April 14, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Junior guard Jewell Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) was chosen as the recipient of both the Notre Dame Monogram Club Most Valuable Player and Woody Miller Player of the Year awards, it was announced Tuesday night during the 2014-15 Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Awards Banquet in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse. In addition, four other Fighting Irish players received individual honors as part of the year-end celebration.
Other honorees at Tuesday night’s banquet (as chosen by a vote of their teammates) included: freshman forward Brianna Turner (Pearland, Texas/Manvel), who garnered the team’s Defensive Player of the Year honor; sophomore forward Taya Reimer (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern), who was tapped as the team’s Most Improved Player; and senior guard/tri-captain Whitney Holloway (Plainfield, Ill./Montini Catholic), who took home the Spirit Award for the third time in her four seasons. In addition, junior guard Hannah Huffman (Diablo, Calif./Carondelet) was a repeat choice as the Rockne Student-Athlete Award from the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley.
The departing members of the senior class – Holloway and fellow tri-captain Markisha Wright (Des Moines, Iowa/Des Moines East) – along with student manager Giuliana Figliomeni, delivered poignant speeches about their careers at Notre Dame. Each played a key role in the most successful four-year run in program history, compiling a school-best 143-10 (.935) record and an average of 35.8 wins per season. In fact, prior to the arrival of the 2014-15 senior class, the school record for wins in one season had been 34 in 2000-01, a mark this year’s group topped all four seasons it wore a Fighting Irish uniform.
In addition, Notre Dame’s departing seniors helped the program post a 62-2 (.969) record in regular-season conference play (75-4, .949, against league opponents when counting conference and NCAA tournaments), while leading the Fighting Irish to three NCAA national championship game appearances, four NCAA Women’s Final Four berths, four conference regular-season titles (two in the BIG EAST, two in the Atlantic Coast Conference), and three conference tournament crowns (one in the BIG EAST, two in the ACC).
A senior video tribute and the always-popular season highlight video rounded out the evening’s festivities.
An enthusiastic crowd of approximately 700 fans was in attendance, as Notre Dame celebrated another successful season in what easily has become the golden age of Fighting Irish women’s basketball. Notre Dame amassed a 36-3 record this year, highlighted by a 22-game winning streak during the final three months of the season (tying the fourth-longest success string in school history). The Fighting Irish went on to earn their fifth consecutive NCAA Women’s Final Four appearance (seventh overall), becoming only the fourth program ever to make five Final Fours in succession. Notre Dame then defeated No. 3/4 South Carolina, 66-65 to advance to the NCAA championship game for the fourth time in five seasons (fifth all-time), becoming just the fourth program in NCAA Championship history to pull off that feat, and the third to play in four title games during a five-year period.
In addition, the Fighting Irish claimed their four consecutive outright conference regular-season title (second in as many seasons as a member of the ACC) with a 15-1 record, stringing together four outright league championships in a row for the first time in the program’s 38-year history. What’s more, Notre Dame was the first ACC women’s basketball program to earn consecutive outright regular-season titles since Duke in 2011-12 and 2012-13, and the first school from outside the North Carolina “Triangle” (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill metropolitan area) to collect back-to-back outright ACC regular-season championships since 1995-96, when Virginia won the last of six in a row.
Notre Dame then chalked up three more wins to secure the program’s second ACC tournament crown in as many years, and their third consecutive league postseason title overall (following the 2013 BIG EAST Conference tournament championship). It marked the first time the Fighting Irish won conference tournaments in three consecutive seasons since a four-year run (1989-92) in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference/Horizon League.
With the tournament crown, Notre Dame became only the third program in ACC history to sweep the women’s basketball regular-season and postseason titles in back-to-back seasons, joining Virginia (1991-92 and 1992-93) and Duke (2002-03 and 2003-04) in that elite company.
Furthermore, when coupled with the Fighting Irish men’s basketball team winning its first ACC tournament title this year, it marked the 13th time one ACC school swept both basketball postseason championships in the same season, and the first time ever by a school not located on Tobacco Road. Duke was the last to do so in 2011, while North Carolina and N.C. State are the only other ACC schools that can lay claim to this feat.
This season, the Fighting Irish set single-season school records for games played (39), most wins at home (19) and most wins over top-10 opponents (8), while narrowly missing additional marks for total wins (36; record is 37 in 2013-14), total points (3,114; record is 3,271 in 2013-14), three-pointers made (186; record is 190 in 2013-14), three-pointers attempted (486; record is 490 in 2009-10), total rebounds (1,617; record is 1,621 in 2012-13), blocked shots (195; most since school-record 228 in 2000-01) and fewest times fouled out (four; record is three in 2013-14).
Notre Dame placed among the top 20 in the nation in eight NCAA statistical categories this season, including top-10 rankings in field-goal percentage (2nd – .492), scoring offense (5th – 79.8 ppg.; the program’s third consecutive season as one of the nation’s top five scoring teams), scoring margin (5th – +20.0 ppg.), three-point field goal percentage (7th – .383; the program’s second consecutive season in the top 10), assists (7th – 17.8 apg.) and personal fouls (10th – 14.2 per game). The Fighting Irish also ranked 15th in the nation in assist/turnover ratio (1.20) and 17th in rebounding margin (+8.3 rpg.).
Notre Dame piled up a 13-2 record against ranked opponents this season, including the aforementioned eight wins against top-10 teams. What’s more, Notre Dame appeared in the top five of both major national polls for 17 weeks this season, including two weeks as the No. 1 team in the nation, according to the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll on Nov. 25 and Dec. 2, 2014-the first time the Fighting Irish ascended to the top spot in either poll since the end of the 2000-01 national championship season, and the first time an ACC school did so since Duke in March 2007.
What’s more, this marked the third consecutive year Notre Dame wound up second in both major polls at season’s end, as well as the fifth year in a row they were No. 2 in the final WBCA/USA Today poll, which is taken after the NCAA Championship.
On top of that, Notre Dame placed fifth in the final NCAA attendance rankings by averaging 8,544 fans per game, while registering four sellouts this season. It marks the sixth consecutive year the Fighting Irish have been ranked in the top five in the nation in attendance, as well as the 15th year in a row they have placed among the top 16 in the final NCAA attendance rankings. Furthermore, Notre Dame continues to be fueled by one of the nation’s most loyal and dedicated fan bases, with the Fighting Irish having drawn at least 8,000 fans to 70 of their last 72 home games (dating back to the 2010-11 season), and at least 5,000 fans to 227 of their last 229 home games, covering a stretch since the midpoint of the 2000-01 season.
Next season, Notre Dame is expected to return four starters and as many as 10 monogram recipients from this year’s squad, led by a pair of 2014-15 Associated Press honorable mention All-America selections in Turner and current sophomore guard Lindsay Allen (Mitchellville, Md./St. John’s College), who also was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Oklahoma City Regional and was one of five finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, presented annually to the nation’s top point guard.
The Fighting Irish also will welcome a three-player incoming class that has been ranked as high as third in the nation by several national recruiting services, and includes the 2014-15 MaxPreps National High School Player of the Year, McDonald’s High School All-American and reigning Indiana Miss Basketball, guard Ali Patberg (Columbus, Ind./Columbus North). She will be joined by two other McDonald’s High School All-America and Gatorade state high school player-of-the-year guards in Marina Mabrey (Belmar, N.J./Manasquan), who shared Most Valuable Player honors at this year’s McDonald’s High School All-America Game, and Arike Ogunbowale (Milwaukee, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels), the three-time reigning Wisconsin High School Player of the Year.
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.
Here’s a closer look at the 2013-14 Fighting Irish women’s basketball award winners:
Jewell Loyd (Jr., G, Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West)J
Notre Dame Monogram Club MVP
Woody Miller Player of the Year (voted by media)
Loyd earned both MVP awards for the first time in her career following one of the most remarkable seasons in Notre Dame women’s basketball history.
In 2014-15, Loyd became the fifth Fighting Irish player to garner consensus first-team All-America honors. She collected first-team All-America citations this season from the Associated Press (unanimous selection), the John R. Wooden Award, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), United States Basketball Writers’ Association (USBWA) and espnW, which also chose her as the espnW National Player of the Year, the first Notre Dame player to earn a national player-of-the-year award since Ruth Riley in 2001.
In addition to being the runner-up for AP National Player of the Year and the Wooden Award, and a finalist for the Honda Sports Award, Loyd also was in contention for several other national player-of-the-year honors including the WBCA Wade Trophy, USBWA Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, Naismith Trophy and Dawn Staley Award (the latter given to the nation’s top guard).
Loyd was a two-time All-America selection in her college career, having split first- and second-team honors from numerous outlets as a sophomore in 2013-14. She is one of four players in program history to be a two-time All-American (not including honorable mention citations) while at Notre Dame, joining Riley, Skylar Diggins (2011-13) and Kayla McBride (2013-14) in that exclusive company.
Loyd also joined Diggins as the second Fighting Irish player to earn multiple nods on the NCAA Women’s Final Four All-Tournament Team, making the squad for the second consecutive season after leading Notre Dame to the NCAA championship game each year (Diggins did likewise in 2011 and 2012), as well as the program’s fourth NCAA title-game berth in five years in 2015.
This season, Loyd was named the ACC Player of the Year by both the league’s Blue Ribbon Panel (media) and its 15 head coaches, along with earning first-team all-league honors for the second consecutive season as she helped Notre Dame to its second ACC regular-season title in as many years of conference membership (and their fourth league title overall, a first in the program’s 38-year history).
Loyd then repeated as the ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player while pacing the Fighting Irish to their second consecutive ACC postseason crown, and third overall, the best conference tournament run for Notre Dame since 1989-92 in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference/Horizon League. Loyd was the second Fighting Irish player ever to be a two-time conference tournament MVP (and first in back-to-back seasons), joining Krissi Davis in that elite club–Davis was the MVP of the 1989 and 1991 MCC tournaments, the former being the only other time a Notre Dame sophomore took MVP accolades before Loyd’s 2014 ACC citation.
In 2014-15, Loyd turned in one of the greatest offensive seasons in Notre Dame women’s basketball history, scoring 772 points to come within an eyelash of the school record (776) set by Katryna Gaither in 1996-97. Loyd also tied the single-season program record with 20 20-point games (set by Gaither in 1996-97), while her 19.8 points-per-game scoring average tied for the third-highest mark in school history (Gaither did so in 1995-96).
In addition, Loyd set new school records for 30-point games in one season (four), highlighted by a record-tying 41 points in an overtime win at No. 25 DePaul on Dec. 10. It was one of 11 times in 15 games this season Loyd scored at least 20 points against a ranked opponent, including three 30-point outings (also 34 against No. 5/6 Tennessee on Jan. 19, and 31 against No. 3 UConn on Dec. 6, both at Purcell Pavilion). Against Top 25 teams this year, Loyd averaged 22.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.
Overall, Loyd started all 39 games this season, averaging career highs of 19.8 points and 3.0 assists per game, plus 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game with two double-doubles. She also led the ACC with her 20 20-point games this season, while her school-record four 30-point games likewise set the ACC standard this year.
Loyd ranked among the top 15 in the ACC in four statistical categories in 2014-15 – scoring (2nd – also 27th in nation), free-throw percentage (7th – career-best .826), assists (12th) and assist/turnover ratio (12th – 1.20). In conference play, she finished fourth in the ACC in scoring (19.0 ppg.) and free-throw percentage (.829), as well as 10th in assist/turnover ratio (1.16), 11th in assists (3.1 apg.) and 15th in steals (1.6 spg.).
Loyd ranks fifth on Notre Dame’s career scoring list with 1,909 points, while her 17.0 career points-per-game average is second-highest in school history behind current Fighting Irish associate coach Beth (Morgan) Cunningham, who averaged 18.6 ppg. from 1993-97. Loyd holds the school record with seven career 30-point games and ranks fifth with 35 career 20-point games, in addition to scoring in double figures 99 times in her 112 career games played, which ranks seventh in school history.
Loyd was unable to attend Tuesday’s banquet due to commitments related to her entry in the 2015 WNBA Draft, which will take place at 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, with the first round televised live on ESPN2 and the final two rounds on ESPN3. Loyd could become the fourth Fighting Irish player in as many years to be chosen with a WNBA Draft lottery (top-four) selection, making Notre Dame the first school in the 19-year history of the WNBA Draft to produce a top-four selection in four consecutive years. She also would be Notre Dame’s sixth first-round WNBA draft pick in the past four years (2012-15).
In addition, Loyd could be the highest-drafted Fighting Irish player in program history, challenging the No. 3 spots held by Devereaux Peters (2012 – Minnesota), Diggins (2013 – Tulsa) and McBride (2014 – San Antonio). When she opens training camp later this month, Loyd will be one of five Fighting Irish players on a WNBA roster, joining Peters, Diggins, McBride and Natalie Achonwa (who was selected No. 9 overall by the Indiana Fever in the 2014 draft, but did not play last season while rehabilitating a knee injury).
Brianna Turner (Fr., F, Pearland, Texas/Manvel)
Defensive Player of the Year Award
Turner is the third freshman ever to take home the team’s Defensive Player of the Year award, all within the past six seasons (Diggins did so in 2010 and Loyd followed suit in 2013). Turner wasted little time in emerging as one of the nation’s top young posts, averaging 13.8 points and team highs of 7.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game with 10 double-doubles as a freshman in 2014-15. An Associated Press honorable mention All-America pick and the ACC Freshman of the Year, Turner led the nation with a .652 field-goal percentage (second-best in school history), becoming the first Division I freshman since Tennessee Tech’s Diane Seng in 1996-97, and third rookie all-time to lead the country in that category. In addition, Turner became the first Notre Dame player to win an NCAA statistical national championship since 2000-01, when Alicia Ratay registered an NCAA-record .547 three-point percentage. Turner added 89 blocks this season, good for fourth on the Fighting Irish single-season list (second among freshmen), and her 10 double-doubles were third-most by a Notre Dame rookie. Turner was strong down the stretch, with five double-doubles during the ACC and NCAA tournaments while earning all-tournament honors in both events (the latter at the NCAA Women’s Final Four). She also averaged 14.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.9 blocks with a .619 field-goal percentage and five double-doubles in 12 full games against ranked opponents as a freshman.
Taya Reimer (So., F, Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern)
Most Improved Player Award
Reimer showed terrific growth this season, improving her scoring and rebounding averages by more than 30 percent from her freshman year to career highs of 10.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, along with a personal-best .516 field-goal percentage. Reimer was particularly sharp during the final 12 games of the season, averaging 11.3 points per game with a .560 field-goal percentage, including 16 points each against No. 7/6 Florida State in the ACC Tournament championship game (on the way to second-team all-ACC Tournament honors) and against No. 3/4 South Carolina in the NCAA Women’s Final Four national semifinals.
Whitney Holloway (Jr., G, Plainfield, Ill./Montini Catholic)
For the second consecutive season, and third time in her four-year career, Holloway was chosen by her teammates to receive this honor, joining Amanda Tsipis (2005-08) as the only three-time Spirit Award recipients in program history.
Holloway began the season as one of three captains selected by a young Notre Dame roster that featured seven freshmen and sophomores and wound up having no senior starters. Yet, despite this apparent inexperience, Holloway and her fellow captains (Wright and junior guard Michaela Mabrey) helped lead the Fighting Irish through a season of nearly unprecedented growth, navigating one of the nation’s toughest schedules to another sweep of the ACC regular-season and tournament titles and a fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA Women’s Final Four.
Holloway often was at her best out of the spotlight, as both a team leader on the practice floor and in the locker room. The 5-foot-4 point guard used every inch of her frame and every ounce of her work ethic to push her teammates to greater heights, many times as the leader of the Fighting Irish scout team, mirroring the opposition’s top player.
One of the most popular players ever to don the Notre Dame colors, Holloway appeared in 18 games this season, earning her first career start in a Senior Night win over Pittsburgh on Feb. 26 at Purcell Pavilion. Holloway averaged 0.8 points, 0.6 rebounds and 0.6 assists this year, highlighted by a season-high five points against visiting Quinnipiac on Nov. 25, as well as three rebounds and three assists in the aforementioned victory over Pittsburgh.
In addition to serving as a team captain, Holloway was one of the women’s basketball team’s representatives on the Notre Dame Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), joining Loyd and Mabrey in that pivotal role. Holloway is completing work on her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters and will graduate from the University next month.
Hannah Huffman (Jr., G, Diablo, Calif./Carondelet)
Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award
Huffman is the fourth women’s basketball player since 2002 to be a two-time recipient of the Rockne Student-Athlete Award, joining the likes of Karen Swanson (2002-03), Megan Duffy (2005-06) and Amanda Tsipis (2007-08).
Like Reimer, Huffman showed impressive growth this season, emerging as one of the “energy players” and a defensive stopper off the bench for the Fighting Irish. With a physical, never-say-die work ethic and a bulldog determination, Huffman appeared in 37 games this year, averaging career highs of 2.2 points, 1.0 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.2 blocks per game with a .532-field-goal percentage, while also grabbing 1.8 rebounds per contest.
Huffman was particularly valuable during this year’s NCAA tournament, collecting four points, five rebounds and three assists in a Sweet 16 win over No. 14/17 Stanford. She then turned in one of the most memorable moments of the 2014-15 season during Notre Dame’s Final Four game against No. 3/4 South Carolina, blanketing the Gamecocks’ All-America guard Tiffany Mitchell on the final possession and not allowing Mitchell to get off a clean look at a potential game-winning shot to preserve a 66-65 Fighting Irish victory.
In the classroom, Huffman is equally determined to succeed, compiling a 3.288 cumulative grade-point average as a finance major in Notre Dame’s top-ranked Mendoza College of Business.
– Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director