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No. 23 Irish Hungry For Rematch With Georgetown Wednesday Night

Feb. 3, 2004

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(#23 AP) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (13-7, 6-2)
vs. Georgetown Hoyas (10-9, 4-5)

The Date and Time: Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2004, at 7 p.m. ET.
The Site: Joyce Center (11,418) in Notre Dame, Ind.
The Tickets: Still available by calling the Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office (574-631-7356).
The Radio Plans: All Notre Dame games are broadcast live on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1620) and/or WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend with Sean Stires (play-by-play). These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics web site at
Real-Time Statistics: Live in-game statistics are available for the Georgetown game through the Notre Dame ( athletics web site.
Web Sites: Notre Dame (, Georgetown (

After returning to the Associated Press rankings this week at No. 23, Notre Dame will get back on the Joyce Center hardwood Wednesday night when it plays host to Georgetown at 7 p.m. (ET). The Irish will be seeking a measure of redemption against the Hoyas after watching Georgetown upset Notre Dame, 76-73 back on Jan. 7 in Washington, D.C. In that game, the Hoyas scored seven points in the final 14 seconds to erase a four-point deficit.

  • Notre Dame (13-7, 6-2 BIG EAST) got back into the AP Top 25 the hard way after picking up its sixth win over a ranked opponent this season, defeating No. NR/23 Boston College, 52-50 on Saturday afternoon at the Joyce Center. The game was tight throughout, featuring 12 ties and seven lead changes before the Irish went ahead for good on a jumper by sophomore guard Megan Duffy with 2:02 to play. Notre Dame then had to survive a pair of last-second three-point tries from the Eagles to secure the win, its 14th in a row at the Joyce Center.
  • Duffy led all scorers with 16 points against Boston College, nailing six of 11 shots from the field. Senior guard Le’Tania Severe tied her season high with 15 points and sophomore forward Courtney LaVere came off the bench to pitch in 11 points for Notre Dame.
  • Georgetown (10-9, 4-5) snapped a two-game losing streak with a 53-48 win over Villanova at home on Saturday. Senior forward Rebekkah Brunson (24 points, 14 rebounds) and junior guard Mary Lisicky (13 points, 11 rebounds) both posted double-doubles for the Hoyas in the win.
  • Brunson is one of the top players in the BIG EAST, leading the conference in scoring (18.2 ppg.) and rebounding (11.3 rpg.), while standing second in blocks (2.11 bpg.).
  • Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Georgetown, 17-2, including an 8-0 mark at home.

Notre Dame has ridden a true roller coaster of emotions this season. Facing the nation’s third-toughest schedule, the Irish have been particularly dominant at home, going 9-0 at the Joyce Center, but have had maddening runs of inconsistency on the road, posting a 4-7 mark. Still, Notre Dame has gained valuable experience against some top-notch opponents this year, going 6-3 against Top 25 teams and firmly planting itself within the Top 20 of all major RPI ladders.

  • Junior forward and preseason All-American Jacqueline Batteast (14.8 ppg., 8.3 rpg., .452 field goal percentage, seven double-doubles) has lived up to her accolades this season, ranking among the BIG EAST leaders in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and blocked shots (1.2 bpg.). She was named to the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team on Nov. 15 after a superb weekend that included a career-high 27 points against 22nd-ranked Auburn. She then piled up back-to-back double-doubles vs. No. 20 Colorado (13p, 10r) and Valparaiso (15p, 10r) before logging team bests of 16 points and seven caroms at No. 3 Tennessee, 19 points at Washington and a game-high 13 points with six assists vs. Dayton. She then chalked up her third double-double vs. USC (20p, 13r) to earn the first BIG EAST Player of the Week honor of her career. Since BIG EAST play began, she has been red hot, averaging 17.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game with a .534 field goal percentage and four double-doubles, all in the past five games. She now has 62 career double-figure scoring games and 26 career double-doubles after a 14-point, nine-rebound effort on Jan. 24 vs. Villanova, a performance that included a 10 for 10 effort at the free throw line (the second-best outing in Joyce Center history and third-best in school annals). Batteast also became the 20th Notre Dame player to score 1,000 career points when she tallied 14 points vs. Virginia Tech on Jan. 10, making her the fourth-fastest ever to reach that milestone (72 games).
  • Junior center Teresa Borton (6.3 ppg., 4.3 rpg., .490 FG%) and sophomore forward Courtney LaVere (8.9 ppg., 4.8 rpg.) also have made important contributions at times this season. Borton has recovered well from off-season heel surgery and was at her best vs. Colorado State and Marquette, ringing up 14 points on both occasions. Borton then added 11 points and eight rebounds at Georgetown, followed by 14 points and six boards against Virginia Tech. Meanwhile, LaVere, a freshman All-American last year, has had an up-and-down second season. She tied Batteast for team-high scoring honors with 12 points at Michigan State before rising up and carding season highs of 22 points and nine rebounds vs. Wisconsin. She once again cracked double figures on Jan. 1 vs. Marquette, tossing in 16 points on six of 11 shooting. LaVere has looked solid in her last six outings, averaging 10.7 ppg., with a .490 field goal percentage (24 of 49), providing a critical 14 points against Connecticut, 10 points at West Virginia and Syracuse, a team-high 15 points at Miami and 11 points vs. Boston College.
  • Sophomore Megan Duffy (11.5 ppg., team-high 4.60 apg., .425 3FG%, .803 FT%) is in her first season as the everyday point guard for the Irish and she is proving to be a key cog in the Notre Dame offensive arsenal. After averaging only three points and 2.3 assists per game last year, the Dayton, Ohio, native has more than tripled her scoring output, ranks sixth in the BIG EAST in assists and owns a team-best 1.48 assist/turnover ratio (seventh in the BIG EAST). In addition, she is showing offensive diversity, knocking down 34 three-pointers this season. She also has 11 double-figure scoring games to her credit this year, including a career-high 25 points vs. Wisconsin on Dec. 4, and 22 points at Georgetown on Jan. 7. Her ball handling skills have not diminished, as she also has registered five or more assists in 11 games, including a career-high nine assists on Dec. 7 at Washington. On Saturday, she scored a game-high 16 points vs. Boston College, including the go-ahead basket with 2:02 left.
  • Senior captain Le’Tania Severe (7.9 ppg., 3.3 apg., .490 FG%, .806 FT%) has slid over to the shooting guard position in place of the NCAA’s all-time three-point queen, Alicia Ratay, and Severe has filled the role admirably. While not putting up the three-point numbers Ratay had in her remarkable career, Severe is getting her points as a slasher, driving to the basket and creating havoc for opposing defenses. She also leads the team with 1.5 steals per game and has been a vital piece of Notre Dame’s transition game. She has scored in double digits seven times this year, including a season-high 15 points against Purdue and Boston College, as well as 12 points against Connecticut.

Coming off a WNIT appearance last season and returning one of the nation’s top talents in senior forward Rebekkah Brunson, big things have been expected for Georgetown this season. However, the Hoyas have been a bit of a conundrum in 2003-04 — they are 6-3 at home with wins over Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, but they also have lost at San Diego and just edged New Hampshire on the road in late November.

Georgetown (10-9, 4-5 BIG EAST) comes into town with solid momentum after a 53-48 victory over Villanova on Saturday in Washington, D.C. Brunson erupted for 24 points and 14 rebounds, while junior guard Mary Lisicky also charted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. The Hoyas held the Wildcats to 29.6 percent shooting and held a sizeable 45-27 edge on the boards, helping the hosts rally from a one-point halftime deficit.

Brunson stands among the elite players in the BIG EAST this season, leading the conference in scoring (18.2 ppg.) and rebounding (11.3 rpg.), while ranking second in blocked shots (2.11 bpg.). She also has a league-high 11 double-doubles this year and is eight rebounds shy of becoming the first player in Georgetown history to pile up 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career.

Lisicky provides a solid complement to Brunson’s powerful inside presence, standing 20th in the BIG EAST in scoring (12.8 ppg.), second in three-point percentage (.400) and fourth in three-pointers made per game (2.42). She also is an adept ball handler, ranking ninth in the conference with a 1.38 assist/turnover ratio.

Georgetown head coach Patrick Knapp has been with the Hoyas for 18 seasons, amassing a 245-258 (.487) record in our nation’s capital. He is in his 21st year as a collegiate skipper with an overall mark of 290-297 (.494), including a 2-15 record against Notre Dame.

Notre Dame and Georgetown will be playing for the 20th time in their series, with the Irish holding a 17-2 advantage over the Hoyas. The series dates back to the early 1980s, when the teams played a home-and-home set and Notre Dame won on both occasions. Georgetown broke through with its first victory over the Irish on Dec. 2, 1988, claiming a 70-60 win at the Investors Women’s Classic in Richmond, Va.

That was the only time the Hoyas had beaten Notre Dame until last month, when Georgetown snapped a 15-game series losing streak with a 76-73 win on Jan. 7 in Washington, D.C. It also was the first time the Hoyas had won in eight all-time matchups in our nation’s capital.

Wednesday night’s game marks the ninth time Notre Dame and Georgetown have squared off at the Joyce Center. The Irish sport an 8-0 record at home against the Hoyas, winning by an average margin of nearly 20 points per game. The last four times Notre Dame has played host to Georgetown, it has won by 23.8 ppg., and the Hoyas have averaged just 53.0 ppg.

Among current Irish players, junior forward Jacqueline Batteast has had the most individual success against Georgetown, averaging 19.0 points and 8.5 rebounds with two near double-doubles in two games vs. the Hoyas. A complete rundown of the statistics active Notre Dame players have compiled against Georgetown can be found on page 18 of this notes package.

Notre Dame endured one of its most difficult losses in several years, falling at Georgetown, 76-73, in their BIG EAST Conference opener on Jan. 7, 2004, at McDonough Arena in Washington, D.C. The Irish led by six points with 43 seconds left, but watched the Hoyas go on an 11-2 game-ending run and score the final seven points of the game to earn their first win over Notre Dame since 1988.

Georgetown’s Bethany LeSueur provided the crushing blow, converting an old-fashioned three-point play with 12.1 seconds to go, giving her team the lead for good. It was the final chapter in a nail-biting contest that saw 14 ties and 14 lead changes. In addition, neither team led by more than six points the entire game.

Sophomore guard Megan Duffy led all scorers with 22 points for Notre Dame, connecting on six of 10 shots from the floor, including four of eight three-point attempts. It was the seventh double-figure scoring game of the season for Duffy, and her second 20-point game this year. Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast chipped in with 18 points and eight rebounds, but fouled out with 2:56 to play.

Junior center Teresa Borton contributed 11 points and eight rebounds, while senior guard Le’Tania Severe grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds and added a season-best six assists. The Irish won the rebounding battle, 45-39, and shot 46.4 percent from the floor (26 of 56), but they were undone by their turnovers. Notre Dame gave up the ball 24 times, with Georgetown converting those giveaways into 25 points.

Rebekkah Brunson notched her seventh double-double of the season for the Hoyas, winding up with 20 points and a game-high 10 rebounds before also fouling out on a charge with 2:10 remaining. Mary Lisicky offered up 17 points and LeSueur carded 14 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and five steals for Georgetown.

Notre Dame used a dominant second-half performance to roll past Georgetown, 74-49 on Feb. 5, 2002 at the Joyce Center. Forward Jacqueline Batteast scored eight of her game-high 20 points in a 23-0 Irish run that gave the hosts the lead for good. Forward Katy Flecky added 12 points and a career-high 12 rebounds to log her second career double-double for Notre Dame, which had five players score in double figures.

Carmen Bruce tallied a team-high 14 points and Rebekkah Brunson logged a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds for Georgetown, which has not won in eight career visits to South Bend. Mary Lisicky added 10 points, six assists and four steals for the Hoyas, while Indiana native Leslie Tyburski had a triumphant return to her home state with 11 rebounds.

As a team, Notre Dame forced Georgetown into an opponent season-high 28 turnovers, offsetting the Hoyas’ 54-39 edge on the boards. Neither team shot the ball (both were below 40 percent), but the Irish capitalized on their chances at the free throw line, making 83.9 percent of their foul shots (26 of 31) to secure the victory.


  • Notre Dame has scored at least 70 points in 15 of 19 career games with Georgetown. Conversely, the Hoyas have topped the 70-point mark just three times against the Irish, and only once in the 14 meetings that have occurred in BIG EAST Conference play.
  • Notre Dame defeated Georgetown in their first-ever encounter, 78-68, on Jan. 6, 1983 in Washington. One of the Irish assistant coaches on that day was current Hoyas mentor Patrick Knapp, who spent three seasons at Notre Dame (1980-83) on the staff of Mary DiStanislao.
  • Georgetown sophomore guard Leslie Tyburski grew up not far from the Notre Dame campus. She hails from just down the Indiana Toll Road in Hammond, Ind., and is a graduate of Gavit High School.
  • Both head coaches are products of the vaunted “Cradle of Coaches” in Philadelphia. Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw, a native of Pottsville, Pa., graduated from Saint Joseph’s, served as an assistant at SJU under current Ohio State skipper Jim Foster, and later became head coach at Lehigh before moving on to lead the Irish. Meanwhile, Georgetown head coach Patrick Knapp hails from Philadelphia, and graduated from Widener (Pa.) College. He began his coaching career as the head coach at his alma mater, Bishop McDevitt (Pa.) High School, before spending three seasons (1980-83) as an assistant at Notre Dame. He moved on to serve as head coach at New Mexico State from 1983-86 before taking his current post with Georgetown. Some of the other coaching legends to come out of the Philadelphia area include Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma, Illinois’ Theresa Grentz, Villanova’s Harry Perretta, Penn State’s Rene Portland and former Old Dominion mentor Marianne Stanley.

Notre Dame is 118-26 (.819) 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 won 74 of their last 90 regular-season conference games (.822), and claimed a share of their first-ever BIG EAST regular-season championship in 2001. When including postseason competition (BIG EAST and NCAA tournaments), Notre Dame is 130-34 (.793) against league opponents — when factoring in these 20 postseason tilts, the Irish are 65-7 (.903) at home, 53-22 (.707) on the road and 12-5 (.706) at neutral sites all-time vs. BIG EAST foes.

The Irish have played four times on Feb. 4 in their 27-year history, logging a 3-1 record on this date with a 2-0 mark at home. Notre Dame last played on Feb. 4 in 1995, easing past Loyola (Ill.), 92-76 at the Joyce Center. In fact, the Ramblers have accounted for two of the three Irish wins on this day, while the only time Notre Dame lost on Feb. 4 was in 1989 at future BIG EAST sister Syracuse (63-56).

Saying January was a crazy month for Notre Dame would probably be a bit of an understatement. To begin with, the Irish had 10 games on the schedule last month, its fullest slate since January 1997, when Notre Dame also played 10 times, posting a 9-1 record en route to its first NCAA Final Four appearance. However, that 1997 docket saw the Irish go the entire month without facing a ranked opponent. This year’s Notre Dame squad didn’t have that kind of luck, facing six Top 25 foes during the month.

This January didn’t start out well for Notre Dame, as the Irish lost two of their first three games, including a heartbreaking 76-73 setback at Georgetown in which the Hoyas scored seven points in the final 14 seconds to steal the victory. Unfazed, Notre Dame bounced back with wins in six of its last seven games, highlighted by victories over No. 4/4 Connecticut (66-51), No. 16/15 Virginia Tech (53-40), No. 17/16 Miami (59-50), No. 23/25 Villanova (38-36) and No. NR/23 Boston College (52-50). Those five wins helped propel the Irish into a second-place tie in the BIG EAST standings and a return to the AP poll (No. 23) as they begin the second half of the conference season this week.


  • Notre Dame will register its 18th series win over Georgetown, tying for the sixth-most victories in school history against one opponent (Evansville – 18). It also will make the Irish 9-0 all-time against the Hoyas at the Joyce Center.
  • The Irish will extend their current home winning streak to 15 games, collect their 108th win in their last 117 home games (.923) and move to 66-7 (.904) all-time at home against BIG EAST opposition.
  • Notre Dame will card its 11th win in the last 14 games since opening the year at 3-4.
  • The Irish will improve to 119-26 (.821) all-time in regular-season games against the BIG EAST Conference, maintaining the best winning percentage in conference history.
  • Head coach Muffet McGraw will see her record at Notre Dame rise to 377-145 (.722) in 17 seasons under the Golden Dome. She also will watch her career ledger improve to 465-186 (.714) in 22 years at the college level.
  • The Irish will raise their all-time record to 541-244 (.689) in 27 seasons of varsity competition.

For the third time in a week, Notre Dame used a stout defensive effort to defeat a ranked opponent, downing No. 23 (ESPN/ USA Today) Boston College, 52-50, on Saturday afternoon at the Joyce Center. It is the sixth win over a Top 25 foe for the Irish this season and their fifth against a ranked team in the past seven games.

Sophomore guard Megan Duffy scored a game-high 16 points for Notre Dame, making six of 11 shots from the field, including three of five from beyond the arc. She also tied her career high with four steals and had just one turnover while playing all 40 minutes. Her backcourt mate, senior Le’Tania Severe matched her season high with 15 points and added three steals without a turnover in 39 minutes. Sophomore forward Courtney LaVere offered up 11 points from the bench for the Irish (13-7, 6-2 BIG EAST).

The win was the sixth in the last seven games for Notre Dame, and in all six victories, the Irish have held their opponents to 50 points or less. In fact, Notre Dame has allowed just 171 combined points in its last four games, setting a school record for the fewest points in a four-game span. It also marks only the second time in school history that the Irish have held four consecutive opponents to 50 points or less — they had a streak of five such games from Dec. 13, 1997-Jan. 8, 1998.

Saturday’s matchup with Boston College was tight from the opening tip to the final buzzer, with neither side leading by more than five points the entire way. There also were 12 ties and seven lead changes in the contest, including three ties in the final five minutes.

Boston College (14-5, 4-4) jumped out to an early 6-3 lead when Amber Jacobs hit a fast break layup with 16:26 left in the first half. Notre Dame responded with an 8-0 run to take the largest lead of the game for either team (11-6) at the 13:51 mark. The Irish still had a 14-10 lead three minutes later, but the Eagles fought back behind seven points from Kathrin Ress in a 10-2 run that gave the visitors a four-point lead with 4:58 to go in the period. However, Notre Dame closed the half on a 7-2 run, taking a 23-22 lead at the break on two free throws by junior Katy Flecky at the 57-second junction.

The second half began with Notre Dame trying to break free of Boston College three times, but each time the Irish scored, the Eagles came back with a tally of their own. BC finally overtook Notre Dame on a pair of Jessalyn Deveny free throws with 14:50 remaining. Then it was time for the Irish to begin reeling in the Eagles. Boston College took leads of at least three points three times, but Notre Dame erased its deficit on each occasion, tying the game for the 10th time at 45-45 when junior center Teresa Borton hit a spinning layup with 4:43 left.

After the teams traded three free throws, Duffy gave Notre Dame the lead for good, nailing a runner in the paint with her off (right) hand as the shot clock expired with 2:02 remaining. Deveny misfired on her team’s next possession and Flecky was fouled on the rebound, but the Irish junior made only one of her two free throws, making it a 51-48 margin at the 1:30 mark. Jacobs came back with a driving layup 17 seconds later, setting the stage for a frantic final minute.

Trailing by one, Boston College’s Clare Droesch came up with a crucial steal, giving the visitors a chance to retake the lead. Jacobs missed on a three-point try, but Ress grabbed the offensive rebound to keep the Eagles in business. After a timeout, BC went back to Jacobs again, but the all-BIG EAST guard did not connect on a shorter jumper and Irish junior forward Jacqueline Batteast collected the rebound with 14 seconds left. The Notre Dame All-America candidate, who was hampered by foul trouble all afternoon, made the first of her two foul shots, but missed the second, leaving the door open for BC. The Eagles called upon Jacobs a third time and while she got two looks at a game-winning three-point shot, neither was close to falling as time expired and the Irish had the victory.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast has taken her game to another level against BIG EAST Conference opponents this year. In eight conference games this year, Batteast is carding 14.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game with four double-doubles. She currently is second in the conference in rebounding and seventh in scoring. In addition, she has the top field goal percentage in the BIG EAST during league play (.494) and just missed double-doubles in two other conference outings (14 points and nine rebounds vs. Villanova; nine points and 10 rebounds at Miami).

Notre Dame has stepped up its play recently thanks in large measure to the added pressure applied by its defense. Through the first half of the BIG EAST season, the Irish rank among the top three in the conference in most major defensive categories, including scoring defense (1st – 50.2 ppg.), scoring margin (2nd – +6.8 ppg.), field goal percentage defense (1st – .338), three-point field goal percentage defense (1st – .203), rebounding defense (3rd – 32.6 rpg.) and blocked shots (2nd – 4.50 bpg.).

However, that’s just the start when it comes to noting Notre Dame’s defense. Here are some other tidbits about the current Irish defensive lockdown:

  • Notre Dame has given up an average of just 42.3 ppg. in its last four games. In fact, the 171 points allowed by the Irish in that stretch represents the best four-game defensive run in school history. The previous record was 176 points (44.0 ppg.) from Jan. 18-Feb. 3, 1978, in wins over Purdue-Calumet, IPFW and Grace College and a loss at Marquette (all came when the Irish played at the Division III level).
  • Notre Dame has limited its last four opponents to 50 points or less, the second time in school history the Irish have pulled off that feat. From Dec. 13, 1997 to Jan. 8, 1998, Notre Dame had a streak of five consecutive games allowing 50 points or less.
  • The Irish held back-to-back opponents (Syracuse and Villanova) to less than 40 points for only the second time in school history (and first in the program’s Division I era, which began in 1980-81. The first time came on Jan. 24 & 31, 1978, when the Irish defeated IPFW (68-39) and Grace College (68-25).
  • In 16 halves of BIG EAST action (eight games), Irish opponents have scored 30-or-more points just three times, with Georgetown accounting for two of those in the BIG EAST opener back on Jan. 7.
  • Notre Dame had limited six of its last seven opponents to field goal percentages of less than .400, going 5-1 in those contests. In addition, Syracuse and Villanova both shot 25 percent or less from the floor. For the season, the Irish are 10-2 when they hold their opponents to less than 40 percent shooting from the field.
  • Notre Dame held Syracuse to 35 points on Jan. 21, setting a school record for the fewest points ever allowed in a BIG EAST road game and the second-fewest yielded in any road game (84-27 at Valparaiso on Jan. 21, 1982).

For the most part, Notre Dame has done a good job of shutting down the opposition’s top offensive threat since the start of BIG EAST Conference play. Only two of these opposing players (Georgetown’s Rebekkah Brunson and West Virginia’s Kate Bulger) have matched or exceeded their season scoring averages, and just one (Tamara James of Miami) has topped her season shooting percentage.

Notre Dame has fought through a brutal schedule that has included playing nine games against Top 25 opponents. The Irish have handled the challenge very well, going 6-3 in those contests with victories over No. 22/25 Auburn (77-64), No. 16/15 Virginia Tech (53-40), No. 4/4 Connecticut (66-51), No. 23/25 Villanova (38-36), No. 17/16 Miami (59-50) and No. NR/23 Boston College (52-50). Notre Dame narrowly missed a seventh win over a Top 25 foe, as No. 20/20 Colorado rallied to defeat the Irish, 67-63 in overtime in the championship game of the season-opening WBCA Classic in Boulder, Colo.

By comparison, in the previous two seasons (2001-02 and 2002-03), Notre Dame had a total of five wins over ranked opponents, with three of those coming in the regular season (Virginia Tech and Boston College in ’01-02, and Villanova in ’02-03).

The rugged Irish schedule has not gone unnoticed by the national media. The latest, WBCA/Summerville RPI, Sagarin/Collegiate Basketball News and Massey rankings all have tabbed Notre Dame’s schedule as the third-toughest in the nation (through Feb. 2).

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast has played very well in Notre Dame’s nine games against Top 25 opponents this year. She is averaging 14.9 points and 8.6 rebounds with three double-doubles (and three near double-doubles) in those matchups against ranked opponents in 2003-04.

Maybe it’s the long plane rides, or the lumpy mattresses in the hotel, or even the quality of the pre-game meal. Whatever the reason, Notre Dame has struggled at times on the road this season, going 4-7 away from the Joyce Center (3-7 in true road games). That’s a far cry from the success the Irish have experienced at home, where they are a perfect 9-0 and own an active 14-game winning streak.

Since the start of the BIG EAST Conference season on Jan. 7, Notre Dame has received critical support from its reserves. The Irish bench has averaged 18.5 points in seven conference games this year, outscoring its opponent’s reserves by an average margin of 9.4 ppg. over that time.

Notre Dame’s bench play was especially important in its wins over Syracuse, No. 23/25 Villanova and No. 17/16 Miami. In that three-game span, the Irish reserves averaged 25.3 ppg., including a season-high 35 points at Syracuse and 33 points at Miami.

Notre Dame’s 66-51 victory over No. 4/4 Connecticut on Jan. 13 at the Joyce Center was historic for a number of reasons. Here are just a few of them:

  • Notre Dame’s win over Connecticut snapped the Huskies’ 121-game winning streak against unranked opponents, a string that dated back to Jan. 23, 1999 (a 78-66 loss at Boston College).
  • Since the start of the 1998-99 season, Connecticut has lost by 15-plus points only three times and each time, those losses have come to Notre Dame (twice in 2000-01, once in 2003-04).
  • Notre Dame is one of only two teams in the nation (and the first BIG EAST squad) to defeat Connecticut more than once in the past 11 seasons (1993-94 to present). During that 11-year stretch, Tennessee is the only other program with multiple wins over the Huskies.
  • In the past four seasons (2000-01 to present), half of Connecticut’s six losses have come at the hands of Notre Dame.
  • Over the past five seasons (1999-2000 to present), the Joyce Center is the only arena to see multiple losses by Connecticut.

Notre Dame put together one of the best defensive performances in school history on Dec. 13 vs. Dayton, rolling over the Flyers, 78-41 at the Joyce Center. In that game, the Irish held UD to just 11 first-half points, which matches the third-lowest mark in school history and equals the lowest opponent total ever at the Joyce Center (11 in the second half by Grace College on Jan. 31, 1978 — pre-NCAA era). The fewest points Notre Dame has ever allowed in one half is seven (first half) at Maryland on Jan. 9, 1985. The Irish also gave up just 10 first-half points to Georgetown on March 4, 2001, in a BIG EAST Conference Championship quarterfinal game at Storrs, Conn.

In addition, Notre Dame limited Dayton to an opponent record-low .050 field goal percentage (one for 20) in the first half, breaking the old Irish opponent record of .115 (three for 26), which had been set twice — in the first half of the aforementioned Maryland game, and by DePaul in the first half on Dec. 31, 2001 at the Joyce Center.

The Irish have often opened games in strong fashion, but nothing like what they turned out on Dec. 13 vs. Dayton. Notre Dame began the game on a 26-0 run, the largest game-opening surge in 27 seasons of Irish basketball. The previous record for the best start to a game was 17-0 vs. Texas Tech in the 2000 NCAA Mideast Regional Semifinal in Memphis.

The 26 unanswered points also tied for the second-longest run of consecutive markers by Notre Dame. The school record is 31 straight points, which the Irish achieved on Jan. 18, 1997 vs. Pittsburgh — Notre Dame trailed 14-2, but went on a 31-0 run over the next 13:14 to seize control of the game. The Irish also had a 26-point spree on Jan. 31, 1998 against Seton Hall, turning a 56-29 score into an 82-29 margin over a 9:44 span in the second half.

Based on her play this season, sophomore point guard Megan Duffy is making a strong case to be named the BIG EAST Conference Most Improved Player. Last season, the Dayton native averaged 3.0 points and 2.3 assists per game while still shaking off the rust caused by off-season knee surgery. She also struggled to find her shooting touch, hitting at a .242 clip from the floor and making only seven of 35 three-point attempts (.200).

Fast forward to this season, where Duffy has been an impact player from the outset. She is second on the team in scoring at 11.5 ppg., which nearly quadruples her production from last year. However, her biggest improvement has come in her shooting numbers, where she’s connecting at a .425 percentage (34-80) from the three-point line and would be leading the BIG EAST if she had made enough treys to qualify (min. 2.0 per game). She’s also has nearly five times as many treys as she sank all of last year and after cracking double digits just twice in 2002-03 (career high was 12 points), she has 11 double-figure games this season, with two topping the 20-point mark. Her best outing to date was a 25-point outburst on Dec. 4 vs. Wisconsin, where she shattered her career standard from beyond the arc, going six for 10 from downtown.

But lest we forget her primary duties at the point, Duffy is leading the Irish and ranks sixth in the BIG EAST with 4.60 assists per game, doubling last year’s output. She also has just 62 turnovers, giving her a healthy 1.48 assist/turnover ratio (seventh in the BIG EAST). She has dished out at least five assists 11 times this year, including a career-high nine dimes on Dec. 7 at Washington. In addition, she is logging 5.0 assists in Notre Dame’s last seven games with at least six handouts in four contests.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast scored a game-high 14 points on Jan. 10 against No. 16/15 Virginia Tech, becoming the 20th player in school history to score 1,000 career points. She also was the fourth-fastest Irish player ever to reach that milestone, doing so in her 72nd career game.

Batteast also is one of only five Irish players to score 800 points in her first two seasons at Notre Dame, joining Morgan, Matvey, Riley and Ratay. For her career, the South Bend native ranks sixth in school history with a 14.2 ppg. scoring average, and 17th in total points (1,098), needing nine points to pass Danielle Green (1,106 from 1995-2000) for 16th place all-time.

One of the supposed question marks surrounding this year’s Notre Dame squad was its perimeter shooting. Through the first two-thirds of the season, the Irish have had an emphatic response to that question. Notre Dame is third in the BIG EAST with a .362 three-point percentage, hitting 76 of 210 shots from beyond the arc. Sophomore guard Megan Duffy has been a major contributor from beyond the arc, connecting at a .425 clip (34-80), which would lead the BIG EAST, but she has not made enough field goals to qualify for statistical ranking (minimum of 2.0 per game). Nevertheless, she stands 13th in the BIG EAST with 1.7 triples made per game.

Another long distance specialist for Notre Dame has been senior guard Jeneka Joyce, which is a pleasant surprise when you consider the Topeka, Kan., native has spent the better part of the past two seasons trying to recover from leg injuries. Joyce has knocked down 21 of 51 treys for a .412 three-point percentage, but she also has not yet made enough field goals to qualify for the rankings. The veteran sharpshooter has had her percentage put on hold over the last three games while she recovers from a sprained ankle suffered in practice Jan. 22.

Although they didn’t come away with the trophy they wanted at the WBCA Classic, junior forward Jacqueline Batteast and senior guard Le’Tania Severe did receive individual honors as members of the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team. Batteast averaged 20 points and 7.5 rebounds in the two-game tournament, while shooting .529 from the field. Severe carded 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in the tournament and posted a stellar .857 free throw percentage (12 of 14). It was the first career all-tournament team selection for both players.

After spending the first three weeks of this season in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, Notre Dame resurfaced in the media poll this week, checking in at No. 23. The Irish were ranked 15th in the preseason AP poll, marking the seventh time in the last eight seasons that the Irish were tapped in the initial AP survey of the year.

Notre Dame also is earning 60 votes in the most recent ESPN/USA Today coaches poll (good for 27th if the poll were extended) after appearing in the Top 25 for the first three weeks of 2003-04. The Irish were pegged No. 16 in the preseason coaches poll, also the seventh time in eight years that they had shown up in the first ESPN/USA Today poll of the year.

This season, Notre Dame has faced or will face no less than eight teams that are currently ranked in both major polls (No. 1/1 Tennessee, No. 4/3 Connecticut, No. 6/5 Purdue, No. 11/10 Colorado, No. 19/22 Auburn, No. 20/18 Michigan State, No. 21/21 Virginia Tech and No. 22/20 Miami). In addition, Boston College is ranked 25th in the latest ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll. Also, five other Irish opponents — Marquette, Rutgers, USC, Villanova and West Virginia — are receiving votes in one or both polls this week.

Over the last four seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 70-5 (.933) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including a 8-1 mark this year. One of those rare losses occurred vs. Colorado in the WBCA Classic on Nov. 15. Notre Dame led 37-33 at the intermission before the Buffaloes rallied for a 67-63 overtime win.

Over the last nine seasons, 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 123-4 (.969) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Notre Dame has nine eight more wins to that ledger this season by holding down Valparaiso (74-57), Dayton (78-41), Colorado State (63-59), Virginia Tech (53-40), Connecticut (66-51), Syracuse (64-35), Villanova (38-36), Miami (59-50) and Boston College (52-50).

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 last nine seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 86-3 (.966) 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 tacked on another win to this tally on Dec. 4 with its 82-64 win over Wisconsin.

Notre Dame is one of only eight schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen five times in the past seven seasons (1997-2003). The others are Connecticut (seven times), Tennessee (seven times), Duke (six times), Louisiana Tech (six times), North Carolina (five times), Old Dominion (five times) and Texas Tech (five times).

The Irish are one of just six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 10 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in these elite club are Tennessee (27), Texas Tech (14), Louisiana Tech (12), Old Dominion (12) and Connecticut (10).

Notre Dame has won 194 games over the last eight seasons (24.3 victories per year), which stands as the ninth-most wins of any school in the country during that time.

For the first time since the 1998-99 season, the Irish are wearing white uniforms at home this season, eschewing the golden togs they sported for the past four seasons. Notre Dame has worn white uniforms on numerous occasions on the past, dating as far back as the school’s first varsity women’s basketball squad, which took the floor in 1977-78. Blue continues to be the primary color for the Irish road uniforms.

Notre Dame recently unveiled some new championship banners which now hang in the Joyce Center. The NCAA title flag won by the Irish women in 2001 and the Helms Foundation national championship banners won by the Notre Dame men in 1927 and 1936 now have been converted to gold with blue lettering, reversing the look of the other banners currently on display. In addition, the Irish basketball and volleyball teams have added blue flags for Sweet Sixteen appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

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 107 of their last 116 games (.922) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a current 14-game winning streak. Notre Dame also has a 65-7 (.903) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it was snapped with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the 2002 home finale.

The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 45 of their last 47 non-BIG EAST contests (.957) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only two losses in that span came to Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69) and Purdue in 2003 (71-54). The Purdue loss snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak which began after the UW setback.

Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center, posting a 257-70 (.786) record at the venerable facility. In both the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons, 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 10 in the nation in attendance each of the past three years. The Irish are looking to extend that streak to a fourth straight season, averaging 6,572 fans for their nine home games, including a season-high 8,574 fans on Jan. 13 vs. fourth-ranked Connecticut, the seventh-largest crowd in school history. According to the latest unofficial national attendance rankings compiled by the Wisconsin Sports Information Office (as of Feb. 2), Notre Dame ranks 12th in the country in attendance.

The Irish averaged 7,132 fans for their 13 home games last season, good for their second consecutive eighth-place finish in the final NCAA attendance rankings. Last year also saw Notre Dame register two of the top 10 crowds in school history, including a season-high gathering of 9,483 fans, the fifth-largest in school history for the nationally-televised matchup with Purdue on Jan. 4, 2003.

All of the top 20 crowds in the Irish record book have occurred during the 17-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 last five seasons.

Based on its success in recent years, Notre Dame continues to be a favorable television draw and the 2003-04 season will be no exception. The Irish are slated to play on the small screen no less than nine times in the coming campaign, including four appearances on national television.

Notre Dame made its ’03-04 television debut on Dec. 7 at Washington in a matchup that was shown to a national cable audience on Fox Sports Net. The Irish returned to coast-to-coast television on Jan. 4 when they visited Purdue for the inaugural BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge on ESPN2.

In addition, Notre Dame has been selected to appear on the BIG EAST Conference television package four times this season, including three home games. The Irish already have taken on Virginia Tech (Jan. 10), Villanova (Jan. 24) and Boston College (Jan. 31) at home, and will travel to Rutgers (Feb. 28) for games in front of the BIG EAST TV cameras. Those games may be seen on a regional basis in several major East Coast markets, including New York, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia and Washington, as well as South Bend, where WHME-TV (Channel 46) will show the Virginia Tech, Villanova and Rutgers games on a same-day, tape-delayed basis at 7 p.m. (ET).

Furthermore, the Jan. 13 BIG EAST matchup between Notre Dame and two-time defending national champion Connecticut was televised by Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) with College Sports Television (CSTV) picking up the broadcast and airing it nationally.

Both Notre Dame-Miami games also will be televised this season. The Jan. 28 matchup in Coral Gables, Fla., was picked up by the Sunshine Network on a tape-delayed basis. Meanwhile, the Feb. 25 rematch at the Joyce Center will be broadcast live to a nationwide audience on CSTV. That contest will tip off at 8 p.m. (ET) — some early schedules initially had this game listed one hour earlier.

In addition, the semifinals of this year’s BIG EAST Championship presented by State Farm will be broadcast on the BIG EAST television package Monday, March 8 at 6 and 8 p.m. (ET) from the Hartford (Conn.) Civic Center. WHME-TV in South Bend will carry those games live. The championship game will air live on ESPN2 on Tuesday, March 9 at 7 p.m. (ET).

After a two-year absence, the Joyce Center once again will be home to NCAA Tournament competition as Notre Dame was selected to be one of 16 sites for first- and second-round games in the 2004 NCAA Tournament. Action at the South Bend subregional will take place Sunday, March 21 and Tuesday, March 23, with exact tipoff times and potential television broadcasts to be determined by the NCAA during the week leading up to the competition.

Should Notre Dame qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the 11th time in school history (and the ninth consecutive season), the Irish are guaranteed to play at home. Notre Dame has played five NCAA tourney games at the Joyce Center in its history, going 4-1 and and advancing to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 2000 and 2001 (the Irish went on to win the national championship in the latter season).

Single-session ticket books for NCAA Tournament games at the Joyce Center currently are available to the general public (one ticket for both Sunday games, one ticket for Tuesday’s only game). Single-game tickets will not be made available until after the field of 64 is announced on March 14. For more information on how to purchase tickets for the 2004 NCAA Notre Dame subregional, contact the Irish athletics ticket office at (574) 631-7356 or visit the ticket windows located on the second floor of the Joyce Center at Gate 1.

Once again this season, every Irish women’s basketball game (home and away) will air on the flagship stations of the Artistic Media Partners (AMP) Network — WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1620) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and AMP sports director Sean Stires is now in his fourth season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics website ( by subscribing to Fighting Irish Pass, which gives listeners full access to a variety of Irish athletics events on radio for only $6.95 per month.

THE Muffet McGraw SHOW
Muffet McGraw’s half-hour, weekly television show is produced by LeSea Broadcasting and hosted by Bob Nagle. The show, now in its seventh season, is carried by WHME-TV (Channel 46) in South Bend and airs at 6:30 p.m. (ET) Saturdays through the end of the 2003-04 season. The show also is available via satellite (Galaxy 6, Transponder 15) each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (ET), and may be seen on LeSea Broadcasting stations in Denver, Honolulu, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Tulsa (check local listings).

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) is one of 30 players who were named to the 2003-04 John R. Wooden Women’s Award Preseason All-America Team on Aug. 13. Based on a vote of the Wooden Women’s Award National Advisory Board, these 30 players are considered the top candidates for the inaugural Wooden Women’s Award, which will be presented to the most outstanding female collegiate basketball player at the conclusion of the ’03-04 season.

Batteast is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection who started every game for the Irish last season, leading the team in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.) and blocked shots (1.56 bpg.). She also ranked among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in those categories, as well as steals (1.97 spg.) and double-doubles (8). In addition, the 6-2 wing scored in double figures 26 times, topped the 20-point mark five times, and earned game-high rebounding honors of 14 occasions. She ranks among Notre Dame’s career leaders in scoring average (6th – 13.8 ppg.) and rebounding average (tie-2nd – 8.1 rpg.), and she is one of only five players in school history to amass at least 800 points in her first two seasons under the Golden Dome.

Batteast is one of five BIG EAST players named to the Wooden Preseason All-America Team, joining Rebekkah Brunson of Georgetown, Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers, and the Connecticut duo of Ann Strother and Diana Taurasi.

In mid-January, the Wooden Women’s Award Committee will release its Midseason Top 20 List, followed in March by the official voting ballot which will consist of the top 10-15 players who have proven their success in the classroom (minimum 2.0 grade-point average) as well as on the court. More than 250 voters, comprised of sports media members and women’s college basketball experts around the country, will then cast their votes for the five-member Wooden All-America Team and the Wooden Award winner.

Although the 2003-04 season marks the debut of the Wooden Women’s Award, the honor initially was created in 1976 to recognize the top male collegiate basketball player in the nation. Past winners include Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84) and Tim Duncan (’97).

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast is one of 35 players who were selected to the 2003-04 State Farm Wade Trophy Preseason Watch List on Aug. 20 by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). Based on a vote of committee members which include leading coaches, journalists and basketball administrators, these 35 players are considered the top candidates for the State Farm Wade Trophy, which will be presented to the most outstanding female collegiate basketball player at the conclusion of the ’03-04 season.

Batteast is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection who started every game for the Irish last season, leading the team in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.) and blocked shots (1.56 bpg.). She also ranked among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in those categories, as well as steals (1.97 spg.) and double-doubles (8). In addition, the 6-2 wing scored in double figures 26 times, topped the 20-point mark five times, and earned game-high rebounding honors of 14 occasions. She ranks among Notre Dame’s career leaders in scoring average (6th – 13.8 ppg.) and rebounding average (tie-2nd – 8.1 rpg.), and she is one of only five players in school history to amass at least 800 points in her first two seasons under the Golden Dome.

Batteast was one of five BIG EAST players named to the ’03-04 Wade Trophy Preseason Watch List, joining Rebekkah Brunson of Georgetown, Ieva Kublina of Virginia Tech, Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers and last year’s Wade Trophy recipient, Diana Taurasi of Connecticut.

The State Farm Wade Trophy, now in its 27th year, is named after Margaret Wade, the late Delta State University coach who won three national championship in the mid-1970s. The Wade Trophy is considered the one of the most prestigious individual awards in women’s college basketball and is organized by the WBCA and the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS).

Adding to her armload of preseason hardware, junior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) was named a preseason honorable mention All-American by Street & Smith’s in the magazine’s annual basketball preview issue. It’s the third preseason honor for the talented 6-2 wing, who is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection. She also was the 2001-02 United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year and a WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-American that season, as well as the unanimous choice for BIG EAST Rookie of the Year.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast and freshman forward Crystal Erwin both received preseason recognition in a vote of the BIG EAST Conference coaches that was released at the league’s annual Media Day on Oct. 30 at the Newark (N.J.) Liberty Airport Hilton. Batteast was a preseason first-team all-BIG EAST selection, while Erwin was named the Preseason BIG EAST Co-Freshman of the Year, sharing the honor with Connecticut’s Liz Sherwood.

Batteast led the Irish in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.), blocked shots (1.56 bpg.) and double-doubles (8), ranking among the BIG EAST leaders in all four categories. She is a two-time second-team all-conference selection and is one of only five players in school history to score 800 points in her first two seasons at Notre Dame.

As a senior last year at St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., Erwin earned All-America honors from Parade, Street & Smith’s and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), and also was selected to play in the McDonald’s All-America Game in Atlanta. She averaged 22.3 points, 13.4 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game during her storied prep career, averaging double-doubles during both her junior (24.9 ppg., 14.9 rpg.) and senior seasons (21.2 ppg., 10.2 rpg.). She holds career records at St. Paul for points (2,720), rebounds (1,630) and blocks (380), as well as the school single-season scoring mark (869 in 2001-02). She follows Batteast as the second Irish rookie in three years to be chosen the BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast is among 30 preseason candidates named to the watch list for 2003-04 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Awards which are presented annually by the Atanta Tip-Off Club. The Naismith Awards program, now in its 36th year, honors the outstanding male and female college basketball players in the United States. The awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, an organization dedicated to recognizing the achievements of student-athletes in basketball. The candidates were selected by a vote of the Board of Selectors comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists and basketball analysts.

The Naismith Award is the latest in a series of preseason honors for the Batteast. She was named a preseason All-American by both the John R. Wooden Women’s Award and Street & Smith’s magazine, and she also was selected to the State Farm/WBCA Wade Trophy Preseason Watch List. In addition, she was a first-team all-BIG EAST choice, according to a vote of the league’s head coaches.

Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw announced Nov. 18 that three of the nation’s top high school student-athletes have chosen to continue their careers with the Irish, signing national letters of intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2004. Charel Allen , a 5-10 guard from Monessen, Pa., Melissa D’Amico, a 6-5 forward/center from Manorville, N.Y., and Tulyah Gaines (pronounced too-LIE-uh) , a 5-8 guard from North Las Vegas, Nev., all committed to the Irish during the early signing period, which lasted from Nov. 12-19.

Allen will arrive at Notre Dame next fall as one of the top college prospects from western Pennsylvania. She is a three-time Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-American who averaged 29.9 points, 11.4 rebounds, 7.2 steals and 4.8 assists per game last season at Monessen High School. She also is a two-time Associated Press first-team all-state pick and was named the 2003 AP Class A Player of the Year. In addition, she is a two-time all-Pittsburgh metro area selection and a ’03 AAU 16-and-under All-American. As a freshman in 2001, she was a fifth-team AP all-state choice when she averaged 23.6 points per game. In her first three seasons at MHS, Allen has piled up 2,302 points (26.2 ppg.), 995 rebounds (11.3 rpg.), 600 steals (6.8 spg.), 426 assists (4.8 apg.) and 102 blocks (1.2 bpg.). She was ranked 27th in the nation by Blue Star Index and she will be the fourth Pennsylvania native to play for the Irish (the first in 13 seasons).

At 6-5, D’Amico will be the tallest player on the Irish roster when she sets foot on the Notre Dame campus in the fall of 2004. A versatile post player, she averaged 16.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game last season for William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach, N.Y. (located on Long Island). She burst onto the national scene this past summer at the adidas Top Ten Camp in Suwanee, Ga., and is considered by most recruiting services to be one of the top players on the rise in this year’s class. She currently is ranked 47th in the country by All-Star Girls Report and 91st by Blue Star Index , and she follows in the footsteps of another talented New Yorker who came to Notre Dame — two-time honorable mention All-American and Mount Vernon, N.Y., product, Katryna Gaither (1993-97).

Gaines is a playmaking guard who will give the Irish solid depth in the backcourt. Last summer, she moved to North Las Vegas and is attending Cheyenne High School, where she will play for the Desert Shields this year. Gaines previously lived in Burbank, Calif., where she was a three-year starter at John Burroughs High School. She averaged 18.9 points and 5.1 assists per game last season and was a first-team all-CIF SS (Southern California) Division 2A First Team selection. In addition, she is a two-time Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-American and won a bronze medal with the West Team at the 2003 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs. Gaines averaged 6.0 points per game during the five-game tournament, which featured the top prep players from around the country. She is ranked 25th nationally by All-Game Sports, 52nd by Blue Star Index and 61st by All-Star Girls Report , and she is the second Las Vegas area resident in as many years to sign with Notre Dame — current Irish freshman guard Breona Gray graduated from Bishop Gorman High School last May.

With the addition of Allen, D’Amico and Gaines, Notre Dame has assembled the nation’s 14th-ranked recruiting class according to Blue Star Index. This marks the eighth consecutive year in which the Irish have attracted a Top 20 class, making Notre Dame one of only three schools (along with Connecticut and Tennessee) to have such a consistent run of recruiting success.

Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw tried her hand at writing during the past year and has co-authored a book with Bradley University professor Paul Gullifor entitled “Courting Success: Muffet McGraw’s Formula For Winning In Sports And In Life.” The book, which currently is in bookstores nationwide and may be purchased through on-line booksellers such as, touches on how, in the shadows of the nation’s most storied football program, McGraw has quietly built the women’s basketball program into a national power.

Women’s basketball has been one of the University’s most consistently successful varsity sport during the past 16 years, qualifying for the postseason 13 times, including 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament, five NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances and two Final Fours berths. The team’s rise to national prominence was then cemented with a national championship in 2001. In short, the Notre Dame women’s basketball program has been steadily built into a perennial national championship contender, and its architect for those 16 years has been McGraw. Entering the 2003-04 season, the Pottsville, Pa., native has won 363 games at Notre Dame, has a stellar .725 winning percentage and was the consensus 2001 national Coach of the Year.

Personal accolades aside, McGraw has always been more concerned with off-court success than the progress of her teams. Accordingly, this book is a motivational and inspirational book in which she shares her ingredients for success — on and off the court. It provides lessons for those aspiring toward success in basketball, and in life, while illustrating why Muffet McGraw is one of college basketball’s most accomplished coaches.

Notre Dame heads back out on the road Sunday for a 2 p.m. (ET) matchup at Seton Hall. The Irish have a 12-2 all-time record against the Pirates, having won their last 12 games against SHU.

Seton Hall (12-7, 4-4 BIG EAST) will provide a stiff challenge for the Irish, as the Pirates are 7-2 at home this season. SHU rolled through non-conference play, putting together an eight-game winning streak before it was stopped by Pittsburgh (61-56) on Jan. 14. That setback turned into a four-game losing skid for the Pirates, before they pulled out of their tailspin with wins over St. John’s and Providence in their last two outings.

Here’s where the Irish players and team stand in the most recent NCAA statistics report (through games of Feb. 2) and BIG EAST Conference statistics report (through games of Feb. 2) — bold indicates league leaders: