Dec. 18, 2015
by Chris Masters
2015-16 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 11
#3/3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-1 / 0-0 ACC) vs. Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) Hawks (4-5 / 0-0 Atlantic 10)
DATE: Dec. 21, 2015
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Philadelphia, Pa. – Michael J. Hagan ’85 Arena (4,200)
SERIES: ND leads 2-1
STREAK: ND – won 2
1ST MTG: SJU 71-57 (1/24/87)
LAST MTG: ND 64-50 (12/21/14)
TV: sjuhawks.com (PPV-live)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p / Ruth Riley, color)
LIVE STATS: sjuhawks.com
TEXT ALERT: UND.com
TWITTER: @NDsidMasters / @ndwbb
- Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw brings the Fighting Irish to the campus of her alma mater, Saint Joseph’s, for the first time in nearly 25 years.
- Notre Dame has won 27 consecutive games when coming off its final exam break.
McGraw Brings No. 3 Fighting Irish Home To Saint Joseph’s Monday
Following a season-long nine-day break for final exams, No. 3 Notre Dame steps back on the hardwood at 7 p.m. (ET) Monday when it travels to Philadelphia to take on Saint Joseph’s at Michael J. Hagan ’85 Arena. The game will not be televised, but will be streamed on a subscription basis through the SJU web site (sjuhawks.com), while radio coverage will be available on South Bend’s Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) and worldwide online via the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND (watchnd.tv).
The Fighting Irish (9-1) last played on Dec. 12, going nearly wire-to-wire in an 88-72 victory at TCU. Notre Dame opened the game on a 15-3 run and never looked back, leading by as many as 25 points in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore forward Kathryn Westbeld registered her second career double-double with 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, while freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale led five Fighting Irish double-figure scorers, coming off the bench to tally a career-high 21 points.
- Notre Dame is No. 3 in the latest Associated Press poll and is No. 3 in the latest WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Saint Joseph’s is not ranked.
- Including this week’s No. 3 ranking, Notre Dame has appeared in the Associated Press poll for 161 consecutive weeks (the past 91 weeks in the AP Top 10), extending a program record that dates back to the 2007-08 preseason poll, and ranking sixth in the nation among active AP poll appearances.
- Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll for 103 of 114 weeks this decade (since 2010-11), ranking second in the nation in that category behind only Connecticut (114).
- Every current Fighting Irish player has competed for a top-10 Notre Dame squad during her career, with the vast majority of that time (59 of 65 weeks) spent in the top five of the Associated Press poll.
- Notre Dame also is ranked No. 3 in this week’s Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll. It’s the eighth consecutive season and 14 of the past 18 years the Fighting Irish have appeared in the top 10 of the coaches’ poll.
- Notre Dame ranks among the top 20 in five NCAA statistical categories (as of Thursday), including four top-10 rankings – three-point field-goal percentage (1st – .465), scoring offense (3rd – 86.9 ppg.), field-goal percentage (5th – .508) and assists (5th – 20.2 apg.). The Fighting Irish also rank 14th in assist/turnover ratio (1.33), while tying for 17th in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.900).
- Notre Dame has a remarkable tradition of success at home inside Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 423-91 (.823) all-time record in 39 seasons at the facility, including a 100-6 (.943) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
- Including regular season and postseason play, the Fighting Irish have won 75 of their last 79 games against conference opponents (and 26 in a row at home), dating back to their membership in the BIG EAST.
- Since joining the ACC prior to the 2013-14 season, Notre Dame is 38-1 against conference foes (31-1 regular season, 7-0 postseason). The last ACC school to lose only once in regular-season conference play during a two-year span was Duke in 2003 and 2004.
- Guards Madison Cable, Hannah Huffman and Michaela Mabrey have helped Notre Dame to a 117-7 (.944) record in their careers, putting them on pace to challenge last year’s senior class of Whitney Holloway and Markisha Wright as the most successful in Fighting Irish history. Holloway and Wright helped Notre Dame to a 143-10 (.935) record in their four-year careers.
- Since they first suited up at Notre Dame in 2012-13, Cable, Huffman and Mabrey have paced Notre Dame to two NCAA national championship games and three NCAA Women’s Final Fours (plus three conference regular season titles and three league tournament crowns), as well as a 41-6 (.872) record against ranked teams (23-6 against top-10 opponents).
- With 708 victories in her 29 seasons at Notre Dame, head coach Muffet McGraw ranks second on the Fighting Irish athletics all-time coaching wins list (across all sports), trailing only men’s/women’s fencing coach Michael DeCicco (774-80 from 1962-95).
- With 796 career wins, McGraw ranks 10th in NCAA Division I coaching history (seventh among active coaches). She also is one of two ACC coaches in the top 10 all-time, along with current North Carolina head coach Sylvia Hatchell (second all-time/first among active with 968 as of Thursday).
The Notre Dame-Saint Joseph’s Series
Notre Dame and Saint Joseph’s will be playing for the fourth time overall, and the second consecutive season as they wrap up a home-and-home series. The Fighting Irish hold a 2-1 edge all-time against the Hawks, having won the past two meetings against Saint Joseph’s.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Saint Joseph’s Met
Brianna Turner returned from a three-game injury absence with a game-high 19 points in 30 minutes for No. 5/4 Notre Dame in a 64-50 win over Saint Joseph’s on Dec. 21, 2014, at Purcell Pavilion.
After sitting out with a shoulder injury suffered 18 days earlier against No. 15/10 Maryland, Turner missed just one field goal attempt (7-of-8) and blocked a (then) career-high five shots.
Jewell Loyd added 16 points for the Fighting Irish. After falling behind by seven points midway through the first half, Notre Dame picked it up defensively and outscored the Hawks 26-7 to take a 12-point lead into halftime. The Fighting Irish then scored eight straight after the break to take a 20-point lead.
Natasha Cloud scored 16 points and Ciara Andrews had 15 for Saint Joseph’s.
The Hawks tried to shorten the game with long offensive possessions, but committed six shot clock violations and had 16 turnovers. The Fighting Irish scored 25 points off those turnovers.
Saint Joseph’s opened the second half with a shot clock violation and a Turner block on its first two possessions. The Fighting Irish used a 12-2 run to go up 22 points with 13:26 to play.
Notre Dame outscored the Hawks 44-10 in the paint.
Notre Dame’s lead was down to 10 with 4:58 to go after Cloud’s 15-footer capped a 15-3 Saint Joseph’s run. But the Fighting Irish got two buckets by Taya Reimer in the post and Lindsay Allen’s layup to provide breathing room. Reimer finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
After falling behind 8-0 in the first three minutes, Saint Joseph’s went on a 12-1 run. Kathleen Fitzpatrick hit two three-pointers early and Andrews’ bucket with 10:02 left put the Hawks up 20-13.
Turner’s four blocked shots helped Notre Dame finish the first half strongly and take a 12-point lead into halftime. Turner scored 10 points on perfect shooting (three field goals, four free throws) in the first half.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Saint Joseph’s Met in Philadelphia
Karen Robinson collected 16 points and six assists, while Margaret Nowlin added 14 points and eight rebounds as Notre Dame won the inaugural Texaco-Hawk Classic title with a 72-53 win over host Saint Joseph’s on Dec. 29, 1990, at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse in Philadelphia.
Playing without injured starting point guard/captain Sara Liebscher and one day after an emotional win over nationally-ranked Louisiana Tech, the Fighting Irish found themselves in another battle against Saint Joseph’s, trailing early and leading just 42-35 at halftime.
However, Notre Dame used a stout defensive performance in the second half to pull away from the Hawks, holding Saint Joseph’s to just 18 points and a .258 field-goal percentage after the break.
One Proud Alum
- Monday’s game will have special meaning for Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw, who is a 1977 graduate of Saint Joseph’s and was a four-year starter on the Hawks’ women’s basketball team during its first four seasons of existence, serving as co-captain her final two years including the 1976-77 SJU squad that finished 23-5, placed sixth at the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) national tournament and was ranked No. 3 in the nation in the final Associated Press poll (still the highest ranking in Saint Joseph’s women’s basketball history).
- Under her maiden name of Muffet O’Brien, McGraw averaged 7.9 points, 3.5 assists and 3.1 steals during her college career. She led SJU in scoring (10.8 ppg.) during its first varsity season (1973-74) and her 102 steals in 1976-77 remain among the top 10 marks on the school’s single-season list.
- A native of West Chester, Pennsylvania, McGraw returned to her alma mater in 1980, serving as an assistant coach for two seasons under Jim Foster (now the head coach at Chattanooga) before beginning her head coaching career at Lehigh University.
- In 1986, McGraw was inducted into the Saint Joseph’s University Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (1986), and in 2002, she was enshrined in the Saint Joseph’s University Athletics Hall of Fame (2002).
Other Notre Dame-Saint Joseph’s Series Tidbits
- Monday marks the sixth time Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw will walk the sidelines against her alma mater (2-3 record). In addition to the two Fighting Irish victories over the Hawks (1990 and 2014), McGraw coached Lehigh in three meetings against Saint Joseph’s during the 1984-85, 1985-86 and 1986-87 seasons, with the Hawks winning all three matchups.
- Notre Dame’s wins over No. 11 Louisiana Tech and Saint Joseph’s at the 1990 Texaco-Hawk Classic propelled the Fighting Irish into the Associated Press poll and USA Today coaches’ poll for the first time in program history two days later (No. 25 in both polls).
- Graduate student guard (and Mt. Lebanon native) Madison Cable is the eighth Pennsylvania native to play for Notre Dame, a roster that also include two-time All-America guards Charel Allen (2004-08; Monessen) and Kayla McBride (2010-14; Erie), as well as the only other pair of sisters (aside from this year’s Mabrey sisters) to play concurrently for the Fighting Irish – Carol Lally (1977-79) and Maggie Lally (1977-81) – who hail from Sharon, Pennsylvania.
- A 1979 Notre Dame graduate and 2011 inductee into the Academic All-America Hall of Fame, Carol Lally is now Dr. Carol Lally Shields, a world-renowned ophthalmologist specializing in ocular oncology. She and her husband, Dr. Jerry Shields, lead the oncology department at the Wills Eye Hospital in downtown Philadelphia, less than seven miles from the Saint Joseph’s campus.
Notre Dame vs. The Atlantic 10 Conference
- Notre Dame is 46-13 (.780) all-time against the current members of the Atlantic 10 Conference, including a 25-7 (.781) record away from home (road and neutral sites combined).
- The Fighting Irish have an active 12-game winning streak against that league’s present alignment. The last time Notre Dame lost to a current A-10 school was on Feb. 18, 1995, when La Salle defeated Notre Dame, 84-68, in Philadelphia, when both schools were then part of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now known as the Horizon League).
- This will mark the fourth consecutive season the Fighting Irish have played an Atlantic 10 member. In 2012, Notre Dame opened its home schedule with a 94-50 win over UMass. A year later, the Fighting Irish defeated Duquesne, 100-61, on a neutral court in Toronto, Ontario, in a homecoming game for (then) senior All-America forward Natalie Achonwa. Then, last season, Notre Dame defeated Saint Joseph’s, 64-50 at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame vs. The Big Five
- Notre Dame is 31-18 (.633) all-time when playing teams that are members of the Big Five, an informal association of college programs in the Philadelphia metro area that was created in 1955. The majority (30) of the 49 Fighting Irish games against the Big Five have come against Villanova, who also was a member of the BIG EAST Conference along with Notre Dame from 1995-2013.
- Even with its departure from the BIG EAST, Notre Dame has maintained its annual link to the Big Five (courtesy of its head coach and West Chester, Pennsylvania, native Muffet McGraw), visiting Penn two years ago (earning a 76-54 victory at the legendary Palestra) and playing host to Saint Joseph’s last season (a 64-50 win at Purcell Pavilion).
- The Fighting Irish are 16-14 (.533) all-time away from home (road and neutral sites combined) against Big Five schools following the win at Penn on Nov. 23, 2013.
Unlocking The Keystone State
- Notre Dame will be playing its second opponent from the state of Pennsylvania this season, having previously defeated Bucknell (85-54) on Nov. 15 at Purcell Pavilion.
- The Fighting Irish are 62-26 (.705) all-time against schools from the Keystone State, with a 32-21 (.604) record away from home (road/neutral sites combined).
- Notre Dame also has won its last 19 games against Pennsylvania schools, with Villanova the last team from the Commonwealth to defeat Notre Dame (58-47 on March 10, 2009, in the BIG EAST Tournament quarterfinals at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut).
No More Teachers, No More Books
- Notre Dame has won 27 consecutive games coming off the final exam break (in 1994 and 1997, no games were played between the end of exams and Christmas). However, because of the extended layoff due to finals and associated sluggishness, the results of these post-exam break games have varied wildly, from exceptionally close to blowouts.
- Recent examples of the nailbiters came in 1999 (a 68-62 win at Florida International, closing the game on an 11-5 run in the final 2:43), 2004 (a 50-47 win at Marquette on Jacqueline Batteast’s three-pointer at the horn that lifted Muffet McGraw past Digger Phelps as the winningest coach in Notre Dame basketball history), 2011 (a 92-83 home win over No. 8/7 Kentucky, taking the lead for good on an 11-0 run after UK led 75-74 with less than five minutes to play) and 2014 (a 64-50 home win over Saint Joseph’s after trailing by seven points midway through the first half).
- Even with last year’s margin against Saint Joseph’s, the Fighting Irish have looked remarkably fresh in their recent post-exam games, winning their last seven contests by an average of 38.9 points per game in victories over Loyola-Chicago (89-45 in 2008), Charlotte (90-31 in 2009), Valparaiso (94-43 in 2010), Alabama A&M (100-39 in 2012) and Central Michigan (106-72 in 2013).
- The last time Notre Dame lost a game when coming out of its final exam break was Dec. 21, 1985, when Mary DiStanislao’s Fighting Irish squad dropped a 73-67 decision to UCLA at Purcell Pavilion.
Going Out On A High Note
- Notre Dame has made a habit of heading into the Christmas holiday with a victory, having won 19 consecutive pre-Yuletide games and going 29-9 (.763) all-time in such contests, most recently earning a 64-50 win over Saint Joseph’s on Dec. 21, 2014, at Purcell Pavilion.
- The last time the Fighting Irish lost their final game before Christmas was Dec. 21, 1995 (their first season in the BIG EAST Conference), when Michigan State pulled out an 87-83 overtime win in East Lansing, Michigan.
Cable, Ogunbowale Sweep ACC Player/Rookie Of The Week Honors
Guards Madison Cable and Arike Ogunbowale were named the ACC Player and Rookie of the Week, respectively, on Dec. 14, following a vote of the conference’s Blue Ribbon Panel, comprised of the ACC’s 15 head coaches, local and national media members and the women’s basketball media relations directors for each school.
Cable, who in keeping with the theme wears uniform No. 22, earned her first career ACC weekly award and the first ACC Player of the Week citation by a Fighting Irish player since Feb. 23, 2015, when Jewell Loyd copped the last of her four honors a season ago. Loyd also was part of the last time Notre Dame swept both ACC weekly honors, nabbing the top player award on Jan. 26, 2015, along with then-rookie forward Brianna Turner.
Meanwhile, Ogunbowale is the second Notre Dame freshman in three weeks to be selected as ACC Rookie of the Week after fellow guard Marina Mabrey was chosen on Nov. 30. This marks the fourth time in program history two different Fighting Irish players have earned conference rookie-of-the-week honors in the same season, and the first since 2008-09, when Natalie Novosel and Kellie Watson each garnered two weekly accolades.
A 5-foot-10 graduate student, Cable averaged 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.5 blocks per game with a double-double, .600 field-goal percentage and .500 three-point percentage while helping Notre Dame to two wins last week.
Cable chalked up her second double-double of the season (both against Top 25 opponents) with game highs of 21 points and 10 rebounds in a 95-90 win over No. 18/17 DePaul on Dec. 9 at Purcell Pavilion. In the victory, she tied her career high with five three-pointers (on eight attempts) and added a season-high two blocks.
Cable then collected 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting and chipped in two steals and two assists for the Fighting Irish in an 88-72 win on Dec. 12 at TCU. Cable also drew two charges in the contest, raising her career total to 43, including a team-high six this year.
Ogunbowale posted career scoring highs in consecutive games last week, coming off the bench to average 18.5 points with a .583 field-goal percentage against DePaul and TCU.
She began the week by tying her (then) career scoring high with 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting against No. 18/17 DePaul. Ogunbowale then poured in a career-high 21 points (again on 7-of-12 shooting, plus a career best-tying 7-of-10 free-throws) in the matinee victory at TCU.
A member of the preseason ACC Newcomer Watch List, Ogunbowale is the fifth different Notre Dame player to score 20 points in a game this season, and the second to do so in the past three games while coming off the bench – Mabrey scored a career-high 23 points at top-ranked UConn on Dec. 5.
Three For The Money
- Notre Dame has heated up from the three-point line in a big way, canning 72 treys this season (7.2 per game), including 57 in its last six games alone.
- At their current pace, the Fighting Irish would easily top the single-season program record for three-pointers per game (5.74 in 1998-99). In fact, only once in the past 13 seasons has Notre Dame averaged five treys per game (2013-14, when it made exactly five per contest and a school-record 190 total).
- The Fighting Irish tied a school record with 13 three-pointers on Dec. 5 at top-ranked Connecticut. The 13 triples (which Notre Dame last registered on Jan. 2, 2002, at Miami) also matched two UConn opponent records for three-pointers in a single game (overall and Gampel Pavilion).
- Notre Dame’s season-high .650 three-point percentage (13-of-20) in that Dec. 5 game at UConn was the highest against the Huskies since March 26, 2007, when LSU made 7-of-10 three-pointers (.700) against UConn in the NCAA Fresno Regional final (Elite Eight) in Fresno, California.
- The Fighting Irish lead the nation in three-point percentage (as of Dec. 17), connecting at a .465 clip from beyond the arc.
- Dating back to the start of the 2012-13 season, Notre Dame has posted a 117-7 (.944) record.
- In that four-year span, six of the seven Fighting Irish losses have come against top-three teams, including the past five against Connecticut – No. 3 Baylor (73-61 on Dec. 5, 2012, at Purcell Pavilion), No. 3 Connecticut (83-65 on April 7, 2013, in the NCAA Women’s Final Four national semifinals at New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana), No. 1 Connecticut (79-58 on April 8, 2014, in the NCAA Women’s Final Four national championship game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee), No. 3 Connecticut (76-58 on Dec. 6, 2014, in the Jimmy V Classic at Purcell Pavilion), No. 1 Connecticut (63-53 on April 7, 2015, in the NCAA Women’s Final Four national championship game at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida) and No. 1 Connecticut (91-81 on Dec. 5, 2015, in the Jimmy V Classic in Storrs, Connecticut).
- The other loss came on Jan. 8, 2015, with a 78-63 setback at Miami. That defeat ended Notre Dame’s 61-game winning streak against unranked opponents in the Associated Press poll, the second-longest active run in the nation (research for this note provided by STATS via the AP).
Poise Under Pressure
- Notre Dame has won its last 22 games decided by single digits and/or in overtime, including three times this season (all within the past five games) – a 92-84 overtime win over UCLA on Nov. 28 in the Junkanoo Jam Freeport Division championship game in Freeport, Bahamas; a 75-72 victory over No. 10/12 Ohio State on Dec. 2 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at Purcell Pavilion, and a 95-90 win over No. 18/17 DePaul on Dec. 9 at Purcell Pavilion.
- The Fighting Irish last dropped a single-digit decision on March 6, 2012, falling 63-54 at No. 4 Connecticut in the BIG EAST Conference Tournament championship game at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
- Notre Dame has been sharp when pushed to overtime, having won six in a row and eight of its last 11 games when going to an extra session.
Visiting Century City
- Notre Dame’s 110-51 victory at Valparaiso on Nov. 23 was its 13th 100-point game since the start of the 2011-12 season (and nine other games of 95-99 points), a remarkable offensive explosion considering Notre Dame had 13 triple-digit games in the first 34 years of the program’s existence – and just four in the 12 seasons prior to its current run.
- Notre Dame has enjoyed remarkable success on the road in recent seasons, having won 48 of its last 50 (and 55 of its last 62) regular season road games.
- The only blemishes for the Fighting Irish in this current run (which dates back to the early portion of the 2011-12 campaign) are a 78-63 loss at Miami on Jan. 8, 2015, and a 91-81 defeat at top-ranked Connecticut on Dec. 5, 2015, in the Jimmy V Classic.
- The loss in Miami snapped Notre Dame’s NCAA Division I record-tying 30-game road winning streak. It was an amazing string of results in hostile territory, a streak that lasted exactly three years (Jan. 4, 2012-Jan. 4, 2015) and left Notre Dame tied with Connecticut for the NCAA Division I all-time mark in that category.
- One of the more notable highlights of Notre Dame’s sensational recent road run came on Jan. 5, 2013, when Notre Dame edged No. 1 Connecticut, 73-72, at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut, earning its fourth all-time win over a top-ranked opponent and first-ever victory on the road.
— ND —
Chris Masters, associate athletics communications director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2001 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s basketball and women’s golf programs. A native of San Francisco, California, Masters is a 1996 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, earned his master’s degree from Kansas State University in 1998, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).