Dec. 16, 2016
By Leigh Torbin
After pausing for a week to take final exams, the No. 2 Notre Dame women’s basketball team (9-1) returns to the court on Sunday afternoon when it travels to face Toledo (8-1). Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at Savage Arena. The Rockets will be eighth foe in 11 games this season to have just one loss or fewer entering their contest with the Irish.
Here are a few notes about the matchup on Sunday.
Notre Dame-Toledo History
Notre Dame leads the all-time series, 4-2, and has won each of the last three meetings with Toledo. This game completes the third home-and-home series between the foes while Notre Dame and Toledo were also paired in the 1989 WNIT.
Last year’s contest saw a diverse scoring ledger for the Irish in a 74-39 win on Nov. 18 at Purcell Pavilion. Kathryn Westbeld led the way with 13 points followed by Madison Cable (11) and Lindsay Allen (10). Allen also chipped in nine assists to narrowly miss a double-double. No Rockets scored in double-figures.
In addition to facing the Rockets, the Irish have played another pair of games in the Glass City, competing there in the first and second rounds of the 2014 NCAA Championship. The Irish defeated Robert Morris, 93-42, and Arizona State, 84-67, at Savage Arena en route to the national championship game.
The 2016-17 edition of the Rockets stands at 8-1 on the season, losing only to No. 9 UCLA by a single basket, 75-73, on Nov. 25 in the Cancun Challenge. Toledo is ranked No. 23 in the CollegeInsider.com mid-major rankings. Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott tops Toledo with 13.4 points per game this season. Mikaela Boyd has a well-balanced stat line through nine games with 11.7 points per game, 5.7 rebounds per game, 46 assists and 22 steals. Tricia Collup is in her ninth year as the head coach of the Rockets and her 17th year overall as a head coach, including her tenure at Evansville, posting a 308-198 career mark.
Exam Break Has Been Good to Irish
On Sunday, at Toledo, Notre Dame will be playing its first game following fall semester final exam week. While it is a rigorous period testing the minds of Notre Dame’s student body, it historically has not adversely affected the team on the court. In each of the last 21 seasons, Notre Dame has been victorious in its first break following exams.
The Irish last lost their first post-exam contest in 1994 in an unusual situation where the team had a 20-day layoff covering both exams and Christmas. On Dec. 27, 1994, the Irish fell to No. 9 Colorado, 91-70, on a neutral court in the Seattle Times Husky Classic. A year ago, the Irish broke from exams with a Dec. 21 trip to Philadelphia and a 91-55 win at St. Joseph’s.
Road Has Not Been Rocky For Notre Dame
Notre Dame has won each of its last 12 road games since a Dec. 5, 2015, loss at UConn. The Irish are 2-0 this year in road games, defeating Iowa and DePaul.
The streak is the third-longest active run in the nation. UConn has presently won 28 consecutive road games and Louisville has won 12 in a row away from the KFC Yum! Center.
The Toledo game is the second of a school-record six consecutive road games for the Irish. The stretch began with a 75-61 win at No. 16 DePaul on Dec. 10 and will continue through a Jan. 2 game at Georgia Tech before the Irish finally return to Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center on Jan. 5.
McGraw Radio Show to Debut Jan. 9
For the first time, Muffet McGraw will have her own local radio show as the Muffet McGraw Show Presented by TireRack.com debuts Jan. 9 at O’Rourke’s Public House, conveniently located in Eddy Street Commons, across the street from Notre Dame’s campus.
The hour-long show, which begins at 6 p.m., will be hosted by Bob Nagle, now in his 12th year as the radio voice of the Irish women’s basketball team. It will be broadcast live locally on 92.1 Pulse FM and also be available over the internet at WatchND.tv. The shows will also be archived as Notre Dame Athletics Podcasts which are presented by Nissan.
Five shows, all on Monday nights, are planned for the 2016-17 season with the dates being Jan. 9, Jan. 23, Feb. 13, Feb. 20 and Feb. 27.
Many Happy Homecomings For Irish
Notre Dame has one native Ohioan on its roster in Kettering’s Kathryn Westbeld.
The Irish have generally enjoyed Homecoming games of late. The last time a Notre Dame player from outside of Indiana did not win a game played in her home state came on Feb. 28, 2011, when the Irish fell to No. 12 DePaul in Chicago, Illinois, home state of Devereaux Peters (Chicago) and Kaila Turner (Joliet).
Twice this season, Notre Dame players have won games, not only in their home states, but their hometown regions. Brianna Turner (Pearland, Texas) saw the Irish beat Louisiana-Lafayette in Houston while Diamond Thompson (Wheaton, Ill.) saw Notre Dame down DePaul in Chicago.
How to Watch/Listen
Much like Notre Dame’s non-televised home games this year, Sunday’s game at Toledo be streamed online at WatchESPN.com (formerly branded as ESPN3) or through the WatchESPN app. Streams are free to all ESPN subscribers. Sunday afternoon’s game will feature audio from Mason Lowry and Rhett Boyd.
Information on how to access WatchESPN is available here.
For those familiar with the WatchESPN, the direct link to the webcast of Sunday’s game is available here.
Bob Nagle is in his 12th season as the radio voice of the Irish. Notre Dame’s local home on the radio is Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) while the audio is also available globally via WatchND.tv and the WatchND app. The audio link for the broadcast is here.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications associate director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for Notre Dame’s women’s basketball and men’s golf teams. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.