Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast was named the Notre Dame Monogram Club Most Valuable Player for the fourth consecutive year at Tuesday night's season-ending Irish Women's Basketball Banquet.

No. 10 Irish Head To Hartford For 2005 BIG EAST Championship

March 3, 2005

BIG EAST Championship Notes
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2005 BIG EAST Championship – Quarterfinal

(#10 AP/#10 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (25-4) vs. West Virginia (16-11)/Pittsburgh (13-14)

The Date and Time: Sunday, March 6, 2005, at 6 p.m. ET.

The Site: Hartford Civic Center (16,294) in Hartford, Conn.

The Tickets: Tournament ticket packages and single-session tickets are still available at the Hartford Civic Center box office or by calling Ticketmaster (860-525-4500). Tickets also may be purchased on-line at and

The TV Plans: College Sports Television (CSTV) national broadcast with Eric Frede (play-by-play), Ann Schatz (analysis), Lori Mancini (producer) and Chris Glass (director). The game also is available nationally on DirecTV (Channel 610).

The Radio Plans: Sunday’s game will be broadcast live on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1580) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend with Sean Stires (play-by-play) calling the action. These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics web site at

Real-Time Statistics: Live in-game statistics are available for all games at the BIG EAST Championship via the BIG EAST Championship web site (

Web Sites: Notre Dame (, BIG EAST Conference (

After its most successful regular season since the 2001 national championship campaign, No. 10 Notre Dame will open postseason play Sunday at 6 p.m. (ET) in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Conference Championship. The Irish, who are seeded second in this year’s championship, will face either No. 7 seed West Virginia or 10th-seeded Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals, which will be televised nationally on College Sports Television (CSTV).

Notre Dame (25-4, 13-3 BIG EAST) closed out the regular season with a hard-fought 41-35 victory at Seton Hall Tuesday night. The Irish tied a school record for the fewest points allowed in a BIG EAST road game, as well as points scored in a road game. However, a 7-0 second-half run helped push Notre Dame clear of Seton Hall and propel the Irish to their 12th victory in the past 13 games.

Freshman guard Charel Allen led Notre Dame with 14 points and a career-high tying nine rebounds off the bench against the Pirates. Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast added 11 points and six rebounds for the Irish, who ended up tied for second place in the BIG EAST standings. That marks the ninth time in Notre Dame’s 10-year conference affiliation that they have finished among the top two in the final regular-season standings.

One of the primary goals for Notre Dame this season has been to put itself in position to contend for a national championship. As the postseason gets underway, the Irish certainly have done just that, compiling a 25-4 record (13-3 in the BIG EAST) with seven victories over ranked opponents, including four against top-10 foes. Notre Dame also won the Preseason WNIT in mid-November, claiming its first regular-season tournament title since 2000-01.

Below the surface, it’s apparent the Irish have been strong in nearly all facets of their game. They are 11-2 on the road, making big strides from last year’s struggles away from home. Notre Dame also has shown excellent resiliency, losing back-to-back games just once all season and rebounding from those two losses with a season-long 10-game winning streak (the program’s longest since the ’00-01 campaign). And, the Irish have displayed an ability to win games in numerous different ways – last-second buzzer beaters (Marquette), thrilling second half comebacks (Duke, Ohio State, Rutgers, Boston College), gritty road victories (Connecticut, USC), defensive battles (twice vs. Seton Hall) and high-scoring shootouts (Purdue, Illinois State).

Despite the added focus shown to her by opposing teams, senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast was a major catalyst for the Irish this season, averaging 17.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. A four-time BIG EAST Player of the Week and a leading candidate for the Naismith Trophy, Wooden Women’s Award and Senior CLASS Award, Batteast has scored in double digits 26 times this season, has earned game-high scoring honors on 16 occasions and has six double-doubles. She also moved into the top five on Notre Dame’s career lists for points (1,820), rebounds (936), blocks (162) and double-doubles (38). In addition, with 15 points vs. West Virginia Feb. 26, she became the third Irish player to amass 1,800 points and 900 rebounds in her career, joining All-Americans Katryna Gaither and Ruth Riley.

Junior guard Megan Duffy also has stepped up her play this season, registering 11.3 points per game with a team-high 5.48 assists (second in the BIG EAST and 25th in the nation as of March 1) and 2.76 steals per game (first in the BIG EAST). Duffy also leads the league and is second nationally with a .905 free throw percentage (114-126) this season, sparking the Irish to a BIG EAST-best .745 free throw ratio, which also ranks 25th in the nation.

In the post, senior center Teresa Borton is showing capable leadership by example. A veteran post and tri-captain, Borton has not missed a game (123 and counting), nor a practice in her entire four-year career at Notre Dame. For the season, she has posted career-best numbers in almost every statistical category, ranking third on the team in scoring (8.9 ppg.), second in rebounding (6.1 rpg.) and first in both blocked shots (1.72 bpg.) and field goal percentage (.565).

*Notre Dame won its first seven games this season, the second-best debut in the program’s history. The 2000-01 squad opened with a 23-game win streak en route to school’s first national championship. The Irish also reached the double-digit win mark Dec. 19 at Marquette, getting their 10th win faster than any team in school history (the ’00-01 team did it two days later on Dec. 21, 2000).

*Notre Dame’s 10-game winning streak from Jan. 16-Feb. 15 was its longest since a school-record 23-game run to open the 2000-01 season. It also was the ninth double-digit winning streak in school history and the seventh in Muffet McGraw’s 18 seasons as head coach.

*The Irish are 11-2 on the road this year, and won their first five road games this season for the second time in school history. The 2000-01 club opened with a 10-game road winning streak to set the school standard. Ironically, Notre Dame struggled in true road games last year, losing its first four and six of its first seven on the opposition’s floor.

*Notre Dame picked up its 20th win of the season Feb. 5 at Pittsburgh. The Irish have now posted 12 consecutive 20-win seasons (one of only six schools in the nation that can make that claim) and 16 in the 18-year Muffet McGraw era. In addition, Notre Dame reached the 20-win mark in its 23rd game this season, marking the fourth-fastest run to 20 victories in school history. The 2000-01 club opened with 23 consecutive wins, while the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 squads each did it in 22 games. However, in terms of calendar dates, the Irish logged their 20th win faster than any Notre Dame team except the 2000-01 unit, which reached the mark on Jan. 31.

*The Irish have been a fixture near the top of the RPI charts this year. Through March 2, Notre Dame is fourth in the WBCA/Summerville RPI rankings, with the nation’s 20th-toughest schedule.

*Notre Dame has appeared in the top 10 of the AP balloting 15 times in the 17 polls this year, checking in at No. 10 this week. On three other times in school history have the Irish spent as long in the AP top 10 during one season – 1998-99 (16 weeks), 1999-2000 (15 weeks) and 2000-01 (18 weeks). All told, Notre Dame has now spent 71 weeks in the AP top 10 in the program’s 28-year history and has a 109-19 (.852) all-time record when it’s ranked in the top 10.

*The Irish have posted 37 wins over AP Top 25 opponents in the past seven seasons (1998-99 to present), including seven this year (No. 6 Duke, No. 10 Ohio State, No. 20 Purdue, No. 6 Rutgers, No. 9 Connecticut, No. 16 Boston College and No. 25 Boston College). Notre Dame is tied for the fourth-most Top 25 wins in the nation this season, exceeded only by Duke and Ohio State’s nine wins and eight victories by Michigan State. During the past two years, the Irish have 14 wins over ranked opponents.

*Notre Dame has defeated 23 top-10 opponents in its history, adding to that total with four victories this season. The four top-10 wins represent the second-highest total in school history (and tie Penn State for the second-most by any team in the nation this season behind Rutgers’ five wins) – the 2000-01 squad holds the Irish record with seven top-10 victories.

*Head coach Muffet McGraw has a 409-153 (.728) record in 18 seasons with the Irish, having logged the milestone 400th victory Jan. 23 against Rutgers. She also has a 497-194 (.719) overall record in 23 seasons, leaving her only three victories shy of the 500-win plateau for her career.

P Notre Dame begins play in its 10th BIG EAST Championship this weekend and has compiled a 12-9 (.571) record in its nine previous appearances. The Irish have reached at least the semifinals in six of the last nine years and made the title game four times (1996, ’97, ’99 and 2001). In an interesting twist, three of Notre Dame’s four BIG EAST finals appearances came when the tournament was held in the state of Connecticut (1996, 1997 and 2001 – all on the UConn campus in Storrs).

Prior to joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, Notre Dame won the Midwestern Collegiate Conference tournament championship five times in its seven years in that league, with the last Irish conference tourney title coming in 1994. A complete listing of Notre Dame’s appearances in the BIG EAST Championship may be found in the sidebar on page 8 of this notes package.

As has been the case with most of its BIG EAST Conference series, Notre Dame had never faced West Virginia on the hardwood prior to the Irish joining the league for the 1995-96 season. Since then, the two clubs have played 13 times, with Notre Dame coming out ahead by a 12-1 count.

The early history of the series was largely one-sided in Notre Dame’s favor, with the Irish winning the first eight series games in convincing fashion. In that time, Notre Dame scored at least 80 points against the Mountaineers six times, including two 100-point outings, and won seven of those first eight contests by double-digit margins.

The tenor of the series began to shift in the 2001-02 season, when Mike Carey took over as the head coach at West Virginia. Under their fiery mentor, the Mountaineers played Notre Dame close in three consecutive matchups during his first two years, including a narrow five-point loss in their second meeting of the 2002-03 campaign (the closest series margin to date). That set the stage for WVU’s first-ever win over the Irish on Jan. 17, 2004, as the Mountaineers jumped on Notre Dame and never looked back en route to a 64-51 victory in Morgantown. The Irish avenged that loss earlier this season, downing WVU, 82-57 on Feb. 26 at the Joyce Center.

Although Notre Dame and Pittsburgh did not begin to play one another until the Irish joined the BIG EAST 10 seasons ago, the series has become one of the more frequently-played matchups on Notre Dame’s conference docket. In fact, the Irish and Panthers have played 15 times in the previous nine years, with five seasons where the teams played twice. Notre Dame leads 15-0 in the series with Pittsburgh, including a 1-0 record at neutral sites.

The first 11 games in the series were a bit one-sided, with the Irish winning by double figures on nine occasions. However, the next three contests between the clubs saw Pittsburgh getting steadily closer to its first win over Notre Dame, culminating with a narrow four-point victory for the Irish at the Petersen Events Center last season. However, Notre Dame looked sharp in its only matchup with the Panthers this season, posting a 75-47 victory in the Steel City.

Seniors Teresa Borton and Jacqueline Batteast gave Notre Dame fans one last performance to remember. Borton scored 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting in her final game at the Joyce Center and the All-American Batteast added 15 points, helping the 10th-ranked Fighting Irish dominate inside en route to an 82-57 victory over West Virginia on Feb. 26. It was Notre Dame’s 11th win in 12 games.

The Fighting Irish took control with a 13-0 run late in the first half and never let the Mountaineers get back in the game, outshooting West Virginia 70 percent to 33 percent after the break.

Junior guard Megan Duffy added 12 points and 10 assists for the Irish – her second career double-double – but the inside play and free throw shooting were the key. Notre Dame outscored the Mountaineers 46-22 inside, had a 39-30 rebounding advantage and outscored West Virginia 15-6 from the free throw line.

Ten of the 11 Notre Dame players who got into the game scored, giving the Irish the most points against a BIG EAST opponent this season. The Irish had scored 75 points three times, most recently in wins against Pittsburgh and Providence earlier this month.

The Irish also held West Virginia’s Meg Bulger, who averages 20.5 points, to less than half of her league-leading scoring mark with nine points on 4-of-19 shooting. Yolanda Paige and Sherell Sowho had 16 points each to lead the Mountaineers.

The fans drawn to Pittsburgh’s Petersen Events Center on Feb. 5 by freshman guard Charel Allen almost made it seem like a home game for Notre Dame. Junior forward Courtney LaVere made certain it wasn’t a game at all once Pitt’s leading scorer got into foul trouble.

LaVere came off the bench to lead No. 6/7 Notre Dame’s pivotal 14-0 run late in the first half and the Fighting Irish went on to their seventh consecutive victory, beating Pittsburgh 75-47.

LaVere scored 11 of her 17 points in the first half to help Notre Dame turn a 24-18 lead into a 38-18 advantage over a five-minute stretch in which Pitt star Marcedes Walker drew her third foul. Walker, also a freshman, had 13 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 6:32 remaining for Pittsburgh.

Allen, who is one of Pennsylvania’s leading high school scorers ever, didn’t start but scored 16 points while being cheered on by hundreds of fans from her Monessen, Pa., hometown.

With Walker out, the 6-foot-1 LaVere and 6-3 senior center Teresa Borton dominated inside against Pittsburgh, which was far less physical without the BIG EAST’s third leading rebounder. LaVere started the run with a steal and finished it with consecutive baskets, then added two free throws after Pittsburgh scored for the first time in five minutes on Jessica Allen’s three-pointer, her only basket.

Borton had two blocked shots, a steal and a basket, and sophomore forward Crystal Erwin added a steal and basket during the run, which repeatedly saw the Panthers settle for three-point attempts when they couldn’t get the ball inside. Borton finished with 10 points and four blocked shots, and Erwin had eight points.

Pittsburgh was only 5-of-26 on three-pointers, with Vika Sholokhova going 1-of-9. Notre Dame was so successful pounding the ball inside it attempted only six three-pointers, making two. Walker, a muscular former high school shot putter, had little help offensively. Katie Histed had eight points and five rebounds, but missed 12 of 15 shots as the Panthers shot 25 percent (17-of-68) to Notre Dame’s 43.5 percent (27-of-62).


*Notre Dame scored at least 70 points against West Virginia in 10 times in the 13-game series. On the other hand, West Virginia has reached the 70-point plateau just twice against Notre Dame and has been held under 60 points by the Irish six times.

*The Irish have scored 100 points in a game twice against WVU, making the Mountaineers the only BIG EAST opponent to see Notre Dame crack triple digits more than once.

*Notre Dame won the first eight games in the series by an average of 23.0 ppg., with only one of those contests decided by single digits (86-78 on Jan. 14, 1998 at the Joyce Center).

*The winning margin in the next four series games has been just 8.5 ppg., with WVU getting steadily closer to Notre Dame in the first three outings before winning its first game vs. the Irish in 2004. However, the Irish rebounded with a 25-point victory in their most recent encounter (82-57 on Feb. 26, 2005 at the Joyce Center).

*Should Notre Dame and West Virginia meet in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals, it would be the first neutral-site game played between the two squads.


*Notre Dame is 15-0 all-time against Pittsburgh, one of three BIG EAST Conference opponents the Irish have never lost to. The others are Providence (13-0) and St. John’s (15-0).

*Ten of the 15 games in the series have been decided by double-digit margins in favor of Notre Dame, including a 75-47 Irish victory in their most recent matchup back on Feb. 5 in Pittsburgh.

*In the history of the Notre Dame-Pittsburgh series, the Irish have never scored less than 65 points in any game against the Panthers. Conversely, UP has hit the 65-point mark five times in 15 games (three of those coming in the past four contests).

*The relationship between the two head coaches – Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw and Pittsburgh’s Agnus Berenato – dates back more than 20 years to their formative days in the coaching ranks. The pair matched wits on several occasions during the early 1980s in the old East Coast Conference when McGraw was the head coach at Lehigh and Berenato held a similar post at Rider (McGraw won all five of their matchups from 1982-85). The duo renewed acquaintances on Nov. 30, 1997, when McGraw’s ninth-ranked Irish defeated Berenato’s Georgia Tech squad, 76-69 in Atlanta to win the Comfort Inn Downtown Classic, en route to Notre Dame’s first NCAA Final Four appearance.

*Notre Dame freshman guard Charel Allen is a native of Monessen, Pa., having graduated from Monessen High School in 2004. She was the two-time Associated Press Pennsylvania Class A Player of the Year (2003, 2004) and ended her prep career as the second-highest scorer in WPIAL history and fifth-highest in state history (3,110 points).

Notre Dame is 137-31 (.815) 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 finished either first or second 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 150-40 (.789) against league opponents – when factoring in these 22 postseason tilts, the Irish are 76-8 (.905) at home, 61-26 (.701) on the road and 13-6 (.684) at neutral sites all-time vs. BIG EAST foes.

Notre Dame is 186-44 (.809) all-time when it is ranked in the Associated Press poll at tipoff (the Irish are 10th entering this weekend’s BIG EAST Championship). When playing at home, Notre Dame has been especially strong, going 87-10 (.897) as a ranked host after posting a 14-2 record at the Joyce Center this season. Conversely, the Irish are 75-26 (.743) all-time when they play on the road as a ranked team.

Upon closer inspection, Notre Dame has been very sharp when it’s ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll. The Irish are 109-19 (.852) as a top-10 squad, including a 53-4 (.930) record at home. In fact, prior to its Dec. 2 overtime loss to then-No. 15 Michigan State, Notre Dame had a 41-game home winning streak when it was ranked in the AP top 10, dating back to December of 1998.

The Irish have fielded just two different starting lineups this season, a testament to the team’s consistency throughout the campaign. In fact, four players – senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast, senior center Teresa Borton, junior guard Megan Duffy and sophomore guard Breona Gray – have started every game for Notre Dame this season. The fifth starting spot has been split between junior forward Courtney LaVere and sophomore forward Crystal Erwin, due in part to LaVere’s knee surgery and subsequent recovery period earlier this season.

Batteast’s regularity in the starting lineup is especially notable. Entering this weekend’s BIG EAST Championship, Batteast has made 93 consecutive starts, dating back to the opening game of the 2002-03 season against Cleveland State. The school record for consecutive games started in 95 by Katryna Gaither from 1994-97.

Junior guard Megan Duffy is on pace to shatter the Notre Dame single-season records for total minutes and minutes per game this year. Duffy presently has amassed 1,071 minutes played and is averaging 36.9 minutes per night, with nine 40-minute games to her credit (including a career-long 45-minute ironman performance vs. Michigan State on Dec. 2). The school record for total minutes is held by Beth Morgan (1,227 in 1996-97), while Mary Gavin owns the Irish minutes-per-game record (35.1 in 1986-87).

For her career, Duffy is averaging 31.0 minutes per game, which would rank fourth in school history just behind her current teammate, senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast (31.5).

Notre Dame has had nine of the 11 players on its roster score in double figures at least once this season, with seven of them earning a share of team-high scoring honors in a game. The Irish also have had eight different players claim team-high rebounding honors in a game, while five separate players have led the squad in assists.

In addition, four of Notre Dame’s five current starters have at least two double-doubles to their credit this season. Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast leads the way with six double-doubles, followed by two each for senior center Teresa Borton, junior guard Megan Duffy and junior forward Courtney LaVere.

One of the key elements in Notre Dame’s success this season has been its penchant for distributing the ball well. In fact, the Irish have 473 assists (16.31 apg.; third in the BIG EAST and 24th in the nation as of March 1) on 692 field goals made (24.7 per game), including a Preseason WNIT-record 29 handouts in the season opener vs. Illinois State.

Junior guard Megan Duffy leads the way at 5.48 assists per game (second in the BIG EAST and 25th in the nation), with at least five dimes in 18 contests this year, four double-digit assist games (most by an Irish player since Niele Ivey’s five in 2000-01), and a career-high 11 assists vs. Rutgers on Jan. 23. Duffy also was second in the BIG EAST with 6.19 apg. in conference play.

The Irish currently own a positive assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.03 this season (473 assists, 459 turnovers). Should that figure hold up, it would mark the second time since turnovers became an official statistic in 1987-88 that Notre Dame has finished with more assists than turnovers in a season. The Irish also pulled off that feat in 2000-01, winding up with a 1.15 assist-to-turnover ratio (650 assists, 567 turnovers) during their run to the national championship.

The Irish are 11-2 on the road this season, tying for the third-highest number of true road wins in school history (13 in 1996-97; 12 in 1998-99; 11 on three other occasions – most recently in 2000-01). In fact, Notre Dame won its first five road games this year, marking only the second time ever the Irish opened with five or more road victories (they won 10 in a row to begin the 2000-01 campaign).

Accenting Notre Dame’s play on the road has been its defensive prowess. The Irish are holding opponents to 51.8 ppg., a .337 field goal percentage (242-for-718) and a .242 three-point percentage (54-for-223) away from home and have allowed more than 60 points only once in their 13 road games this year (61 by Syracuse on Jan. 19, although SU needed a Rochelle Coleman bucket with five seconds left to reach the mark).

Notre Dame is 17-0 this year (8-0 vs. BIG EAST Conference opponents) when its bench outscores the opposition’s reserves. For the season, the Irish understudies are averaging 16.9 ppg., compared to 13.9 ppg. for Notre Dame opponents. Freshman guard Charel Allen has been the top Irish reserve this season, logging 8.0 ppg.

Notre Dame’s bench play has been especially important during the past 13 games. The Irish are getting an average of 19.8 ppg. (258 total points) from their reserves in that stretch, compared to 14.2 ppg. (184 total points) from the opposition’s bench. Allen (9.7 ppg., 126 total) has been the key bench contributor in that stretch with five double-figure games – 17 points at Syracuse (Jan. 19), 16 points at Pittsburgh (Feb. 5), 14 points vs. Georgetown (Feb. 12) and at Seton Hall (March 1), and 11 points at No. 9/10 Connecticut (Jan. 30).

Notre Dame ranks second in the BIG EAST Conference in steals this season, averaging 9.38 thefts per game (272 total). The Irish have come up with at least 10 steals in 12 games and had a season-best 20 thefts on Nov. 22 vs. Colorado State, the most by a BIG EAST team this season.

Individually, junior guard Megan Duffy is tops in the conference in steals (2.76 spg.), while her 80 total steals are tied with Mary Gavin (1986-87) for the seventh-highest single-season mark in school history. Duffy’s backcourt mate, sophomore Breona Gray, is second on the team with 1.21 steals per game (35 total), while two other Notre Dame players also have at least 30 steals this year – freshman guard Charel Allen (33) and senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast (32).

When given the opportunity, Notre Dame has taken advantage of its trips to the free throw line this season. The Irish lead the BIG EAST Conference and rank 25th in the nation (as of March 1), shooting 74.8 percent from the charity stripe. In fact, they set a school record by going a perfect 18-for-18 on Nov. 30 at Valparaiso, which also matches the best mark by any team in the country this season.

Notre Dame has been led at the gift line by junior guard Megan Duffy (.905, 114-126), freshman guard Charel Allen (.843, 59-70) and senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast (.810, 119-147). Duffy currently ranks first in the BIG EAST and second in the nation in free throw percentage, while Batteast is second in the conference and has shown the greatest improvement among all Irish players this season with more than an 18-percent jump from last year’s career low .627 mark.

One side note about Duffy’s free throw prowess – the Irish junior struggled at the line early in her freshman season, shooting just 59.3 percent (16-27) during her first 15 collegiate games. However, in the 78 games since then (Jan. 20, 2003 to present), Duffy is connecting at an .871 clip (229-263) on her foul shots.

Notre Dame has made more free throws (468) than its opponents have attempted (453) this season. That margin was even wider in BIG EAST Conference action, where the Irish converted 247 foul shots, while their opponents have tried only 222 free throws.