April 23, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the third time in seven seasons, the University of Notre Dame women’s basketball team will spend Thanksgiving weekend in the sun-splashed Caribbean as the Fighting Irish highlight a 10-team field for the 2015 Junkanoo Jam, which will take place Nov. 27 and 28 at St. Georges High School in Freeport, Bahamas.
The tournament, which is organized by Seattle-based Basketball Travelers, Inc., is divided into three divisions, with Notre Dame assigned to the four-team Freeport Division. The Fighting Irish will take on the University of Denver in their opening-round game at 3:15 p.m. (ET) Nov. 27, following the other first-round contest in the Freeport Division between reigning Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) champion UCLA and Louisiana Tech.
The winning teams will meet in the Junkanoo Jam Freeport Division championship game at 3:15 p.m. (ET) Nov. 28, with the losing teams squaring off in the division’s consolation game at 1 p.m. (ET) Nov. 28.
This will mark Notre Dame’s second appearance in the Junkanoo Jam. In 2011, the Fighting Irish defeated Southern California, 80-58 in a Freeport Division first-round game before rallying from an 18-point second-half deficit to topple Duke, 56-54 in the title game, thanks to a buzzer-beating shot from All-America guard Natalie Novosel.
“We are very excited to be part of next year’s Junkanoo Jam,” said Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame’s Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Women’s Basketball Coach. “Our team had a truly memorable experience during our last visit to the tournament in 2011, thanks in no small part to all of the hard-working people at Basketball Travelers and in the Freeport community who put on such a great event year after year. We are looking forward to returning to the Bahamas next season for what should be another outstanding tournament.”
Notre Dame also participated in the 2010 Paradise Jam, another tournament run by Basketball Travelers in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Fighting Irish won all three games in that tournament, defeating San Diego State (84-79), South Carolina (78-55) and Oklahoma (81-71) to earn the championship.
In addition, Notre Dame recently claimed the title at another Basketball Travelers-sponsored event, the 2012 World Vision Classic in Las Vegas. While there, the Fighting Irish defeated Alabama A&M (100-39), Kansas State (87-57) and Texas A&M (83-74). Notre Dame is 11-1 all-time in tournaments run by Basketball Travelers, with the lone loss a 67-63 overtime setback at Colorado in the 2003 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Classic title game after the Buffaloes sank a desperation 30-foot shot at the buzzer in regulation to force overtime.
Notre Dame and Denver will be meeting for the first time in program history when they tangle in the Bahamas. The Pioneers, who are led by head coach (and former Purdue assistant) Kerry Cremeans, will return three starters and 11 letterwinners from their 2014-15 club that posted an 8-23 record, including a 5-11 mark in the Summit League.
The Fighting Irish could face UCLA on the second day of the Junkanoo Jam, which would be the fifth time in six seasons the two programs would face off. The Bruins lead the all-time series with Notre Dame, 9-7, although the Fighting Irish have won the past three matchups (and five of the past six), most recently defeating UCLA, 82-67 on Dec. 28 at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.
UCLA posted a 19-18 record this past season (8-10 in Pacific-12 Conference play), culminating with a 62-60 win at West Virginia in the WNIT championship game on April 4. Head coach Cori Close’s Bruins are expected to bring back four starters and 12 letterwinners from that squad for the 2015-16 season.
Notre Dame has played Louisiana Tech three times in its history, with the Lady Techsters holding a 2-1 edge in the series with the Fighting Irish. The teams have not met since Dec. 28, 1990, when Notre Dame posted a 71-66 win over then-No. 11 Louisiana Tech in the first round of Texaco-Hawk Classic in Philadelphia. That victory, coupled with a win over host Saint Joseph’s in the tournament title game the next evening, vaulted the Fighting Irish into the Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time in program history.
Led by first-year head coach Tyler Summitt (the son of Tennessee’s legendary Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt), Louisiana Tech compiled a 16-15 record in 2014-15, including a 10-8 record in Conference USA. The Lady Techsters anticipate bringing back seven letterwinners next season, including four who started at least one game a year ago.
For more information on the 2015 Junkanoo Jam, including details on how to purchase tickets or travel packages to the Bahamas, visit the tournament’s official web site (www.junkanoojam.com).
Notre Dame will have four starters and 10 monogram recipients returning next season, including a pair of AP honorable mention All-America selections in rising junior guard Lindsay Allen (Mitchellville, Md./St. John’s College) and rising sophomore forward Brianna Turner (Pearland, Texas/Manvel).
Led by Allen and Turner, the Fighting Irish posted a 36-3 record (15-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) in 2014-15 and became the fourth school in NCAA Division I history to make five consecutive trips to the Women’s Final Four (and seven overall), as well as the third program to make four appearances in the NCAA championship game in a five-year span.
Next season, the Fighting Irish also welcome the nation’s No. 3-recruiting class, a three-player group that features three McDonald’s High School All-America guards — McDonald’s High School All-America Game MVP and 2015 Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year Marina Mabrey (Belmar, N.J./Manasquan), three-time Wisconsin Player of the Year Arike Ogunbowale (Milwaukee, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels), and 2015 MaxPreps National High School Player of the Year and the reigning Indiana Miss Basketball Ali Patberg (Columbus, Ind./Columbus North).
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women’s basketball Twitter pages (@NDsidMasters or @ndwbb), like the program on Facebook (facebook.com/ndwbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director