Jan. 9, 2006
- Notre Dame and Marquette resume the longest standing rivalry in Irish women’s basketball history, as the two teams meet for the 31st time on Tuesday night.
- The Irish aim to continue their success in rebounding from double-digit losses. During the past 11 seasons, they are 23-1 at home in their first game after a 10-point setback.
Having experienced both ends of the college basketball spectrum in the first half of the 2005-06 season with a 9-1 start followed by a three-game losing streak, the No. 20 Notre Dame women’s basketball team reaches the midpoint of the regular season Tuesday with a 7 p.m. (ET) game against BIG EAST Conference newcomer Marquette at the Joyce Center.
The Irish (9-4, 0-2 BIG EAST) find themselves in largely unfamiliar territory, having dropped three in a row (and their first two conference games) for the first time in eight years. Notre Dame is coming off a 74-61 loss to Seton Hall on Saturday at the Joyce Center, a game in which the Irish led by five at the break before cold shooting from both the field and the foul line proved to be their undoing.
Sophomore guard Tulyah Gaines made a successful return to the starting lineup, setting or tying career highs with 12 points, five assists and four steals.
- Notre Dame is ranked 20th in this week’s Associated Press poll and was 12th in last week’s ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll.
- Marquette is not ranked.
* Notre Dame: http://www.und.com
* Marquette: http://www.gomarquette.com
* BIG EAST: http://www.bigeast.org
Setting The Standard
Under the guidance of 19th-year head coach Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame has evolved into one of the country’s leading women’s basketball powers. The Irish have appeared in 12 NCAA Tournaments (including the past 10 in a row) and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the past nine years. Notre Dame also has reached the NCAA Women’s Final Four twice, winning college basketball’s ultimate prize with the 2001 national championship.
In its history, Notre Dame has developed eight All-Americans, eight WNBA players (including five draft picks in the past five years) and four USA Basketball veterans (eight medals won). Now in their 29th season in 2005-06, the Irish own an all-time record of 584-258 (.694).
Notre Dame Head Coach Muffet McGraw
Saint Joseph’s ’77
* 19th season at Notre Dame
* 420-159 (.725) at Notre Dame.* 508-200 (.718) in 24 years as head coach.
* 2001 consensus National Coach of the Year
* Four-time Naismith Coach of the Year finalist
* Four-time conference Coach of the Year
* BIG EAST Conference (2001)
* Midwestern Collegiate Conference (1991)
* North Star Conference (1988)
* East Coast Conference (@ Lehigh) (1983)
A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
The 2005-06 season was expected to be a unique one for Notre Dame and it has lived up to that assessment thus far. Despite losing two of their top three scorers and their two primary rebounders from a year ago, the Irish bolted to a 9-1 record, highlighted by two wins over Top 25 teams (USC and Utah) as well as the championship at the Duel in the Desert in Las Vegas.
However, Notre Dame has seen its fortunes reversed of late, as the Irish are in the midst of their first three-game losing streak in eight years. That 1997-98 season also marked the last (and only) time Notre Dame began BIG EAST Conference play with consecutive losses. Yet, the Irish have found themselves facing difficult challenges numerous times this season and with the schedule just now reaching the midway point, there is plenty of time to recover from this current dry spell and continue the tradition of success that has been the hallmark of Notre Dame women’s basketball.
One of the keys for the Irish this season has been their offensive balance. In 11 of 13 games to date, Notre Dame has had at least three players scoring in double figures, and eight separate players have cracked double digits at least twice this year. Additionally, five different players have led the team in scoring at some point.
The Irish also have the benefit of strong leadership in senior All-America point guard and two-year team captain Megan Duffy. The 5-foot-7 Dayton, Ohio, native spent last summer as a co-captain and starter on the United States World University Games Team that rolled to the gold medal with a 7-0 record. Duffy herself directed an American offense that averaged 97.4 points per game and set a USA World University Games record with a scoring margin of +43.1 ppg.
Back stateside, Duffy continues to make improvements in her game each night out and has been a strong all-around contributor and leader for Notre Dame once again this year. The veteran floor general is averaging a team-best 14.8 points, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game,with a 1.74 assist/turnover ratio, ranking among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in all four categories. In addition, she is second in the league and tied for 10th in the nation in foul shooting (.900). She also has led the team in scoring seven times and in assists nine times this year. Duffy has been tapped for the BIG EAST Conference Weekly Honor Roll three times this season, and she earned a spot on the Duel in the Desert All-Tournament Team after averaging 12.5 points and 7.0 assists in piloting the Irish to the tourney title.
Sophomore center Melissa D’Amico has proven to be a solid complement in the post to Duffy’s perimeter presence. A prime candidate for the BIG EAST Most Improved Player award, D’Amico is second on the team in scoring (9.6 ppg.) and rebounding (5.6 rpg.), while setting the pace in both blocked shots (1.54 bpg., fourth in the BIG EAST) and field goal percentage (.562). Those figures are a far cry from her rookie season, when she logged 1.9 ppg. and 1.4 rpg. with a .438 field goal percentage in 26 games. The pre-Christmas Duel in the Desert may have been D’Amico’s breakout performance, as she averaged 16.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game with an .824 field goal percentage (14-of-17) en route to tournament Most Valuable Player and BIG EAST Player of the Week honors.
Freshman guard Lindsay Schrader also has shown tremendous promise in her first season with the Irish. The former McDonald’s All-American already has been named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week once (Nov. 21) after turning in an impressive 10-point, 14-rebound effort in her debut outing against Michigan, becoming just the second player in school history (first since 1979) to record a double-double in her first game. She also averaged 13.5 points per game and shot a blistering 80 percent from the field (12-of-15) in wins over Iona and Wisconsin, going 6-of-6 in the latter contest. Those marks earned Schrader a spot on the Dec. 5 BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll, the first freshman to appear on that list this season. She also tacked on her second double-double of the year with 10 points and 10 rebounds in Notre Dame’s win over No. 22/21 Utah at the Duel in the Desert, before leading all players with 13 points and seven rebounds against Valparaiso. Schrader is third on the team in scoring (9.0 ppg.) and tied with D’Amico for second in rebounding (5.6 rpg.), as well as second in field goal percentage (.476).
Potent Notables About The Fighting Irish
- Notre Dame’s No. 20 ranking in the latest Associated Press poll represents the 28th consecutive appearance for the Irish in that survey, dating back to the start of the 2004-05 season. All told, Notre Dame has appeared in 137 Associated Press polls since the balloting debuted 30 years ago, with their first AP ranking (No. 25) coming on Dec. 31, 1990.
- With its No. 10 AP ranking on Dec. 5, the Irish have appeared in the top 10 of the media balloting at some point in seven of the past 10 years (including three of the past four seasons). Notre Dame has spent a total of 73 weeks in the AP top 10 during the program’s 29-year history and owns a 110-21 (.840) record when it’s ranked in the top 10.
- The Irish have won 57 of their last 61 non-conference home games, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Three of the losses in that span have come against Big Ten Conference opponents (Wisconsin in 1996, Purdue in 2003, Michigan State in 2004), with the other coming back on Dec. 31 vs. No. 1 Tennessee.
- The Irish defense continues to be its calling card. In each of the past six seasons, Notre Dame has held its opponents to an average of less than 62 points per game, including a 56.8 ppg. mark last year, which ranked as the third-lowest opponent scoring average in school history and second-best of the Muffet McGraw era (55.8 ppg. in 2000-01). Thus far in 2005-06, the Irish are allowing opponents to score 60.7 ppg.
- The Irish have posted 39 wins over Top 25 opponents in the past eight seasons (1998-99 to present), most recently knocking off No. 22/21 Utah, 68-55 on Dec. 18 in the championship game of the Duel in the Desert (Gray Division) out in Las Vegas. In each of the past two years, Notre Dame has set a school record with seven regular-season wins over ranked opponents. Furthermore, since the start of the 2003-04 season, the Irish are 11-3 (.786) at home against Top 25 competition.
- Drawing 6,854 fans to last Saturday’s game vs. Seton Hall, the Irish now have welcomed crowds of 5,000 or more fans to 71 of their last 73 home games. The only two blemishes on that mark came in the semifinals and finals of last year’s Preseason WNIT, because tickets for those games could not be included in the Notre Dame season ticket package and had to be purchased separately.
- The capacity crowd of 11,418 for the Dec. 31 home game vs. top-ranked Tennessee was the third sellout in program history and the 19-day advance sellout was the quickest in the 29-year history of Irish women’s basketball. As of Jan. 9, it also was the 17th-largest crowd in the nation. For the season, Notre Dame ranks eighth in the country in average home attendance with 6,990 fans per game.
- Senior guard Megan Duffy was named a preseason All-American by three sources, has been cited on the preseason watch lists for both the State Farm/WBCA Wade Trophy and the John R. Wooden Women’s Award, and was tabbed as one of the top five point guards in the nation by ESPN.com. Duffy also was a preseason all-BIG EAST Conference selection, following up her first-team all-league citation last year.
- With a 55-45 victory over Michigan on Nov. 18, Irish head coach Muffet McGraw became the 27th coach in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history to reach the 500-win mark. She also is the 10th Division I coach to earn her 500th victory prior to age 50. McGraw reached another milestone on Nov. 29 vs. Iona with her 700th career game as a head coach.
A Quick Look At Marquette
It may be a new conference, but it’s the same old story for Marquette this season, as the Golden Eagles have jumped out to a 10-3 record and a 1-1 mark in their initial BIG EAST Conference campaign.
Behind its trademark tough defense and rebounding, coupled with a patient offense, MU won 10 of its first 11 games this season, including solid road wins at Big Ten members Wisconsin and Penn State. However, the Golden Eagles will enter Tuesday’s game with Notre Dame having lost their last two contests at home to strong nationally-respected clubs – 64-56 vs. Virginia and 67-52 vs. No. 13/11 DePaul.
Junior forwards Christina Quaye and Jasmine McCullough have given Marquette a formidable post game this season. Quaye leads the team in scoring (14.5 ppg.), rebounding (6.5 rpg.) and field goal percentage (.519), while McCullough is second to Quaye in all three categories (11.7 ppg., 6.1 rpg., .472 FG%).
Not to be overlooked is senior guard Carolyn Kieger, who is third on the squad in scoring (9.9 ppg.), but is better known as a playmaking point who leads the BIG EAST in assists (6.77 apg.).
Marquette head coach Terri Mitchell is in her 10th season at the school with a career record of 179-101 (.639). Her teams are 0-6 all-time against Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-Marquette Series
No opponent has appeared more often on Notre Dame’s schedule through the years than Marquette. The Irish and Golden Eagles have met a total of 30 times since the Notre Dame program achieved varsity status in 1977-78, with the Irish holding a 26-4 edge in the series (15-1 at the Joyce Center).
The Notre Dame-Marquette rivalry began in that inaugural ’77-78 season, with the Golden Eagles winning the first matchup, 66-41 in Milwaukee. The teams would then meet at least once almost annually through the 1995-96 season (lone exception was the 1983-84 campaign). In that time, the teams were twice paired up in conference play (North Star and Midwestern Collegiate) for two-year stretches.
However, the series went dormant for the next three seasons following the ’95-96 meeting. It picked up again in 1999-2000 (a 75-60 Irish win in South Bend) and has resumed on an annual basis ever since.
Other Notre Dame-MarquetteSeries Tidbits
- Notre Dame has won nine in a row and 25 of the past 26 games in the series after Marquette won three of the first four meetings (twice in Milwaukee, once in South Bend). The Golden Eagles’ most recent win over the Irish came on Dec. 1, 1992 in Milwaukee, a 66-62 verdict. MU’s last victory in South Bend occurred on Feb. 2, 1980, a 67-46 decision.
- The past three games in the series have been particularly close, with the Irish winning all three by an average margin of 6.0 points per game. Last year’s contest was perhaps the most exciting in the 30-game series, as Notre Dame edged Marquette, 50-47 in Milwaukee, on Jacqueline Batteast’s three-pointer at the horn. The three-point margin was the slimmest in a series game for the Irish since Feb. 3, 1979 (a 60-57 triumph at the Joyce Center).
- The 26 victories by Notre Dame and the 30 series games are both school records. Dayton and Detroit are tied for second on the Irish opponent victory list (22), while Notre Dame has played Dayton 28 times, second-most in school annals.
- The two schools played one another twice before Notre Dame’s program achieved varsity status in time for the 1977-78 season. Marquette won on both occasions, defeating the Irish twice in 1976 (52-47 on Feb. 4 in Milwaukee; 45-41 on Feb. 28 at Notre Dame).
- With Marquette’s arrival in the BIG EAST this season, the Irish and Golden Eagles have been members in the same conference three times. Previously, the teams shared affiliations for two-year periods in the North Star (1986-88) and Midwestern Collegiate (1989-91) conferences. The NSC now is defunct, while the MCC has been renamed the Horizon League. Notre Dame is 8-0 against Marquette in conference play, winning four times each in the NSC and MCC.
- Marquette has topped the 70-point mark twice against Notre Dame. Conversely, the Irish have scored at least 70 points against the Golden Eagles 21 times, all in the past 24 series meetings.
- Marquette head coach Terri Mitchell was an assistant with the Golden Eagles the last time they defeated Notre Dame on Dec. 1, 1992.
- Mitchell is a former member of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Board of Directors, serving as that body’s NCAA Division I Legislative Chair. That post is now held by Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw, who was appointed to the position by new WBCA president (and DePaul head coach) Doug Bruno in June 2005.
The Last Time Notre Dame And Marquette Met
Jacqueline Batteast’s three-pointer as time expired gave No. 7 Notre Dame a 50-47 victory over Marquette on Dec. 19, 2004 at the Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee.
It was Notre Dame’s only three-point field goal of the game, which was highlighted by each team’s star post players – Batteast and Marquette’s Christina Quaye. Batteast had game highs of 27 points and 10 rebounds to pick up her third double-double of the ’04-05 season, while Quaye led Marquette with 20 points and eight rebounds.
Neither team shot well as defense was the order of the day. Marquette shot 28.6 percent (16-of-56) while Notre Dame shot 34.8 percent (16-of-46), making rebounding and turnovers the key stats in the game. Marquette won the battle of the boards 47-31. It was Notre Dame’s largest rebounding deficit of the season. However, the Irish forced 19 turnovers, including 11 steals (seven by Megan Duffy).
The game stayed close early in the second half as the lead changed hands seven times in the first 10 minutes of the half. Notre Dame slowly pulled away thereafter, extending its lead to five, 38-33, at the 7:29 mark on Charel Allen’s lay-in.
Both teams found their shooting touch late in game as the teams began to trade baskets. Marquette tied the score at 40 when Danielle Kamm hit a falling 17-footer as the shot clock expired with 3:23 remaining.
Breona Gray quieted the home crowd of 2,573 with a jumper that gave the Irish a 45-44 lead with 1:32 remaining. The score stayed that way until Kamm fouled Duffy with 16 seconds remaining. Duffy made both free throws, giving the Irish a three point advantage and the Golden Eagles the ball.
Kamm hit a three-pointer from the right corner with 6.7 seconds left to tie the game and hurried down the floor as Batteast took a pass from Duffy on the right wing and hit her trey as the buzzer sounded for the win.
Marquette took its first lead of the game at the 3:31 mark of the first half when Quaye’s three-pointer made the score 22-19. Marquette took a narrow one-point lead 24-23 into the locker room at halftime.
Both teams had trouble finding energy early on in the game, combining for 1-of-20 shooting in the first 8:18 of the game. Marquette made its first field goal at the 10:53 mark after missing its first 11, when Svetlana Kovalenko connected on a layup on an assist from Quaye.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame struck first at the 19:30 mark on Batteast’s layup, but then went 9:18 before scoring another field goal.
Following The North Star
Marquette is one of 10 former North Star Conference schools Notre Dame has played since it left the NSC to join the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now known as the Horizon League) in 1988. The Irish have a 110-23 (.827) record in the past 16 seasons against former North Star members, including a 3-0 mark this year with road wins at Valparaiso, Dayton and Marquette.
Much of that post-NSC record was compiled when several North Star teams resurfaced alongside the Irish in the MCC. In fact, eight of Notre Dame’s 10 former North Star foes also squared off with the Irish in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference.
The Irish have won 22 of their last 23 games against former North Star members, a streak which pre-dates Notre Dame’s current membership in the BIG EAST Conference. The only NSC alum to defeat the Irish in that time is DePaul, which won by a 75-59 count on Dec. 11, 2002, in Chicago.
Notre Dame will see quite a bit more of Marquette and DePaul in the future, as both schools have joined the Irish in the BIG EAST Conference.
In recent years, the Irish have shown exceptional resiliency when it comes to responding to a double-digit loss. Since joining the BIG EAST Conference 11 seasons ago, Notre Dame is 38-6 (.864) in “bounce back” games, including a 23-1 (.958) record at home. During that span, the only time the Irish have lost at the Joyce Center immediately after a double-figure loss was Dec. 6, 1997, when they dropped a 78-59 decision to No. 3/2 Connecticut three days following an 80-67 defeat at Rutgers.
Overall, Notre Dame is 63-23 (.733) in the Muffet McGraw era (1987-present) in the first game after a loss of 10-or-more points.
Beasts Of The BIG EAST
Notre Dame is 137-33 (.806) 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 93 of their last 116 regular-season conference games, have finished among the top three in the BIG EAST nine times in their 10-year membership, and claimed a share of their first-ever regular-season conference championship in 2001.
When including postseason competition (BIG EAST and NCAA tournaments), Notre Dame is 151-43 (.778) against league opponents – factoring in 23 postseason tilts, the Irish are 76-9 (.894) at home, 61-27 (.693) on the road and 14-7 (.667) at neutral sites all-time vs. BIG EAST foes.
Duffy Joins Irish 1,000-Point Club …
Senior co-captain and All-America guard Megan Duffy became the 21st member of Notre Dame’s 1,000-Point Club with her 13-point night at St. John’s on Jan. 4. Duffy eclipsed the milestone on an old-fashioned three-point play with 14:01 left in the game.
Duffy now has 1,013 career points, moving her past Kelley Siemon for 20th on the Irish career scoring chart.
… With LaVere Knocking On The Door
Senior co-captain and forward Courtney LaVere is poised to join Duffy as a 1,000-point scorer at Notre Dame, currently having piled up 990 points since coming to campus in 2002.
Only four times in school history have teammates reached the 1,000-point plateau in the same season, with Niele Ivey and Kelley Siemon the last to do so in 2000-01. Duffy and LaVere also could have the shortest span between hitting the mark – the current school record is eight games, the term between Mary Beth Schueth and Carrie Bates scoring their 1,000th points in the 1984-85 season.
When The Game Is On The Line …
The Irish have posted a .695 free throw percentage (41-of-59) inside the final two minutes of games this season. Leading the way is senior guard Megan Duffy, who has made 21 of her 22 foul shots (.955) in crunch time.
The Efficiency Expert
Sophomore center Melissa D’Amico pulled off a unique feat in Notre Dame’s 77-54 win over Arkansas State Dec. 17 at the Duel in the Desert in Las Vegas. D’Amico scored a career-high 20 points in only 18 minutes of court time, becoming the first Irish player to average better than a point per minute (min. 10 minutes) in a game since Dec. 21, 2002, when current senior Courtney LaVere had 20 points in 19 minutes vs. IPFW.
Viva Las Vegas
Notre Dame made the most of its first-ever visit to Las Vegas, coming away with the Duel in the Desert (Gray Division) title on the strength of wins over Arkansas State (77-54) and No. 22/21 Utah (68-55) on Dec. 17-18. The championship was the fifth in the last six opportunities for the Irish, who also have now won 12 of their last 13 regular-season tournament games.
The Duel in the Desert crown was even more rewarding when you consider Notre Dame trailed for a grand total of 15 seconds the entire weekend (a one-point deficit midway through the second half vs. Utah). The Irish defense also played a pivotal role, holding ASU and Utah to a .286 field goal percentage and 54.5 points per game.
In six of their nine victories this season, Notre Dame has used a significant second-half run to take control of the contest. In four of those instances (Michigan, Indiana, USC, Utah), the Irish trailed at some point in the final 11 minutes, but on the strength of their second-half run, rallied to take the win.
The Irish got off to a 6-0 start for the second time in as many seasons, marking the first time in the 29-year history of the program Notre Dame has put together back-to-back 6-0 starts (the Irish began last year with a 7-0 record).
All told, Notre Dame has won the first six games of the season only four times, all in the Muffet McGraw era (and all in the past eight seasons beginning in 1998-99). In the three previous 6-0 starts, the Irish went on to win at least 25 games and reach the NCAA Tournament every time.
In The Light Of Day
Notre Dame has enjoyed playing in the afternoon this season, posting a 6-2 record in games when the tip comes before 6 p.m. local time. Dating back to last year, the Irish are 15-4 in day games.
Game #13 Recap: Seton Hall
Heta Korpivaara scored 13 of her 18 points in the second half, including six points during a decisive 17-6 run, to lead Seton Hall to a 74-61 upset of No. 12 Notre Dame on Saturday at the Joyce Center.
The loss was the third straight for the Irish (9-4, 0-2 BIG EAST), their longest losing streak in eight years. The victory was the first for Seton Hall (5-8, 0-2) against a ranked team since beating No. 23 Notre Dame 51-45 in South Orange on Feb. 8, 2004.
Korpivaara made a pair of free throws with 11:20 left to give the Pirates a 45-44 lead, then added another pair of free throws and a 17-foot jumper to make it 51-46. The Pirates extended the lead to 58-50 when Shantel Brown made a three-pointer and led by 10 when Monique Blake scored off her own miss.
The Pirates, who outrebounded the Irish 32-14 in the second half, made 12-of-14 free throws during the final 1:50 to hold on for the victory.
Jadis Rhodin had 13 points and six rebounds for Seton Hall and Amber Harris and Brown had 12 points each. Harris also added 11 rebounds and the Pirates had 14 second-chance points compared to just five for the Irish.
Sophomore guard Tulyah Gaines led Notre Dame with 12 points, junior forward Crystal Erwin had 11 points, despite going 1-for-7 from the free throw line, and sophomore guard Charel Allen added 10 points.
Noting The Seton Hall Game
- Notre Dame suffers its third consecutive loss, the first time the Irish have dropped three in a row since Dec. 3-8, 1997, when Notre Dame fell at Rutgers (80-67), home to No. 3/2 Connecticut (78-59) and at No. 17/19 Wisconsin (89-77).
- That 1997-98 season also is the only other time Notre Dame has opened BIG EAST play with two losses.
- The Irish fall at home to an unranked BIG EAST Conference opponent for the first time since Jan. 11, 2003, when Miami won 80-70 at the Joyce Center (also the last time Notre Dame lost its first BIG EAST home game of the year).
- It’s the first time a ranked Irish team has lost consecutive games to unranked opponents since Feb. 26 and March 3, 2002, when No. 21/25 Notre Dame lost its regular-season finale at home to Villanova (48-45), then was upset by Syracuse (84-79) in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship at Piscataway, N.J.
- Seton Hall earns just its fourth win all-time over Notre Dame and second in South Bend (first since a 62-55 decision on Dec. 11, 1993 – the initial matchup in the 18-game series).
- The Pirates scored their second highest point total ever against Notre Dame, topped only in their 88-79 overtime loss to the Irish on Jan. 2, 1996 in South Orange, N.J.
- The 13-point margin is the largest ever for SHU over Notre Dame, exceeding the seven-point spread in the teams’ first-ever contest.
- The Irish have lost consecutive home games for the first time since Jan. 4-20, 2003, when they endured a program-long four-game home losing streak (vs. Purdue, Miami, Rutgers and Connecticut).
- The minus-18 rebounding margin was the largest of the season for Notre Dame, topping the 15-point deficit vs. No. 1 Tennessee.
- SHU set opponent season highs for free throws made, attempted and percentage (23-29, .793).
- Notre Dame had a season-low nine turnovers, three days after its highest giveaway total in two years (24 at St. John’s).
- The 47 second-half points scored by the Pirates were the most by a Notre Dame opponent in either half this season (previous high was 39, done most recently by Purdue on Dec. 7).
- Sophomore guard Tulyah Gaines earned her fourth career start (all this year) and responded by matching her career best with 12 points (also at Northern Illinois on Dec. 30, 2004), her third career double-digit game and second of the season; Gaines also set new personal standards for assists, steals, free throws made, free throws attempted and minutes played.
- Sophomore guard Charel Allen came off the bench to score 10 points, her fourth double-figure game of the year and first since Nov. 27 vs. No. 24/21 USC, when she scored 13 points.
- Junior forward Crystal Erwin scored in double figures for the second consecutive game and third time in five outings.
- Senior guard Megan Duffy now has 1,013 points, moving her past Kelley Siemon into 20th place on the Irish career scoring list (Siemon had 1,006 points from 1997-2001).
Give Her Five (Hundred)
With Notre Dame’s 55-45 victory over Michigan on Nov. 18, head coach Muffet McGraw became the 27th women’s basketball coach in NCAA Division I history to reach the 500-win mark. McGraw now has a career record of 508-200 (.718) in 24 years of coaching, including 19 seasons at Notre Dame (420-159, .725).
Here’s a closer look at how that milestone victory breaks down for McGraw:
- She is the 10th NCAA Division I women’s basketball coach to register her 500th victory before turning 50 (her birthday was Dec. 5).
- McGraw is the fourth active coach in the BIG EAST Conference to reach the career 500-win mark, joining Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer, Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma and Villanova’s Harry Perretta.
- She is the third BIG EAST coach in as many seasons to celebrate her 500th win. Auriemma hit the milestone late in the 2002-03 campaign, while Perretta joined the club with his landmark victory midway through last season.
Join The Club
The Irish women’s basketball team became the sixth Notre Dame squad this year to be ranked in the top 10 in its respective sport at some point during the season when it earned the No. 10 spot in the Dec. 5 AP poll. The other top-10 Irish teams include (highest rank listed): women’s cross country (3rd), football (5th AP), men’s cross country (5th), women’s soccer (5th) and volleyball (7th).
In addition, all six of Notre Dame’s fall sports teams advanced at least as far as the round of 16 (or its equivalent) in the NCAA Tournament. The Irish cross country teams both finished among the top 10 at the NCAA Championships (men – 3rd; women – 7th), while the women’s soccer team advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals (lost at eventual champion Portland), and the men’s soccer squad made its first-ever trip to the Sweet 16 before bowing by a 1-0 count at College Cup participant Clemson.
The Irish volleyball team reached the round of 16 for the first time since 1997, falling to Wisconsin in five games down in College Station, Texas.
Meanwhile, the Notre Dame football team advanced to its first Bowl Championship Series game since 2000, dropping a 34-20 decision to No. 4 Ohio State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
On the strength of their fall success to date, the Irish were first in the latest NACDA/USSA Directors’ Cup standings (released Dec. 29) with 355 points, outpacing Stanford (282) and Duke (280). The results from football (final result determined by ranking in ESPN/USA Today poll) and volleyball are yet to come, with the next ranking set to come out on Jan. 10.
Half And Half
During the past six seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 105-10 (.913) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 33 of their last 37 such contests. Notre Dame has won seven of nine games this season when it led at the break (the Irish were tied at halftime of their win over USC).
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense …
During the past 11 seasons, Notre Dame has discovered that a solid defensive effort can almost certainly guarantee a victory. In fact, since the beginning of the 1995-96 season (Notre Dame’s first in the BIG EAST Conference), the Irish have an amazing 155-9 (.945) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Notre Dame had added five more tallies to this ledger with wins over Michigan (55-45), Iona (74-55), Arkansas State (77-54), Utah (68-55) and Valparaiso (58-50).
… But Sometimes You Have To Score If You Want To Win
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. During the past decade (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 91-3 (.968) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are a pair of overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998.
Notre Dame is one of only nine schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the past nine seasons (1997-2005). The others are Connecticut and Tennessee (nine times), Duke (eight times), Louisiana Tech (seven times), and Georgia, LSU, North Carolina and Texas Tech (six times).
The Gold Standard
The Irish are one of six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 12 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in this club are Tennessee (29), Texas Tech (16), Louisiana Tech (14), Old Dominion (14) and Connecticut (12).
Now That’s A Home Court Advantage
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame’s success has been its stellar play at home. In fact, the Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 131 of their last 144 games (.910) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 76-9 (.894) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it ended with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the ’02 home finale.
The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 57 of their last 61 non-BIG EAST contests (.934) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only three losses in that span all came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents – Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54) and Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT). The Purdue loss snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak which began after the UW setback.
Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center, posting a 281-74 (.792) record at the venerable facility. In three of the previous six seasons (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Irish were a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season.
Jammin’ The Joyce
Beginning with its national championship season of 2000-01, Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past five years, including a No. 16 rating in 2004-05 (5,830 fans per game). Notre Dame has averaged 6,990 fans in its six home games this season, and is eighth in the latest unofficial national attendance rankings, released each Monday by the University of Wisconsin Sports Information Office.
What’s more, each of the top 20 women’s basketball crowds in Joyce Center history have occurred during the 19-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present), with 19 of those 20 occurring in the past six seasons (2000-01 to present). Lastly, the Irish have attracted at least 5,000 fans to 71 of their last 73 home games, including 13 contests with at least 8,000 fans and the first three sellouts in the program’s history.
The most recent sellout in Notre Dame women’s basketball history took place on Dec 31, when 11,418 fans packed the Joyce Center for the Irish matchup with No. 1 Tennessee. The game sold out 19 days in advance, making its the fastest sellout in the 29-year history of the program.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Notre Dame’s two seniors – guard Megan Duffy and forward Courtney LaVere – are serving as team captains for the 2005-06 season. Duffy is in her second year as a captain (making her the 16th two-time captain in school history, and 12th in the Muffet McGraw era), while LaVere is a first-time captain. Both players received the captain’s honor following a vote of their teammates prior to the season.
Notre Dame On The Small Screen
Notre Dame will have nine of its regular-season games televised during the 2005-06 season. Highlighting this year’s television docket are six nationally-televised Irish women’s basketball contests, including three consecutive games on the ESPN family of networks during a 12-day span in mid-February.
This year’s TV slate continues a recent trend that has seen the Irish become a regular fixture on television. Beginning with the NCAA championship season of 2000-01 (and including games to date this year), Notre Dame has played in 63 televised games, including 38 that were broadcast nationally. Last year, the Irish had 17 games televised, with 10 being national broadcasts.
Notre Dame is 2-1 in televised games this season. The Irish defeated both Western Michigan (71-68 on Nov. 20) and No. 24/21 USC (73-62 on Nov. 27) in contests broadcast live to a regional audience by Comcast Local (based in Detroit). Most recently, Notre Dame fell to No. 1 Tennessee (62-51 on Dec. 31) in a game aired nationally by College Sports Television (CSTV).
Five of the remaining six televised games on the ’05-06 Notre Dame schedule also are slated for national broadcasts. The final two of three Irish appearances on CSTV will be part of the BIG EAST/CSTV Tuesday Game of the Week package. The Irish will welcome DePaul to the Joyce Center on Jan. 17, before visiting Rutgers on Jan. 24, and both games will tip off at 7:30 p.m. (ET). CSTV has aired nine Notre Dame women’s basketball games during the past four seasons (2002-03 to present), with the first being that network’s inaugural broadcast of any sport (a Feb. 2003 game at Connecticut).
The Irish then make three consecutive appearances on the ESPN family of networks, beginning with a Feb. 7 home game against Villanova that will be broadcast live on ESPNU. That game now will tip off at 6 p.m. (ET), one hour earlier than previously listed on some schedules. The following Sunday (Feb. 12), Notre Dame will travel to DePaul for a 4 p.m. CT (5 p.m. ET) game that will air on ESPN2 as part of that network’s “February Frenzy” split-national coverage designed to preview a similar coverage pattern for the NCAA Tournament. The Irish are back on ESPN2 on Feb. 19, when they play host to Connecticut in a 7 p.m. (ET) prime-time BIG EAST showdown at the Joyce Center. During the past five seasons, Notre Dame has appeared on the ESPN family of networks 24 times, averaging nearly five telecasts per year on “The Worldwide Leader in Sports”.
Notre Dame will make its final regular-season television appearance on Feb. 25, when it travels to new conference member Cincinnati for a 2 p.m. (ET) game that will air as part of the BIG EAST-Regional Sports Network (RSN) package. Among the outlets scheduled to televise the game live are WHME-TV (Channel 46 in South Bend), Comcast Chicago, Comcast Local, Comcast Philadelphia and Madison Square Garden Network.
Notre Dame On The Airwaves
Once again this season, every Irish women’s basketball game (home and away) will air on the flagship stations of the Artistic Media Partners (AMP) Network – WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1580) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and AMP sports director Sean Stires is now in his sixth season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics web site (www.und.com) by subscribing to Fighting Irish All-Access, which gives listeners full multimedia access to a variety of Irish athletics events for only $6.95 per month.
Check Out The New Digs
The Notre Dame women’s basketball program recently relocated its first-floor offices at the Joyce Center to the west wing of the facility, adjacent to Gate 1. Renovations are being completed on the suites, which will include plasma televisions in each coach’s individual office (as well as one in the main conference room), a stand-alone video editing facility and tape library (complete with the latest in video editing technology and software), and spacious meeting facilities. The centerpiece of the offices is the main reception area, which features a hardwood floor comprised entirely of the exact court upon which the Irish won the 2001 NCAA Championship at the Saavis Center in St. Louis.
The new women’s basketball offices are part of a series of relocations and renovations of office space within the Joyce Center. The Irish men’s basketball program – which previously filled the space where the women now reside – has moved to the opposite corner of the first-floor west wing offices, taking over the Gate 2 area formerly occupied by the Notre Dame football program (which now operates out of the 95,840-square foot Guglielmino Athletics Complex that opened last summer and is located northeast of the Joyce Center).
Here’s a rundown of some upcoming promotions and giveaways at future Notre Dame women’s basketball games this season. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Irish athletics ticket office (second floor of the Joyce Center through Gate 1; 574-631-7356) or on game day at the Gate 10 ticket windows of the Joyce Center. Please note – additional promotions and giveaways may be added at a later date, so consult the Notre Dame promotions web site (www.notredamepromotions.com) for the latest information:
Jan. 10 vs. Marquette – Oldies But Goodies Night … Golden Domer Night (buy one senior ticket and get a second free) … Tote bags to first 1,000 fans … post-game autographs with selected Irish players.
Next Game: Louisville
Notre Dame will make only its second trip ever to the state of Kentucky on Saturday when it pays a visit to BIG EAST Conference newcomer Louisville for a 1 p.m. (ET) game at historic Freedom Hall. The Cardinals lead the all-time series with the Irish, 2-1, but Notre Dame won their last matchup, 69-54, on Feb. 21, 1994 at on-campus Cardinal Arena.
Louisville is 11-2 overall and 2-0 in its inaugural campaign in the BIG EAST. The Cardinals have won five in a row, most recently dispatching Villanova, 63-57 at home on Saturday. Louisville plays at West Virginia Tuesday night before returning home to face Notre Dame.