Jan. 19, 2007
2006-07 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 18
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-5 / 3-1 BIG EAST) vs.
Syracuse Orange (8-11 / 2-4 BIG EAST)
DATE: January 20, 2007
TIME: 2:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind., Joyce Center (11,418)
SERIES: ND leads 19-2
1ST MTG: 1/16/88 (ND 81-64)
LAST MTG: 1/31/06 (ND 67-55)
RADIO: ESPN Radio 1490 AM, www.und.com – Sean Stires, p-b-p
TV: www.und.com (live)
LIVE STATS: www.und.com
TICKETS: (574) 631-7356
- Notre Dame’s offense has been sharp in the past three games, averaging 80.7 ppg. during that span.
- The Irish reserves have been a key component to Notre Dame’s success this year, averaging 23.1 ppg. and outscoring the opposition by more than eight points per night.
Irish Play Host To Syracuse In Saturday Matinee
Following a solid opening to its BIG EAST Conference schedule, Notre Dame heads into the second quarter of the league docket on Saturday when it plays host to Syracuse in a 2 p.m. (ET) game at the Joyce Center. The Orange will be making their first visit to South Bend since the 2004-05 season and just their third in the past five years.
The Irish have won nine of the past 12 games heading into this weekend’s contest. In its last outing on Tuesday night, Notre Dame used a season-best 19-0 run late in the first half to erase an early five-point deficit and race past St. John’s, 83-65 at the Joyce Center. The Irish committed a season-low 10 turnovers and canned a season-best seven three-pointers in the victory.
Junior guard Charel Allen was an offensive dynamo against St. John’s, pouring in a career-high 31 points on 14-of-19 shooting in 33 minutes. Junior center Melissa D’Amico added a double-double with 10 points and a career-best 11 rebounds, while freshman guard Ashley Barlow came off the bench to score 14 points.
- Notre Dame is not ranked.
- Syracuse is not ranked.
- Notre Dame: http://www.und.com
- Syracuse: http://www.suathletics.com
- BIG EAST: http://www.bigeast.org
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 605-271 (.691).
Notre Dame Head Coach Muffet McGraw
Saint Joseph’s ’77
- 20th season at Notre Dame
- 441-172 (.719) at Notre Dame.
- 529-213 (.713) in 25 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
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 71.9 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 21.4 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 .416 from the floor (.387 from the three-point line), while the Irish claim just a 2.2 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 15.4 ppg., while scoring in double figures in 15 of 17 outings to date. The Monessen, Pa., native is a two-time BIG EAST Honor Roll pick, who also is collecting 5.9 rebounds and a team-high 2.2 steals per game. Most recently, she poured in a career-high 31 points on Tuesday night vs. St. John’s, hitting 14 of 19 shots from the floor in 33 minutes. 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 10.5 points and 3.6 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 10.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game with a team-high .549 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 (10.8 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 (6.8 ppg., 6.0 rpg., 1.4 bpg.) is proving to be a capable understudy to D’Amico, logging her first career double-double at South Florida with 11 points and 18 rebounds (an Irish freshman record). And, guard Melissa Lechlitner (4.7 ppg., 2.9 apg.) has shown little drop off at the point behind Gaines, posting three double-figure scoring games, including a career-high 11 points twice and dealing out nine assists vs. St. John’s, the most handouts by an Irish rookie in 12 years.
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 259 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 (6,281 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 88 of its last 90 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 Syracuse
It’s a brand new look for Syracuse in 2006-07, from the head coach all the way to the star-studded group of newcomers who have given the Orange a breath of fresh air.
After taking the first two weeks of the season to work out the kinks of a new system, Syracuse (8-11, 2-4 BIG EAST) got going with four consecutive wins, including the championship at the Brown Classic in early December and a 61-59 win at St. John’s in its conference opener on Dec. 7. The Orange also split a pair of games at the San Juan (P.R.) Shootout, defeating Loyola (Md.) to reach the title game before bowing to TCU.
The new year has been a bit unkind to Syracuse, as the Orange have dropped four of five games in January, all under the BIG EAST banner and three against ranked opponents. Most recently, SU nearly rallied all the way back from a 20-point first-half deficit vs. No. 25 Pittsburgh before losing at home, 84-75 on Tuesday night. Junior guard/forward Fantasia Goodwin tossed in 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds, junior center Vaida Sipaviciute tallied 19 points, and freshman phenom Nicole Michael logged a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds for Syracuse.
Michael, a three-time BIG EAST Freshman of the Week honoree, leads the Orange and ranks among the top 10 in the conference in both scoring (eighth – 16.5 ppg.) and rebounding (seventh – 8.2 rpg.). Sipaviciute is second ion the team in scoring (13.6 ppg.) and also stands third in the BIG EAST in blocked shots (1.84 bpg.). Goodwin is third in scoring (12.6 ppg.), second in rebounding (7.2 rpg.) and fourth in the league with a .430 three-point percentage.
Quentin Hillsman is in his first season as the head coach at Syracuse. Saturday will be his first-ever meeting with Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-Syracuse Series
Notre Dame and Syracuse will be meeting for the 22nd time on Saturday, with the Irish holding a 19-2 series edge on the Orange. Notre Dame also is 9-0 all-time against SU at the Joyce Center, and 15-0 vs. the Orange in BIG EAST regular-season play.
The teams met four times as non-conference opponents from 1988-91, with the Irish taking three of four contests. The last two victories started a string of 12 consecutive wins for Notre Dame, a streak that was snapped on March 3, 2002, when Syracuse edged the Irish, 84-79, at Piscataway, N.J., in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Syracuse Met
Lindsay Schrader scored 24 points and shared team-high honors with eight rebounds as Notre Dame snapped a two-game losing streak with a 67-55 victory over Syracuse on Jan. 31, 2006, at the Carrier Dome.
Courtney LaVere tossed in 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and Megan Duffy chipped in with 12 points for the Irish. Vaida Sipaviciute came off the bench to notch team highs of 19 points and seven rebounds for SU. Tracy Harbut was the only other player to score in double figures for the Orange, finishing with 11 points, a game-high six assists and five rebounds.
Notre Dame used a sharp shooting second half (53.8 percent on 14-of-26 field goals) and better ball handling (one turnover) to overcome a five-point deficit in the opening moments of the final stanza. The Irish also forced 21 Syracuse turnovers, coming up with 14 steals, including four thefts by Tulyah Gaines. The first half was a nip-and-tuck affair, with neither side leading by more than four points at any stage. There were a total of eight ties and five lead changes in the opening 20 minutes, with both teams struggling with their shooting touch and ball handling. Syracuse got the first two-possession lead of the night when Cintia Johnson put the hosts ahead 10-6 on a driving layup at the 13:10 mark. That lead lasted less than a minute, as jumpers by Charel Allen and Gaines on consecutive trips down the floor erased the red ink for the Irish.
Notre Dame had a four-point lead of its own at 20-16 when Schrader canned a jumper with 5:41 to go before halftime. However, the Orange rallied with six points of their own, the last coming on Sipaviciute’s jumper in the lane at the three-minute mark. The Irish tied the game at 25-all, but Harbut made two free throws with 8.6 seconds left in the period to send SU to the locker room with a two-point advantage.
Syracuse (9-12, 2-8) seized its largest lead of the night in the opening minute of the second half, as baskets by Johnson and Harbut, sandwiched around a Schrader free throw, gave the Orange a 31-26 edge. LaVere answered with a pair of layups to trim the SU lead to a point at the 18:15 juncture, with the margin then bouncing between one and three points on both sides of the ledger for the next nine minutes.
The Irish then went to work on the defensive end, holding the Orange to just two field goals during the final nine and a half minutes of the contest. Notre Dame also put together an 8-0 run during a four-minute stretch, with LaVere draining a pair of jumpers to bookend the charge, and Schrader posted half a dozen in the final 2:18 to seal the win.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Syracuse Met At The Joyce Center
Fourth-ranked Notre Dame beat Syracuse 75-58 on Jan. 5, 2005, at the Joyce Center and never let the Orange get closer than 11 points in the second half.
Breona Gray, Teresa Borton and Megan Duffy each scored 17 points for the Irish. Gray shot 6-for-12, while Borton shot 6-for-7, as the Irish outscored Syracuse 28-18 in the paint.
The Irish (13-1, 2-0 BIG EAST) broke the game open with a 16-3 run in the first half in getting off to their best start since opening 23-0 in ’00-01, their NCAA championship season.
Jacqueline Batteast added 15 points and seven rebounds for the Irish, who outrebounded the Orange 45-37. Only two other players scored for Notre Dame.
Jessica Richter shot 5-for-13 from three-point range and finished with 17 points for Syracuse, which made nine three-pointers on 29 attempts. Lauren Kohn added 11 points and Amanda Adamson had 10.
Other Notre Dame-Syracuse Series Tidbits
- Saturday’s game will mark the first time Syracuse has played at the Joyce Center since Jan. 5, 2005 (a 75-58 Irish win). It’s also just the third time the Orange have come to South Bend in the past five seasons.
- Notre Dame has won all nine series games at the Joyce Center by an average margin of 19.8 points per game.
- The Irish have scored at least 70 points in 16 of 21 series games with the Orange, while SU has topped that mark only twice in the series (last coming in its most recent series win, 84-79 on March 3, 2002 in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals at Piscataway, N.J.).
- The Irish defense has been a key during its current six-game series winning streak. Notre Dame has limited Syracuse to 49.3 points per game in that stretch, including two games of 35 points or less.
- In each of its last three games vs. Syracuse, Notre Dame has had a player set (at the time) a new career high in scoring – Breona Gray (17 on Jan. 5, 2005), Charel Allen (17 on Jan. 19, 2005) and Lindsay Schrader (24 on Jan. 31, 2006). All three players have since eclipsed those point totals.
- Notre Dame is 38-3 (.927) all-time against New York schools, including a 20-0 record at the Joyce Center, where the Irish have won by an average margin of 24.5 points per game. Notre Dame is playing host to its second consecutive Empire State opponent Saturday, coming off an 83-65 win over St. John’s on Tuesday night.
- Syracuse sophomore forward Keri Laimbeer is the daughter of former Notre Dame men’s basketball player Bill Laimbeer (’79), who currently is the head coach of the two-time WNBA champion Detroit Shock (and whose roster includes former Irish All-Americans Ruth Riley and Jacqueline Batteast).
- Notre Dame has one New York native on its 2006-07 roster. Junior center Melissa D’Amico is from Manorville and graduated from William Floyd High School in 2004. Meanwhile, freshman center Erica Williamson is a former New York resident – she spent her first three prep seasons at Honeoye Falls-Lima High School in Rochester, N.Y., before moving with her family to Charlotte, N.C., in the summer of 2005.
Clutch When It Counts
Notre Dame is shooting 75 percent from the foul line (57-of-76) 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 (15.4 ppg.) and Tulyah Gaines (10.5 ppg.), and center Melissa D’Amico (10.3 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 31 double-digit efforts.
Spread The Wealth
The Irish have fielded at least three double-figure scorers in 11 games this season, going 9-2 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 9-1 due in part to a crisp offense that has averaged 79.8 points per game on the Joyce Center hardwood. Led by junior guard Charel Allen (15.4 ppg.), the Irish also have four players scoring better than 12 points per game through their 10 home outings and are shooting .472 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 (10.8 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 6.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game, ranking ninth in the conference in the latter category. And, Lechlitner is logging 4.7 points and 2.9 assists per night, while being perhaps the most productive Irish freshman of late. She came up with a career-high 11 points on Jan. 13 at South Florida, including the game-tying three-pointer with 11 seconds left in regulation. Then, she distributed nine assists (with no turnovers) Tuesday vs. St. John’s, logging the most handouts by an Irish rookie since Feb. 16, 1995 (nine by Mollie Peirick in an overtime win at Cleveland State).
The Five-Finger Discount
Notre Dame’s aggressive defense has forced 21.4 turnovers per game this season, logging 20-or-more takeaways in 12 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 12 games this season, with junior guard Charel Allen committing the most larcenies to date (38, 2.24 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 #17 Recap: St. John’s
Junior guard Charel Allen tossed in a career-high 31 points on 14-of-19 shooting, and junior center Melissa D’Amico chipped in a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, as Notre Dame roared back from an early five-point deficit to defeat St. John’s, 83-65 in BIG EAST Conference action on Tuesday night at the Joyce Center. Allen scored nine points in a game-changing 19-0 Irish run late in the first half, helping Notre Dame (12-5, 3-1 BIG EAST) to its ninth win in the past 12 games.
Not to be overlooked, the Irish freshman class was at it again with contributions in all facets of the game. Guard Ashley Barlow scored 14 points, while backcourt mate Melissa Lechlitner dished out a career-high nine assists (the most by a Notre Dame rookie in almost 12 years) without a single turnover. Center Erica Williamson also turned in a workmanlike effort with seven points and five rebounds in 16 minutes. Monique McLean had a team-high 19 points for St. John’s (5-11, 1-4), leading four Red Storm players in double figures. Kia Wright and Tiina Sten added 14 points each, while Angel Tate flirted with a double-double before ending up with 11 points and a team-best nine rebounds.
With Notre Dame coming off an overtime loss at South Florida and St. John’s having won at No. 23 Pittsburgh last weekend, it wasn’t a surprise that the Red Storm came out with guns blazing in the game’s early moments. St. John’s knocked down seven of its first nine shots from the floor en route to a pair of five-point leads, the last at 19-14 on a jumper by Wright with 11:38 left in the first half. The Irish came back with five consecutive points, but SJU then tallied eight of the next 12 markers and led 27-23 when Sten drilled a three-pointer from the left wing at the 6:32 mark.
Notre Dame then came alive in a big way, ripping off 19 unanswered points during the next 4:15, with Allen scoring nine of the last 11 points in the run. Her transition layup with 2:17 to go in the half gave the Irish their largest lead to that point at 42-27. St. John’s made a dent in the margin with a 7-2 spurt to end the period, but still trailed by 10 at the break.
The lead remained static for the first four minutes of the second half, with McLean getting her team to within 47-37 on the second of two foul shots at the 15:46 junction. Notre Dame then fired up its perimeter shooting, connecting on 4-of-5 three-point tries during a 14-2 run that essentially put the game on ice. Lechlitner started the long-range assault, with Allen sinking one and Barlow adding a pair of treys in the three-minute spree, boosting the Irish lead to a game-high 22 points (61-39) with 12:44 to play. St. John’s battled valiantly, but could not get closer than 14 points the rest of the night.
Noting The St. John’s Win
- Notre Dame’s 83 points vs. St. John’s were the most the Irish have scored against a BIG EAST opponent since Feb. 25, 2004, when they defeated No. 21/19 Miami (Fla.), 93-58 at the Joyce Center.
- Notre Dame improves to 16-1 all-time against St. John’s, including an 8-0 record at home.
- The Irish posted their highest point total vs. the Red Storm since Jan. 9, 2001 (84-49 win in Queens) and their largest win over St. John’s since Feb. 12, 2003 (76-48 at the Joyce Center).
- The Irish logged their seventh 80-point game of the season, inching closer to their high-water total of 15 such contests set during the 2000-01 campaign.
- Notre Dame’s 35 field goals are its highest tally for a single game since Nov. 12, 2004, when the Irish went 37-of-70 from the floor in a 92-73 win over Illinois State at the Joyce Center in the first round of the Preseason WNIT.
- Notre Dame tried 76 shots in the game, its highest total since Nov. 26, 2001 (33-of-77 in an 89-57 win over Army at the Joyce Center).
- The Irish attempted 22 three-point field goals, the most for Notre Dame since March 21, 2004, when it went 4-of-23 from distance in a 69-65 overtime win over Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
- Notre Dame tied a season-high with seven three-pointers (also vs. Richmond on Nov. 28).
- The Irish committed a season-low 10 turnovers, their best outing since March 19, 2006, when they had just eight giveaways in their NCAA Tournament first-round game vs. Boston College.
- Charel Allen set new career highs with 31 points and 14 field goals, topping her old standards of 22 points and 10 baskets, both of which came vs. Richmond on Nov. 28.
- Allen’s output was the most by an Irish player since Jan. 10, 2006, when Megan Duffy scored 32 points in a 67-65 overtime victory vs. Marquette at the Joyce Center.
- Allen’s 14 field goals were the second-most ever by a Notre Dame player in Joyce Center history; Katryna Gaither holds the arena record with 16 field goals on Jan. 9, 1995 in a 90-66 win over Cleveland State.
- Melissa D’Amico collected her second double-double of the season and third of her career, highlighted by a personal-best 11 rebounds vs. St. John’s – she had grabbed 10 boards on three occasions, most recently vs. Indiana on Dec. 3.
- Melissa Lechlitner delivered nine assists, the most for an Irish player since Jan. 17, 2006, when Megan Duffy had nine assists in a 78-75 win over No. 10 DePaul at the Joyce Center.
- Lechlitner’s nine handouts also were the most by a Notre Dame freshman since Feb. 16, 1995, when Mollie Peirick had nine assists in an 83-79 overtime win at Cleveland State.
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 605-271 (.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 556-251 (.690).
- 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 441-172 (.719) at the helm of the Irish and has a career record of 529-213 (.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 148-40 (.7872) all-time in regular-season conference games, posting the best winning percentage in league history. Connecticut is second with a .7861 success rate (305-83). 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 117-10 (.921) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 45 of their last 49 such contests. Eight 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 and St. John’s).
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 163-10 (.942) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game. Notre Dame has held five foes to less than 60 points, and is 4-1 in those games (wins over Michigan, Purdue, Valparaiso and Prairie View A&M; 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 98-3 (.970) 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 seven times this season, winning on each occasion (Central Michigan, Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Richmond, Prairie View A&M, Cincinnati and St. John’s).
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 144 of their last 161 games (.894) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has an 82-12 (.872) 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 294-78 (.790) 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 (6,281 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 88 of their last 90 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).
Oh Captain, My Captain
Senior guard Breona Gray and junior guard Tulyah Gaines will serve as team captains for the 2006-07 season. Both players are serving as captains for the first time in their respective careers, and each received the captain’s honor following a vote of their teammates prior to the season.
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.
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 made its 2006-07 television debut Nov. 16 when its road opener at Penn State aired live on College Sports Television (CSTV). That was the first of three Irish women’s basketball broadcasts for the national cable network, with the second coming Jan. 23 at Marquette (8 p.m. CT tip) and the third coming in the regular-season finale on Feb. 26 at DePaul (8 p.m. CT). The latter two contests are part of the BIG EAST-CSTV Game of the Week package, now in its second season. Counting the Penn State contest, CSTV now has aired 12 Notre Dame women’s basketball games during the past five seasons, with the first being that network’s inaugural broadcast of any sport (a Feb. 2003 game at Connecticut).
The Irish also are scheduled to make two appearances on the ESPN family of networks, beginning with a Feb. 4 home game against West Virginia that will be broadcast live on ESPNU and will start at 5:30 p.m. (ET). The following Sunday (Feb. 11), Notre Dame will play host to DePaul for a 5:30 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. During the past six seasons, Notre Dame has appeared on the ESPN family of networks 28 times, averaging nearly five telecasts per year on “The Worldwide Leader in Sports”.
In addition, Notre Dame will play in five regionally-televised games this season. The first of those took place Dec. 6, when the Irish defeated No. 10/9 Purdue at the Joyce Center in a game seen live on Comcast Local (based in Detroit). On Dec. 30, Notre Dame visited Tennessee in a contest at Thompson-Boling Arena that was seen live on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast. And, on Jan. 27, the Irish will visit Connecticut for a 7 p.m. (ET) matchup that will be carried live on Connecticut Public Television (CPTV).
Notre Dame will appear twice on the BIG EAST-Regional Sports Network (RSN) package this season, having visited South Florida on Jan. 13 and preparing to host Rutgers on Feb. 24 (noon ET). SportsNet New York will serve as the flagship for the BIG EAST package, with additional clearances to be announced during the week leading to tipoff.
The other televised game for the Irish was a local broadcast (WHME-TV in South Bend/Lakeshore Public Television in Chicagoland) of the Dec. 19 contest at Valparaiso.
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 televised on und.com three times this season (Indiana, IUPUI, Cincinnati and St. John’s), with the remainder of this year’s Internet video broadcast schedule to include home games vs. Syracuse (Saturday), 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:
- Jan. 20 vs. Syracuse – Girls’ Day Out/Girl Scout Day ? Vogue Beauty College to do hair and nails for all ladies beginning 75 minutes before tipoff on upper arena concourse ? Notre Dame women’s basketball junior player trading cards to first 1,000 fans, courtesy of Champion Window & Door ? post-game autograph session on upper arena concourse with selected Irish players.
Next Game: Marquette
The Irish tip off an important three-game road swing Tuesday when they pay a visit to Marquette for an 8 p.m. CT (9 p.m. ET) contest at the Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee. The game will be broadcast live to a national audience by College Sports Television (CSTV). Marquette (16-2, 4-1 BIG EAST) is ranked 19th in both major national polls this week, returning to the Top 25 for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. The Golden Eagles travel to Providence on Saturday in their first game following a bye week.