Breona Gray and the Irish square off with Arkansas State on Saturday at the Duel in the Desert.

Irish Open With Arkansas State At Duel In The Desert

Dec. 15, 2005

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2005-06 ND Women’s Basketball: Games 8-9
#13/14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-1 / 0-0 BIG EAST) vs.
Arkansas State Lady Indians (5-3 / 0-0 Sun Belt East Division)

vs. #23/rv North Carolina State Wolfpack (6-2 / 0-0 ACC) or
#22/21 Utah Utes (6-1 / 0-0 Mountain West)

DATE: December 17-18, 2005
TIME: 2:30 p.m. PT (Sat.)
Noon/2:30 p.m. PT (Sun.)
AT: Las Vegas, Nev.
Cox Pavilion (2,500)
SERIES: ASU – first meeting
NCST – ND leads 1-0
UTAH – ND leads 1-0
RADIO: ESPN Radio 1580 AM
Sean Stires, p-b-p


  • Notre Dame returns from a 10-day break for final exams with its first-ever trip to the state of Nevada.
  • The Irish will seek to continue their recent success in regular-season tournament play, having won 10 of their last 11 games in that setting.

With final exams now squarely in the rear view mirror, No. 13/14 Notre Dame gets back on the hardwood this weekend when it makes its first-ever visit to Las Vegas for the Duel in the Desert, held on the UNLV campus. The Irish are playing in the Gray Division, and will face Arkansas State in the opening round on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. PT (5:30 p.m. ET in South Bend). No. 22/21 Utah and No. 23 (AP) North Carolina State will tangle in Saturday’s other first-round game, with the consolation game set for noon (PT) Sunday and the title game to follow at 2:30 p.m. (PT). Notre Dame (6-1) is looking to rebound from its first loss of the season, a 65-54 setback at No. 24/23 Purdue on Dec. 7. The Irish struggled to find their shooting touch in the first half and trailed by 17 points at the break. A 16-4 second-half run helped Notre Dame get within nine points, but the Irish could get no closer. Senior guard Megan Duffy led Notre Dame with 12 points.

Notre Dame – 13th (AP)/14th (ESPN/USA Today)
Utah – 22nd (AP)/21st (ESPN/USA Today)
North Carolina State – 23rd (AP)
Arkansas State – unranked

Web Sites
Notre Dame:
Arkansas State:
North Carolina State:
UNLV (tourney host):

Setting The Standard
Under the guidance of 19th-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 12 NCAA Tournaments and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the past nine 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, eight WNBA players (including five draft picks in the past five years) and four USA Basketball veterans (eight medals won). Now in their 29th season in 2005-06, the Irish own an all-time record of 581-255 (.695).

Notre Dame Head Coach Muffet McGraw
Saint Joseph’s ’77
19th season at Notre Dame

  • 417-156 (.728) at Notre Dame.
  • 505-197 (.719) in 24 years as head coach.

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
Balance and chemistry will be the two main ingredients as Notre Dame looks to build upon last year’s successful 27-6 season that saw the Irish win the Preseason WNIT, rise to No. 3 in the national polls and advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

With the graduation of 2004-05 BIG EAST Player of the Year and All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast, as well as rugged and dependable center Teresa Borton, Notre Dame will have a large infusion of youth on its roster, as eight of its 12 players are underclassmen (four freshmen, four sophomores). However, the team is in more than capable hands, as senior point guard and two-time captain Megan Duffy returns to run the Irish offense. Duffy spent the summer as a co-captain on the USA World University Games Team that won a gold medal and went unbeaten in Izmir, Turkey, and she hopes to use the lessons she learned on the international stage to help her take the Irish to grand heights in 2005-06.

Notre Dame has been a mainstay in both national polls this season, peaking at No. 10 on Dec. 5, before dropping back to 13th (AP)/14th (ESPN/USA Today) this week after a 65-54 loss at (then) No. 24/23 Purdue on Dec. 7.

The balance the Irish have sought this season has been evident during the team’s first seven games this season. Notre Dame has had at least three double-figure scorers in six games (four in three of the past four outings) and seven different players have scored in double digits at least once thus far. What’s more, eight players are averaging at least 17 minutes of action per night.

Duffy has been a strong all-around contributor for Notre Dame during its first seven games. The veteran floor general is averaging a team-best 17.1 points, 4.4 assists and 2.9 steals per game,with a 1.82 assist/turnover ratio. Although she was held to three points in the season opener vs. Michigan, Duffy found other ways to help her team win, coming up with eight assists, four steals and four rebounds in 39 minutes. Since then, she has regained her scoring touch with a flourish, averaging 19.5 ppg. and leading the team in scoring during the past six games (five wins), highlighted by a career-high 26 points at Indiana (13 of those coming in the final eight minutes), a game-high 19 points against No. 24/21 USC, and a game-best 20 points at Wisconsin, including 6-of-6 free throws in the final 30 seconds to preserve the win. Duffy also has been tapped for the BIG EAST Conference Weekly Honor Roll twice this season.

Freshman guard Lindsay Schrader has shown tremendous promise during the early portion of the season. The former McDonald’s All-American already has been named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week once (Nov. 21) after turning in an impressive 10-point, 14-rebound effort in her debut outing against Michigan, becoming just the second player in school history (first since 1979) to record a double-double in her first game. She also averaged 13.5 points per game and shot a blistering 80 percent from the field (12-of-15) in wins over Iona and Wisconsin, going 6-of-6 in the latter contest. Those marks earned Schrader a spot on the Dec. 5 BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll, the first freshman to appear on that list this season. Schrader is second on the team in both scoring (9.9 ppg.) and rebounding (5.3 rpg.), and third in field goal percentage (.469).

Sophomore guard Charel Allen, who is still working her way back to full strength after surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered in last spring’s NCAA Tournament, has shown little sign of her injury to this point. In the season opener against Michigan, Allen came off the bench to drop in a game-high 16 points, including 12 in the second half. Having scored in double figures three times, she is tied for third on the team in scoring (8.9 ppg.).

Potent Notables About The Fighting Irish

  • Notre Dame’s No. 13 ranking in the latest Associated Press poll represents the 24th consecutive appearance for the Irish in that survey, dating back to the start of the 2004-05 season. All told, Notre Dame has appeared in 133 Associated Press polls since the balloting debuted 30 years ago, with their first AP ranking (No. 25) coming on Dec. 31, 1990.
  • With its No. 10 AP ranking on Dec. 5, the Irish have appeared in the top 10 of the media balloting at some point in seven of the past 10 years (including three of the past four seasons). All told, Notre Dame has spent 73 weeks in the AP top 10 during the program’s 29-year history and owns a 110-21 (.840) record when it’s ranked in the top 10.
  • The Irish have won 57 of their last 60 non-conference home games, dating back to the 1994-95 season. All three of the losses in that span have come against Big Ten Conference opponents (Wisconsin in 1996, Purdue in 2003, Michigan State in 2004).
  • The Irish defense continues to be its calling card. In each of the past six seasons, Notre Dame has held its opponents to an average of less than 62 points per game, including a 56.8 ppg. mark last year, which ranked as the third-lowest opponent scoring average in school history and second-best of the Muffet McGraw era (55.8 ppg. in 2000-01). Thus far in 2005-06, the Irish are allowing opponents to score 61.1 ppg.
  • The Irish have posted 38 wins over Top 25 opponents in the past eight seasons (1998-99 to present), most recently knocking off No. 24/21 USC, 73-62 on Nov. 27 at the Joyce Center. In each of the past two years, Notre Dame has set a school record with seven regular-season wins over ranked opponents. Furthermore, since the start of the 2003-04 season, the Irish are 11-2 (.846) at home against Top 25 competition.
  • Following their Nov. 29 win over Iona, the Irish have welcomed crowds of 5,000 or more fans to 68 of their last 70 home games. The only two blemishes on that mark came in the semifinals and finals of last year’s Preseason WNIT, because tickets for those games could not be included in the Notre Dame season ticket package and had to be purchased separately.
  • Senior guard Megan Duffy was named a preseason All-American by three sources, has been cited on the preseason watch lists for both the State Farm/WBCA Wade Trophy and the John R. Wooden Women’s Award, and most recently was tabbed as one of the top five point guards in the nation by Duffy also was a preseason all-BIG EAST Conference selection, following up her first-team all-league citation last year.
  • With a 55-45 victory over Michigan on Nov. 18, Irish head coach Muffet McGraw became the 27th coach in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history to reach the 500-win mark. She also is the 10th Division I coach to earn her 500th victory prior to age 50. McGraw reached another milestone on Nov. 29 vs. Iona with her 700th career game as a head coach (she was credited with the win despite missing the contest due to illness).

A Quick Look At Arkansas State
A perennial contender in the Sun Belt Conference, Arkansas State returns 10 letterwinners and three starters from last year’s club that went 21-11 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the postseason WNIT, defeating in-state rival, Arkansas, along the way.

ASU (5-3) is winding down a rugged non-conference schedule that has seen the Lady Indians already visit two ranked opponents (Duke and Purdue), while also battling Big 12 member Missouri and longtime Missouri Valley Conference stalwart Missouri State (formerly Southwest Missouri State). Of those challenges, Arkansas State has wins over Missouri (70-67) and Missouri State (68-62).

The Lady Indians take a two-game winning streak into this weekend’s Duel in the Desert, having defeated Hampton (97-71) in the consolation game of the Brown Classic on Dec. 4, and Alabama A&M (61-38) at home on Dec. 10.

Leading the way for the Lady Indians this season has been junior center Adrienne Davie. A first-team all-Sun Belt selection last year, Davie currently averages a double-double (15.8 ppg., 10.4 rpg.) while starting all eight games. Senior guard Amber Abraham gives ASU a strong perimeter threat, averaging 11.3 ppg. with a .490 three-point percentage (24-49). Junior guard Rudy Sims capably runs the point for the Lady Indians, logging 11.3 points and 5.4 assists per contest.

Head coach Brian Boyer is in his seventh season at Arkansas State, sporting a 101-84 (.546) record at the school. He has never coached against Notre Dame.

The Notre Dame-Arkansas State Series
Saturday’s game in Las Vegas will mark the first-ever meeting between Notre Dame and Arkansas State on the basketball court.

Other Notre Dame-Arkansas StateSeries Tidbits

  • Notre Dame and Arkansas State have met in only two other sports through the years. The Irish and Indian baseball teams faced one another 15 times from 1950-1975, with Notre Dame holding a slim 8-7 advantage. Then, on Dec. 5, 1991, the Irish and Lady Indian volleyball team played for the only time in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (equivalent to basketball’s NIT) at Fairborn, Ohio, with Notre Dame prevailing in five games.
  • ASU is the first Arkansas school Notre Dame will face on the hardwood. Prior to this weekend, the Irish have played teams from 42 of the other 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia. The only states still left to be played on the Irish docket are: Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont and Wyoming.
  • Saturday’s game with Arkansas State also will mark Notre Dame first-ever contest in the state of Nevada. It will be 36th different state (not counting the District of Columbia) the Irish have played in during their 29-year history. The remaining states Notre Dame has yet to be play in are: Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming.
  • The all-time Notre Dame roster includes players from 35 different states, although none from the state of Arkansas. One of the more recent additions to this list is Nevada, with the arrival of junior guard Breona Gray (Las Vegas) and sophomore guard Tulyah Gaines (North Las Vegas).
  • Junior guard Breona Gray is familiar with one member of the Arkansas State squad – assistant coach Rebecca Chilton-Peoples. The ASU aide spent time as an assistant coach at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, and one of her proteges during that time was Gray, who played her sophomore and junior prep seasons under Chilton-Peoples’ watchful eye. Gray eventually became one of five NCAA Division I signees Chilton-Peoples helped produce during her tenure at Bishop Gorman.

A Quick Look At North Carolina State
Much like Notre Dame, North Carolina State has a great deal of experience returning this season, with 11 letterwinners and four starters back in the fold. Like the Irish, the Wolfpack are hoping for a strong recovery from a key contributor (Billie McDowell) who saw her season end early in the NCAA Tournament with a torn ACL. And like Notre Dame, N.C. State entered this season smarting from an untimely exit from the 2005 NCAA Tournament (60-58 to Middle Tennessee in the first round on a last-second shot).

The Wolfpack (6-2) are ranked 23rd in this week’s Associated Press poll and are receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Today poll, thanks in part to their current four-game winning streak that started with a 76-67 win over No. 19 Vanderbilt on Nov. 30. In fact, North Carolina State’s only two losses were by a combined 12 points (54-52 at Saint Joseph’s; 66-56 vs. No. 6 Rutgers at the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas).

In another similarity to Notre Dame, N.C. State has utilized a balanced attack with much success, as four players currently are scoring in double figures. Senior forward/center and All-America candidate Tiffany Stansbury sets the pace at 15.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per game, while ranking 12th nationally with a .629 field goal percentage. Junior guard Ashley Key is second in the team in scoring (11.1 ppg.) and tops in assists (4.9 apg.).

McDowell has played in the past four games since receiving clearance to resume competition on Nov. 30. She is tied for third in the team in scoring (10.5 ppg.) and is second in three-point percentage (.455). Meanwhile, sophomore forward Khadijah Whittington also is averaging 10.5 points per game while swiping a team-best 2.4 steals a night.

Legendary head coach Kay Yow is in her 31st season at North Carolina State, owning a 623-291 (.682) record. She previously spent four seasons (1971-75) at Elon College and has a 35-year career coaching record of 680-310 (.687). She is 0-1 all-time vs. Notre Dame.

The Last Time Notre Dame AndNorth Carolina State Met Katryna Gaither rang up a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Notre Dame shot a sizzling 56.5 percent from the field as the No. 14/7 Irish downed No. 6/12 North Carolina State, 64-53 in the third place game of the Preseason WNIT on Nov. 20, 1996, at the Thomas Assembly Center in Ruston, La.

With talented guard Beth Morgan not at 100 percent, Rosanne Bohman stepped into the breach with solid post play, tallying 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting while snaring five rebounds. Point guard Jeannine Augustin added 10 points for the Irish, who defeated their second ranked opponent in their 1996-97 NCAA Final Four season.

Katie Smrcka-Duffy scored 17 points and Jennifer Howard chipped in with 13 points for the Wolfpack, who were hampered by foul trouble. Two critical N.C. State posts – Umeki Webb (10 rebounds) and Chasity Melvin (seven points, seven rebounds) – fouled out in the second half, leaving the Wolfpack shorthanded.

The first half was a close affair, with three ties and three lead changes. North Carolina State opened up a 21-16 lead (its largest of the game) with 5:44 remaining in the period, before Notre Dame closed out the half on a 15-4 run, highlighted by nine points from Gaither.

The Wolfpack battled back behind a 10-0 run early in the second half and regained the lead at 39-37 on a three-pointer by Smrcka-Duffy with 13:14 left. Notre Dame countered with an 11-2 spurt of its own to take the lead for good and then cemented the win by canning all eight of its free throw attempts in the final three minutes.

Other Notre Dame-North Carolina StateSeries Tidbits

  • Notre Dame is 7-1 (.875) all-time against teams from North Carolina, with the only loss being an 80-62 setback at No. 19 Duke on Nov. 22, 1997.
  • The Irish have had just one player in their history hail from North Carolina. Mary Joan Forbes (Raleigh, N.C./Sanderson HS) was one of the first Irish women’s basketball players ever to receive an athletic scholarship and wound up playing one season (1980-81), averaging 0.4 points and 1.6 rebounds in nine games.
  • Notre Dame will welcome its second North Carolina resident to the program next season, when forward Erica Williamson (Charlotte, N.C./South Mecklenburg HS) arrives on campus. Williamson moved with her family to Charlotte last summer after previously residing in Rochester, N.Y. and attending Honeoye Falls-Lima High School.

A Quick Look At Utah
For years, Utah women’s basketball has been a power in the Mountain West Conference, dueling regularly with New Mexico for league supremacy. The Utes also have been a major player on the national scence as well, reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2001 and posting a 26-8 record and NCAA second-round appearance last year.

Perhaps the most experienced crew at this weekend’s Duel in the Desert, Utah (6-1) has nine letterwinners and four starters back and they have paid big dividends early on. The Utes are riding a current five-game winning streak, with the last four of those wins coming on their home court at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. Utah also has a road win at Pac-10 Conference member Arizona (66-63) and lost its only game of the year by a mere seven points (63-56) at another Pac-10 team, Washington.

The Utes are led by the two-headed monster of senior forward Kim Smith and senior guard Shana Thorburn. Both candidates for All-America honors in 2005-06, Smith is averaging team-bests of 18.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, Thorburn is second on the team in scoring (11.4 ppg.) and first in assists (7.1 apg.), including a staggering 13 handouts in Utah’s most recent victory on Dec. 10 vs. Gonzaga (81-54).

Elaine Elliott has spent all 23 seasons of her head coaching career at Utah, compiling a 469-187 (.715) record. She is 0-1 all-time against Notre Dame.

The Last Time Notre Dame And Utah Met
All-America center Ruth Riley recorded her ninth double-double of the season with 24 points and 14 rebonds to lead top-seeded Notre Dame to a 69-54 win over No. 5 seed Utah in the NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal on March 24, 2001 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo.

Riley, who also recorded a career-high six assists, led four Irish players in double figures. All-America guard Niele Ivey added 15 points, while guard Alicia Ratay and forward Ericka Haney contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively. Erin Gibbons led Utah with 14 points as Notre Dame limited the Utes to just 35.8 percent shooting (19-53) in the game.

The Irish jumped out to a 32-25 halftime lead behind eight points apiece from Ratay and Ivey, as well as six from Riley and forward Kelley Siemon. As a team, Notre Dame shot 52 percent from the floor (13-25) in the opening stanza.

The second half belonged to Riley, as the Irish center recorded 18 of her 24 points and nine of her 14 rebounds after intermission. That included 12 of Notre Dame’s first 13 points in the period, as the Irish held off an early Utah run before opening up the 15-point final margin of victory.

Other Notre Dame-Utah Series Tidbits

  • Notre Dame has faced only two teams from the state of Utah – BYU (W, 81-69 on Dec. 5, 1987 in Green Bay, Wis.), and Utah (W, 69-54 in the 2001 NCAA Tournament at Denver’s Pepsi Center). The Irish have never played a game in the Beehive State.
  • Notre Dame and Utah were sent to the same sub-regional site (the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif.) for last year’s NCAA Tournament. Ironically, both wound up losing in the second round to Pac-10 Conference opponents (Irish to Arizona State; Utah to Stanford).
  • Notre Dame has never had a Utah native on its roster in the 29-year history of the program.

Notre Dame vs. The Sun Belt
The Irish have faced only two current Sun Belt Conference teams in their history, going 2-0 with wins over Florida International (68-62 at Miami on Dec. 19, 1999) and Middle Tennessee (59-46 at Notre Dame on March 23, 2004 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament).

Notre Dame vs. The ACC
Notre Dame is 38-14 (.731) all-time against the current Atlantic Coast Conference alignment. The last time the Irish faced an ACC opponent (aside from new member Boston College, formerly of the BIG EAST) was on Nov. 17, 2004, when Notre Dame downed No. 6 Duke, 76-65 in the semifinals of the Preseason WNIT at the Joyce Center.

Notre Dame vs. The Mountain West
Notre Dame’s history against Mountain West Conference opponents is limited, with the Irish holding a 6-2 (.750) mark against that league.

The majority of those games have come against Colorado State, whom Notre Dame faced in four consecutive seasons from 2001-02 through 2004-05, going 3-1 vs. the Rams. CSU also is the only MWC school the Irish have faced more than once, with BYU, New Mexico, San Diego State and Utah all have played Notre Dame once.

Tournament Tested
Notre Dame has had much success in regular season tournaments during the past 10 seasons. In fact, the Irish have won 10 of their last 11 regular-season tournament games, highlighted by last year’s four-game run to the Preseason WNIT title. The only loss in this current stretch was a 67-63 overtime loss at No. 20 Colorado on Nov. 15, 2003 in the finals of the WBCA Classic – a game the saw the Buffaloes drain a 30-foot three-pointer at the end of regulation to force the extra session.

Join The Club
The Irish women’s basketball team became the sixth Notre Dame squad this year to be ranked in the top 10 in its respective sport at some point during the season when it earned the No. 10 spot in the Dec. 5 AP poll. The other top-10 Irish teams include: women’s cross country (4th), football (5th AP), men’s cross country (5th), women’s soccer (5th) and volleyball (9th).

In addition, all six of Notre Dame’s fall sports teams advanced to the round of 16 (or its equivalent) in the NCAA Tournament. The Irish cross country teams both finished among the top 10 at the NCAA Championships (men – 3rd; women – 7th), while the women’s soccer team advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals (lost at eventual champion Portland), and the men’s soccer squad made its first-ever trip to the Sweet 16 before bowing by a 1-0 count at College Cup participant Clemson.

The Irish volleyball team reached the round of 16 for the first time since 1997, falling to Wisconsin in five games down in College Station, Texas.

Meanwhile, the Notre Dame football team also is still in season, readying to take on Ohio State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Jan. 2 in Tempe, Ariz.

On the strength of their early fall success in cross country, the Irish are third in the first NACDA/USSSA Directors’ Cup standings released last week. The results from both soccer teams, football (final result determined by ranking in ESPN/USA Today poll) and volleyball are yet to come.

In Absentia
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw missed the first three games of her 700-game coaching career vs. Iona, Wisconsin and Purdue, as she was sidelined due to an acute illness. Associate head coach Coquese Washington piloted the team in McGraw’s absence, although the wins/losses are credited to McGraw’s coaching record (now 505-197).

McGraw returned to coach the Irish in practice last weekend, although her status for the Duel in the Desert Dec. 17-18 is still to be determined.

Starting Strong
The Irish got off to a 6-0 start for the second time in as many seasons, marking the first time in the 29-year history of the program Notre Dame has put together back-to-back 6-0 starts (the Irish began last year with a 7-0 record). All told, Notre Dame has won the first six games of the season only four times, all in the Muffet McGraw era (and all in the past eight seasons beginning in 1998-99). In the three previous 6-0 starts, the Irish went on to win at least 25 games and reach the NCAA Tournament every time.

Second-Half Sizzle
In five of their six victories this season, Notre Dame has used a significant second-half run to take control of the contest. In three of those instances (Michigan, Indiana, USC), the Irish trailed at some point in the final 11 minutes, but on the strength of their second-half run, rallied to take the win.

ND-Tennessee Game Sold Out
The University of Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office announced Dec. 12 that the New Year’s Eve women’s basketball game between the Irish and Tennessee at the Joyce Center is sold out. The official announcement of the 11,418-seat sellout, the third in program history, came 19 days prior to tip-off and makes the 2 p.m. (ET) New Year’s Eve contest the fastest sellout in the 29-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball. The Irish had two capacity crowds in their first national championship season of 2000-01 – vs. top-ranked Connecticut on Jan. 15, and vs. Georgetown for Senior Night on Feb. 24 – with the latter contest exhausting its ticket allotment 15 days in advance.

Game #7 Recap: Purdue
Reserve Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton scored 14 points and Katie Gearlds added 13 to help No. 24/23 Purdue hand No. 10 Notre Dame its first loss of the season, 65-54 on Dec. 7 at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind.

The Irish (6-1) were playing their third game without head coach Muffet McGraw, who was home with an acute illness.

The Boilermakers (5-2) held Notre Dame senior guard Megan Duffy to 12 points, six below her average. She didn’t make a field goal for the first 19 minutes of the game as Purdue took a 39-22 halftime lead. The Boilermakers shot 48 percent from the field in the first half while holding the Irish to 29 percent shooting.

The Boilermakers led by as many as 21 points in the second half, but Notre Dame used a 16-4 run to get within 61-52 with 1:32 remaining before Purdue stopped the bleeding and iced the game with four free throws.

Aya Traore scored 11 points and Erin Lawless had 11 points and 12 rebounds for Purdue, which outrebounded the Irish 47-34.

Senior forward Courtney LaVere scored 10 points for Notre Dame and junior forward Crystal Erwin finished with seven points and 11 rebounds.

Noting The Purdue Game

  • The loss snaps Notre Dame’s six-game season-opening winning streak.
  • It was only the third loss for Notre Dame in its last 17 road games.
  • The Irish are 0-8 all-time at Mackey Arena, although the 11-point margin was the third-smallest in Notre Dame’s eight visits.
  • A lower-ranked Purdue team has now defeated a higher-ranked Irish squad on three occasions in the series (all three wins have come at Mackey Arena).
  • Notre Dame finishes the regular season 3-1 against the Big Ten, setting a school record for Big Ten wins in the regular season.
  • This marked the first time all season the Irish did not have at least three players scoring in double figures.
  • Notre Dame also trailed at halftime for the first time this season.
  • The Irish registered season-lows for points in a half (22) and a game (54).
  • Notre Dame committed 15 or fewer turnovers for the fourth time in 2005-06.
  • Junior forward Crystal Erwin collected a career-high 11 rebounds, one more than her previous high of 10 vs. St. John’s last season; Erwin also is the fifth different Notre Dame player to lead the team in rebounding this year.

A Double Cheeseburger For Schrader
A 2005 McDonald’s All-America selection who played in that elite all-star game back in March on her new home floor at the Joyce Center, freshman guard Lindsay Schrader felt right at home from the first moment she stepped into the historic venue, scoring nine points in that contest.

As if there was any doubt about her abilities, Schrader put them all to rest in the Nov. 18 season-opening win vs. Michigan, rolling up a double-double (10 points, 14 rebounds) in her first college game, which she started. Schrader is just the second Notre Dame player ever to record a double-double in her debut contest, and the first Irish player to do so since the program elevated to Division I status in 1980-81 (ND was a Division III program for its first three seasons). The only other career-opening double-double by a Notre Dame freshman came from Shari Matvey, who had 21 points and 14 rebounds in a 68-60 conquest of Marion on Nov. 30, 1979 at the Taylor Invitational in Upland, Ind.

Give Her Five (Hundred)
With Notre Dame’s 55-45 victory over Michigan on Nov. 18, head coach Muffet McGraw became the 27th women’s basketball coach in NCAA Division I history to reach the 500-win mark. McGraw now has a career record of 505-197 (.719) in 24 years of coaching, including 19 seasons at Notre Dame (417-156, .728).

Here’s a closer look at how that milestone victory breaks down for McGraw:

  • She is the 10th NCAA Division I women’s basketball coach to register her 500th victory before turning 50 (her birthday was Dec. 5).
  • McGraw is the fourth active coach in the BIG EAST Conference to reach the career 500-win mark, joining Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer, Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma and Villanova’s Harry Perretta.
  • She is the third BIG EAST coach in as many seasons to celebrate her 500th win. Auriemma hit the milestone late in the 2002-03 campaign, while Perretta joined the club with his landmark victory midway through last season.

Half And Half
During the past six seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 102-8 (.927) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 31 of their last 33 such contests. Notre Dame has opened this season by winning five of its first six games after it led at the break (the Irish were tied at halftime of their win over USC).

The Best Offense Is A Good Defense…
During the past 11 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 152-9 (.944) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Notre Dame had added two more tallies to this ledger with wins over Michigan (55-45) and Iona (74-55).

…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 decade (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 91-3 (.968) 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.

Sweet Success
Notre Dame is one of only nine schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the past nine seasons (1997-2005). The others are Connecticut and Tennessee (nine times), Duke (eight times), Louisiana Tech (seven times), and Georgia, LSU, North Carolina and Texas Tech (six times).

The Gold Standard
The Irish are one of six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 12 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in this club are Tennessee (29), Texas Tech (16), Louisiana Tech (14), Old Dominion (14) and Connecticut (12).

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 130 of their last 141 games (.922) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 76-8 (.905) 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 57 of their last 60 non-BIG EAST contests (.950) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only three losses in that span all came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents – Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54) and Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT). The Purdue loss 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 280-72 (.795) record at the venerable facility. In three of the previous six seasons (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Irish were a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season.

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 five years, including a No. 16 rating in 2004-05 (5,830 fans per game). Notre Dame has averaged 5,744 fans in its first three games this season, and is tied for 10th in the latest unofficial national attendance rankings, released each Monday 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 19-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present), with 19 of those 20 occurring in the past six seasons (2000-01 to present). Lastly, the Irish have attracted at least 5,000 fans to 68 of their last 70 home games, including 12 contests with at least 8,000 fans and the first two sellouts in the program’s history (both in 2001).

The third sellout in Notre Dame women’s basketball history is slated for Dec. 31, as all 11,418 tickets have been exhausted for the Irish matchup with No. 1 Tennessee at the Joyce Center. The game sold out 19 days in advance, making its the fastest sellout in the 29-year history of the program.

Oh Captain, My Captain
Notre Dame’s two seniors – guard Megan Duffy and forward Courtney LaVere – will serve as team captains for the 2005-06 season. Duffy is in her second year as a captain (making her the 16th two-time captain in school history, and 12th in the Muffet McGraw era), while LaVere is a first-time captain. Both players 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 nine of its regular-season games televised during the 2005-06 season. Highlighting this year’s television docket are six nationally-televised Irish women’s basketball contests, including three consecutive games on the ESPN family of networks during a 12-day span in mid-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, Notre Dame has played in 60 televised games, including 37 that were broadcast nationally. Last year, the Irish had 17 games televised, with 10 being national broadcasts.

Notre Dame already is 2-0 in televised games this season. The Irish defeated both Western Michigan (71-68 on Nov. 20) and No. 24/21 USC (73-62 on Nov. 27) in contests broadcast live to a regional audience by Comcast Local (based in Detroit).

Six of the remaining seven televised games on the ’05-06 Notre Dame schedule all are slated for national broadcasts. The first of three Irish appearances on College Sports Television (CSTV) comes on Dec. 31, when Notre Dame plays host to Tennessee at 2 p.m. (EST). Notre Dame returns to the CSTV airwaves for a pair of January contests that will be part of the BIG EAST/CSTV Tuesday Game of the Week package. The Irish will welcome DePaul to the Joyce Center on Jan. 17, before visiting Rutgers on Jan. 24, and both games will tip off at 7:30 p.m. (ET). CSTV has aired eight Notre Dame women’s basketball games during the past three seasons, with the first being that network’s inaugural broadcast of any sport (a Feb. 2003 game at Connecticut).

The Irish then make three consecutive appearances on the ESPN family of networks, beginning with a Feb. 7 home game against Villanova that will be broadcast live on ESPNU. That game now will tip off at 6 p.m. (ET), one hour earlier than previously listed on some schedules. The following Sunday (Feb. 12), Notre Dame will travel to DePaul for a 4 p.m. CST (5 p.m. ET) game that will air on ESPN2 as part of that network’s “February Frenzy” split-national coverage designed to preview a similar coverage pattern for the NCAA Tournament. The Irish are back on ESPN2 on Feb. 19, when they play host to Connecticut in a 7 p.m. (ET) prime-time BIG EAST showdown at the Joyce Center. During the past five seasons, Notre Dame has appeared on the ESPN family of networks 24 times, averaging nearly five telecasts per year on “The Worldwide Leader in Sports”.

Notre Dame will make its final regular-season television appearance on Feb. 25, when it travels to new conference member Cincinnati for a 2 p.m. (ET) game that will air as part of the BIG EAST-Regional Sports Network (RSN) package. Among the outlets scheduled to televise the game live are WHME-TV (Channel 46 in South Bend), Comcast Chicago, Comcast Local, Comcast Philadelphia and Madison Square Garden Network.

Notre Dame On The Airwaves
Once again this season, every Irish women’s basketball game (home and away) will air on the flagship stations of the Artistic Media Partners (AMP) Network – WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1580) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and AMP sports director Sean Stires is now in his sixth season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics web site ( by subscribing to Fighting Irish All-Access, which gives listeners full multimedia access to a variety of Irish athletics events for only $6.95 per month.

Promotional Corner
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) or on game day at the Gate 10 ticket windows of the Joyce Center. Please note – additional promotions and giveaways may be added at a later date, so consult the Notre Dame promotions web site ( for the latest information:

  • Dec. 28 vs. Valparaiso – Family Day (four tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas for $25) … Notre Dame women’s basketball license plate frames to first 1,000 fans (courtesy of Chevy) … post-game autograph session with selected Irish players.

Next Game: Valparaiso
Following a 10-day break for the Christmas holiday, Notre Dame will get back into action Dec. 28 with a 2 p.m. (ET) game vs. Valparaiso at the Joyce Center. The Irish are 18-0 all-time against the Crusaders (8-0 at home), the most successful run against one team in school history. Last year, Notre Dame went on the road and downed Valparaiso, 69-59.

The Crusaders are 4-4 this season, following a 70-55 loss to No. 24/23 Purdue on Dec. 11 in Fort Wayne. Valparaiso will play host to Loyola-Chicago this Sunday before breaking for Christmas and returning to prepare for its game with the Irish.