notre Dame-MarquetteSeries Tidbits
- Notre Dame has won 10 in a row and 26 of the past 27 games in the series after Marquette won three of the first four meetings (twice in Milwaukee, once in South Bend). The Golden Eagles’ most recent win over the Irish came on Dec. 1, 1992 in Milwaukee, a 66-62 verdict.
- The past four games in the series have been particularly close, with the Irish winning all four by an average margin of 5.0 points per game. In fact, the past four periods between the clubs have ended with buzzer-beating shots (see chart at right). Last year’s overtime game was the first time in 31 series games that Notre Dame and Marquette went to extra time.
- The 27 victories by Notre Dame and the 31 series games are both school records. Dayton and Detroit are tied for second on the Irish opponent victory list (22), while Notre Dame has played Dayton 28 times, second-most in school annals.
- Notre Dame is 34-8 (.810) all-time vs. Wisconsin schools, including a 14-6 (.700) record on the road. The majority of those games have come as part of the series with Marquette.
- With Marquette’s arrival in the BIG EAST last season, the Irish and Golden Eagles have been members in the same conference three times. Previously, the teams shared affiliations for two-year periods in the North Star (1986-88) and Midwestern Collegiate (1989-91) conferences. The NSC now is defunct, while the MCC was renamed the Horizon League. Notre Dame is 9-0 against Marquette in conference play, winning four times each in the NSC and MCC and once in the BIG EAST.
- Marquette has topped the 70-point mark twice against Notre Dame. Conversely, the Irish have scored at least 70 points against the Golden Eagles 21 times, all in the past 25 series meetings.
Allen Named BIG EAST Player Of The Week
Junior guard Charel Allen was chosen as the BIG EAST Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week, the league office announced Monday. It’s the first time in Allen’s three-year career she has been tapped for the award, although she was twice named to the BIG EAST Honor Roll earlier this season and was selected as the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week on Feb. 7, 2005.
In one of the best weeks of her career, Allen averaged 28.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game with a .641 field goal percentage (25-of-39) and a .571 three-point percentage (4-of-7) as Notre Dame defeated both St. John’s (83-65) and Syracuse (83-55) at home. Against St. John’s, Allen poured in a career-high 31 points on 14-of-19 shooting, logging the second-most field goals made by an Irish player in Joyce Center history. Four days later vs. Syracuse, Allen notched her second career double-double (both this season) with a game-high 25 points and a career-high-tying 10 rebounds. She also became the first Notre Dame player with consecutive 25-point games since Feb. 16-19, 2002, when Alicia Ratay did so against Rutgers (25) and West Virginia (31).
For the season, Allen leads the team and ranks ninth in the BIG EAST in scoring (15.9 ppg.), while also collecting 6.1 rebounds per game. Besides her scoring totals, Allen is among the conference leaders in steals (tie-sixth, 2.28 spg.), and she has scored in double figures 16 times in 18 games this season, including each of the past eight contests (averaging 18.4 ppg. in that span).
Pine Time Players
Part of the reason for Notre Dame’s success this season can be traced to the production the Irish have gotten from their bench. The Notre Dame reserves are averaging 23.8 points per game and are outscoring the opposition’s bench by nearly 10 points per game.
For the year, the Irish second unit has outscored the opponent reserves in 15 of 18 games, with Notre Dame posting a 12-3 record in those contests.
The Familiar Five
The Irish have used the same starting lineup in all 18 games this season, with guards Tulyah Gaines, Charel Allen and Breona Gray joined by forward Crystal Erwin and center Melissa D’Amico.
Notre Dame is the only BIG EAST school that has started the same lineup in every game it has played this season.
Clutch When It Counts
Notre Dame is shooting 75.6 percent from the foul line (62-of-82) this season inside the final five minutes of regulation and overtime.
Upon closer inspection, the Irish have gotten some of their most critical free throw production from their freshmen – guards Ashley Barlow and Melissa Lechlitner are a combined 17-of-19 (.895) at the charity stripe down the stretch.
Poise Under Pressure
The Irish are 6-2 this season in games decided by 10 points or less, including a 4-1 record when the margin is five points or fewer. Going back the previous two seasons (2004-05 to present), Notre Dame is 12-5 in five-point games and 26-9 in 10-point contests – with four of those nine losses coming in overtime.
In addition, four times this season, the Irish have sent a player to the free throw line with less than five seconds remaining in regulation or overtime and the game hanging in the balance. In those clutch situations, Notre Dame is 7-for-8 at the charity stripe, with the only miss being a semi-intentional one by senior guard Breona Gray on the second of two tries with 1.2 seconds to go in a 60-59 win at Valparaiso on Dec. 19.
The common basketball adage holds that college players make their biggest improvement between their freshman and sophomore seasons. However, for Notre Dame, it’s been the time between the sophomore and junior years that has been conducive to the most development.
Three of the top four Irish scorers this season are juniors and all three are posting the best scoring averages of their careers – guards Charel Allen (15.9 ppg.) and Tulyah Gaines (10.4 ppg.), and center Melissa D’Amico (9.9 ppg.). Allen came into the year with an 8.1 ppg. career average, while D’Amico had a two-year ratio of 4.0 ppg., and Gaines was averaging 3.7 ppg. Between them, the junior trio had a combined 37 double-figure scoring games in two seasons entering the 2006-07 campaign – so far through this year, they have 33 double-digit efforts.
Spread The Wealth
The Irish have fielded at least three double-figure scorers in 12 games this season, going 10-2 in those contests (only losses at Penn State and South Florida). The Jan. 13 overtime loss at USF marked the fourth time this year Notre Dame had five players crack double digits in the same contest.
Keeping The Home Fires Burning
Notre Dame has been largely solid at home this season, going 10-1 due in part to a crisp offense that has averaged 80.1 points per game on the Joyce Center hardwood. Led by junior guard Charel Allen (16.9 ppg.), the Irish also have four players scoring better than 11 points per game through their 11 home outings and are shooting .469 from the floor in front of the Notre Dame faithful.
Contribute Early, Contribute Often
Notre Dame’s freshman class has wasted little time in making its presence felt this season. Three of the Irish rookies – guards Ashley Barlow and Melissa Lechlitner, and center Erica Williamson – make up the team’s primary bench rotation, with all three averaging at least 16 minutes per game, all three having scored in double figures at least three times, and both Barlow and Williamson have posted double-doubles this season.
Barlow also is second on the team in scoring (10.6 ppg.) and ranks among the BIG EAST Conference leaders in both free throw percentage (.894, also 14th in NCAA) and steals (2.1 spg.). Williamson is carding 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game, ranking ninth in the conference in the latter category. And, Lechlitner is logging 5.5 points and 3.0 assists per night, while being perhaps the most productive Irish freshman of late. In her last three games, Lechlitner is averaging 11.3 points and 6.0 assists per game with a 6.0 assist/turnover ratio. She scored a career-high 18 points vs. Syracuse, following a nine-assist, no-turnover effort vs. St. John’s. In addition, she had 11 points in the overtime loss at South Florida, including the game-tying three-pointer with 11 seconds left in regulation.
The Five-Finger Discount
Notre Dame’s aggressive defense has forced 21.3 turnovers per game this season, logging 20-or-more takeaways in 13 games. In addition, the Irish caused an opponent season-high 30 turnovers at Michigan on Dec. 1, the first 30-turnover outing by the Notre Dame defense since Feb. 25, 2004 (37 turnovers by Miami at the Joyce Center).
The Irish also lead the BIG EAST Conference with 11.7 steals per night. In fact, Notre Dame has posted double-digit steal totals in 13 games this season, with junior guard Charel Allen committing the most larcenies to date (41, 2.28 per game, tied-sixth in BIG EAST) and leading five Irish players with at least 25 steals this season.
In addition, freshman guard Ashley Barlow recorded a combined 11 steals vs. Western Michigan (six) and at USC (five). That made her the first Notre Dame player with back-to-back five-steal games since March 30-April 1, 2001, when Niele Ivey did so against Connecticut (five) and Purdue (six) at the NCAA Women’s Final Four in St. Louis.
Game #18 Recap: Syracuse
Junior guard Charel Allen posted her second career double-double with 25 points and a career-high-tying 10 rebounds, and Notre Dame turned in one of its better defensive performances of the season in an 83-55 BIG EAST Conference win over Syracuse on Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 6,831 fans at the Joyce Center. The Irish led virtually all the way, and held a double-digit advantage for much of the afternoon en route to their 10th win in the past 13 games.
Freshman guard Melissa Lechlitner had arguably the best day of her young career, registering personal highs with 18 points and six rebounds, as well as five assists without a turnover. Junior guard Tulyah Gaines nearly had a double-double of her own, finishing with 10 points and a career-high-tying nine assists, while freshman center Erica Williamson also came close to a double-double with eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Notre Dame (13-5, 4-1 BIG EAST) held Syracuse to an opponent season-low .356 field goal percentage and forced the Orange into 20 turnovers that were parlayed into 21 Irish points. Fantasia Goodwin scored a team-high 16 points, Nicole Michael added a double-double with 14 points and a team-best 10 rebounds, and Vaida Sipaviciute also scored 14 points for the visitors.
After the teams traded opening baskets, Notre Dame surged in front with 11 of the next 13 points, with Allen accounting for nine markers. Syracuse (8-12, 2-5) got back within seven points twice, the second coming at 18-11 on Goodwin’s triple with 11:22 remaining in the first half. A minute later, the Irish had their first double-digit lead of the game, courtesy of two Allen foul shots. Another bucket exchange followed before Lechlitner gave Notre Dame a double-digit lead for good, moving her team in front 27-15 on a three-pointer at the 7:52 mark. The Irish took a 41-23 lead at halftime, the fewest points they have allowed to a BIG EAST opponent this season.
Allen’s long jumper 17 seconds into the second half put Notre Dame up by 20 points. That margin remained for the next three minutes until the Orange went on a 9-0 run, getting within 49-38 on a jumper in the lane by Sipaviciute with 12:52 to go. However, Lechlitner converted an old-fashioned three-point play on the next Irish possession and SU never got closer than 13 points from then on. A game-ending 16-4 run helped Notre Dame finish with its largest margin of the day.
Noting The Syracuse Win
- Notre Dame moves to 20-2 all-time against Syracuse (winning its seventh in a row vs. the Orange), including a 10-0 record at the Joyce Center.
- The Irish have scored 70 or more points in 17 of 22 series games vs. Syracuse.
- The 28-point margin was the largest in the series since Jan. 21, 2004, when Notre Dame defeated the Orange, 64-35 in central New York.
- The 28-point victory was the largest for the Irish against a BIG EAST opponent since Feb. 5, 2005, when they logged a 75-47 win at Pittsburgh.
- Notre Dame is 39-3 (.929) all-time vs. New York schools, with a 21-0 mark at home.
- For the fourth consecutive series game, an Irish player posted a career scoring high vs. Syracuse – Melissa Lechlitner did the honors this time with an 18-point performance.
- Notre Dame’s 11 turnovers were its second-lowest total of the season, just one more than the season-low 10 giveaways they had in their previous game vs. St. John’s.
- Charel Allen followed up her career-high 31 points vs. St. John’s with 25 vs. Syracuse, becoming the first Notre Dame player with consecutive 25-point games since Feb. 16-19, 2002, when Alicia Ratay scored 25 points at Rutgers and 31 points in a home win over West Virginia.
- Allen also is the first Irish player with 20 points and 10 rebounds in the same game since Feb. 9, 2005, when Jacqueline Batteast had 23 points and 10 boards in a win at Providence.
- Between Allen and Erica Williamson, Notre Dame had two double-figure rebounders in the same game for the first time since Jan. 26, 2005, when Batteast and Crystal Erwin each had 10 caroms in a victory over St. John’s.
- Lechlitner also grabbed a career-high six rebounds (previous: five at Penn State on Nov. 16) and was turnover-free for the second consecutive game, dishing out 14 assists in that span.
- Tulyah Gaines tied her career high with nine assists, matching the total she had vs. Western Michigan on Nov. 19.
Injury Bug Bites Irish Early
Sophomore guard Lindsay Schrader will miss the 2006-07 season after suffering a torn ACL in her right knee during practice on Oct. 15. Schrader underwent corrective surgery on Oct. 27, with the normal rehabilitation timeline extending 6-9 months.
Schrader was to be Notre Dame’s top returning scorer and rebounder this season, after averaging 10.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game during her rookie campaign in 2005-06.
2006-07: The Anniversary Season
- 2006-07 marks the 30th season of Notre Dame women’s basketball, with the Irish having compiled an all-time record of 606-271 (.691) since making their varsity debut in 1977-78. Actually, Notre Dame spent its first three seasons at the Division III level, playing under the banner of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) before making the move to Division I status in 1980-81 (the NCAA began sponsoring a women’s basketball championship the following season). The Irish have an overall Division I record of 557-251 (.689).
- This year also represents Muffet McGraw’s 20th season as the head women’s basketball coach at Notre Dame and her 25th campaign overall, including her five-year run at Lehigh (1982-87). McGraw’s record is a stellar one – she is 442-172 (.720) at the helm of the Irish and has a career record of 530-213 (.713) in her silver anniversary season on the sidelines.
- In addition, Notre Dame is celebrating the 35th anniversary of women’s athletics at the University during the 2006-07 season. All Irish women’s sports teams will hold events to commemorate this milestone during their respective seasons. What’s more, all Notre Dame women’s teams are sporting 35th anniversary logo patches on their uniforms for the ’06-07 campaign.
Notre Dame Ranked 11th In Preseason BIG EAST Coaches’ Poll
According to a preseason poll of the BIG EAST Conference coaches, Notre Dame will finish 11th in the conference this season. Those were the results released at the league’s annual Media Day Oct. 26 at the ESPN Zone in New York’s Times Square. The Irish earned 108 points, while reigning BIG EAST Championship victor, Connecticut (221 points, 11 first-place votes) was tabbed first, ahead of regular-season champion Rutgers (215 points, five first-place votes). The BIG EAST sent 11 teams to the postseason last year, including seven NCAA Tournament qualifiers (Notre Dame was one).
The Irish now are in their 12th season as a member of the BIG EAST Conference in 2006-07. The Irish have gone 149-40 (.7884) all-time in regular-season conference games, posting the best winning percentage in league history. Connecticut is second with a .7866 success rate (306-83). Notre Dame also has finished among the top three in the final BIG EAST regular-season standings nine times in its first 11 seasons in the conference, including a share of the BIG EAST title in 2000-01.
Half And Half
During the past seven seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 118-10 (.922) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 46 of their last 50 such contests. Nine times this year, Notre Dame has led at the break, going on to win each time (Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Richmond, IUPUI, Valparaiso, Prairie View A&M, Cincinnati, St. John’s and Syracuse).
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense…
During the past 12 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 (Notre Dame’s first in the BIG EAST Conference), the Irish have an amazing 164-10 (.943) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game. Notre Dame has held six foes to less than 60 points, and is 5-1 in those games (wins over Michigan, Purdue, Valparaiso, Prairie View A&M and Syracuse; loss to Indiana).
…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 12 seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 99-3 (.971) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are a pair of overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998. Notre Dame has topped the 80-point mark eight times this season, winning on each occasion (Central Michigan, Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Richmond, Prairie View A&M, Cincinnati, St. John’s and Syracuse).
The seven 80-point games are the most for the Irish in a single season since 2000-01, when Notre Dame reached that level 15 times during its run to the national championship.
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 Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 145 of their last 162 games (.895) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has an 83-12 (.874) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it ended with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the ’02 home finale.
The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 64 of their last 69 non-BIG EAST contests (.928) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Four of the losses in that span came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents – Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54), Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT) and Indiana this year (54-51), with the fifth defeat coming to Tennessee last year (62-51). The Purdue loss also snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak which began after the UW setback.
Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center, posting a 295-78 (.791) record at the venerable facility. Three times (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Irish went a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season. The 2006-07 campaign will tie for the most regular-season home games (16) in school history, although in 2004-05, the Irish played host to all four rounds of the Preseason WNIT before its regular 12-game home slate began.
Jammin’ The Joyce
Beginning with its national championship season of 2000-01, Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past six years. This season looks to be no exception, as the Irish currently are 10th in the nation in average attendance (6,331 fans per game), according to the latest unofficial weekly rankings compiled by the University of Wisconsin Sports Information Office.
What’s more, each of the top 20 women’s basketball crowds in Joyce Center history have occurred during the 20-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present), with 19 of those 20 occurring in the past seven seasons (2000-01 to present). Lastly, the Irish have attracted at least 5,000 fans to 89 of their last 91 home games, including 15 contests with at least 8,000 fans and the first three sellouts in the program’s history (two in 2000-01, one in 2005-06).
States of Grace
Notre Dame is one of 12 schools in the country to have more than one player on its roster who was named a high school Player of the Year in their home state. Irish junior guard Tulyah Gaines was tapped as the 2004 Gatorade Nevada Player of the Year, while sophomore guard Lindsay Schrader was chosen as the 2005 Illinois Miss Basketball and Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Senior guard Breona Gray and junior guard Tulyah Gaines are team captains for the 2006-07 season. Both players are serving as captains for the first time in their careers, and each received the captain’s honor following a vote of their teammates prior to the season.
Notre Dame On The Small Screen
Notre Dame will have 11 of its regular-season games televised during the 2006-07 season. Highlighting this year’s television docket are five nationally-televised Irish women’s basketball contests, including a pair of games on the ESPN family of networks a week apart in early February.
This year’s TV slate continues a recent trend that has seen the Irish become a regular fixture on television. Beginning with the NCAA championship season of 2000-01 and continuing through this year, Notre Dame has played in 76 televised games, including 46 that were broadcast nationally.
Notre Dame On The Airwaves
For the 11th consecutive season, every Irish women’s basketball game (home and away) will air on commercial radio in South Bend, and for the seventh year in a row, Notre Dame can be heard on the flagship station of the Artistic Media Partners (AMP) Network – WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and AMP sports director Sean Stires is now in his seventh season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard free of charge on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics web site (www.und.com).
Irish Debut Free Video Coverage
In the latest instance of the wide-ranging media avenues afforded the Notre Dame women’s basketball program, the Irish will have several of their 2006-07 home games televised free of charge through the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.und.com). Thanks to the considerable efforts of CSTV Online (based in Carlsbad, Calif.) and its new Fighting Irish All-Access package, fans of Notre Dame women’s basketball can watch every minute of exciting action at the Joyce Center live from the comfort of their own homes. The video will be supplemented by an audio simulcast of the Notre Dame radio broadcast, led by veteran sportscaster Sean Stires.
This free service is limited to those home games that have not been selected for broadcast by other TV outlets. The Irish have been seen on und.com four times this season (Indiana, IUPUI, Cincinnati, St. John’s and Syracuse), with the remainder of this year’s Internet video broadcast schedule to include home games vs. Louisville (Feb. 7) and Georgetown (Feb. 21).
Joyce Center Arena Renovation On Tap
On Oct. 5, Notre Dame announced plans for a nearly $25 million renovation of the Joyce Center arena, including new chairback seating, a four-sided digital video scoreboard, and a club/hospitality area (as part of a new two-story addition to be built on the south side of the facility).
The $24.7 million renovation project has been underwritten with a $12.5 million leadership gift from Philip J. Purcell III, a Notre Dame alumnus and Trustee, and the retired chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley. Upon completion, the arena will be known as Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. The Purcell gift, combined with other benefactions, including a $5 million gift from 1959 Notre Dame graduate and Tampa Bay Devil Rays owner Vince Naimoli, brings the total contributions to the project to $22 million.
In accordance with University policies for new construction, work on the renovation will begin after the project is fully funded and designed. The University is actively seeking additional contributions.
Here’s a rundown of some upcoming promotions and giveaways at future Notre Dame women’s basketball games this season. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Irish athletics ticket office (second floor of the Joyce Center through Gate 1; 574-631-7356), on game day at the Gate 10 ticket windows of the Joyce Center, or via the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics web site (www.und.com/tickets). Consult the Notre Dame promotions web site (www.notredamepromotions.com) for the latest information:
- Feb. 4 vs. West Virginia – Girls and Women in Sports Celebration … Cheerleading Clinic … Faculty/Staff Day (half-priced tickets for Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s/Holy Cross faculty/staff and up to four guests) … Notre Dame women’s basketball freshman/sophomore player trading cards to the first 1,000 fans, courtesy of Homerun Inn Pizza … post-game autograph session on upper arena concourse with selected Irish players.
- Feb. 7 vs. Louisville – Heart of the Irish (Heart Health Awareness) … Wacky Wednesday (buy one ticket, get one free) … Notre Dame women’s basketball long-sleeved t-shirts to the first 1,000 fans, courtesy of St. Joseph Regional Medical Center … post-game autograph session on upper arena concourse with selected Irish players.
Next Game: Connecticut
Notre Dame continues its three-game BIG EAST road trip Saturday when it ventures to No. 6/5 Connecticut for a 7 p.m. (ET) tipoff at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs. The Irish will be making their first visit to the UConn campus since a 65-59 victory in 2005, breaking the Huskies’ 112-game BIG EAST regular-season home winning streak.
Connecticut (16-2, 6-0 BIG EAST) has been largely dominant this season, losing only to top-five foes Tennessee (70-64) and North Carolina (82-76). The Huskies have won their last two games, and will play host to DePaul Wednesday night before facing Notre Dame.