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Irish Play Host To Syracuse On Senior Night

March 1, 2004

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish (18-9, 11-4)
vs. Syracuse Orangewomen (6-19, 3-12)

The Date and Time: Tuesday, March 2, 2004, at 7 p.m. ET.
The Site: Joyce Center (11,418) in Notre Dame, Ind.
The Tickets: Still available by calling the Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office (574-631-7356).
The Radio Plans: All Notre Dame games are broadcast live on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1620) and/or WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend with Sean Stires (play-by-play). These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics web site at
Real-Time Statistics: Live in-game statistics are available for the Syracuse game through the Notre Dame ( athletics web site.
Web Sites: Notre Dame (, Syracuse (

With the BIG EAST Conference Championship set to tip off this weekend, Notre Dame will have one last chance to test itself before entering postseason play when it welcomes Syracuse to the Joyce Center Tuesday for a 7 p.m. (ET) Senior Night contest. With a victory, the Irish can clinch a share of second place in the BIG EAST for the seventh time in its nine-year conference affiliation. At the same time, Notre Dame also would lock up the No. 2 seed for the BIG EAST Championship.

  • The Irish (18-9, 11-4 BIG EAST) are seeking to bounce back after a frustrating 69-55 loss at Rutgers on Saturday. Notre Dame trailed by just three points at halftime, but fell victim to a hot-shooting Scarlet Knights club that shot 58 percent from the floor, including a 72.7-percent mark in the second half.
  • Junior forward and Naismith Award finalist Jacqueline Batteast shone in defeat for Notre Dame, scoring a game-high 25 points and knocking down 10 of 17 shots. Sophomore guard Megan Duffy also finished in double figures, tallying 14 points on five of nine shooting, including two of three from outside the three-point arc.
  • Syracuse (6-19, 3-12) also is preparing for the postseason, having already sewn up the No. 12 seed for the conference tournament. The Orangewomen are in the midst of a season-long 11-game losing streak, a run which was extended with a 59-52 loss to Boston College on Saturday. Senior guard Julie McBride scored a game-high 22 points in her final home game at Syracuse.
  • McBride, an all-BIG EAST pick last season, is tops on the squad this season in points (16.8 ppg.), assists (4.5 apg.) and three-point field goals made (51). Freshman guard Lauren Kohn is second in scoring (8.4 ppg.), while junior forward Chineze Nwagbo is SU’s rebounding leader (6.1 rpg.).
  • Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Syracuse, 15-2, including a 7-0 mark at the Joyce Center.

Throughout the 2003-04 season, Notre Dame has found itself in acquisition mode, picking up the knowledge and experience it will need to be highly competitive in the postseason. The Irish have played a rugged schedule that has been ranked in the Top 20 in the nation all year long, and they have faced 10 Top 25 teams, setting a school record with seven regular-season wins against those ranked foes. In addition, Notre Dame endured some early rough patches on the road, but lately, it has begun to learn how to win in hostile environments, winning four of its final six regular-season road games. As such, it seems the Irish are poised for big things when postseason play rolls around later this month.

  • Junior forward and Naismith Award finalist Jacqueline Batteast (15.2 ppg., 8.2 rpg., .458 field goal percentage, nine double-doubles) has lived up to her accolades this season, ranking among the BIG EAST leaders in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and blocked shots (1.26 bpg.). She was named to the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team on Nov. 15 after a superb weekend that included a career-high 27 points against 22nd-ranked Auburn. She then piled up back-to-back double-doubles vs. No. 20 Colorado (13p, 10r) and Valparaiso (15p, 10r) before logging team bests of 16 points and seven caroms at No. 3 Tennessee, 19 points at Washington and a game-high 13 points with six assists vs. Dayton. She then chalked up her third double-double vs. USC (20p, 13r) to earn the first BIG EAST Player of the Week honor of her career. In her most recent game Saturday at Rutgers, she singed the nets to the tune of 25 points on 10 of 17 shooting. Since BIG EAST play began, she has been superb, averaging 15.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game with a .484 field goal percentage and six double-doubles (along with four other near double-doubles). She now has 67 double-figure scoring games and 28 double-doubles in her three-year Irish career.
  • Junior center Teresa Borton (6.3 ppg., 4.3 rpg., team-high .531 FG%) and sophomore forward Courtney LaVere (9.0 ppg., 4.4 rpg.) also have made important contributions at times this season. Borton has recovered well from off-season heel surgery and was at her best vs. Colorado State and Marquette, ringing up 14 points on both occasions. Borton then added 11 points and eight rebounds at Georgetown, followed by 14 points and six boards against Virginia Tech, before scoring 10 points (4-4 FG) vs. Georgetown and adding 11 points (4-4 FG) against Providence. She also piled up a season-best 11 rebounds at St. John’s, tying her career high in that category. Meanwhile, LaVere, a freshman All-American last year, has had an up-and-down second season. She tied Batteast for team-high scoring honors with 12 points at Michigan State before rising up and carding season highs of 22 points and nine rebounds vs. Wisconsin. She once again cracked double figures on Jan. 1 vs. Marquette, tossing in 16 points on six of 11 shooting. LaVere returned to the lineup Saturday at Rutgers and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.
  • Sophomore Megan Duffy (11.0 ppg., team-high 4.41 apg., team-high .436 3FG%, .816 FT%) is in her first season as the everyday point guard for the Irish and she is proving to be a key cog in the Notre Dame offensive arsenal. After averaging only three points and 2.3 assists per game last year, the Dayton, Ohio, native has more than tripled her scoring output, ranking eighth in the BIG EAST in assists and owning a team-best 1.47 assist/turnover ratio (seventh in the BIG EAST). In addition, she is showing offensive diversity, knocking down 44 three-pointers this season. She also has 16 double-figure scoring games to her credit this year, including a career-high 25 points vs. Wisconsin on Dec. 4, and 22 points at Georgetown on Jan. 7. Her ball handling skills have not diminished, as she also has registered five or more assists in 14 games, including a career-high nine assists on Dec. 7 at Washington. Most recently, she tossed in 14 points (5-9 FG, 2-3 3FG) and had a game-high four assists at Rutgers.
  • Senior captain Le’Tania Severe (7.2 ppg., 3.9 rpg., 3.4 apg., .460 FG%, team-high .819 FT%) has slid over to the shooting guard position in place of the NCAA’s all-time three-point queen, Alicia Ratay, and Severe has filled the role admirably. While not putting up the three-point numbers Ratay had in her remarkable career, Severe is getting her points as a slasher, driving to the basket and creating havoc for opposing defenses. She also is tied for the team lead with 1.52 steals per game and has been a reliable force in the lineup, making 70 consecutive starts. She has scored in double digits eight times this year, including a season-high 15 points against Purdue and Boston College, as well as 12 points against Connecticut. Severe also picked up her first career double-double at St. John’s (10 points and 10 rebounds), came up with a critical steal and two game-clinching free throws at Pittsburgh, and then tied her career high by dishing out nine assists (with only one turnover) on Feb. 25 vs. Miami.

A new era in Syracuse women’s basketball has begun this season with the arrival of first-year head coach Keith Cieplicki. The former Vermont mentor, who experienced a great deal of success with the Catamounts, is hoping to work his magic in central New York with the Orangewomen, who are just one year removed from an NCAA Tournament appearance and a berth in the BIG EAST Championship semifinals.

Cieplicki and his charges have experienced numerous challenges during his rookie season at Syracuse, most notably a lack of depth. For most of the year, the Orangewomen (6-19, 3-12 BIG EAST) have fielded a roster of only nine players, forcing the five starters to average close to 30 minutes per night. The depth issue hurt SU early on, as the Orangewomen went 3-7 in non-conference play, including a five-game losing streak to close out the docket.

The dawn of the BIG EAST season brought new hope for Syracuse, as the Orangewomen reeled off three wins in their first four outings, including an emotional 59-57 overtime win over Rutgers on Jan. 14 at Manley Field House. SU trailed by 15 points at halftime, but rallied to down the Scarlet Knights.for the third time in school history. The Orangewomen then followed up that triumph with a 55-50 win at Providence three days later and things appeared to be on the upswing for Syracuse.

However, that proved to last victory for the Orangewomen, who are in the midst of a season-long 11-game losing streak that began with a 64-35 loss at home to Notre Dame on Jan. 21. Syracuse has had a couple of chances to turn its fortunes around, dropping narrow decisions to Seton Hall (79-71 on Feb. 14) and Boston College (59-52 on Saturday). In the latter game, senior guard Julie McBride scored 22 points in the final home game of her remarkable career.

The Orangewomen run a perimeter-based offense which has played to the strengths of McBride, its top returning player and an all-BIG EAST selection last year. The Syracuse gunner is averaging 16.8 points per game (16.7 ppg. in conference games) and is her school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,585 points. She also is tied for the team lead with 51 three-point field goals. Although just a freshman, Lauren Kohn has been a strong complement for McBride in the backcourt, ranking second on the team in scoring (8.4 ppg.) and first in three-point percentage (.347).

Nwagbo provides the muscle for the Orangewomen, ranking third in scoring (7.9 ppg.) and tops in rebounding (6.1 rpg.) and field goal percentage (.494). She has been even more effective in BIG EAST play, averaging 9.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game with a .484 field goal percentage.

Cieplicki spent six seasons at Vermont prior to coming to Syracuse last April. He has a career record of 133-72 (.649) that includes four 20-win seasons. He also guided Vermont to the 2000 NCAA Tournament, as well as the WNIT quarterfinals in 2002. Cieplicki is 0-1 all-time against Notre Dame.

Notre Dame has faced Syracuse 17 times in its history, owning a 15-2 record against the Orangewomen (7-0 at the Joyce Center) in a series that dates back to the 1987-88 season, Muffet McGraw’s first as the Irish head coach. After splitting its first two games with Syracuse, Notre Dame reeled off 12 consecutive wins in the series, before the Orangewomen snapped that streak with a stunning 84-79 upset of the Irish in the quarterfinals of the 2002 BIG EAST Championship.

Notre Dame has since avenged that setback with wins in its last two matchups with Syracuse, both of which were played at Manley Field House on the SU campus – a 62-54 win in last year’s regular-season finale and a 64-35 victory nearly six weeks ago on Jan. 21 (see recap in next note).

Among current Notre Dame players, sophomore forward Courtney LaVere is the leading scorer against the Orangewomen, averaging 10.0 points in two prior meetings with Syracuse. Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast is averaging 9.3 points and 9.8 rebounds with three double-doubles in four games against SU, while senior guard Le’Tania Severe has averaged 7.8 assists and has a 3.44 assist/turnover ratio (31 assists, nine turnovers) in her last four games vs. the Orangewomen. A complete rundown of the statistics current Irish players have compiled against Syracuse can be found on page 20 of this notes package.

Behind a record-setting defensive performance and a balanced offensive attack, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team eased past Syracuse, 64-35 on Jan. 21, 2004, at Manley Field House. The 35 points allowed were the fewest ever allowed by the Irish in a BIG EAST Conference road game, and they were the second-fewest ever yielded by Notre Dame on the road, topped only by a 27-point lockdown at Valparaiso exactly 22 years earlier (Jan. 21, 1982).

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast led the Irish at both ends of the floor, posting her fourth consecutive double-double and seventh of the season with 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds in just 28 minutes of action. Sophomore forward Courtney LaVere continued to provide solid play off the bench, notching 10 points for her third consecutive double-digit game. Notre Dame saw 10 of its 12 players in uniform put points on the board, as the Irish reserves matched Syracuse’s total offensive output (35 points) in the contest.

As a team, Notre Dame shot 46.4 percent from the field (26 of 56), marking the third consecutive game in which the Irish have connected at 45 percent or better. Notre Dame also won the rebounding battle by a 47-26 margin and only committed 11 turnovers, one more than its season low (10 vs. Wisconsin on Dec. 4).

Notre Dame jumped out to early leads of 6-0 and 8-3, the latter margin coming when Batteast knocked down a jumper four minutes into the game. Syracuse came back and squared the game at 8-8 when Chineze Nwagbo hit a layup with 13:48 remaining in the period. That would be the first and only tie in the contest, as Notre Dame outscored the Orangewomen, 20-8 over the final 13 minutes of the first half, holding their hosts to just two field goals in that time. A pair of free throws by sophomore guard Megan Duffy with 22 seconds left in the half handed the Irish a 28-16 lead at the intermission.

Syracuse made a run at Notre Dame in the opening moments of the second half, scoring five of the first eight points and pulling within 31-21 when Julie McBride hit a layup and was fouled with 17:18 to play. However, the veteran guard missed the ensuing free throw and the Orangewomen would never trim the margin to single digits the rest of the way. Syracuse did get as close as 15 points on three occasions in the second half, the last coming at 45-30 on a jumper by Nwagbo with 9:23 to go. The Irish then responded by going on a 19-5 charge to end the game, holding the Orangewomen to one basket over that final nine-minute span.

The Notre Dame freshman class rang up 51 points, including a career-high 21 by guard Allison Bustamante, to run past Syracuse, 71-46, in BIG EAST Conference action on Jan. 29, 2002, before a Joyce Center crowd of 8,571. At the time, it was the 48th consecutive home victory for the Irish, extending the longest winning streak in the nation, and it was the 28th straight BIG EAST win at the Joyce Center for Notre Dame.

Bustamante canned five three-point field goals, including four during a 19-3 run in the first half which broke open a tight game. Jacqueline Batteast added 10 points and a (then) career-high 15 rebounds, collecting the eighth double-double of her freshman season. Batteast also had six assists, matching her career best at the time. Ericka Haney equalled Batteast’s scoring output with 10 points, while Le’Tania Severe was rock solid at the point, registering nine assists and five steals against only one turnover in 30 minutes on the floor.

Shannon Perry was the only Syracuse player to crack double figures, posting team bests of 10 points and six rebounds off the bench. The Orangewomen, who came into the contest ranked fourth in the conference with a .450 field goal percentage, were held to season lows of 46 points and 29.6 percent shooting by a stingy Irish defense. Notre Dame also owned a commanding 48-31 edge in the rebounding column.

The first 10 minutes of the contest were close, with Syracuse drawing first blood on a Julie McBride three-pointer before the Irish rallied and eventually claimed a 15-8 lead on a free throw by Teresa Borton with 13:03 left in the period. The Orangewomen closed the gap to three at the 9:57 mark when Chineze Nwagbo sank a layup from the right block, forcing Notre Dame to call a 30-second timeout.

Following the stoppage, Bustamante went to work, needing just 24 seconds to drill her first three-pointer of the night and ignite the game-turning 19-3 run. At the same time, Syracuse went cold from the field, connecting on only one field goal over the next six minutes and wound up on the short end of a 34-15 score at the final media timeout of the first half.

Leading by a 39-25 count at the break, Notre Dame maintained its defensive intensity to open the second half, holding the Orangewomen without a field goal over the first 9:32 of the stanza. The Irish outscored the visitors, 15-4, during that time to push their lead over 20 points for the first time in the contest. Tara Trammell finally broke an 0 for 14 shooting drought for Syracuse with a short jumper in the lane just before the midway point of the second half. However, Notre Dame continued to roll, opening up its largest lead of the night at 64-36 when Karen Swanson hit two free throws with 5:08 remaining, propelling the Irish to their 12th consecutive win over Syracuse.


  • Only three times has Notre Dame failed to score at least 70 points in its 17-game series with Syracuse. On the other hand, the Orangewomen have topped the 70-point mark just twice all-time against the Irish, most recently turning the trick in their last win over Notre Dame (84-79 on March 3, 2002 at the BIG EAST Championship in Piscataway, N.J.).
  • All but two of Notre Dame’s 15 wins in the series have come by double-digit margins, with an average spread of 17.2 points per game in the 17-game rivalry.

Notre Dame owns a superb 31-2 (.939) record all-time against schools from the state of New York, going 15-2 vs. Syracuse, 14-0 vs. St. John’s and 1-0 vs. both Army and Fordham. The Irish also are a perfect 15-0 at the Joyce Center against Empire State teams, winning by an average margin of 27.1 points per game. In fact, only once in those 15 career games has a New York-based squad come within single digits of Notre Dame – the Irish edged Syracuse, 71-66 on Dec. 8, 1990.

Notre Dame is 123-28 (.815) in regular-season competition against the rest of BIG EAST Conference, owning the best conference winning percentage of any current member of the BIG EAST since joining the circuit for the 1995-96 campaign. The Irish also have won 79 of their last 97 regular-season conference games (.814), and claimed a share of their first-ever BIG EAST regular-season championship in 2001. When including postseason competition (BIG EAST and NCAA tournaments), Notre Dame is 135-36 (.789) against league opponents – when factoring in these 20 postseason tilts, the Irish are 68-7 (.907) at home, 55-24 (.696) on the road and 12-5 (.706) at neutral sites all-time vs. BIG EAST foes.

The Irish have played seven times on March 2 in their history, going 4-3 on this date (all during the Muffet McGraw era) and a 1-0 mark at home. Notre Dame’s last three games on this date all took place in the BIG EAST Championship, with the Irish defeating Rutgers (86-58) in the 1997 quarterfinals at Storrs, Conn., but falling to Connecticut in the 1998 and 1999 title games at Piscataway, N.J., by scores of 73-53 and 96-75, respectively.


  • The Irish clinch at least a share of second place in the BIG EAST, marking the seventh time in Notre Dame’s nine-year conference membership that it has placed either first or second in the final regular-season league standings.
  • Notre Dame will earn the No. 2 seed in the upcoming BIG EAST Championship, winning any potential tiebreaker with Villanova by virtue of its 38-36 win over the Wildcats on Jan. 24.
  • The Irish will extend their current home winning streak to 18 games, collect their 111th win in their last 120 home games (.925) and move to 69-7 (.908) all-time at home against BIG EAST opposition.
  • Notre Dame will wrap up the regular season with a perfect 13-0 record at home, marking the third time in the last five years the Irish have ended the regular season undefeated at the Joyce Center (also 13-0 in both 1999-2000 and 2000-01 – those teams went on to win two home games in the NCAA Tournament and wound up 15-0 at the Joyce Center).
  • Notre Dame will end the regular season by winning 10 of its last 12 games and 16 of its final 21 games after opening the year with a 3-4 record.
  • The Irish will improve to 124-28 (.816) all-time in regular-season games against the BIG EAST Conference, maintaining the best winning percentage in conference history.
  • Head coach Muffet McGraw will see her record at Notre Dame rise to 382-147 (.722) in 17 seasons under the Golden Dome. She also will watch her career ledger improve to 470-188 (.714) in 22 years at the college level.
  • The Irish will raise their all-time record to 546-246 (.689) in 27 seasons of varsity competition.

Junior forward and Naismith Award finalist Jacqueline Batteast blistered the nets for a game-high 25 points on 10 of 17 shooting, but it was not enough as Notre Dame dropped a 69-55 decision to Rutgers on Saturday afternoon at the Louis Brown Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J. Despite the loss, the Irish remain in second place in the BIG EAST Conference standings can clinch the No. 2 seed in the upcoming conference tournament with a win Tuesday vs. Syracuse or a loss by Villanova on Tuesday at Pittsburgh.

Batteast inched her way up the Notre Dame record books on Saturday, posting the 18th 20-point game of her career (seventh this season) to tie Sheila McMillen (1995-99) for eighth place in school history. Batteast also logged her 67th career double-figure scoring game (21st this year) to move within one of both Margaret Nowlin (1988-92) and Sandy Botham (1984-88) for 10th place in that Irish career category. In addition, Batteast moved up three spots on the Notre Dame career scoring list into 13th place with 1,214 points, passing Krissi Davis (1,194 from 1987-91), Heidi Bunek (1,202 from 1985-89) and Letitia Bowen (1,205 from 1991-95) on Saturday.

Sophomore guard Megan Duffy continued to state her case as the BIG EAST’s Most Improved Player, chalking up 14 points on five of nine shooting, including two of three from behind the three-point line. Duffy also dished out a game-high four assists and snared four rebounds. Sophomore forward Courtney LaVere returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Jan. 4 and plucked a team-high seven rebounds.

Cappie Pondexter scored 20 points to lead three Scarlet Knights in double figures. Michelle Campbell nearly posted a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Chelsea Newton made all five of her shots and wound up with 11 points. As a team, Rutgers posted a .580 field goal percentage (29 of 50), the highest by a Notre Dame opponent this year.

Notre Dame (18-9, 11-4 BIG EAST) looked sharp early on, bolting to an 11-6 lead as Batteast scored her team’s first six points. However, the Scarlet Knights came back with eight of the next 10 points and took their first lead with 10:51 to go in the first half. The Irish tied the score twice in the ensuing three minutes, but Rutgers (17-10, 9-6) then fashioned a 7-0 run to take its largest lead of the period at 23-16 at the 5:41 mark. That margin quickly vanished in the face of eight straight Notre Dame points, the last coming on a Batteast jumper that resulted in a 24-23 edge with 3:39 remaining. Campbell and Newton responded with late jumpers and the hosts took a three-point lead to the locker room.

The score remained tight in the first five minutes of the second half, with Notre Dame closing the gap to 34-32 on another jumper by Batteast with 14:54 to play. That’s when Rutgers rocked the Irish with a game-turning 19-4 run that saw the Scarlet Knights knock down eight consecutive shots from the floor, while the visitors went one for seven in that span. When the dust settled, Rutgers led 53-36 with nine minutes to play and Notre Dame couldn’t get closer than 12 points the rest of the way. The Scarlet Knights wound up shooting 72.7 percent (16 of 22) from the field in the final 20 minutes to seize control of the contest.

Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has referred to the aftermath of her team’s 76-73 loss at Georgetown on Jan. 7 as the turning point of the season for the Irish. Upon returning to campus the day after the disheartening setback, the Irish coaches began preparing for practice in their office and then headed for the gym floor, only to find the team already working out on its own.

Since that time, Notre Dame has won 11 of 14 games, including six against Top 25 opponents. One of the key reasons for that run of success has been an increased focus on defense – the Irish are giving up just 52.2 points per game and holding opponents to a .367 field goal percentage (.239 three-point ratio) over that stretch.

Notre Dame has stepped up its play thanks in large measure to the added pressure applied by its defense. During BIG EAST play, the Irish rank among the top three in the conference in several major defensive categories, including scoring defense (3rd – 53.8 ppg.), scoring margin (2nd – +8.7 ppg.), field goal percentage defense (2nd – .370), three-point field goal percentage defense (1st – .241), rebounding margin (3rd – +4.4 rpg.), blocked shots (3rd – 4.40 bpg.) and steals (3rd – 8.40 spg.).

However, that’s just the start when it comes to noting Notre Dame’s defense.

  • During an eight-game stretch from Jan. 21-Feb. 17, Notre Dame gave up an average of just 47.6 ppg. In fact, the 381 points allowed by the Irish in that stretch represented the best eight-game defensive run in school history. The previous record was 393 points (49.1 ppg.) from Jan. 21-Feb. 10, 1982, in wins over Valparaiso, Michigan, Ball State, Marquette, Mount St. Joseph, Taylor and Cincinnati, as well as a loss to Miami (Ohio).
  • Notre Dame set a new school record by limiting seven consecutive opponents to 52 points or less from Jan. 21-Feb. 14. The old record stood from Dec. 13, 1997 to Jan. 8, 1998, when Notre Dame had a streak of five consecutive games allowing 52 points or less.
  • The Irish held back-to-back opponents (Syracuse and Villanova) to less than 40 points for only the second time in school history (and first in the program’s Division I era, which began in 1980-81). The first time came on Jan. 24 & 31, 1978, when the Irish defeated IPFW (68-39) and Grace College (68-25).
  • In 30 halves of BIG EAST action (15 games), Irish opponents have scored 30-or-more points just eight times, with Georgetown and Pittsburgh accounting for four of those in games on Jan. 7 and Feb. 21, respectively.
  • Notre Dame has limited nine of its last 14 opponents to field goal percentages of less than .400, going 7-2 in those contests. In addition, Syracuse, Villanova and Georgetown (second game) all shot less than 30 percent from the floor. For the season, the Irish are 12-3 when they hold their opponents to less than 40 percent shooting from the field.
  • Notre Dame held Syracuse to 35 points on Jan. 21, setting a school record for the fewest points ever allowed in a BIG EAST road game and the second-fewest yielded in any road game (84-27 at Valparaiso on Jan. 21, 1982).

Miami came into its Feb. 25 game at Notre Dame forcing an average of 22.5 turnovers per game. However, the Irish defense turned the tables on the Hurricanes, forcing them into a season-high 37 turnovers, highlighted by 18 steals. Those 37 turnovers are tied for the third-most takeaways in Notre Dame history (record is 48 vs. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Jan. 11, 1980), and they are the most the Irish have ever caused against a BIG EAST Conference opponent. The last time Notre Dame forced that many turnovers in a game was Feb. 19, 1991, when Saint Louis also coughed up the orange 37 times in an 87-47 Irish win at the Joyce Center.

Notre Dame has fought through a brutal schedule that has included playing 10 games against Top 25 opponents. The Irish have handled the challenge very well, going 7-3 in those contests with victories over No. 22/25 Auburn (77-64), No. 16/15 Virginia Tech (53-40), No. 4/4 Connecticut (66-51), No. 23/25 Villanova (38-36), No. 17/16 Miami (59-50), No. NR/23 Boston College (52-50) and a second win over No. 21/19 Miami (93-58). Notre Dame narrowly missed an eighth win over a Top 25 foe, as No. 20/20 Colorado rallied to defeat the Irish, 67-63 in overtime in the championship game of the season-opening WBCA Classic back on Nov. 15 in Boulder, Colo. Nevertheless, Notre Dame has set a school record with seven regular-season wins over ranked opponents this season, topping the old mark of five by the 2000-01 national championship squad (that team had nine total Top 25 wins, but four came in the NCAA Tournament).

By comparison, in the previous two seasons combined (2001-02 and 2002-03), Notre Dame had a total of five wins over ranked opponents, with three of those coming in the regular season (Virginia Tech and Boston College in ’01-02, and Villanova in ’02-03).

The rugged Irish schedule has not gone unnoticed by the national media. Four major outlets – Sagarin/Collegiate Basketball News (7th), Massey (8th), (10th) and WBCA/Summerville RPI (13th) – all have pegged the Notre Dame docket among the Top 15 hardest schedules in the nation this season.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast has been chosen as one of 20 finalists for the 2004 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Award, it was announced Feb. 17 by Jackie Bradford, President of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. With her selection, Batteast remains poised to become the second Irish player in four years to win college basketball’s most coveted award, following in the footsteps of All-America center Ruth Riley, who claimed the honor in 2001.

Batteast is averaging 15.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game with nine double-doubles this season, while leading Notre Dame to a 18-9 record and a second-place standing in the BIG EAST Conference with a 11-4 mark. The talented Irish wing has been at her best against top competition this year, averaging 15.7 points and 8.7 rebounds with four double-doubles and three near double-doubles against 10 ranked opponents. Batteast’s best effort against a Top 25 team came on Jan. 13 when she piled up 23 points and 11 rebounds to help Notre Dame knock off No. 4 Connecticut, 66-51 at the Joyce Center.

Batteast currently ranks among the Top 10 in the BIG EAST in scoring (ninth), rebounding (fifth), field goal percentage (ninth), blocked shots (seventh) and double-doubles (second). She also was a preseason all-BIG EAST First Team selection and was named to the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team on Nov. 15 after averaging 20.0 points and 7.5 rebounds with a .529 field goal percentage against nationally-ranked Auburn and Colorado.

For her career, Batteast ranks 13th in school history in scoring (1,214 points), fifth in scoring average (14.3 ppg.), 10th in rebounding (693) and second in rebounding average (8.2 rpg.). She also owns an active streak of 59 consecutive games started, dating back to the beginning of last year, and she has started 81 of a possible 85 games in her college career.

The Naismith Award winner will be honored in Atlanta on April 9. The Naismith Awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club and is in its 36th year of recognizing top college basketball players in the United States.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast has taken her game to another level against BIG EAST Conference opponents this year. In 15 conference games this year, Batteast is carding 15.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game with six double-doubles. She currently is third in the conference in rebounding and seventh in scoring during league play. In addition, she has the third-best field goal percentage in the BIG EAST against conference opponents (.484) and just missed double-doubles in four other conference outings (14 points and nine rebounds vs. Villanova; nine points and 10 rebounds at Miami; 20 points and nine rebounds vs. Georgetown; 17 points and eight rebounds at Pittsburgh).

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast has played very well in Notre Dame’s 10 games against Top 25 opponents this year. She is averaging 15.7 points and 8.7 rebounds with four double-doubles (and three near double-doubles) in those matchups against ranked opponents in 2003-04.

Maybe it’s the long plane rides, or the lumpy mattresses in the hotel, or even the quality of the pre-game meal. Whatever the reason, Notre Dame has struggled at times on the road this season, going 6-9 away from the Joyce Center (5-9 in true road games), although they have won four of their last six on the road. Still, that’s a far cry from the success the Irish have experienced at home, where they are a perfect 12-0 and own an active 17-game winning streak.

Some of Notre Dame’s success this season can be traced to the contribution provided by the Irish bench. Notre Dame’s reserves are averaging 19.9 points per game (536 total) this season, compared to 14.0 ppg. (379) by the opposition, an average margin of 5.9 points per game.

Since the start of the BIG EAST Conference season on Jan. 7, Notre Dame has received critical support from its reserves. The Irish bench has scored 316 points (21.1 ppg.) in 15 conference games this year, compared to its opponent’s reserves who have logged 161 points (10.7 ppg.) over that same time, good for a +10.4 ppg. scoring margin.

In addition, the Notre Dame second unit has rung up at least 30 points on five occasions this season, including four during BIG EAST play (season-high 46 points vs. Dayton, 40 points in the second game with Miami, 38 points vs. Providence, 35 points at Syracuse, 33 points in the first Miami game).

With its win at St. John’s on Feb. 17, Notre Dame clinched a winning record for the 2003-04 season, marking the 23rd time in the 27-year history of the program (and the 12th consecutive season) that the Irish have finished above .500. The success has been even more impressive under current head coach Muffet McGraw – Notre Dame has had just one losing season during her 17-year tenure (14-17 in 1991-92), and still advanced to the NCAA Tournament that year after winning the Midwestern Collegiate Conference Tournament.

Senior guard Le’Tania Severe and junior forward Jacqueline Batteast have the longest active streaks of consecutive games started among Irish players. Severe has earned 70 consecutive starting assignments, a streak which began on Notre Dame’s last visit to Pittsburgh (Feb. 5, 2002). Meanwhile, Batteast has been in the starting lineup for 59 straight games, beginning with the first game of the 2002-03 campaign (Nov. 26, 2002 vs. Cleveland State). The South Bend native actually started the first 22 games of her Irish career before suffering a knee injury that relegated her to a supporting role for the remainder of the 2001-02 season. The school record for consecutive games started is 95, which Katryna Gaither established from 1994-97.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast scored a game-high 14 points on Jan. 10 against No. 16/15 Virginia Tech, becoming the 20th player in school history to score 1,000 career points. She also was the fourth-fastest Irish player ever to reach that milestone, doing so in her 72nd career game.

Batteast also is one of only five Irish players to score 800 points in her first two seasons at Notre Dame, joining Morgan, Matvey, Riley and Ratay. For her career, the South Bend native ranks fifth in school history with a 14.3 ppg. scoring average, and 13th in total points (1,214), needing 20 points to pass Mary Beth Schueth (1,233 from 1981-85) for 12th place all-time.

Notre Dame’s 66-51 victory over No. 4/4 Connecticut on Jan. 13 at the Joyce Center was historic for a number of reasons. Here are just a few of them:

  • Notre Dame’s win over Connecticut snapped the Huskies’ 121-game winning streak against unranked opponents, a string that dated back to Jan. 23, 1999 (a 78-66 loss at Boston College).
  • Since the start of the 1998-99 season, Connecticut has lost by 15-plus points only three times and each time, those losses have come to Notre Dame (twice in 2000-01, once in 2003-04).
  • Notre Dame is one of only two teams in the nation (and the first BIG EAST squad) to defeat Connecticut more than once in the past 11 seasons (1993-94 to present). During that 11-year stretch, Tennessee is the only other program with multiple wins over the Huskies.
  • In the past four seasons (2000-01 to present), half of Connecticut’s six losses have come at the hands of Notre Dame.
  • Over the past five seasons (1999-2000 to present), the Joyce Center is the only arena to see multiple losses by Connecticut.

Notre Dame has pulled off a rare feat this season, becoming just the fourth school since the inception of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in 1982 to have both its men’s and women’s basketball teams defeat the defending national champions in the same season. The Irish women did their part by ousting Connecticut (66-51) on Jan. 13, while the Notre Dame men completed the double with an 84-72 win at Syracuse on Feb. 16.

The only other schools who can lay claim to this accomplishment are Duke (1998-99), Tennessee (1999-2000) and Michigan State (1999-2000), with Notre Dame and Michigan State being the only institutions to turn the trick in the regular season (Duke’s women beat Tennessee in the ’99 NCAAs, while Tennessee’s men downed Connecticut in the ’00 NCAAs).

Saying January was a crazy month for Notre Dame would probably be a bit of an understatement. To begin with, the Irish had 10 games on the schedule last month, its fullest slate since January 1997, when Notre Dame also played 10 times, posting a 9-1 record en route to its first NCAA Final Four appearance. However, that 1997 docket saw the Irish go the entire month without facing a ranked opponent. This year’s Notre Dame squad didn’t have that luck, facing six Top 25 foes in the month.

This January didn’t start out well for Notre Dame, as the Irish lost two of their first three games, including a heartbreaking 76-73 setback at Georgetown in which the Hoyas scored seven points in the final 14 seconds to steal the victory. Unfazed, Notre Dame bounced back with wins in six of its last seven games, highlighted by victories over No. 4/4 Connecticut (66-51), No. 16/15 Virginia Tech (53-40), No. 17/16 Miami (59-50), No. 23/25 Villanova (38-36) and No. NR/23 Boston College (52-50).

Notre Dame put together one of the best defensive performances in school history on Dec. 13 vs. Dayton, rolling over the Flyers, 78-41 at the Joyce Center. In that game, the Irish held UD to just 11 first-half points, which matches the third-lowest mark in school history and equals the lowest opponent total ever at the Joyce Center (11 in the second half by Grace College on Jan. 31, 1978 – pre-NCAA era). The fewest points Notre Dame has ever allowed in one half is seven (first half) at Maryland on Jan. 9, 1985. The Irish also gave up just 10 first-half points to Georgetown on March 4, 2001, in a BIG EAST Conference Championship quarterfinal game at Storrs, Conn.

In addition, Notre Dame limited Dayton to an opponent record-low .050 field goal percentage (one for 20) in the first half, breaking the old Irish opponent record of .115 (three for 26), which had been set twice – in the first half of the aforementioned Maryland game, and by DePaul in the first half on Dec. 31, 2001 at the Joyce Center.

The Irish have often opened games in strong fashion, but nothing like what they turned out on Dec. 13 vs. Dayton. Notre Dame began the game on a 26-0 run, the largest game-opening surge in 27 seasons of Irish basketball. The previous record for the best start to a game was 17-0 vs. Texas Tech in the 2000 NCAA Mideast Regional Semifinal in Memphis.

The 26 unanswered points also tied for the second-longest run of consecutive markers by Notre Dame. The school record is 31 straight points, which the Irish achieved on Jan. 18, 1997 vs. Pittsburgh – Notre Dame trailed 14-2, but went on a 31-0 run over the next 13:14 to seize control of the game. The Irish also had a 26-point spree on Jan. 31, 1998 against Seton Hall, turning a 56-29 score into an 82-29 margin over a 9:44 span in the second half.

Based on her play this season, sophomore point guard Megan Duffy is making a strong case to be named the BIG EAST Conference Most Improved Player. Last year, the Dayton native averaged 3.0 points and 2.3 assists per game while still shaking off the rust caused by off-season knee surgery. She also struggled to find her shooting touch, hitting at a .242 clip from the floor and making only seven of 35 three-point attempts (.200).

Fast forward to this season, where Duffy has been an impact player from the outset. She is second on the team in scoring at 11.0 ppg., which more than triples her production from last year. However, her biggest improvement has come in her shooting numbers, where she’s connecting at a team-high .436 percentage (44-101) from the three-point line and would be leading the BIG EAST if she had made enough treys to qualify (min. 2.0 per game). She’s also has more than six times as many treys as she sank all of last year and after cracking double digits just twice in 2002-03 (career high was 12 points), she has 16 double-figure games this season, with two topping the 20-point mark. Her best outing to date was a 25-point outburst on Dec. 4 vs. Wisconsin, where she shattered her career standard from beyond the arc, going six for 10 from downtown.

But lest we forget her primary duties at the point, Duffy is leading the Irish and ranks seventh in the BIG EAST with 4.41 assists per game, nearly doubling last year’s output. She also has just 81 turnovers, giving her a healthy 1.47 assist/turnover ratio (seventh in the BIG EAST). She has dished out at least five assists 14 times this year, including a career-high nine dimes on Dec. 7 at Washington.

One of the supposed question marks surrounding this year’s Notre Dame squad was its perimeter shooting, especially with the departure of the NCAA’s career three-point percentage record holder, Alicia Ratay. As the regular season winds down, the Irish have had an emphatic response to that question. Notre Dame is second in the BIG EAST with a .381 three-point percentage, hitting 110 of 289 shots from beyond the arc. Sophomore guard Megan Duffy has been a major contributor from beyond the arc, connecting at a team-best .436 clip (44-101), which also would lead the BIG EAST, but she has not made enough field goals to qualify for statistical ranking (minimum of 2.0 per game). Nevertheless, she does stand 13th in the BIG EAST with 1.63 three-pointers made per game.

Another long distance specialist for Notre Dame has been senior guard Jeneka Joyce, which is a pleasant surprise when you consider the Topeka, Kan., native has spent the better part of the past two seasons trying to recover from leg injuries. Joyce has knocked down 39 of 91 treys for a .429 three-point percentage, but she also has not yet made enough field goals to qualify for the rankings (she would be second in the league behind Duffy). Still, she is 11th in the BIG EAST with 1.77 triples per game, and sixth with 2.0 three-pointers per night in conference play.

The veteran sharpshooter has been at her best in Notre Dame’s last five outings vs. Providence, St. John’s, Pittsburgh and Miami. Against the Friars, she tied her (then) career high with 14 points and four treys, scoring all of her points in the final 6:25 of the first half. Three days later against the Red Storm, Joyce outdid herself, ringing up a career-best 15 points while making a career-high five three-point field goals (on 10 tries), including the last with the shot clock expiring and 4:40 remaining to help seal an Irish victory. Then, at Pittsburgh, the Kansas gunner did it again, rolling up a career-high 16 points, hitting five of eight three-point attempts. Last Wednesday vs. Miami, Joyce tallied eight points and buried two more triples before canning yet another trey Saturday at Rutgers. Overall, Joyce is averaging 11.2 ppg. with a .447 three-point percentage (17 of 38) in her last five games.

Although they didn’t come away with the trophy they wanted at the WBCA Classic, junior forward Jacqueline Batteast and senior guard Le’Tania Severe did receive individual honors as members of the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team. Batteast averaged 20 points and 7.5 rebounds in the two-game tournament, while shooting .529 from the field. Severe carded 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in the tournament and posted a stellar .857 free throw percentage (12 of 14). It was the first career all-tournament team selection for both players.

Notre Dame is receiving 40 votes in the latest Associated Press poll after spending four weeks in the Top 25 earlier this season. The Irish were ranked 15th in the preseason AP poll, marking the seventh time in the last eight seasons that the Irish were tapped in the initial AP survey of the year.

Notre Dame also earned 25 votes in last week’s ESPN/USA Today coaches poll after appearing in the Top 25 for the first three weeks of 2003-04. The Irish were pegged No. 16 in the preseason coaches poll, also the seventh time in eight years that they had shown up in the first ESPN/USA Today poll of the year.

This season, Notre Dame has faced or will face no less than seven teams that are ranked in both major polls (No. 1/2 Tennessee, No. 4/1 Connecticut, No. 6/4 Purdue, No. 13/13 Colorado, No. 19/20 Auburn, No. 23/arv Villanova and No. 25/22 Michigan State). In addition, Boston College was ranked 24th and Virginia Tech was 25th in last week’s ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll. Also, five other Irish opponents – Marquette, Miami, Rutgers, USC and West Virginia – were receiving votes in one or both of the polls. (NOTE: the most recent coaches’ poll had not been released at press time – the second rankings shown are from last week’s balloting).

Over the last four seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 74-6 (.925) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including a 12-2 mark this year. The two rare losses this season came on Nov. 15 at Colorado (led 37-33 at half; lost 67-63 in overtime) and at Seton Hall (led 23-17; lost 51-45).

Over the last nine 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 127-5 (.962) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Notre Dame has added 13 more wins to that ledger this season by holding down Valparaiso (74-57), Dayton (78-41), Colorado State (63-59), Virginia Tech (53-40), Connecticut (66-51), Syracuse (64-35), Villanova (38-36), Miami (59-50), Boston College (52-50), Georgetown (66-52), Providence (81-51), St. John’s (69-56) and Miami again (93-58).

Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. Over the last nine seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 88-3 (.967) 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 tacked on three more wins to that tally this year with high-scoring victories over Wisconsin (82-64), Providence (81-51) and Miami (93-58).

Notre Dame is one of only eight schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen five times in the past seven seasons (1997-2003). The others are Connecticut (seven times), Tennessee (seven times), Duke (six times), Louisiana Tech (six times), North Carolina (five times), Old Dominion (five times) and Texas Tech (five times).

The Irish are one of just six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 10 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in these elite club are Tennessee (27), Texas Tech (14), Louisiana Tech (12), Old Dominion (12) and Connecticut (10).

NOTRE DAME AMONG RECENT WINS LEADERS Notre Dame has won 199 games over the last eight seasons (24.9 victories per year), which stands as the ninth-most wins of any school in the country during that time.

For the first time since the 1998-99 season, the Irish are wearing white uniforms at home this season, eschewing the golden togs they sported for the past four seasons. Notre Dame has worn white uniforms on numerous occasions on the past, dating as far back as the school’s first varsity women’s basketball squad, which took the floor in 1977-78. Blue continues to be the primary color for the Irish road uniforms.

In January, Notre Dame unveiled new championship banners which now hang in the Joyce Center. The NCAA title flag won by the Irish women in 2001 and the Helms Foundation national championship banners won by the Notre Dame men in 1927 and 1936 now have been converted to gold with blue lettering, reversing the look of the other banners currently on display. In addition, the Irish basketball and volleyball teams have added blue flags for Sweet Sixteen appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

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 110 of their last 119 games (.924) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a current 17-game winning streak, the second-longest in school history. Notre Dame also has a 68-7 (.907) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it was snapped with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the 2002 home finale.

The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 45 of their last 47 non-BIG EAST contests (.957) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only two losses in that span came to Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69) and Purdue in 2003 (71-54). 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 260-70 (.788) record at the venerable facility. In both the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons, the Irish were a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season.

Beginning with its national championship season of 2000-01, Notre Dame has ranked in the Top 10 in the nation in attendance each of the past three years. The Irish are looking to extend that streak to a fourth straight season, averaging 6,698 fans for their 12 home games, including a season-high 8,760 fans on Feb. 14 vs. Providence, the seventh-largest crowd in school history. According to the latest unofficial national attendance rankings compiled by the Wisconsin Sports Information Office (as of March 1), Notre Dame ranks 12th in the country in attendance.

The Irish averaged 7,132 fans for their 13 home games last season, good for their second consecutive eighth-place finish in the final NCAA attendance rankings. Last year also saw Notre Dame register two of the top 10 crowds in school history, including a season-high gathering of 9,483 fans, the fifth-largest in school history for the nationally-televised matchup with Purdue on Jan. 4, 2003.

All of the top 20 crowds in the Irish record book have occurred during the 17-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present). And, as more evidence of Notre Dame’s rapid elevation to ?hot ticket? status in South Bend, 19 of the top 20 crowds in school history have been recorded in the last five seasons.

Based on its success in recent years, Notre Dame continues to be a favorable television draw and the 2003-04 season was no exception. The Irish played on the small screen no less than 11 times during the regular season, including four appearances on national television.

Notre Dame made its ’03-04 television debut on Dec. 7 at Washington in a matchup that was shown to a national cable audience on Fox Sports Net. The Irish returned to coast-to-coast television on Jan. 4 when they visited Purdue for the inaugural BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge on ESPN2.

In addition, Notre Dame was selected to appear on the BIG EAST Conference television package four times this season, including three home games. The Irish earned wins over Virginia Tech (Jan. 10), Villanova (Jan. 24) and Boston College (Jan. 31) at home, before falling at Rutgers (Feb. 28) in front of the BIG EAST TV cameras. Those games were seen on a regional basis in several major East Coast markets, including New York, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia and Washington, as well as South Bend, where WHME-TV (Channel 46) showed the Virginia Tech, Villanova and Rutgers games on a same-day, tape-delayed basis at 7 p.m. (ET).

Furthermore, the Jan. 13 BIG EAST matchup between Notre Dame and two-time defending national champion Connecticut was televised by Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) with College Sports Television (CSTV) picking up the broadcast and airing it nationally.

Both Notre Dame-Miami games also were televised this season. The Jan. 28 matchup in Coral Gables, Fla., was picked up by the Sunshine Network on a tape-delayed basis. Meanwhile, the Feb. 25 rematch at the Joyce Center was broadcast live to a nationwide audience on CSTV. The fledgling network has been particularly kind to the Irish this season – Notre Dame is 2-0 when appearing on the CSTV airwaves.

Two other Irish road games (at West Virginia and Syracuse) were broadcast locally on a delayed basis in those markets.

In addition, the semifinals of this year’s BIG EAST Championship presented by State Farm will be broadcast on the BIG EAST television package Monday, March 8 at 6 and 8 p.m. (ET) from the Hartford (Conn.) Civic Center. Clearances for those semifinal games have yet to be announced. The championship game will air live on ESPN2 on Tuesday, March 9 at 7 p.m. (ET).

After a two-year absence, the Joyce Center once again will be home to NCAA Tournament competition as Notre Dame was selected to be one of 16 sites for first- and second-round games in the 2004 NCAA Tournament. Action at the South Bend subregional will take place Sunday, March 21 and Tuesday, March 23, with exact tipoff times and potential television broadcasts to be determined by the NCAA during the week leading up to the competition.

Should Notre Dame qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the 11th time in school history (and the ninth consecutive season), the Irish are guaranteed to play at home. Notre Dame has played five NCAA tourney games at the Joyce Center in its history, going 4-1 and and advancing to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 2000 and 2001 (the Irish went on to win the national championship in the latter season).

Full-session ticket books for NCAA Tournament games at the Joyce Center currently are available to the general public (one ticket for both Sunday games, one ticket for Tuesday’s only game). Single-game tickets will not be made available until after the field of 64 is announced on March 14. For more information on how to purchase tickets for the 2004 NCAA Notre Dame subregional, contact the Irish athletics ticket office at (574) 631-7356 or visit the ticket windows located on the second floor of the Joyce Center at Gate 1.

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 1620) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and AMP sports director Sean Stires is now in his fourth season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics website ( by subscribing to College Sports Pass, which gives listeners full multimedia access to a variety of Irish athletics events for only $6.95 per month.

THE Muffet McGraw SHOW
Muffet McGraw’s half-hour, weekly television show is produced by LeSea Broadcasting and hosted by Bob Nagle. The show, now in its seventh season, is carried by WHME-TV (Channel 46) in South Bend and airs at 6:30 p.m. (ET) Saturdays through the end of the 2003-04 season. The show also is available via satellite (Galaxy 6, Transponder 15) each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (ET), and may be seen on LeSea Broadcasting stations in Denver, Honolulu, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Tulsa (check local listings).

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) is one of 30 players who were named to the 2003-04 John R. Wooden Women’s Award Preseason All-America Team on Aug. 13. Based on a vote of the Wooden Women’s Award National Advisory Board, these 30 players are considered the top candidates for the inaugural Wooden Women’s Award, which will be presented to the most outstanding female collegiate basketball player at the conclusion of the ’03-04 season.

Batteast is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection who started every game for the Irish last season, leading the team in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.) and blocked shots (1.56 bpg.). She also ranked among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in those categories, as well as steals (1.97 spg.) and double-doubles (8). In addition, the 6-2 wing scored in double figures 26 times, topped the 20-point mark five times, and earned game-high rebounding honors of 14 occasions. She ranks among Notre Dame’s career leaders in scoring average (6th – 13.8 ppg.) and rebounding average (tie-2nd – 8.1 rpg.), and she is one of only five players in school history to amass at least 800 points in her first two seasons under the Golden Dome.

Batteast is one of five BIG EAST players named to the Wooden Preseason All-America Team, joining Rebekkah Brunson of Georgetown, Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers, and the Connecticut duo of Ann Strother and Diana Taurasi.

In mid-January, the Wooden Women’s Award Committee will release its Midseason Top 20 List, followed in March by the official voting ballot which will consist of the top 10-15 players who have proven their success in the classroom (minimum 2.0 grade-point average) as well as on the court. More than 250 voters, comprised of sports media members and women’s college basketball experts around the country, will cast their votes for the five-member Wooden All-America Team and Wooden Award winner.

Although the 2003-04 season marks the debut of the Wooden Women’s Award, the honor initially was created in 1976 to recognize the top male collegiate basketball player in the nation. Past winners include Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84) and Tim Duncan (’97).

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast is one of 35 players who were selected to the 2003-04 State Farm Wade Trophy Preseason Watch List on Aug. 20 by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). Based on a vote of committee members which include leading coaches, journalists and basketball administrators, these 35 players are considered the top candidates for the State Farm Wade Trophy, which will be presented to the most outstanding female collegiate basketball player at the conclusion of the ’03-04 season.

Batteast is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection who started every game for the Irish last season, leading the team in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.) and blocked shots (1.56 bpg.). She also ranked among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in those categories, as well as steals (1.97 spg.) and double-doubles (8). In addition, the 6-2 wing scored in double figures 26 times, topped the 20-point mark five times, and earned game-high rebounding honors of 14 occasions. She ranks among Notre Dame’s career leaders in scoring average (6th – 13.8 ppg.) and rebounding average (tie-2nd – 8.1 rpg.), and she is one of only five players in school history to amass at least 800 points in her first two seasons under the Golden Dome.

Batteast was one of five BIG EAST players named to the ’03-04 Wade Trophy Preseason Watch List, joining Rebekkah Brunson of Georgetown, Ieva Kublina of Virginia Tech, Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers and last year’s Wade Trophy recipient, Diana Taurasi of Connecticut.

The State Farm Wade Trophy, now in its 27th year, is named after Margaret Wade, the late Delta State University coach who won three national championship in the mid-1970s. The Wade Trophy is considered the one of the most prestigious individual awards in women’s college basketball and is organized by the WBCA and the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS).

Adding to her armload of preseason hardware, junior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) was named a preseason honorable mention All-American by Street & Smith’s in the magazine’s annual basketball preview issue. It’s the third preseason honor for the talented 6-2 wing, who is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection. She also was the 2001-02 United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year and a WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-American that season, as well as the unanimous choice for BIG EAST Rookie of the Year.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast and freshman forward Crystal Erwin both received preseason recognition in a vote of the BIG EAST Conference coaches that was released at the league’s annual Media Day on Oct. 30 at the Newark (N.J.) Liberty Airport Hilton. Batteast was a preseason first-team all-BIG EAST selection, while Erwin was named the Preseason BIG EAST Co-Freshman of the Year, sharing the honor with Connecticut’s Liz Sherwood.

Batteast led the Irish in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.), blocked shots (1.56 bpg.) and double-doubles (8), ranking among the BIG EAST leaders in all four categories. She is a two-time second-team all-conference selection and is one of only five players in school history to score 800 points in her first two seasons at Notre Dame.

As a senior last year at St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., Erwin earned All-America honors from Parade, Street & Smith’s and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), and also was selected to play in the McDonald’s All-America Game in Atlanta. She averaged 22.3 points, 13.4 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game during her storied prep career, averaging double-doubles during both her junior (24.9 ppg., 14.9 rpg.) and senior seasons (21.2 ppg., 10.2 rpg.). She holds career records at St. Paul for points (2,720), rebounds (1,630) and blocks (380), as well as the school single-season scoring mark (869 in 2001-02). She follows Batteast as the second Irish rookie in three years to be chosen the BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year.

Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw announced Nov. 18 that three of the nation’s top high school student-athletes have chosen to continue their careers with the Irish, signing national letters of intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2004. Charel Allen, a 5-10 guard from Monessen, Pa., Melissa D’Amico, a 6-5 forward/center from Manorville, N.Y., and Tulyah Gaines (pronounced too-LIE-uh), a 5-8 guard from North Las Vegas, Nev., all committed to the Irish during the early signing period, which lasted from Nov. 12-19.

Allen will arrive at Notre Dame next fall as one of the top college prospects from western Pennsylvania. She is a three-time Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-American who averaged 29.9 points, 11.4 rebounds, 7.2 steals and 4.8 assists per game last season at Monessen High School. She also is a two-time Associated Press first-team all-state pick and was named the 2003 AP Class A Player of the Year. In addition, she is a two-time all-Pittsburgh metro area selection and a ’03 AAU 16-and-under All-American. As a freshman in 2001, she was a fifth-team AP all-state choice when she averaged 23.6 points per game. In her first three seasons at MHS, Allen has piled up 2,302 points (26.2 ppg.), 995 rebounds (11.3 rpg.), 600 steals (6.8 spg.), 426 assists (4.8 apg.) and 102 blocks (1.2 bpg.). She was ranked 27th in the nation by Blue Star Index and she will be the fourth Pennsylvania native to play for the Irish (the first in 13 seasons).

At 6-5, D’Amico will be the tallest player on the Irish roster when she sets foot on the Notre Dame campus in the fall of 2004. A versatile post player, she averaged 16.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game last season for William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach, N.Y. (located on Long Island). She burst onto the national scene this past summer at the adidas Top Ten Camp in Suwanee, Ga., and is considered by most recruiting services to be one of the top players on the rise in this year’s class. She currently is ranked 47th in the country by All-Star Girls Report and 91st by Blue Star Index , and she follows in the footsteps of another talented New Yorker who came to Notre Dame – two-time honorable mention All-American and Mount Vernon, N.Y., product, Katryna Gaither (1993-97)

Gaines is a playmaking guard who will give the Irish solid depth in the backcourt. Last summer, she moved to North Las Vegas and is attending Cheyenne High School, where she will play for the Desert Shields this year. Gaines previously lived in Burbank, Calif., where she was a three-year starter at John Burroughs High School. She averaged 18.9 points and 5.1 assists per game last season and was a first-team all-CIF SS (Southern California) Division 2A First Team selection. In addition, she is a two-time Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-American and won a bronze medal with the West Team at the 2003 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs. Gaines averaged 6.0 points per game during the five-game tournament, which featured the top prep players from around the country. She is ranked 25th nationally by All-Game Sports, 52nd by Blue Star Index and 61st by All-Star Girls Report , and she is the second Las Vegas area resident in as many years to sign with Notre Dame – current Irish freshman guard Breona Gray graduated from Bishop Gorman High School last May.

With the addition of Allen, D’Amico and Gaines, Notre Dame has assembled the nation’s 14th-ranked recruiting class according to Blue Star Index. This marks the eighth consecutive year in which the Irish have attracted a Top 20 class, making Notre Dame one of only three schools (along with Connecticut and Tennessee) to have such a consistent run of recruiting success.

Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw tried her hand at writing during the past year and has co-authored a book with Bradley University professor Paul Gullifor entitled “Courting Success: Muffet McGraw’s Formula For Winning In Sports And In Life.” The book, which currently is in bookstores nationwide and may be purchased through on-line booksellers such as, touches on how, in the shadows of the nation’s most storied football program, McGraw has quietly built the women’s basketball program into a national power.

Women’s basketball has been one of the University’s most consistently successful varsity sport during the past 16 years, qualifying for the postseason 13 times, including 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament, five NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances and two Final Fours berths. The team’s rise to national prominence was then cemented with a national championship in 2001. In short, the Notre Dame women’s basketball program has been steadily built into a perennial national championship contender, and its architect for those 16 years has been McGraw. Entering the 2003-04 season, the Pottsville, Pa., native had won 363 games at Notre Dame, had a stellar .725 winning percentage and was the consensus 2001 national Coach of the Year.

Personal accolades aside, McGraw has always been more concerned with off-court success than the progress of her teams. Accordingly, this book is a motivational and inspirational book in which she shares her ingredients for success – on and off the court. It provides lessons for those aspiring toward success in basketball, and in life, while illustrating why Muffet McGraw is one of college basketball’s most accomplished coaches.

Notre Dame will open postseason play Sunday night in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Conference Championship at the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, Conn. The opponent and game time for the Irish have yet to be determined – a win Tuesday night over Syracuse (or a Villanova loss at Pittsburgh) would lock up the No. 2 seed for Notre Dame and mean the Irish would play at 6 p.m. (ET) Sunday against the winner of the first round game between the No. 7 and No. 10 seeds (currently Rutgers vs. Seton Hall).

Notre Dame has compiled a 12-8 (.600) record in its eight previous trips to the BIG EAST Championship. The Irish have advanced to the semifinals in six of the last eight seasons and reached the title game four times (1996, 1997, 1999 and 2001), falling to Connecticut each time.