Senior All-America guard Megan Duffy had a strong all-around night with 24 points, seven rebounds, five assists and five steals in Thursday night's 96-45 exhibition win over Ferris State at the Joyce Center.

No. 10 Irish Set To Face No. 14 Connecticut In BIG EAST Championship Semifinal

March 7, 2005

BIG EAST Championship Notes
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(#10 AP/#10 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (26-4)
(#14 AP/#14 ESPN/USA Today) Connecticut Huskies (21-7)

The Date and Time: Monday, March 7, 2005, at 8 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), Greg Amsinger (sideline), Lori Mancini (producer) and Chris Glass (director). The game also is available nationally on DirecTV (Channel 610).

The Radio Plans: Monday’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

Web Sites: Notre Dame (, Connecticut (

For the seventh time in its 10-year affiliation with the BIG EAST Conference, No. 10 Notre Dame has advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament, where it will face 14th-ranked Connecticut Monday at 8 p.m. (ET) at the Hartford Civic Center. The game will be televised nationally by CSTV.

The Irish (26-4) picked up their 13th victory in the past 14 games on Sunday with a 70-59 win over West Virginia in the conference quarterfinals. Following an early 2-2 tie, Notre Dame led the rest of the way, opening up a 17-point lead in the second half and never allowing the Mountaineers to get closer than nine points at any time in the second half.

Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast led four Irish players in double figures with 16 points, while junior guard Megan Duffy had a near double-double with 15 points and a game-high nine assists.

Connecticut (21-7) earned its spot in the semifinal round with an 82-56 win over Syracuse Sunday night. The Huskies shot 53.2 percent from the floor and had 10 players score in the victory. Junior guard/forward Barbara Turner set the pace with 16 points and senior center Jessica Moore added a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds for UConn.

The Huskies led the all-time series with Notre Dame, 16-4, including a 5-0 mark in the BIG EAST Championship. All five of those matchups came in the conference title game, most recently in 2001. That year, UConn edged out the Irish, 78-76, in Storrs.

One of the primary goals for Notre Dame this season has been to put itself in position to contend for a national championship. As they begin postseason play, the Irish certainly have done just that, compiling a 26-4 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 12-2 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. The newly-crowned BIG EAST Player of the Year and a leading candidate for the Naismith Trophy, Wooden Women’s Award and Senior CLASS Award, Batteast has scored in double digits 27 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 (1,836), rebounds (941), blocks (163) 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. Batteast also is poised to tie Gaither’s school record for consecutive starts, preparing to accept her 95th consecutive starting assignment Monday vs. Connecticut.

Junior guard Megan Duffy also has stepped up her play this season, registering 11.5 points per game with a team-high 5.6 assists (second in the BIG EAST and 25th in the nation as of March 1) and 2.7 steals per game (first in the BIG EAST). Duffy also leads the league and is second nationally with a .907 free throw percentage (117-129) this season, sparking the Irish to a BIG EAST-best .744 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 (124 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 (8.7 ppg.), second in rebounding (5.9 rpg.) and first in both blocked shots (1.73 bpg.) and field goal percentage (.569).


  • 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 12-2 away from home 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 past 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 110-19 (.853) 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 fifth-most Top 25 wins in the nation this season, exceeded only by Duke (10), Ohio State and Michigan State (9), and Tennessee (8). 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 410-153 (.728) record in 18 seasons with the Irish, having logged the milestone 400th victory Jan. 23 against Rutgers. She also has a 498-194 (.720) overall record in 23 seasons, leaving her only two victories shy of the 500-win plateau for her career.

Notre Dame is in the midst of its 10th BIG EAST Championship this week and has compiled a 13-9 (.591) record in its 10 previous appearances. The Irish have reached at least the semifinals in seven of the past 10 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.

Although it took six seasons to develop, the Notre Dame-Connecticut series has evolved into the one of the top matchups of the season in both the BIG EAST Conference and the nation as a whole. Connecticut leads the series by a 16-4 count (2-0 at the Hartford Civic Center), but the past nine games have been almost evenly split with UConn winning five times and Notre Dame winning on four occasions.

The teams did not begin playing one another until the 1995-96 season after the Irish joined the BIG EAST. The Huskies were coming off their first national championship, while Notre Dame had made just two NCAA Tournament appearances up to that point. As expected, Connecticut held the upper hand in the early matchups, winning the first 11 times the clubs squared off.

Notre Dame broke through for its first victory over the Huskies on Jan. 15, 2001, a 92-76 conquest at the Joyce Center before a sell-out crowd of 11,418. That win was the first act in a remarkable Notre Dame-UConn trilogy during the 2000-01 season, with the Huskies claiming a heartstopping 78-76 win in the BIG EAST Championship final. The third installment saw the Irish rally from a 16-point deficit to defeat Connecticut, 90-75 in the NCAA national semifinals in St. Louis en route to the school’s first national championship.

The Huskies bounced back with three consecutive victories in the series, including a pair during the 2002-03 season. However, since that time, Notre Dame has returned to the winner’s circle twice in its last three games against Connecticut, winning 66-51 in 2004 at the Joyce Center and chalking up a 65-59 victory earlier this year on Jan. 30 at Gampel Pavilion. The latter game was the second of two between the clubs this season, with UConn winning the first meeting, 67-50 on Jan. 12 in South Bend.

Notre Dame snapped Connecticut’s BIG EAST regular-season home winning streak at 112 games Jan. 30, with junior forward Courtney LaVere scoring 14 points and anchoring a dominating inside game in the Fighting Irish’s 65-59 victory.

UConn hadn’t lost a home conference game since a 64-62 defeat to Georgetown on Feb. 27, 1993. The Irish also ended the Huskies’ 55-game streak at Gampel Pavilion. UConn’s last defeat at Gampel was a 72-71 loss to Tennessee on Feb. 1, 2001.

The sixth-ranked Fighting Irish (18-3, 6-2 BIG EAST) lost 18 days earlier to the No. 9 Huskies (13-5, 6-1) in South Bend. In avenging that loss, the Irish were able to post their first win in eight meetings in Connecticut.

The Irish led by 10 at the half and countered every UConn move down the stretch with backdoor cuts to LaVere or three-pointers from junior guard Megan Duffy and freshman guard Charel Allen.

Ann Strother kept the Huskies in the game with her perimeter shooting. She had a season-high 25 points on 7-of-9 three-point shooting. Her final trey with 12.6 seconds cut the Irish’s lead to 61-59. But Notre Dame iced it by hitting four straight free throws – two each from Duffy and sophomore guard Breona Gray.

Duffy finished with 12 points, and senior center Teresa Borton matched her (then) career high with 11 rebounds for the Irish. Charde Houston had 10 points and 12 boards for the Huskies.

Notre Dame outscored UConn 36-16 in the paint and had 19 points off 20 UConn turnovers. Led by LaVere, a reserve forward, Notre Dame’s bench outscored the UConn reserves 29-12.

The Irish established their inside dominance early, outscoring UConn 22-6 in the paint in the first half. LaVere, who had 10 points in the period on 4-of-5 shooting, was nearly unstoppable with her hook shot.

UConn clung to a two-point lead with 7:49 remaining when the Irish went on a 10-0 run to take a 28-20 lead. The Huskies spent most of the period without center Jessica Moore, who picked up her third foul just eight minutes in. The Irish also scored 17 points on 16 UConn turnovers in the first half and led 34-24 at the break.


  • Monday’s game marks the fourth time in series history Notre Dame will be ranked higher than Connecticut at tipoff. In the 2001 BIG EAST Championship final, the Irish were No. 1 in both polls, while the Huskies were second and UConn pulled out a last-second 78-76 win in Storrs. This season, Notre Dame has been the higher-ranked team heading into both of its game with Connecticut, losing 67-50 at home on Jan. 12, but winning on the road, 65-59 on Jan. 30.
  • Notre Dame’s 65-59 win at Connecticut on Jan. 30 snapped two long UConn winning streaks – 112 consecutive regular-season BIG EAST home victories, and 55 in a row at Gampel Pavilion.
  • Connecticut is one of only two BIG EAST Conference opponents to hold a series edge over Notre Dame, leading the series with the Irish, 16-4. The other league foe with a winning record against Notre Dame is Rutgers, which owns a 12-9 series lead over the Irish.
  • The Notre Dame-Connecticut “No. 1 vs. No. 2” matchup at Gampel Pavilion in the 2001 BIG EAST Championship game (won by the Huskies, 78-76, on Sue Bird’s jumper at the horn) garnered an 0.96 Nielsen rating (730,914 households) on ESPN2, making it the highest-rated and most-watched game in that network’s history. It also was the third most-watched non-NCAA Tournament game in the annals of either ESPN or ESPN2, and five days later, it was replayed on ESPN Classic as that network’s first-ever women’s basketball “Instant Classic.”
  • Since the start of the 1998-99 season, Connecticut has lost by 15-plus points only four times, with three of those losses coming to Notre Dame (twice in 2000-01, once in 2003-04).
  • Notre Dame is one of only two teams in the nation to defeat Connecticut at least three times in the past 12 seasons (1993-94 to present). During that 12-year stretch, Tennessee is the only program with more wins (six) over the Huskies.
  • The Irish and Huskies have combined to win the last five NCAA championships, making the BIG EAST the only conference to win the national title in five consecutive seasons. The BIG EAST also is the only league to have two different teams win the NCAA championship in consecutive seasons (Connecticut in 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004; Notre Dame in 2001).
  • Either Notre Dame or Connecticut has appeared in seven of the past nine Final Fours, with both teams reaching college basketball’s biggest stage in 2001.
  • Including Monday’s game, at least one of the participants in the series has been ranked in all 21 contests, with both teams having been ranked 13 times.

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 151-40 (.791) 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 14-6 (.700) at neutral sites all-time vs. BIG EAST foes.

Notre Dame is 187-44 (.810) all-time when it is ranked in the Associated Press poll at tipoff (the Irish are 10th entering Monday’s BIG EAST semifinal vs. Connecticut). 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) on the road and 25-8 (.758) at neutral sites all-time 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 110-19 (.853) 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. Assuming she starts Monday’s BIG EAST Championship semifinal vs. Connecticut, she will tie Katryna Gaither’s school record with her 95th consecutive start, dating back to the opening game of the 2002-03 season against Cleveland State (Gaither set her streak 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 1,109 minutes played and is averaging 37.0 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 31.1 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 487 assists (16.23 apg.; third in the BIG EAST and 24th in the nation as of March 1) on 729 field goals made (24.3 per game), including a Preseason WNIT-record 29 handouts in the season opener vs. Illinois State.

Junior guard Megan Duffy leads the way at 5.6 assists per game (second in the BIG EAST and 25th in the nation), with at least five dimes in 19 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 1.02 this season (487 assists, 477 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 12-2 away from home this season and have 11 true road wins, tying for the third-highest total 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 52.4 ppg., a .342 field goal percentage (263-for-770) and a .243 three-point percentage (58-for-239) away from home and have allowed more than 60 points only once in their 14 games away from home 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 18-0 this year (9-0 vs. BIG EAST Conference opponents) when its bench outscores the opposition’s reserves. For the season, the Irish understudies are averaging 17.0 ppg., compared to 13.6 ppg. for Notre Dame opponents. Freshman guard Charel Allen has been the top Irish reserve this season, logging 8.1 ppg.

Notre Dame’s bench play has been especially important during the past 14 games. The Irish are getting an average of 19.9 ppg. (278 total points) from their reserves in that stretch, compared to 13.4 ppg. (188 total points) from the opposition’s bench. Allen (9.8 ppg., 137 total) has been the key bench contributor in that stretch with six 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) and vs. West Virginia (March 6).

Notre Dame ranks second in the BIG EAST Conference in steals this season, averaging 9.23 thefts per game (277 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 (2.7 spg.), while her 81 total steals are tied with Krissi Davis (1988-89) for the sixth-highest single-season mark in school history. Duffy’s backcourt mate, sophomore Breona Gray, is second on the team with 1.2 steals per game (36 total), while two other Notre Dame players also have at least 30 steals this year – freshman guard Charel Allen (35) and senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast (33).

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 74.4 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 (.907, 117-129), freshman guard Charel Allen (.853, 64-75) and senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast (.794, 123-155). 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 nearly a 17-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 79 games since then (Jan. 20, 2003 to present), Duffy is connecting at an .872 clip (232-266) on her foul shots.

Notre Dame has made more free throws (488) than its opponents have attempted (471) 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.

Entering this season, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw had the opportunity to reach three career coaching milestones. Here’s a look at her progress toward each landmark:

  • Winningest basketball coach at Notre Dame – picked up 394th victory with the Irish on Dec. 19 at Marquette, passing longtime men’s coach Digger Phelps (393 wins from 1971-91).
  • 400th victory at Notre Dame – registered 400th win at Notre Dame on Jan. 23 vs. Rutgers (current record: 410-153, .728)
  • 500th victory overall – needs two wins (current record: 498-194, .720)

Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast was chosen as the 2004-05 BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year, according to a vote of the league’s head coaches. Batteast joined junior guard Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne HS) and freshman guard Charel Allen (Monessen, Pa./Monessen HS) as the three Irish players who were honored at the BIG EAST Championship Awards Banquet held March 4 at the Hartford (Conn.) Hilton.

Batteast is the second Notre Dame player ever to be named the BIG EAST Player of the Year, following the path blazed in 2001 by consensus National Player of the Year Ruth Riley. Batteast also garnered first-team all-BIG EAST laurels for the second consecutive year following consecutive second-team picks her first two seasons. Thus, she becomes the first player in school history to earn all-BIG EAST honors in four consecutive seasons (Riley,Niele Ivey and Alicia Ratay all were three-time all-league choices). Batteast also is only the second Notre Dame player to be a four-time all-conference pick in any league, joining Sandy Botham, who was a four-time all-North Star Conference choice from 1985-88.

Batteast ranks second in the BIG EAST in scoring (17.4 ppg.) and 10th in rebounding (6.5 rpg.) and has six double-doubles to her credit. She stands among the top five in school history in most every major category, including points (1,836), rebounds (941), blocks (163) and double-doubles (38). She and Riley are two of the three players in school history with at least 1,800 points and 900 rebounds in their careers, not to mention the only players from a school other than Connecticut to be named BIG EAST Player of the Year in the past 12 years.

Not to be outdone, Duffy was a first-team all-BIG EAST selection this season, one year after earning the league’s Most Improved Player Award. The diminutive floor general ranks second in the BIG EAST in assists and leads the league in both steals and free throw percentage, placing second in the nation in the latter category with a .907 ratio. She also stands tied for sixth in school history with 81 steals this season, along with a career-high 11.5 ppg. scoring average. She and Batteast give Notre Dame two first-team all-conference selections for the first time since 2001, when Riley and Ivey received top honors.

Allen was tapped for the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team after averaging 8.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game as Notre Dame’s top reserve this season. She also has stepped up on some of the biggest stages this season, carding 16 points in a Preseason WNIT semifinal victory over No. 6 Duke and 11 points in a road win at No. 9/10 Connecticut, snapping the Huskies’ 112-game BIG EAST regular-season winning streak. Allen is the fifth Irish player to be selected to the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team, and the first since Courtney LaVere earned a spot on the squad in 2002-03.

Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast took another step in her quest to be named the nation’s top collegiate women’s basketball player on Feb. 22 when she was one of 30 players selected as midseason candidates for the Naismith Trophy presented by Cingular Wireless. It’s the second time in the past month Batteast has been tapped as a leading midseason contender for a major national player of the year award – in January, she was named to the John R. Wooden Women’s Award Midseason Top 20 List.

The Naismith Trophy is presented annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, with the Naismith midseason top 30 list being chosen by the group’s Board of Selectors, a cross-section of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from across the country. Those 30 players, and others who may distinguish themselves throughout the season, will be eligible for the final Naismith Trophy ballot in March, when four finalists are announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors.

Like the Naismith Trophy, the John R. Wooden Women’s Award goes to the nation’s top college women’s basketball player. In March, approximately 15 finalists for the Wooden Women’s Award will be placed on the voting ballot by the award’s National Advisory Board, which is comprised of some of the country’s leading sportswriters and sportscasters who cover women’s basketball on a regular basis. Those ballots will then be mailed to more than 250 voters across the nation, with the top five vote-getters earning Wooden Award All-America honors, as well as a trip to the Wooden Award trophy presentation ceremony April 9 at the Omni Hotel in Los Angeles.

Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has been selected as one of 20 finalists for the Naismith Coach of the Year Award, it was announced March 3 by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. It’s the fourth time McGraw has been named a finalist for the Naismith Award, adding to her selections in 1998, 1999 and 2001. She was accorded the honor in ’01 when Notre Dame won its first national championship.

This season, McGraw has piloted the Irish to a 26-4 record, a No. 10 national ranking and a runner-up finish in the BIG EAST Conference. In addition, she led Notre Dame to the 2004 Preseason WNIT championship, a run that included back-to-back victories over No. 6 Duke (the eventual Atlantic Coast Conference runner-up) and No. 10/9 Ohio State (this year’s Big Ten Conference co-champion) in the semifinal and title games. All told, Notre Dame has posted a 7-3 record against ranked opponents this season, including four top-10 victories, a mark that ties Penn State for the second-most in the nation this season.

McGraw has a record of 410-153 (.728) in 18 seasons at Notre Dame, having picked up her milestone 400th victory at the school on Jan. 23 with a 63-47 win over No. 6/7 Rutgers (the eventual BIG EAST champion). Including a five-year run at Lehigh from 1983-87, McGraw has a career record of 498-194 (.720) in 23 years on the sidelines, putting her just two wins away from becoming the 27th coach in NCAA Division I history to amass 500 career wins.

Joining McGraw on this year’s list of Naismith Award finalists are three other BIG EAST coaches – Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma, Boston College’s Cathy Inglese and Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer. The 20 finalists currently are on the ballot from which the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors will choose this year’s honoree. The winner will be announced at the Naismith Awards Banquet on April 8 in Atlanta

Junior guard Megan Duffy has been named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V Second Team, it was announced Feb. 17. Duffy continues a long line of successful student-athletes in the Irish women’s basketball program, with her selection marking the sixth time in the past seven seasons a Notre Dame female cager has received academic all-district honors. Ruth Riley was a three-time all-district pick, going on to earn Academic All-America(r) recognition in 2000 and 2001 (being named the ’01 Academic All-America(r) Team Member of the Year), and Alicia Ratay was a two-time academic all-district choice in 2002 and 2003.

Duffy currently holds a 3.454 cumulative grade-point average in the College of Arts and Letters, where she is pursuing a double major in psychology and computer applications. During the fall 2004 semester, she earned Dean’s List honors after compiling a 3.833 GPA.

Notre Dame achieved a historic basketball feat on Jan. 30, becoming the first school ever to defeat both the reigning men’s and women’s NCAA champions in the same season on two occasions. On that Sunday night, the Irish women ousted Connecticut, 65-59 in Storrs, a mere three hours after the Notre Dame men also toppled the Huskies, 78-74 in South Bend.

Last season, Notre Dame became just the fourth school since the inception of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in 1982 to have both its men’s and women’s basketball teams beat the defending national champions in the same season. The Irish women did their part by ousting Connecticut (66-51) on Jan. 13, 2004, while the Notre Dame men completed the double with an 84-72 win at Syracuse on Feb. 16, 2004.

The only other schools that can lay claim to this accomplishment are Duke (1998-99), Tennessee (1999-2000), Michigan State (1999-2000) and North Carolina (2004-05), with Notre Dame, Michigan State and UNC being the only institutions to turn the trick in the regular season (Duke’s women beat Tennessee in the ’99 NCAAs, while Tennessee’s men downed Connecticut in the ’00 NCAAs).

Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast scored 16 points, including seven straight during a late second-half run, to lead No. 10 Notre Dame into the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship for the first time since 2001 with a 70-59 win over West Virginia on Sunday night at the Hartford Civic Center.

The Fighting Irish (26-4) are seeded second in the 12-team field and have reached the semifinals in seven of their 10 years in the conference. Notre Dame has made four trips to the final, losing each time to Connecticut, its semifinal opponent on Monday night.

Yolanda Paige led the Mountaineers (17-12) with 23 points. The game pitted the conference’s top scorers in Batteast, the BIG EAST Player of the Year, and West Virginia’s Meg Bulger, who averaged a league-high 19.6 points. Batteast was second at 17.4 points a game. Bulger struggled all night, making just three of 15 shots and finishing with eight points. In two games against Notre Dame this season, Bulger was held to less than half her scoring average (8.5 ppg.) on seven-for-34 shooting (.206).

A secondary matchup between the point guards – Paige and Irish junior Megan Duffy – ended up about even. While Paige, the nation’s leader in assists, ended up as the high scorer in the game, she was limited to four assists. Meanwhile, Duffy charted 15 points (5-6 FG, 2-3 3FG) and dished out nine assists.

The Irish were in control from the start and led by as many as 17 in the second half, shooting 61 percent in the period and 53.3 percent for the game. Batteast made sure they kept the cushion, scoring seven points in a two-minute stretch. The Mountaineers would get no closer than nine the rest of the way.

Notre Dame controlled the boards, outrebouding West Virginia 32-23. The Irish also got 20 points from the bench. Freshman guard Charel Allen led Notre Dame reserves with 11 points. Sherell Sowho added 11 points for West Virginia, and Olayinka Sanni grabbed a team-high seven boards.


  • Notre Dame advances to the BIG EAST Championship semifinals for the seventh time in school history, but the first time since 2001, when the Irish lost to host Connecticut, 78-76 in the title game.
  • Notre Dame is 13-1 all-time against West Virginia, although this year’s BIG EAST quarterfinal marked the first time the Irish and Mountaineers had met on a neutral floor.
  • Notre Dame has scored at least 70 points 11 times in the 14-game series, while holding WVU under 60 points for the seventh time in their rivalry.
  • The Irish pick up their first victory in five career games at the Hartford Civic Center (also 0-2 vs. Connecticut, 0-1 vs. Rutgers in ’04 BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals, 0-1 vs. Penn State in ’04 NCAA East Regional semifinals).
  • The Irish defense has been superb of late, holding their last 10 opponents to less than 60 points.
  • Notre Dame had four double-figure scorers for the 10th time this season (10-0 record) and is 14-1 when at least three Irish player crack double digits.
  • Notre Dame is 11-0 this year when shooting 45 percent or better from the floor (5-0 when reaching the 50-percent mark).
  • Junior guard Megan Duffy narrowly missed her fifth double-digit assist game of the year, finishing with her 19th five-assist night of the campaign. She is approaching top 10 of the Notre Dame single-season assists chart with 168 (current Irish assistant coach Coquese Washington is in 10th place with 179 handouts in 1990-91).
  • Duffy also moved into a tie with Krissi Davis (1988-89) for sixth place on Notre Dame’s single-season steals list with 81 thefts.
  • Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast jumped into the top 10 on the Irish single-season scoring list with 521 points this year, passing Ruth Riley (1999-2000) and Beth Morgan (1993-94), who had 518 apoints apiece.
  • Sophomore guard Breona Gray logged her fifth double-digit scoring game of the season, but her first since Jan. 5 vs. Syracuse (career-high 17 points).

Punctuated by emotional second-half rallies in the semifinal and final, Notre Dame won four consecutive games to claim the 2004 Preseason WNIT championship. The Irish capped off their season-opening charge with a 66-62 victory over No. 10/9 Ohio State in the title game, scoring the final 12 points of the contest to erase an eight-point Buckeye lead with a little more than five minutes remaining. That win came on the heels of a 76-65 semifinal conquest of No. 6 Duke, a victory that also saw Notre Dame come back from an eight-point deficit late in the second half.

Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast was named the tournament Most Valuable Player after averaging 21.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists with a .507 field goal percentage in the four-game series. Batteast was at her best in the final two games, scoring a game-high 17 points vs. Duke (including a personal 10-0 run that put the Irish ahead for good) and then rolling up a career-best 32 points in the championship game against Ohio State. In that latter contest, she had another 10-point run in the first half and later scored seven of her team’s last 12 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 2:45 to play. However, her biggest contribution came with two seconds remaining, when she raced from beyond the top of the key all the way to the deep corner, blocking OSU’s potential game-tying three-pointer to cement Notre Dame’s title.

Not to be overlooked, junior guard Megan Duffy earned a place on the Preseason WNIT all-tournament team after recording 15.0 points and 6.0 assists per game with a .500 field goal percentage (.600 from beyond the arc). She was the catalyst for an Irish offense that averaged nearly 77 points per game and dished out better than 20 assists per night in the tournament, including a Preseason WNIT-record 29 assists in the first round vs. Illinois State.

Over the past five seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 96-7 (.932) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead. Notre Dame is 19-0 in such games this season, including a 9-0 record against BIG EAST Conference teams.

During the past decade, 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 149-9 (.943) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game, including a 20-2 mark this season (12-2 vs. BIG EAST opponents, including a 9-1 record in the past 10 games).

Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. Over 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 has tacked three more wins onto that ledger with its victories this season over Illinois State, Purdue and West Virginia.

Notre Dame is one of only five schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen six times in the past eight seasons (1997-2004). The others are Connecticut (eight times), Tennessee (eight times), Duke (seven times) and Louisiana Tech (seven times).

Having clinched their 12th consecutive 20-win season with a 75-47 victory at Pittsburgh on Feb. 5, the Irish are one of just six teams nationwide to have an active streak of at least 11 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in these elite club are Tennessee (29), Texas Tech (16), Louisiana Tech (13), Old Dominion (13) and Connecticut (12) – Tennessee, Texas Tech and Connecticut also have extended their streaks this season (through March 6).

Notre Dame has won 228 games over the past nine seasons, which is tied for the sixth-most wins of any school in the country during that time. Here’s where the Irish rank in terms of their wins since the start of the 1996-97 campaign (totals through games of March 6):

TEAM ’96-’97 ’97-’98 ’98-’99 ’99-’00 ’00-01 ’01-’02 ’02-03 ’03-04 ’04-05 Total
1. Connecticut 33 34 29 36 32 39 37 31 21 292
2. Tennessee 29 39 31 33 31 30 33 31 26 283
3. Louisiana Tech 31 31 30 31 31 25 31 29 18 256
4. Duke 19 24 29 28 30 31 35 30 28 254
5. Old Dominion 34 29 28 29 21 28 21 25 19 234
6. (tie) NOTRE DAME 31 22 26 27 34 20 21 21 26 228
(tie) Santa Barbara 24 27 26 30 22 26 27 27 19 228
8. Purdue 17 23 34 23 31 24 29 29 16 226
9. Texas Tech 20 26 30 28 25 20 29 25 2 224

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 127 of their last 138 games (.920), including 34 of their last 36 (.944), at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center. Notre Dame also has a 76-8 (.905) home record in BIG EAST play.

The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 54 of their last 57 non-BIG EAST contests (.947) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only three losses in that span all came against Big Ten Conference teams – Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54) and Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 in OT).

Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center, posting a 277-72 (.794) record at the venerable facility. In three of the previous five 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.

Beginning with its national championship season of 2000-01, Notre Dame has ranked in the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past four years, and current returns indicate this season may be no different. According to the Feb. 28 unofficial national attendance rankings (as compiled by the University of Wisconsin Sports Information Office), Notre Dame is 16th in the nation with an average of 5,830 fans per game.

All of the top 20 crowds in the Irish record book have occurred during the 18-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present). And, as more evidence of Notre Dame’s rapid elevation to “hot ticket” status in South Bend, 19 of the top 20 crowds in school history have been recorded in the past five seasons (2000-01 to present), including 12 audiences of 8,000 or more fans, and 65 of the past 67 home games with at least 5,000 fans filing into the Joyce Center.

The Irish made 13 regular-season appearances on regional or national television during the 2004-05 season, with all of their postseason games also to be televised nationally via either CSTV or ESPN/ESPN2. Notre Dame currently is 11-3 in televised games this year, including a 2-2 mark on CSTV, the network that will broadcast Monday’s night BIG EAST Championship semifinal vs. Connecticut.

Once again this season, every Irish women’s basketball game (home and away) airs 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 fifth 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 ( by subscribing to College Sports Pass, which gives listeners full multimedia access to a variety of Irish athletics events for only $6.95 per month.

For the fourth time in school history (all during the Muffet McGraw era), Notre Dame will have three players sharing the captain’s duties this year. Senior forward Jacqueline Batteast, senior center Teresa Borton and junior guard Megan Duffy all were accorded the honor based upon a vote of their teammates prior to the season. All three are serving as captains for the first time in their respective careers.

Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has announced that Lindsay Schrader, a 6-0 guard from Bartlett, Ill., and Chandrica Smith, a 6-1 forward from Stone Mountain, Ga., have chosen to continue their careers with the Irish, signing National Letters of Intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2005.

With the additions of Schrader and Smith, Notre Dame’s newest recruiting class is ranked 16th in the nation by Blue Star Index. That marks the ninth consecutive year the Irish have had a top-20 class, according to that publication, which makes Notre Dame one of only three schools in the nation that can claim that distinction (Connecticut and Tennessee are the others).

Schrader has been widely regarded as one of the top all-around players in the state of Illinois while attending Bartlett High School the past three seasons. She is a three-time all-state selection, a two-time Illinois Miss Basketball finalist, and a two-time Street & Smith’s All-America selection who has averaged 20.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game in her prep career. Her finest all-around season came as a junior in 2003-04, when she averaged 20.8 ppg., 10.8 rpg. and 2.0 bpg. while earning first-team all-state honors from the Associated Press, Chicago Tribune and Champaign News-Gazette. She also was a sixth-team All-America selection by Street & Smith’s and was a finalist for Illinois Miss Basketball honors, an award she will likely contend for once again this season.

On the summer camp circuit, Schrader was an Underclass All-Star at the 2002 adidas Top Ten Camp, before attending the Nike All-America Camp in both 2003 and 2004. She is ranked among the top 30 high school seniors in the nation by three separate recruiting services – Blue Star Index (14th), All-Game Sports (21st) and All-Star Girls Report (26th overall – eighth among shooting guards).

In addition, Schrader made a significant impact at the 2004 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs. Playing for the North Team that won the silver medal, she ranked third at the Festival in scoring (14.8 ppg.) and rebounding (8.6 rpg.), as well as second in field goal percentage (.542). All three figures were team highs, as were her 2.2 steals per game. For her efforts, Schrader was invited to attend the 2004 USA Women’s Junior World Championship Qualifying Team Trials, where she was one of 17 finalists for the 12-player team that won the gold medal this past August.

Smith currently attends Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., where she transferred prior to her senior season. Previously, she was a standout at Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Ga., where she averaged 12.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.4 blocks per game with a .620 field goal percentage. She also was a key component in the Jaguars’ run to a 32-1 record and the Georgia 5A state championship last year. In fact, during her first three prep seasons, her teams posted a combined 89-7 (.927) record with three trips to the Georgia state championship and one state title.

Smith herself has received numerous accolades during her high school career. She is a two-time honorable mention All-America selection by Street & Smith’s and was a Student Sports All-American in 2004. In addition, she attended the adidas Top Ten Camp three consecutive years and was named to its prestigious all-star team all three years (Underclass All-Star in 2002 & 2003; Upperclass All-Star in 2004). Last season, she was an honorable mention 5A all-state selection and a first-team all-county choice. She is ranked as high as 29th in the nation among high school seniors by All-Star Girls Report.

Like Schrader, Smith also attended the 2004 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs. Playing for the South Team, she averaged 5.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, scoring a personal-best 13 points in the bronze-medal game victory over the East squad.

On Nov. 6, Notre Dame announced that Muffet McGraw has signed a two-year extension to continue as head coach of the Notre Dame women’s basketball program through the 2010-11 season.

McGraw, who is now in her 18th season with the Irish, most recently signed a four-year contract extension in July 2002 that took her through the 2008-09 season. Her first 17 seasons at Notre Dame have been highlighted by 15 20-win campaigns (including a current string of 11 straight), 11 NCAA tournament appearances (including a current streak of nine straight) and the 2001 NCAA title. Entering the 2004-05 season, she had a 384-149 (.720) record at Notre Dame.

In 2003-04, McGraw skillfully guided her team to a 21-11 record and a second consecutive berth in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen (the fourth for the Irish in five years). McGraw’s charges placed second in the BIG EAST Conference, their eighth top-two finish since joining the league nine years ago. In addition, the Irish went 15-0 at home, their third perfect record at the Joyce Center in the past five seasons, and extended their overall home win streak to 20 games, the second-longest in school history and eighth-longest active string in the nation heading into the 2004-05 campaign.

McGraw has continued to enhance her reputation as one of the nation’s outstanding big-game coaches and tacticians, piloting Notre Dame to a school-record seven wins over top 25 teams during the 2003-04 regular season. During her 17-year tenure with the Irish, McGraw has compiled 40 victories over nationally-ranked opponents, including 30 in the past six seasons (an average of five per year).

Under McGraw’s guidance, the past nine years have been the most successful in Notre Dame’s history as the Irish have compiled an impressive 225-69 (.765) record, including a sparkling 124-28 (.816) regular-season mark in BIG EAST play, the best winning percentage in league history. Notre Dame also has averaged 25 victories per campaign during that span, with two 30-win seasons to its credit. The Irish have won at least one NCAA tournament game every season over that time, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen six times (1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004) and the Final Four twice (1997 and 2001).

Should Notre Dame win its BIG EAST Championship semifinal game against Connecticut, the Irish would play Tuesday at 7 p.m. (ET) in the championship game against the winner of the semifinal between top-seeded Rutgers and No. 5 seed Villanova. It would mark Notre Dame’s first apperance in the BIG EAST title game since 2001, when they advanced to the conference final before losing to UConn, 78-76. This year’s BIG EAST title game will be televised live to a national audience by ESPN.

If the Irish lose their BIG EAST semifinal game, they will be off until the start of the NCAA Tournament, which opens March 19 at eight sites around the country. The announcement of the 64-team field for this year’s NCAA Tournament will take place March 13 at 5 p.m. (ET) live on ESPN. All 63 games in the 2005 NCAA Tournament will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN2.

Here’s where the Irish players and team stand in the most recent NCAA statistics report (through games of February 28) and BIG EAST Conference statistics report (through games of March 4) – bold indicates league/national leaders:

Team Rankings NCAA BIG EAST (all games) BIG EAST games only
Scoring Offense 5th at 67.0 4th at 63.6
Scoring Defense 5th at 56.2 4th at 54.1
Scoring Margin 4th at +10.8 3rd at +9.5
FT Percentage 25th at .748 1st at .745 3rd at .718
FG Percentage 5th at .433 5th at .423
FG Percentage Defense 11th at .352 2nd at .350 2nd at .343
3-Point FG Percentage 4th at .350 9th at .313
3-Point FG Pct. Defense not kept 1st at .268 2nd at .292
Rebounding 4th at 39.0 2nd at 39.4
Rebounding Defense not kept 8th at 36.0 6th at 35.7
Rebounding Margin 6th at +3.0 3rd at +3.8
Blocked Shots 26th at 5.0 2nd at 5.00 2nd at 4.75
Assists 24th at 16.6 3rd at 16.31 3rd at 15.56
Steals 2nd at 9.38 2nd at 8.94
Turnover Margin not kept 3rd at +2.21 4th at +1.50
Assist/Turnover Ratio not kept 5th at 1.03 5th at 1.00