February 16, 1999
NOTRE DAME, IND. – The Notre Dame women’s basketball team (20-3, 12-3) will look to rebound from its loss at ninth-ranked Rutgers (77-57) on Saturday as the Irish play host to Syracuse on Wednesday, February 17 at 7:00 p.m.
Coach Muffet McGraw’s squad plays two of its remaining three regular season games at home. Following the Syracuse contest, the Irish travel to West Virginia on Saturday, February 20 for a 2:00 p.m. contest against the Mountaineers of West Virginia. Notre Dame then concludes the regular season with a home game against Miami on Tuesday, February 23 at 7:00 p.m.
The loss to Rutgers snapped Notre Dame’s season-high 11-game win streak, its longest since the 1990-91 campaign when the Irish won a school-record 15 straight games.
Notre Dame dropped to ninth from sixth in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN rankings after holding the number-six spot the last two weeks. The Irish have been ranked in the top 10 now for a school-record 13 consecutive weeks.
THE WEEK IN REVIEW – VILLANOVA: Holding a slim three-point lead at halftime (31-28), the Notre Dame women’s basketball team won its third straight over Villanova with a 74-52 victory. The win was the 11th straight for the Irish and the 20th of of the 1998-99 campaign. Ruth Riley (Macy, Ind.) recorded her ninth double-double of the season with 23 points and 11 rebounds. She hit seven-of-nine field goals from the field and was nine-of-13 from the free throw line. Danielle Green (Chicago, Ill.) was the only other Notre Dame player in double figures as she finished with 17 points. The second half began with a 16-5 run as Notre Dame opened up a 14-point lead. The final 22-point margin of victory was the largest of the game. Notre Dame held a decisive rebounding edge on the Wildcats as it outrebounded them 48-23. After shooting 54.5 percent accuracy in the first half, the Wildcats were held to just 30.8 percent accuracy from the field in the final 20-minute stanza.
RUTGERS: Notre Dame had its 11-game win streak snapped as the Irish for only the third time this season in dropping a 77-57 decision at Rutgers. Notre Dame shot a season-low 33.3 percent from the field, and connected on just eight-of-29 field goals (27.6 percent) in the second half. The Irish also committed 23 turnovers in the game. Notre Dame was led by Sheila McMillen’s (Rochester, Ind.) game-high 18 points as she hit six three-pointers in the contest. Ruth Riley had her second double-double in as many games, and 10th of the season, as she scored 12 points and grabbed 1o rebounds. Danielle Green finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
HEAD COACH MUFFET McGRAW – Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is in her 12th season along the Notre Dame sidelines and 17th as a collegiate coach. She has guided Notre Dame to three straight NCAA tournament appearances and five overall. McGraw led the Irish to the 1997 Final Four as her team claimed the East Regional championship. In 1998, McGraw’s squad finished with a 22-10 mark and advanced to the Sweet 16. In her 11-plus seasons at Notre Dame, she has a record of 255-108 (.702) and in 16-plus campaigns overall, her teams have registered a 343-149 (.697) ledger.
McGRAW NAMED FINALIST FOR NAISMITH WOMEN’S BASKETBALL COACH OF THE YEAR AWARD – Muffet McGraw has been named one of 15 finalists for the Naismith Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year award sponsored by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. McGraw has guided the Irish to their best start in school history (20-3) and have held a top 10 ranking in each of the two polls for a school-record 13 consecutive weeks.
SERIES RECORD VERSUS UPCOMING OPPONENTS – SYRACUSE: Notre Dame has won eight straight over the Orangewomen and lead the series 9-1, including this season’s 94-61 victory. The Irish have won all five times the two teams have played each other. Syracuse’s lone victory in the series was a 63-56 victory at home on February 4, 1989. WEST VIRGINIA: The Irish have won all six meetings between the two schools. This is the second time the two teams have faced each other this season; Notre Dame defeated the Mountaineers 111-90 on January 7. This will be the third time the Irish have played in Morgantown, W. Va. MIAMI: The two teams face each other the only time in ’98-’99 in the final regular season contest. Notre Dame leads the overall series 6-2 and holds a 2-1 advantage at the Joyce Center. Miami’s lone victory at Notre Dame was a 62-61 decision on February 7, 1987. The Irish have won five of the last six meetings between the two teams.
IRISH NOTCH SIXTH STRAIGHT 20-WIN SEASON – Notre Dame’s win over Villanova gave the Irish their sixth straight 20-win season, and marked the 10th time in the last 12 years under Irish head coach Muffet McGraw that they have reached that mark. This is the fastest a Notre Dame team has reached the 20-win plateau in the 22-year history of the program. Irish teams have won 20 or more games in 14 of 22 seasons.
IRISH 10-1 AT HOME – Notre Dame’s win over Seton Hall on January 20 was the 10th in 11 games for the Irish at the Joyce Center this season. It also marked the fourth straight campaign in which Notre Dame has won 10 or more games at home. In the 22 seasons they have been playing at the Joyce Center, the Irish have had 10 or more victories on nine occasions. Last season, McGraw’s squad won a school-record 12 games in posting a 12-1 mark at home.
DAILY DOUBLES FOR RUTH AND DANIELLE – Ruth Riley has had double-doubles in her last two outings and now has 10 on the season and 19 for her career. Her two most recent efforts were against Villanova and Rutgers. Against the Wildcats, she scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and then had 12 points and 10 rebounds in the loss to the Scarlet Knights. Riley’s other double-double performances were against Duke (20 points, 18 rebounds), Illinois (21 points, 12 rebounds), Toledo (15 points, 17 rebounds), Villanova (13 points, 10 rebounds), Michigan State (18 points, 12 rebounds), Boston College (22 points, 11 rebounds) and Providence (36 points, 13 rebounds) and (46 points, 13 rebounds). Danielle Green registered her fifth double-double of the season (and sixth of her career) when she scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against Boston College on February 3, Her other double-double efforts of the season were against Duke (20 points, 15 rebounds), Toledo (12 points, 13 rebounds), Michigan State (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Seton Hall (15 points, 13 rebounds).
IVEY HAS FOUR DOUBLE-DOUBLES TOO – Niele Ivey has recorded double figures in both scoring and assists in four games this season. Her most recent double-double was against Seton Hall on February 6 when she scored 15 points and dished off 11 assists. She registered back-to-back double doubles in the West Virginia (Jan. 7) and Providence (Jan. 12) contests. Ivey scored 12 points and dished off 11 assists (tying a career-high) in Notre Dame’s win over the Mountaineers. She followed that up with 10 points and 10 assists against the Friars. Ivey registered her first career double-double when she scored a personal best 25 points and dished off 11 assists in the season opener against UCLA.
McMILLEN MOVES UP SCORING CHART – Senior guard Sheila McMillen’s 18 points against Rutgers on Saturday moved her to seventh on the all-time Notre Dame career scoring list with 1,311 points. She needs just 63 points to move ahead of Shari Matvey (1979-83) and into sixth place. McMillen became the 14th player in Notre Dame women’s basketball history to reach the 1,000-point mark earlier this season. She has a 10.7 career career scoring average and has started 61 of the 123 games she has played in. Currently, McMillen is third on the team with a 15.1 scoring average. She and Ruth Riley lead the team with eight 20-point outings this season.
McMILLEN NEARS THREE-POINT MARK – Sheila McMillen hit her 200th career three-pointer in Notre Dame’s victory over St. John’s and became only the second player in Irish women’s basketball history to make more than 200 career three-pointers. Beth Morgan, who played for Notre Dame from 1993-97 and finished as the school’s all-time leading scorer, holds the Irish mark with 231. She also holds the single-season mark with 71 (1995-96). McMillen has 220 career three-pointers and already has 69 on the season. More than half of the 108 field goals she has made in ’98-’99 have come from three-point range. McMillen needs just three more three-pointer to set the single-season mark held by Morgan.
McMILLEN CLOSING IN ON IRISH GAMES PLAYED MARK – Sheila McMillen has played in 123 games during her career and is in reach of the record of 128 held by Katryna Gaither (1993-97) and Mollie Peirick (1994-98).
BIG CROWDS – Notre Dame is averaging an all-time high of 3,055 fans at Joyce Center home games this season. The crowd of 6,384 which saw the Irish defeat St. John’s on January 23 was the third largest in Notre Dame history. Prior to that game, the largest crowd of the campaign was 5,102 when Coach Muffet McGraw’s squad faced the then number-one ranked Connecticut Huskies on December 8. Notre Dame had its second-largest crowd of the season against Seton Hall on February 6 with 5,231 in attendance.
HELPING PUT THE BIG IN THE BIG EAST – During its three-plus seasons as a member of the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame has proven to be one of the league’s most dominant teams. The Irish have a 56-13 record (81.6 percent) in regular season games and a 6-3 mark (66.7 percent) in BIG EAST tournament action for an overall record of 62-16 (79.5 percent) against league opponents. Of Notre Dame’s 16 total league losses, eight have come against Connecticut when the Huskies were ranked among the top three teams nationally. The Irish have lost to four other teams in the BIG EAST – Rutgers (three times), Boston College (twice), Villanova and Miami.
IRISH TOUGH AT HOME AGAINST BIG EAST FOES – Notre Dame has compiled a 32-3 (.914) record against BIG EAST opponents at the Joyce Center since joining the league in 1995-96. The only two losses have been to Connecticut. Notre Dame was a perfect 9-0 at home in league action during the 1996-97 season.
ASSOCIATED PRESS (Week of Feb. 15)
LW 1. Tennessee (23-1) 1 2. Purdue (23-1) 2 3. Louisiana Tech (20-2) 3 4. Colorado State (26-1) 5 5. Old Dominion (19-3) 8 6. Connecticut (21-4) 4 7. Rutgers (22-4) 9 8. Duke (22-4) 9 9. NOTRE DAME (20-3) 610. Virginia Tech (23-1) 1111. Texas Tech (21-3) 1312. North Carolina (24-5) 1413. UCLA (19-6) 1214. Clemson (20-5) 1915. Georgia (19-5) 1016. Penn State (19-6) 1517. Virginia (17-7) 1818. Oregon (20-4) 2319. Iowa State (17-5) 1620. UC Santa Barbara (19-3) 2221. Kansas (19-6) 2122. Auburn (18-6) 1723. Florida Intl. (20-4) 2424. LSU (18-6) 2025. Alabama (15-8) 25
USA TODAY/ESPN (Week of Feb. 15)
LW 1. Tennessee (23-1) 1 2. Purdue (23-1) 2 3. Lousiana Tech (20-2) 3 4. Colorado State (26-1) 5 5. Connecticut (21-4) 4 6. Old Dominion (19-3) 9 7. Texas Tech (21-3) 10 8. Rutgers (22-4) 12 9. NOTRE DAME (20-3) 610. Duke (21-5) 711. Virginia Tech (23-1) 1312. Georgia (19-5) 713. North Carolina (24-5) 1414 UCLA (19-6) 1115. Penn State (19-6) 1516. Clemson (19-6) 1917. Iowa State (20-5) 1618. Virginia (17-7) 1719. UC-Santa Barbara (19-3) 1820. Kansas (19-6) 2021. Oregon (20-4) 2022. Auburn (18-6) 2123. Florida Intl. (20-4) 2324. LSU (18-6) 2225. Toledo (20-4) NR
1998-99 BIG EAST STANDINGS (through games of Feb. 14)
BIG EAST Overall Rec. Rec. Connecticut 14-1 21-4Rutgers 14-1 22-4NOTRE DAME 12-3 20-3Boston College 10-6 18-6Georgetown 8-7 14-9Villanova 8-7 12-11Miami 7-8 12-11St. John's 6-9 11-15Syracuse 6-9 10-13West Virginia 5-11 10-14Pittsburgh 3-12 8-15Providence 3-12 4-19Seton Hall 3-13 6-18